- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

Smokey’s bandit

Burt Reynolds is having girl-slash-money problems again.

The actor, currently filming a remake of “The Longest Yard,” sued his ex-girlfriend yesterday claiming she threatened to falsely accuse him of abuse if he didn’t fork over millions of dollars.

The lawsuit, according to wire reports, says that Pamela M. Seals was ready to go public with bogus tales of his yelling at her and stomping on her toes.

Miss Seals, who dated the actor for 10 years, supposedly demanded a hefty settlement that included support for her and her mother, half of Mr. Reynolds’ Jupiter, Fla., home and other compensation.

Bob Montgomery, Mr. Reynolds’ attorney, called Miss Seals’ threats “blackmail.” “She wanted more and more and her demands were absolutely exorbitant,” he said.

Leaky ‘Bomb’

Irish rockers U2 may want to title their next album “How to Keep Property Out of the Hands of Pirates.”

Leaked versions of U2’s new album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” have emerged on Internet file-sharing networks two weeks before its scheduled release.

Singer Bono had hinted that an early leak would prompt the band to release the album immediately on iTunes.com, but a London spokeswoman yesterday would only say the band was aware of the illicit copies.

Earlier this summer, a tape of rough tracks from the upcoming album went missing from a studio in Nice, France, where the band was recording.

“With any major release, the record companies start about a week in advance flooding the networks. That way users are more likely to download a spoofed copy,” Jim Graham of California-based online piracy tracking firm BayTSP, told Reuters News Agency.

“But over time, the pirated versions win out. It’s very cat and mouse. It’s like the Cold War,” he said.

Weighty issues

Colin Firth suspects moviegoers wouldn’t gape at the sight of a slightly overweight Renee Zellweger if she were a man.

“It’s not that unusual for actors to alter their appearance to play a part. But I think if I did it, it wouldn’t get anywhere near the amount of attention,” he told the Boston Herald.

“It’s absolutely fascinating to people that a woman would dare to do that — particularly someone who’s very attractive and has a Hollywood-based career. They must sort of see her as reckless or something,” said Mr. Firth, who stars once again as lawyer Mark Darcy in “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”

Miss Zellweger packed on the pounds to reprise the role of Bridget Jones in the sequel to 2001’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which opens Friday in area theaters.

“The sheer level of fascination on the subject is really a symptom of how this issue affects people, particularly women who are in utter disbelief that anyone would consciously go the other way — to actually try to gain weight — is mind-blowing,” Mr. Firth said.

The Cat’s meow

The peace activist formerly known as Cat Stevens will receive a prize from a foundation headed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Yusuf Islam, barred recently from the United States because of suspicions of terrorist ties, is expected to attend the ceremony on Rome’s Capitoline Hill tomorrow, according to Enzo Cursio, a spokesman for the Gorbachev Foundation.

Mr. Islam will receive the award from Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni and Mr. Gorbachev.

Mr. Islam earned the “Man for Peace” award “for his dedication to promote peace, the reconciliation of people and to condemn terror,” the Gorbachev Foundation said.

Broadway idol

He may have lost the first “American Idol” contest to Kelly Clarkson, but Justin Guarini has rebounded by making the cut for the Broadway version of “Good Vibrations,” a new musical based on songs by the Beach Boys.

Reuters reports the 26-year-old Mr. Guarini, who was in the show’s workshop last summer at Vassar College’s Martel Theater in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., will appear in the production when it opens Jan. 27 at Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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