- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006

Staying put

David Letterman isn’t going anywhere.

CBS Corp. announced yesterday that the late-night funnyman has signed a contract to stay on the air until at least 2010, Associated Press reports. It was widely reported in September that Mr. Letterman had agreed to the deal.

The contract means he plans to stay on the air longer than late-night rival Jay Leno. NBC has said Mr. Leno will give way to Conan O’Brien on the “Tonight” show in 2009.

“I’m thrilled to be continuing on at CBS,” Mr. Letterman, 59, said. “At my age, you really don’t want to have to learn a new commute.”

Mr. Letterman is expected to make somewhere north of $30 million a year. He has been competing with Mr. Leno since 1993, and the NBC comic has had the upper hand in the ratings for the past decade.

New gig for Nelson

Willie Nelson played the “Austin City Limits” pilot in 1974, and when the long-running public television music show reveals its new studio in 2010, he’ll be a co-owner of the place.

Mr. Nelson and his nephew Freddy Fletcher will be partners in the studio-and-nightclub project with Austin-based majority owner Stratus Properties Inc., AP reports. Stratus will build the space as part of a $225 million project that will include a 35-story tower with 200 luxury condominiums atop a 250-room W Hotel; a new home for the Austin Children’s Museum; and shops and restaurants.

Unofficially dubbed Austin City Limits Studio Theater, the $15 million, 2,000-capacity venue will serve as a soundstage about 40 nights a year when KLRU’s “Austin City Limits” tapes. Groundbreaking for the development is scheduled for next summer.

The new venue is expected to raise the music show’s profile and provide an entertainment attraction in a venue that will hold more than five times the audience the show can accommodate in its existing cramped quarters on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

Mr. Nelson, 73, released his latest album, “Songbird,” on Lost Highway Records in October. His hits include “Georgia on My Mind,” “On the Road Again” and “City of New Orleans.”

Who’s your daddy?

Eddie Murphy revealed that he has split with former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, and he’s questioning the paternity of her unborn child, TMZ.com reports.

Appearing on a Dutch TV show this weekend, Mr. Murphy, 45, was asked if he was happy with the pregnant Miss Brown, to which he responded, “You’re being presumptuous, because we’re not together anymore. And I don’t know whose child that is, until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions, sir.”

The couple started dating in June, just two months after Mr. Murphy’s divorce from model Nicole Mitchell Murphy became final. The star, whose appearance in the upcoming “Dreamgirls” is generating Oscar buzz, already has six children. Miss Brown, 31, aka Scary Spice, has a daughter from a previous relationship.

According to TMZ.com, Mr. Murphy’s rep was not immediately available for comment.

Bye bye bye

Lance Bass and his boyfriend, Reichen Lehmkuhl, have called it quits, People magazine reported on its Web site yesterday.

Ken Sunshine, Mr. Bass’ publicist, didn’t respond to a message from AP.

Mr. Bass, who was part of the boy band ‘N Sync, revealed earlier this year that he is homosexual and was in a relationship with Mr. Lehmkuhl, a former Air Force captain and winner of season four of CBS’ “Amazing Race.” The 27-year-old singer told People in July that he didn’t disclose his sexuality earlier because he didn’t want to affect ‘N Sync’s popularity.

‘N Sync, known for a string of hits including “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” went on hiatus in 2002. Mr. Bass also has made headlines for undertaking astronaut training but failing to raise money for a trip into space.

Mr. Lehmkuhl, 32, has said he admired Mr. Bass’ decision to disclose his sexuality. He has a new book, “Here’s What We’ll Say,” which recounts his time keeping his sexual orientation a secret from Air Force colleagues.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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