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Taking Names: Judge denies gag order in Deen suit

- - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Georgia judge has rejected a request for a gag order restricting pretrial comments in a sexual-harassment lawsuit against celebrity chef Paula Deen's companies.

The Savannah Morning News reported that Chatham County Judge Louisa Abbot said she would file an order denying the request by attorneys for Ms. Deen and her businesses.

Attorneys for Ms. Deen said Tuesday that a former worker who claimed she was sexually harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment at a restaurant co-owned by Ms. Deen and her brother made false claims after Ms. Deen refused to pay her to keep quiet.

A statement from the law firm representing Ms. Deen said the lawsuit from Lisa Jackson "makes false allegations against Paula Deen and they will be proven false in court."

Ms. Jackson said in the lawsuit that her doctor encouraged her to quit her post at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah because she suffered from panic attacks and other stress. The restaurant is owned by Ms. Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers.

Monkees contemplate how to memorialize Jones

The three surviving Monkees aren't planning to attend Davy Jones' funeral because it likely would bring too much unwanted attention to his family during their time of grief, the group's Micky Dolenz said Tuesday.

He and fellow Monkees Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith have talked of attending one of the memorials that Jones' family is planning to hold in New York and in the late singer's native England, Mr. Dolenz said. And he added he's considering organizing a memorial himself for Jones' friends in Los Angeles.

Whether the surviving Monkees would perform at any of the gatherings, or at any other time in the future, is an open question.

"The three of us, Mike and Peter and I, we have never worked together just as a threesome. Mostly it was Peter, David and I and then Mike would join us," Mr. Dolenz said of the band's periodic reunions over the years.

"We've been talking, we've been communicating, but it's way too early, I think, to project or predict anything like that."

A private family funeral will take place in Florida this week, Jones spokeswoman Helen Kensick said Tuesday, declining to give any further details. Planning for a family service in England and a public memorial in the U.S. were still under way.

Mr. Dolenz said he wasn't surprised by the outpouring of public affection for Jones that followed his death from a heart attack last week at age 66.

The youngest member of the group, Jones played the role of the heartthrob in the made-for-TV band that shot to fame in 1966 with the "The Monkees" television show and such hit songs as "Daydream Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville."

"You know, that show and those songs touched so many millions of people all over the world for so many years," Mr. Dolenz said. "I can't tell you how many times someone has come up to me in a mall and said, 'I just got to tell you, you made my childhood.' "

And Jones, he said, was pretty much the lovable character he played on TV.

"What you saw is what you got," Mr. Dolenz said. "He was very much a song-and-dance man, life of the party, always telling jokes, always on, an entertainer and just a great guy to be around."

Lady Gaga first to acrue 20 million Twitter followers

Pop diva Lady Gaga has become the first person with more than 20 million followers on Twitter, Agence France-Presse reports.

A 20 millionth "Little Monster," as Lady Gaga calls her fans, signed up to follow her Twitter feed over the weekend. She had 20.27 million followers as of Wednesday for her @ladygaga account.

Teen pop idol Justin Bieber was next with 18.18 million followers of his @justinbieber feed.

Rounding out the top five were three other singers: Katy Perry with 15.82 million followers, Shakira with 14.62 million and Rihanna with 14.59 million.

President Obama was in eighth place with 12.88 million followers of his @barackobama account.

Sundance London to screen 14 movies

Organizers on Wednesday announced a lineup of 14 movies for Sundance London, a four-day British offshoot of the Utah-based indie film festival.

The April 26 through 29 event will include Julie Delpy's relationship comedy "2 Days in New York," Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos' hip-hop drama "Filly Brown," So Yong Kim's road movie "For Ellen" and Josh Radnor's campus romance "Liberal Arts."

Documentaries include "Finding North," a study of hunger in America; "Under African Skies," which follows Paul Simon back to South Africa for the 25th anniversary of his "Graceland" album; and "The House I Live In," a look at the social, human and financial costs of the "war on drugs" that won the top documentary prize at the Utah festival in January.

Robert Redford, who rose to fame in films including "The Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," founded the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah to promote independent filmmaking.

Mr. Redford said the movies in the London lineup were American productions that "speak to universal experiences and global challenges."

The event at London's O2 Arena also will feature live music performances, discussions and panels.

Weinstein: French cinema on verge of 'golden age'

Harvey Weinstein said "The Artist" is just the beginning.

The Hollywood titan who produced the French-born silent film, which won five Academy Awards, said "France is about to have a golden age of cinema."

And Mr. Weinstein said the movie's success has paved the way for a foreign film — with dialogue — to win a best picture Oscar some day soon.

"We'll break that barrier, too," Mr. Weinstein told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

The expansive New Yorker was feeling particularly well-disposed to France after a Paris party celebrating "The Artist" and getting the esteemed Legion of Honor award from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr. Sarkozy, to Mr. Weinstein's joy, is a big movie buff. Mr. Weinstein also said he's a big fan of a law Mr. Sarkozy championed to crack down on Internet piracy.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.