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Tomb of Gilgamesh!
High School
Hellmouth, Dr. Spock, 
Hunting Hedgehogs, Killer Coffee,

Onions in Space, BeppoSAX & More!
Tomb of Gilgamesh Found
Munich April 29, 2003 (BBC) - Archaeologists in Iraq believe they may have found the lost tomb of King Gilgamesh - the subject of the oldest book in history. The Epic Of Gilgamesh - written by a Middle Eastern scholar 2,500 years before the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of the ruler of the city of Uruk, from which Iraq gets its name. 

Now a German-led expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King. 

"I don't want to say definitely it was the grave of King Gilgamesh, but it looks very similar to that described in the epic," Jorg Fassbinder, of the Bavarian department of Historical Monuments in Munich, told the BBC World Service's Science in Action program. 

In the "book" - actually a set of inscribed clay tablets - Gilgamesh was described as having been buried under the Euphrates, in a tomb apparently constructed when the waters of the ancient river parted following his death.

"We found just outside the city an area, in the middle of the former Euphrates river, we detected the remains of a such a building which could be interpreted as a burial," Mr. Fassbinder said. He said the amazing discovery of the ancient city under the Iraqi desert had been made possible by modern technology. 

"By differences in magnetization in the soil, you can look into the ground," Mr Fassbinder added. "The difference between mud bricks and sediments in the Euphrates river gives a very detailed structure." 

This creates a "magnetogram", which is then digitally mapped, effectively giving a town plan of Uruk. 

"The most surprising thing was that we found structures already described by Gilgamesh," Mr. Fassbinder stated. "We covered more than 100 hectares. We have found garden structures and field structures as described in the epic, and we found Babylonian houses." 

But he said the most astonishing find was an incredibly sophisticated system of canals. 

"Very clearly, we can see in the canals some structures showing that flooding destroyed some houses, which means it was a highly-developed system. [It was] like Venice in the desert."

High School Hellmouth in Beverly Hills?
By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES April 29, 2003 (Reuters) — Environmental activists Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry filed claims with the city of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills High School Monday on behalf of 25 alumni who believe they contracted cancer from gases lurking beneath the campus.

The claims are a precursor to lawsuits Masry and Brockovich, subjects of the popular film Erin Brockovich, expect to file against the city and the school, along with five oil companies.

The claims are a legal precursor to suing the governmental agencies, which almost always reject them.

"We have over 200 alumni with cancer, and the rates go out at over 20 times the national average," Masry said. "I've never heard of a rate like that in any lawsuit I've handled. You get to two or three times the national average: That's huge."

Representatives of the Beverly Hills Unified School District could not immediately be reached for comment.

But in an "environmental fact sheet" published in March, school superintendent Gwen Gross said that the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a regional environmental agency, and had found no evidence of toxic gases at the campus.

Masry and Brockovich believe that 50 years of oil drilling on school property released toxic levels of such chemicals as benzene and hexane.

The case began when two former Beverly Hills High School students met in a doctor's office, where they were being treated for cancer, Masry said. One of the women later met Brockovich at a book signing and told her about a seemingly abnormal number of cancer cases among her schoolmates.

Significant oil and gas reserves were discovered under the city of Beverly Hills at the start of the 20th century but were only lightly drilled until after World War II, according to a 1973 environmental impact report on the field. The drilling leases, then owned by Getty Oil and Standard Oil, brought the city, school district, and citizens more than $25 million in 1973, the report said.

Brockovich and Masry became famous as the legal team that forced utility company Pacific Gas & Electric to pay $333 million in 1996 to settle a water contamination lawsuit brought by a small California town.

Julia Roberts won a best actress Oscar for playing Brockovich in the movie based on the case.

Stolen Masterpieces Found in Public Loo
Manchester, England April 28, 2003 (AFP) - Paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin, stolen over the weekend from a Manchester museum, were recovered on Monday in a disused public toilet, police and museum officials said.

An anonymous telephone tip-off led police to the three works - stuffed into a tube - at the toilet not far from the Whitworth Art Gallery, from where they had been stolen overnight Saturday, a police spokesperson said.

Experts were examining them Monday to determine if they had suffered any damage from heavy rain during the time they went missing, a spokeswoman for the Whitworth said.

"Undoubtedly there will be some work to be done on them by the conservator before they go back on the wall," she told AFP.

Vincent Van Gogh's The Fortification of Paris with Houses, Pablo Picasso's Poverty and Paul Gauguin's Tahitian Landscape were together worth £4-million (R46-million).

They were apparently taken sometime late on Saturday, as gallery staff only discovered their theft upon opening the premises at noon the next day.

The robbery was the latest in a string of art thefts to hit Britain in recent years. Each year an estimated £300-million to £500-million worth of artwork is stolen from galleries throughout the nation.

The Whitworth, in central Manchester, houses 40 000 works of art, including a dozen Picassos and two pieces by Van Gogh.
Spock's Influence Still Felt
University of Alberta Press Release

April 28, 2003 - On May 2, popular baby doctor Benjamin Spock would have turned 100. The world-famous pediatrician changed the face of parenting with his soothing words of practical advice and his conviction to use instinct as a guide. A University of Alberta researcher has analyzed Dr. Spock--particularly his advice on infant feeding and how it has changed over his decades of work.

Spock has always been an advocate of breastfeeding and even more radical was his recommendation to nurse the baby on demand rather than on a strict schedule. The U of A's Stephanie Knaak studied the changes from Spock's first edition of his book, Baby and Child Care, to his last, noting that the importance of breastfeeding was always apparent but the doctor's reasons for why to nurse changed. 

Spock's book was first published at the start of the World War II baby boom and soon became an authoritative and reliable guide for parents.

With its nearly 50 million copies in more than 40 translations, the book is said to be second in sales only to the bible. 

"At first Dr. Spock argued that the main focus of breastfeeding was for nutrition or food but he changed his ideas to say that breastfeeding is just as important for bonding," said Knaak, a researcher in the Department of Sociology.

"He didn't offer any assurances for bottle feeders in terms of bonding and that surprised me a bit." 

In the 1968 edition, Spock devoted an entire page saying that while he was in favor of breastfeeding, bottle feeding was still acceptable, said Knaak, "but after that one edition, those encouraging words to parents who used bottles was dropped." 

Another interesting change over the decades was with the evolution of science in terms of infant feeding. In several of Spock's early editions, he listed a recipe for homemade formula that included the ingredients evaporated milk mixed with sugar--a far cry from today's advanced blend. 

The U of A in Edmonton, Alberta is one of Canada's premier teaching and research universities serving more than 33,000 students with 6,000 faculty and staff. It continues to lead the country with the most 3M Teaching Fellows, Canada's only national award recognizing teaching excellence.

Pin-up Priests
Rome April 22, 2003 (Reuters) - Twelve young priests have raised eyebrows in Italy by joining the ranks of housewives and porn stars in posing for a glossy calendar, albeit sombrely dressed in long, dark robes and broad-rimmed, traditional hats.

The priests featured in Calendario Romano 2004, which aims to promote tourism in the Italian capital, are photographed standing in front of famous Rome landmarks.

"I usually photograph gondoliers for Venetian calendars, but this time I wanted to do something Roman, and what better than priests?" the photographer Piero Pazzi said of his work, which is not an official Vatican publication.

Critics have said the pictures are inappropriate because people will inevitably compare the priests to the naked pin-ups commonly associated with Italian calendars. They also complain that profits are not going to charity.

"The priests are young and good looking, but that doesn't make them sex symbols. That depends on the imagination of the viewer," Pazzi said.
Hedgehog Massacre Continues!

Scotland April 29, 2003 (Scotsman UK) - The hedgehog cull in the Western Isles was stepped up yesterday with the arrival of specialist sniffer dogs which are being used to locate the animals. 

The two dogs, which have been brought in from the mainland, will not catch the hedgehogs but will indicate to their handlers where they are. 

So far, only 30 of the estimated 200 hedgehogs in North Uist have been caught and killed as part of a project to eradicate the 5,000-strong hedgehog population from the Western Isles, where they have been eating the eggs of important wading birds. 

Animal welfare groups have "rescued" about 80, although it is thought the number from North Uist is still below double figures. 

A spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage said:

"Our work this year concentrates in North Uist to head off the hedgehog spread. We are therefore searching for relatively few animals across a large area. We think the dogs will be a great help in taking us right to these hard-to-find animals." 

He said many of the hedgehogs will now be pregnant and added: "This multiplies the welfare problems associated with moving animals. We believe therefore that, as of this week, there is an even wider gap in animal welfare terms between our humane cull and the efforts of the so-called rescuers. " 

Uist Hedgehog Rescue, which is taking the rescued animals to the mainland, said the dogs, no matter how well trained, will cause more suffering to the hedgehogs. 

Despite a huge outcry, the cull was agreed last year because the population of birds such as dunlin, lapwing and redshank dropped significantly. It began under the cover of darkness on North Uist on 7 April when volunteers armed with powerful lamps began hunting for the hedgehogs. although initially none was found. 

However, the stay of execution did not last long and four animals were found on the second night of a search of croftland and culled. 

Since then, a steady stream of animals have been found and taken to an unidentified location on the island where they are given an anesthetic before receiving a lethal injection. 

The operation will continue until 23 May and will cost £90,000. SNH is also laying dozens of traps, baited with fish, to catch the animals. 

At the same time, animal rights groups, who have raised £80,000 to save the hedgehogs, began picking up animals, mainly from Benbecula and South Uist, where the cull is due to reach next year.

Roma of Rome
By Bruce Johnston

Rome April 22, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - Rome celebrated its 2,756th birthday yesterday, amid claims that the city may have been founded by a Trojan woman called Roma and not, as legend has it, by Romulus.

According to Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper, a fragment of writing by the Graeco-Sicilian poet Stesichorus (638-555 BC) recounts how a woman named Roma arrived with a Trojan fleet in an idyllic place that could easily be Rome.

The scene was described as one of enchanting beauty, where before the setting sun the visitor was "enticed to dream while being caressed by the off-shore breeze".

Roma fell so in love with the spot that she conspired with the other women to burn all the ships, so that the party would have to stay. Once they were stranded, the group all agreed that they should name the place after her.

The tale's claims are strengthened by the fact that Stesichorus was born just 115 years after the founding of Rome.

According to legend, Romulus, one of the male twins descended from Aeneas, prince of Troy, and suckled by a she-wolf after being cast adrift on the Tiber, founded ancient Rome in 753 BC, after slaying his brother Remus.

As latter-day Romans mulled over the significance of Stesichorus's tale, about 1,000 people dressed as gladiators, centurions, emperors and maidens marched through the city yesterday led by the "Goddess Roma" clutching a spear and an orb.
French Laundry Named Best Restaurant in World
By Michael Paterson

London April 29, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - A British-dominated panel of food critics has decreed that the best place to eat in the world is the French Laundry, a French restaurant run by Americans in California.

Eleven of the top 50 restaurants are in Britain, up from five last year, according to the Restaurant magazine poll of 300 chefs and restaurant reviewers.

The French Laundry opened in 1994 in a two-storey 1890s steam laundry in Yountville, Napa Valley. Thom Hetherington, of Restaurant, said: "The stunning location in the hills of the Napa Valley was a big plus factor. But their cuisine was deemed better than any restaurant in France because, while they had a French-trained chef, they were not restricted by the more conservative tastes of many French clientele." There is a two-month waiting list for customers to pay around £80 a head plus wine.

Britain's highest-rated restaurant, at five, was Gordon Ramsay's establishment bearing his name in Chelsea, west London. According to the magazine, it only slipped from second in last year's inaugural list because of the exceptional standard of those above it. Mr. Hetherington said the poll was dominated by British tastes, although voters were based around the world.

The top 10 were: 1 French Laundry, California; 2 El Bulli (last year's No 1), north of Barcelona; 3 Le Louis XV, Monaco; 4 Jean Georges, New York; 5 Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London; 6 L'Arpege, Paris; 7 Comme chez Soi, Brussels; 8 Rockpool, Sydney; 9 L'Ambroisie, Paris; 10 Gramercy Tavern, New York.

French Laundry website -

[Viva la California, but look at those prices! Merde! Ed.]

Cheap Coffee Kills Tigers!
Wildlife Conservation Society Press Release

NEW YORK April 24, 2003 - How's this for a bitter aftertaste? Cheap coffee, the kind that comes in industrial-sized cans, may be contributing to the loss of tigers, elephants and rhinos living half a world away, according to a study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, published in the journal Science.

The study says that increased production of robusta coffee, the inexpensive variety commonly sold in cans and used in instant coffee, is leading to deforestation of lowland forests in Indonesia, home to that country's last remaining populations of wild tigers and other species.

Falling coffee prices worldwide has led to the need for more production, which in turn has resulted in more forest being cleared, even in national parks. According to the study, the spike in coffee production can be traced to 1989, when international coffee agreements ended and the U.S. left the International Coffee Organization (ICO), an international cartel formed by the U.N. to balance supply and demand and ensure fair prices.

What followed was a free-for-all that resulted in oversupply that cut worldwide prices in half. Ironically, long-term trends of consumer prices in the U.S. continue to rise.

In recent years, Indonesia's coffee production has jumped. Between 1996 and 2001, land cleared for coffee increased by 28 percent in Lampung Province, the heart of the country's robusta coffee region. Seventy percent of Lampung's coffee production occurs inside and adjacent to Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, one of a few remaining strongholds of Sumatran tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses, all of which are declining due to fragmentation and loss of their forest home.

The authors say that the U.S. can play a key role in halting this wave of deforestation. As the leading consumer of robusta coffee the U.S. should reassert itself as a strong member of the ICO, and call for certification programs to make coffee more wildlife-friendly. In November, 2002, Congress passed joint resolutions promoting a global strategy to address the coffee crisis. Consumers can do their part by purchasing "green" coffee that is certified and provides a fair price to farmers.

"If we do not act soon, our next cup of java may have the bitter taste of extinction," said the study's lead author, Dr. Tim O'Brien of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Wildlife Conservation Society -

Search-and-Rescue Robots at RoboCup
Carnegie Mellon University Press Release

PITTSBURGH April 24, 2003 — Carnegie Mellon University researchers and their colleagues from other institutions will demonstrate teams of urban search-and-rescue robots in a special "disaster arena" developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) during the RoboCup American Open robot soccer competition being held at the university April 30-May 4. 

Search-and-rescue demonstrations will take place hourly May 2 and 3 in Rangos Hall at the University Center on the Carnegie Mellon campus. 

The semi-autonomous, interactive, teleoperated robots will be put through their paces in a two-level site replete with dim lighting and lifelike mannequins that give off heat and carbon dioxide and utter cries of distress so that the robots working with human rescuers can find them. The site contains rubble, mirrors, stairs and other obstacles to simulate the challenging environments robots may encounter when searching for disaster victims.

"It's a human-robot disaster team," said Illah Nourbakhsh, assistant professor of robotics and one of the organizers of this event. "We're designing robots that will demonstrate the convergence of robot design and artificial intelligence." 

The disaster arena is one of only three of its kind in the world today and the only one housed at a U.S. university. Carnegie Mellon researchers will make it available to colleagues working on the same problem at other institutions.

Official RoboCup2003 web site -

[Hope it goes better than their horrendous web site. Ugh! Ed.]

Hamburgers Resist Name Change
By Dave Graham

Hamburg April 28 2003 (Reuters) - The German port of Hamburg has been offered €10,000 (almost R80,000) to change its name to Veggieburg by animal rights activists who are unhappy about the city's association with hamburgers.

"Hamburg could promote animal welfare and court sympathy for animals by changing its name to Veggieburg," the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote in a letter sent to Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust on Monday.

The German chapter of PETA, which claims 750 000 members worldwide, said the organization would give Hamburg's childcare facilities €10 000 worth of vegetarian burgers if the city changed its name. But city officials in Hamburg, Germany's second largest city which traces its roots the ninth century, were unmoved.

"I cannot afford to waste my time with this. I don't even want to look at nonsense like this," said Klaus May, a city government spokesperson. "But that doesn't mean we Hamburgers don't have a sense of humor."

In its letter, PETA said the name Hamburg conjured up images of "unhealthy beef patties made of pulverized dead cattle".

"Millions of people fall ill each year with fatal ailments like heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes from eating hamburgers," PETA said in the letter obtained by Reuters.

The original "hamburger steak", a dish made of ground beef, traveled west with German migrants to the United States in the 19th century. The first mention of "hamburgers" appeared on a menu in a New York restaurant in 1834. Some historians trace its origins to a minced beef sandwich once popular with sailors in Hamburg.

The city's name comes from the old Saxon words "ham" (bay) and "burg" (fortress).

PETA recently made a similar offer to the US town of Hamburg, New York. But their $15,000 (about R105,000) bid was also rejected.

PETA site -

Onions in Space!
Rutgers University Press Release

NEW BRUNSWICK NJ April 24, 2003 - Scientists may have peeled away another layer of mystery about materials floating in deep space. Tiny multilayered balls called "carbon onions," produced in laboratory studies, appear to have the same light-absorption characteristics as dust particles in the regions between the stars.

"It's the strongest evidence yet that cosmic dust has a multilayered onion-like carbon structure," said Manish Chhowalla, assistant professor of ceramic and materials engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Chhowalla used transmission electron microscopes to study radiation absorption of the laboratory-produced onions and found characteristics virtually identical to those reported by astrophysicists studying dust in deep space. 

A carbon onion is a miniscule but intricate component of nanotechnology - the study of structures and devices on a scale that can approach one-millionth the width of a human hair.

Discovered in 1992, carbon onions were considered difficult to produce in the laboratory until 2001 when Chhowalla, then at Cambridge University in the U.K., was part of a group that discovered a way to synthesize sizable quantities of the nanoparticles in water.

"There had been some really good calculations that showed carbon onions are most likely responsible for the way light is absorbed by dust in space," said Chhowalla. "Being able to produce large quantities of carbon onions is what made our latest research possible." 

Chhowalla worked on the project with scientists from Cambridge University, Himeji Institute of Technology in Japan and Hanyang University in South Korea.

Their findings are reported in a study called "Carbon Onions: Carriers of the 217.5 nm Interstellar Absorption Feature" published in the April 18 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters. 

Chhowalla, whose work at Rutgers is funded by a nanotechnology grant from the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, said work with carbon onions will have practical applications besides just verifying the likely composition of cosmic dust.

"There will be many uses related to nanotechnology," he said. "Carbon onions can be used in energy storage and fuel cells. We can also envision them as immensely tiny ball bearings that may be used in nanomachines built on the scale of molecules."

Rocket Fuel Contaminating US Lettuce
LOS ANGELES April 29, 2003 (Reuters) — California's winter crop of lettuce contains unhealthy levels of a rocket fuel component that can harm developing fetuses, according to a small study conducted for an environmental group by Texas Tech University.

The study, commissioned by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, showed that lettuce produced in California's Central Valley farmland between October and March each year absorbs four times as much perchlorate from the Colorado River as is considered safe by federal environmental authorities.

Although just 22 samples of lettuce were examined for traces of the solid rocket fuel component, the study's organizers hoped it would spur a more comprehensive look at the situation.

"We are a small nonprofit organization, and we are hoping that the results from our admittedly small sample will spur the federal government to do a more definitive study," Environmental Working Group spokesman Bill Walker said on Monday. "This question has been around since 1997, yet the federal government has failed to clear it up."

Perchlorate is the explosive component of rocket and missile fuel and is highly soluble in water. Exposure to perchlorate can cause mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits in developing fetuses.

Perchlorate contaminates the drinking water of 20 million people in 20 states and the Colorado River, which irrigates 70 percent of the nation's winter lettuce, the study said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tentatively set the standards for safe perchlorate levels in water at one microgram per liter, but there are now no enforceable standards or widespread testing for the substance, the study found.

In January and February, the scientists bought 22 commercial lettuce samples for analysis, including prepackaged and head lettuces, adult and baby greens, both organically and conventionally grown, from several different distributors.

Four of the samples contained an average of four micrograms per liter, the study said. Although the rest did not have measurable levels, researchers cautioned that the detection level for perchlorate in foods is relatively high.
The Return of BeppoSAX
Rome April 28 2003 (Reuters) - Italy said on Monday it had alerted 39 countries to the risk that a satellite it deactivated last year could crash in their territories within the next 48 hours.

The 1 400kg satellite was expected to fall to earth between 17h10 GMT on April 29 and 14h00 GMT on April 30 somewhere in a band straddling the equator that would include Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Italian Space Agency said it was keeping all 39 countries up to date on the uncontrolled re-entry of the BeppoSAX satellite, but there was a higher probability that it would fall into one of the oceans rather than on land.

The satellite should explode into about 140 pieces, with only 700kg expected to remain solid and potentially posing a threat, the agency said.

Agency officials said it was impossible to assess in advance how much damage might be caused.

"We have taken measures unprecedented in the world to prepare ourselves and the countries concerned to this phenomenon," Vincenzo Spaziante, head of a special task force set up three months ago, told a news conference in Rome.

The satellite was fuelled by hydrazine but engineers said the fuel had been used up and posed no threat.

Spaziante, whose task force is constantly monitoring the satellite's trajectory, said Italy was prepared to send civil protection experts to any country needing assistance. The Brazilian Space Agency said last week the satellite could crash in the Amazon jungle, but Italy said there was no way of telling yet where it would land.

Spaziante said the international community should set up permanent structures to deal with uncontrolled re-entries by satellites.

The BeppoSAX, launched in 1996 to monitor space radiation, is owned by the Italian Space Agency. It was built by Alenia Aeronautica, a unit of state-controlled defence group Finmeccanica. Previous uncontrolled re-entries have included a 3 200kg United States satellite that plummeted to earth over central Egypt in January 2002. It is not known whether any debris struck the ground.

The Russian space station Mir was ditched into the Pacific Ocean in 2001 after 15 years of service, but that was a controlled descent.
Genre News: TV Pilots, Angel Rumors, JAG, Chewbacca, Matrix Reloaded,  Milla Jovovich & More!
TV Pilot Time
By Cynthia Littleton
Hollywood Reporter Deputy Editor 

LOS ANGELES April 27, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - It's the time of year when bleary-eyed network executives huddle in dark rooms, wring their hands and try to read one another's body language. The pilot screening process begins in earnest this week at most of the six major broadcast networks. While there's no such thing as a sure thing in TV development until it's touted at an upfront presentation for advertisers (NBC kicks off the parade of 2003-04 network schedule unveilings May 12 in New York), early buzz is starting to build on selected projects. 

ABC first and foremost needs a few new dramas. Network brass are said to have high hopes for "111 Gramercy Park," an "Upstairs, Downstairs"-esque look at life in a swanky New York apartment building.

"Karen Sisco," the female marshal drama inspired by "Out of Sight," is said to have a shot, along with Steven Weber's bid for justice in "The DA," "Better Days" (formerly known as "The Flannerys"), about a former hotshot lawyer's rebirth with a practice based in a strip mall, and John Grisham's "The Street Lawyer." 

In comedy, ABC is said to like Jenny McCarthy's vehicle about a socialite's attitude adjustment after Daddy winds up in jail.

"Platonically Incorrect," about two friendly co-workers, has good buzz, as does the Kelly Ripa-Faith Ford starrer "Hope and Faith," "I'm With Her," about a regular guy who finds himself married to a celebrity, Michael J. Fox's "Hench at Home" and an untitled project about a marriage between the son of conservatives and a daughter raised by a gay couple. 

At CBS, dramas with some heat going into the screenings include David E. Kelley's family ensemble "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." and the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced cop show "The Unsolved," revolving around a cold-cases unit in Philadelphia. 

One comedy generating favorable mentions is the untitled project starring Nicole Sullivan as a newlywed who discovers she's also now wedded to her husband's three wacky brothers. 

NBC is said to have several strong comedy contenders, including "Come to Papa," starring comedian Tom Papa as an aspiring writer; Heather Locklear's "Once Around the Park"; the middle-class family struggles of Annie Potts and Timothy Busfield in "Stuck in the Middle With You"; and "Coupling," the remake of the British "Friends"-like ensemble hit. 

Dramawise, NBC is said to be high on Alicia Silverstone's "Miss/Match" and the untitled Las Vegas vehicle starring James Caan as head of security for a casino.

The comedies getting talked up around the halls at Fox include the spinoff of "About a Boy" and "Cracking Up," starring Molly Shannon as a psychology grad student who lives with a nutty Beverly Hills couple. Projects starring Luis Guzman ("Luis") and Norm Macdonald ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") are also getting some attention. 

For drama, one show making some noise is "True Calling," starring Eliza Dushku as a grad student who goes back in time to relive a day to prevent tragedies. 

At the WB Network, the comedy heat-seekers are three very different projects: the untitled Adam Sandler-produced, Adam Resnick-penned story of a 19-year-old who becomes mayor of a small New Hampshire town, "All About the Andersons" and the Delta Burke starrer "Sweet Potato Queens." On the drama side, "Tarzan and Jane" is the one to watch so far. 

UPN is said to like its comedy "Opposite Sex," starring Eve as a fashion designer, and the Will Smith-Jada Pinkett-produced blended family vehicle "All of Us." The drama on the radar last week at UPN was Joel Silver's futuristic "Newton."

[Remember that pilots are not anything like a sure thing, but after watching Eliza Dushku in Angel and Buffy and those movies she did when she wasn't working for Joss Whedon, I'll bet that True Calling will show up on Fox for at least one season. Eliza is always excellent, especially in City By The Sea with De Niro and even as a cheerleader (yikes!) in Bring It On. Let's hope Fox treats True Calling better than they did Firefly, but I suppose she can always go back to the movies. She's got a horror flick called Wrong Turn coming out soon and she was top billed in The Kiss, with Terence Stamp and Billy Zane, also released this year. Ed.]

No official site for Eliza Dushku, but this one is nice:

Never Mind the Pilots, What About Angel?
By FLAtRich

Hollywood April 28, 2003 (eXoNews) - Here we go again! Ain't It Cool's Hercules reports that he has "not been able to confirm this with our best sources" but "lesser sources" say that Angel has been renewed for a fifth season.

Yeah, OK. So that's what all the rumor guys have been saying for months, but Herc also says "Some of the best writers from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Firefly' are expected to migrate toward Team Angel, transforming the franchise into a kind of Mutant Enemy supershow."

Logical, but still ain't news. Herc also confirms (SPOILER) that Spike will die in the Buffy finale and return in Angel next season.

Well, James Marsters told Sci Fi Wire at the wrap party that they were trying to work out Spike on Angel, so half of that ain't news either.

The dying bit ain't a big surprise and of curse Spike can return - he's a vampire, ain't he? According to an article on Zap2it this week by Kate O'Hare, everybody wants Spike on board.

"We really think Spike could add something to the show," Angel Producer Tim Minear told Zap2it.

"He's a great character and a great actor. I don't know what configuration it would be, whether he would be involved in an arc, whether he would be recurring or what. We talked to David about it, and he was totally on board. He loves playing scenes with James." 

David Boreanaz said: "The addition of someone like him coming over would be fantastic. He's been stuck in a small town for too long. He needs to get out in a big city and see where the big dogs play."

David also said: "We live in the town of rumors so I don't believe anything. Like when I started the show, I'm just focusing on my day-to-day activities. It's already in the cards if the show's going to come back."

Well, good, and this is absolutely my last Angel rumor article, I promise.

It's just silly.

OF COURSE Angel will be coming back! The WB may be froggy green and slimy, but they ain't stupid. They need something to offset all that smiley face junk on the rest of the week. (Charmed and Smallville fans don't get mad now. You know I love them too, but they're already renewed.)

Angel's fourth season finale is coming up fast on May 7th. The official word on Angel's renewal from WB is due on May 12th, when The Frog announces their fall lineup. I ain't planning to be disappointed.

Oh, and I ain't commenting on the Buffy wannabe in Australia will "replace Sarah Michelle as a new Buffy" rumor. Joss said Buffy was not coming back and that's Bible enough for me.

Ain't It Cool - (sometimes...)

Read all of Kate O'Hare's story at Zap2it -

Angel Official site -,7353,||139,00.html

James Marsters Official site -

Boreanaz, Hopper Resurrect 'Crow' Franchise
By Zorianna Kit 

LOS ANGELES April 30, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Seeking to breathe new life into its "Crow" franchise, Dimension Films has tapped David Boreanaz, Edward Furlong, Dennis Hopper and Tara Reid (news) to star in "Wicked Prayer," the fourth installment of the supernatural series. 

Lance Mungia ("Six-String Samurai") is directing the project, which goes into production in June. Emmanuelle Chriqui, Danny Trejo, Marcus Chong and Tito Ortiz round out the cast. 

Set in the Southwest, "Prayer" tells the story of ex-con Jimmy Cuervo (Furlong) and his girlfriend, Lily (Chriqui), who are murdered by Luc Crash (Boreanaz) and his satanic gang Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as part of a ritual for Crash to become an immortal demon. The rest of the gang is played by Chong, Ortiz and Reid, with Reid playing Crash's evil love interest. Hopper plays El Nino who marries Crash and Lola. 

Jimmy returns from the afterlife as the "Crow," an immortal vigilante who must come to terms with his new powers and the poisonous temptation of revenge, culminating in an epic battle between the Crow and the devil himself. 

"The Crow" franchise is based on the comic book series created by James O'Barr. The first film in the series, 1994's "The Crow," was marked by tragedy when star Brandon Lee was accidentally killed on the set.

David James Elliott into JAG Season Nine 
By Nellie Andreeva 

Hollywood April 25, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - "JAG" star David James Elliott has inked a new deal with Paramount Network TV to stay on the hit CBS drama for another season. Although there has been no official pickup for the military drama, sources indicate that the deal with Elliott seals the return of the show for its ninth season.

Under the new pact, Elliott will get a significant salary boost to about $300,000 per episode, sources said. The actor has agreed to continue his TV Guide Award-winning role as pilot-turned-lawyer Harmond Rabb after what were described as tense negotiations. Reps for Elliott, Paramount Network TV and CBS declined comment on the deal Thursday.

[OK, so JAG isn't the usual genre stuff, but it's still a show that started as a dark horse and rose to the top. Produced by the guy that gave us Magnum and Quantum and Tales From The Gold Monkey - betcha don't remember that last one, eh? And they also have Catherine Bell! Something for you to catch up on in the Tuesday at 8PM time slot when Buffy goes away. Ed.]

Official Paramount JAG site -

Classic Characters Return for Episode III
Official Star Wars Press Release

April 23, 2003 - Episode III will further connect the Star Wars saga, bridging the prequel trilogy to the original trilogy in new and surprising ways. As such, familiar faces and places will return in this new Star Wars film, which is currently in pre-production.

Reprising their classic roles from the original trilogy are actors Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker. They return to Star Wars as Chewbacca the Wookiee, C-3PO and R2-D2. 

"I'm delighted to return as Chewbacca," says Mayhew. "I think his re-appearance in this film is a fitting way to tie the whole saga together, especially for Wookiee fans." Given that Chewbacca is a sprightly 200 years old in Episode IV, he is more than old enough to fit into the prequel timeline. 

Daniels has played See-Threepio in all of the Star Wars movies. In the original trilogy, he squeezed into the tight confines of the golden suit to play the prim and proper protocol droid. For Episode I, he leant his vocal talents for an incomplete version of Threepio that was realized as a puppet. In Episode II, he returned to the costume, donning an earlier and less polished iteration of the droid's familiar form. 

Though the role of R2-D2 has become increasingly automated since the very start, it's been a Star Wars tradition to include Kenny Baker as the heroic astromech droid at some point in the movie. Baker was essential to the early Artoo seen in A New Hope, when limitations in remote control and computer technology required a person beneath the dome to bring Artoo to life. Having Baker inside the suit has brought "an element of humanity" to the classic character, Director George Lucas has said.

Official site -

Peter Mayhew Official site -

Kenny Baker Official site -

Anthony Daniels Official site -

Matrix Sequels Will Go Imax 
By Nicole Sperling 

Hollywood April 24, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - "The Matrix" sequels are coming to a big and bigger screen near you. 

Large-screen theater operator Imax said Wednesday that Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow's upcoming "Matrix" films, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," will be released on Imax's 15 frames-per-second/70mm screen format to accompany the standard theatrical releases debuting this year.

Using Imax's new Digital Remastering (DMR) technology that allows 35mm films to be transferred to the larger format without compromising quality, the Imax version of Andy and Larry Wachowski's "The Matrix Reloaded" will open two to three weeks after the film's May 15 release in 35mm.

Warner Bros. Pictures president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said Warners is looking at June 6 for the Imax release.

The Imax version of "The Matrix Revolutions" will bow day and date with the film's November 5 theatrical release, marking the first time a Hollywood event film is released concurrently in both formats. 

The Matrix -

Webby Awards Held Online
Official Press Release

San Francisco CA April 25, 2003 - With concerns about traveling heightened by global events, The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences announced today that it would bring The 7th Annual Webby Awards to winners around the world rather than having honorees travel to San Francisco on June 5th for an awards ceremony. 

Almost 90 percent of this year's nominees hail from outside the San Francisco Bay Area with a record 24 international nominees from countries such as Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Canada, and Germany. U.S.-based sites hail from more than 20 states. 

Since the nominations were announced two weeks ago, a significant number of nominees have expressed concerns about traveling at this time, according to Maya Draisin, executive director of The Academy. 

"With our nominees now reflecting a truly global web, we're facing new considerations, especially in light of everything that's going on in the world," said Draisin. "Presenting the awards in San Francisco without all of the nominees present is not true to the spirit of the Webbys, so we decided to bring the Webby Awards to them instead." 

"Our nominees are using the web in new and original ways to bring people together," said Tiffany Shlain, the founder of The Webby Awards. "We want to follow their lead by using the medium to honor winners in a powerful and uniquely Webby way." 

The Webby Awards event had been scheduled to take place at Teatro ZinZanni in San Francisco. A portion of the tickets purchased by The Webby Awards for that night's performance will be donated to local charities dedicated to bridging the digital divide, according to Draisin and Shlain. 

New plans for unveiling winners - and their famous five word speeches - will be announced in the coming weeks. Draisin and Shlain said that they would also be joining with offline partners to help them deliver the news to winners. 

In the meantime, the public can vote for their favorite nominees in the People's Voice Awards at  through May 23, 2003.

[Hey! You can even write in your favorite news site! eXoNews of course! Ed.]

Official site -

Milla Returns in Resident Evil 2 
By Zorianna Kit 

Hollywood April 24, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Screen Gems and Constantin Film are going forward on a sequel to last year's action thriller "Resident Evil" with the film's star Milla Jovovich reprising her role and second unit director Alexander Witt making his feature film directing debut on the project.

Production will begin in August in Toronto. Like the original, "Resident Evil 2" will be based on the video game series. It will pick up where the last film left off, with Jovovich reprising her role as Alice, who is left to search for ways to contain a deadly viral outbreak while trying to escape the ruined Raccoon City with fellow survivors.

Paul S. Anderson, who wrote and directed the first installment of "Evil," wrote the script for the sequel and will produce along with his Impact Pictures partner Jeremy Bolt as well as Bernd Eichinger of Constantin Film and Sam Hadida of Davis Films.

[If you haven't seen "The Million Dollar Hotel", look for it in yer local DVD stacks! Amazing Milla (and co-stars Jeremy Davies and Mel Gibson) in this brilliant film by Wim Wenders! Ed.]

Milla's Official site -

Resident Evil Official site -

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