- Associated Press - Sunday, February 12, 2012

‘Three Cups’ author wants civil suit thrown out

Attorneys who accuse Greg Mortenson of defrauding readers in his best-selling “Three Cups of Tea” say his case is no different from that of James Frey, who admitted on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” that he lied in his memoir “A Million Little Pieces.”

That lawsuit ended in a settlement that offered refunds to buyers of the book.

According to the Associated Press, Mr. Mortenson has asked a judge to throw out the civil lawsuit that says he fabricated portions of his book, saying that if it is allowed to proceed, other authors could be subjected to similar claims and the result would be a stifling of the free exchange of ideas.

“Plaintiffs should not be allowed to create a world where authors are exposed to the debilitating expense of class-action litigation just because someone believes a book contains inaccuracies,” attorney John Kauffman wrote in the filing late last month.

But the plaintiffs’ attorneys argue in court documents filed Tuesday the lawsuit should go forward because of the precedent set by the class-action lawsuit against Mr. Frey. The two cases are “nearly identical,” they said.

“The facts in the [Frey] case are stunningly close to the facts in this case, but not nearly as compelling,” wrote attorney Alexander Blewett.

The lawsuit claims Mr. Mortenson lied about how he began building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and fabricated other events in the books “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools.” The attorney who led the Frey lawsuit, Larry Drury, is also a plaintiffs’ attorney in the nine-month-old case against Mr. Mortenson.

Police capture man who threatened Madonna

Police captured a man on Friday who was convicted of threatening to kill Madonna. He had walked away from a Los Angeles-area mental hospital Feb. 3.

Robert Dewey Hoskins was apprehended shortly before 9 a.m. in Long Beach, where authorities believed he might have fled following his escape from the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, about eight miles away, police said in a statement. Initially, Los Angeles police said Mr. Hoskins was caught near the hospital where he escaped.

He had been committed there last year and was returned to the facility after his arrest. Police didn’t comment about how Mr. Hoskins escaped or where he had been over the past week.

A message left with a spokeswoman for the California Department of Mental Health was not immediately returned.

Mr. Hoskins, 54, served a 10-year prison sentence for stalking and threatening Madonna after being convicted by a jury in 1996.

The singer reluctantly testified against the man, who was shot by her personal security after he jumped the fence of her 25,000-square-foot Hollywood Hills home.

Mr. Hoskins had told the singer’s assistants he would either marry Madonna or slash her throat from ear to ear.

At trial, Madonna said she felt sick to her stomach that she was in the same room as Mr. Hoskins and had nightmares about him chasing her. She said she was in Miami when she received a call, hearing that her bodyguard shot Mr. Hoskins.

“It was like a bad dream,” she said then. “I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and he had tried to make his threats a reality.”

Police asked for the public’s help Thursday in locating Mr. Hoskins. They said he is “highly psychotic” and can be extremely violent but didn’t elaborate.

‘Pawscar’ awards honor top film, TV animals

The Oscars aren’t until Feb. 26, but winners of the Pawscars already are celebrating.

The American Humane Association, which advocates for animals on film and TV sets, announced the top animals Thursday being honored with Pawscar awards, the Associated Press reports.

Uggie, the four-legged star of “The Artist,” was named best scene stealer. Fellow Jack Russell terrier Cosmo, whose thoughts were communicated through subtitles in “Beginners,” won best animal speaking role.

“War Horse” was recognized for “best perception versus reality” for a scene that shows the title horse becoming entangled in barbed wire that actually was made from soft rubber.

Other winners include “Dolphin Tale,” “We Bought a Zoo” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”

The Pawscars are among an emerging breed of awards honoring animal actors. The Golden Collar dog awards will be presented next week.

‘Gone with the Wind’ items thought destroyed in fire

Museum officials are waiting to see whether memorabilia from the classic film “Gone With the Wind” was ruined when a fire heavily damaged the facility near Atlanta where it was stored.

According to the Associated Press, Rebekah Cline with the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau said the Road to Tara Museum in Henry County has a storage unit on the lower level of the facility, while the fire broke out on the upper level. But she said firefighters said all the units had sustained some degree of fire, smoke or water damage.

Ms. Cline said the unit housed collectible posters from the 1939 premiere and promotional paintings. But she said the museum’s most valuable treasures are at the museum. They include costumes, a signed first-edition copy of the book and an original movie script.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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