Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pryor engagement

Mike Epps (“All About the Benjamins,” “The Fighting Temptations”) has been tapped to play comic genius Richard Pryor in a big-screen biopic, according to Variety. The movie will be co-produced by Mr. Pryor and his wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who said Mr. Epps was selected over an earlier choice for the part, actor-comedian Damon Wayans, whom the pair believed was too well-known.

Mr. Epps will next be seen as Ed Norton in a movie version of “The Honeymooners” due in theaters this summer.

Reversal of fortune

Associated Press

A British court yesterday overturned a ruling ordering celebrity magazine Hello! to pay more than $3.6 million to a rival for printing unauthorized photos of the New York wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The ruling by the three Court of Appeal judges backed the magazine’s challenge to a lower court’s order that it pay more than $1.8 million in damages and another $1.8 million in legal costs to rival magazine OK! which had an exclusive contract with Mr. Douglas and Miss Zeta-Jones, according to Associated Press.

However, the judges upheld the high court’s 2003 ruling that Hello! had breached the couple’s commercial confidentiality by publishing secretly snapped photos of their November 2000 nuptials at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Hello! still must pay token damages of $28,000 awarded to the couple in 2003.

During a six-week hearing, Miss Zeta-Jones said she had felt “violated” when Hello! published its “sleazy and unflattering” pictures, AP reported. She singled out an image that showed Mr. Douglas feeding her wedding cake, saying, “I don’t usually like my husband shoving a spoon down my throat to be photographed.”

In its appeal, Hello! argued that it had run its own wedding pictures as a “spoiler” to its rival’s coverage — a common practice in journalism. The court agreed, dismissing a claim by OK! that the pictures had unlawfully interfered with its business.

Northern and Shell PLC, which owns OK! said it would appeal the ruling to the House of Lords, Britain’s highest appeals court.

Curtain call

He turns 90 on Memorial Day, but Emery Battis, a longtime member of the Shakespeare Theatre, shows no signs of slowing down — at least not in the near future.

The actor, a former professor of American history at Rutgers University in New Jersey, is in rehearsals for the company’s production of “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” the society comedy by Oscar Wilde that opens June 13. (Previews begin June 7.)

Mr. Battis, the oldest Shakespearean actor in the District, according to Shakespeare Theatre publicist Liza Holtmeier, received the Helen Hayes Award for lifetime achievement in 2002.

Dance critic honored

Jean Battey Lewis, who writes dance reviews for The Washington Times, will receive the 2005 Pola Nirenska Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The award, one of two Nirenska honors announced yesterday by the Washington Performing Arts Society, will be presented during the fifth annual Metro D.C. Dance Awards ceremony Sept. 26 in the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. (D.C.-based choreographer Ed Tyler will receive the second award, for artistic excellence.)

Miss Lewis, whose articles about dance have also appeared in the New York Times, the Japan Times (in Tokyo), and Dance and Playbill magazines, among other publications, studied dance with a number of its legendary names, including Steffi Nossen, Hanya Holm and Charles Weidman, and at Jacob’s Pillow with Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin and Ted Shawn. She also studied bodybuilding with Joseph Pilates.

From 1978 to 1980, Miss Lewis — a former adjunct professor of dance at American and George Mason universities — was editor and associate publisher of the magazine Washington Guide to the Arts, which covered the performing and visual arts in the Washington area. She also broadcast a weekly show, “Invitation to the Dance,” on WGMS-FM radio and produces stories on dance-related topics for National Public Radio.

The Pola Nirenska Award — named for a noted performer, choreographer and mentor to a generation of D.C.-area dancers — is given annually to two persons who have demonstrated outstanding contributions, artistic excellence or potential, or devoted service to dance. It was established in 1993 in memory of Miss Nirenska and is presented by WPAS, which hosts its annual selection committee of dance professionals.

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse and Ann Geracimos from staff, Web and wire reports.

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