- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

Depp is sexiest man

Time to walk the plank, Hugh Jackman! Johnny Depp is reclaiming the throne as People’s Sexiest Man Alive, the magazine’s Web site reported Wednesday.

“The Pirates of the Caribbean” star previously earned the title in 2003. He joins Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the two-timers’ club.

Mr. Depp, 46, has been in a relationship since 1998 with French singer Vanessa Paradis, 37, with whom he has two children, Lily-Rose, 10, and Jack, 7.

Other honorees on this year’s list include actors Ryan Reynolds, Bradley Cooper, Gilles Marini, the men of “Glee,” and “American Idol” finalist Adam Lambert.

Another op’nin’

There will be a new Kander and Ebb musical - off-Broadway.

Vineyard artistic director Doug Aibel says “The Scottsboro Boys” will have its world premiere March 10 at the small nonprofit theater. Previews begin Feb. 12, Associated Press reports.

“The Scottsboro Boys” concerns the infamous case from the 1930s in which a group of black youths were unjustly accused of attacking two white women. No word on casting yet, but Tony winner Susan Stroman (“The Producers,” “Contact”) will direct. The book is by David Thompson.

Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb have been responsible for some of Broadway’s most memorable shows, including “Cabaret,” “Chicago” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” The score for “The Scottsboro Boys” was written before Ebb died in 2004.

Mercer honored

Jeepers creepers! Savannah’s got a Johnny Mercer statue for tourists’ peepers.

The Savannah-born songwriter was honored in his hometown Wednesday with the unveiling of his life-size likeness cast in bronze, Associated Press reports. About 150 onlookers turned out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated lyricist and four-time Oscar winner who gave a poetic grace and a slangy tang to songs such as “Moon River,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Accentuate the Positive” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”

The statue in historic Savannah’s Ellis Square gives Mercer an honor ordinarily reserved for the 18th-century founders and Revolutionary War heroes of Georgia’s oldest city.

The songwriter’s grandson, Jim Corwin of Los Angeles, said Mercer likely would have been embarrassed by all the fuss.

Hudson as Winnie

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson will portray Winnie Mandela in a film charting the turbulent life and times of the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday.

Miss Hudson, who earned a best supporting actress Oscar in 2007 for her performance in the musical “Dreamgirls,” told Daily Variety the film would bring a “powerful part of history” to cinema screens.

“I was compelled and moved when I read the script,” Miss Hudson said.

The film will be directed by South African filmmaker Darrell J. Roodt, whose films include “Cry, the Beloved Country” and “Sarafina.”

News of the film comes as Hollywood prepares to release “Invictus,” a Clint Eastwood-directed drama about Nelson Mandela - played by Oscar winner Morgan Freeman - and how the 1995 Rugby World Cup united the country after apartheid.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela campaigned tirelessly for her husband’s release during his 27-year imprisonment in the apartheid era. However, her image was tarnished by a series of scandals including her links to the kidnap and murder of a young activist and a 2003 conviction for fraud.

She separated from Mr. Mandela in 1992, two years after his release.

Webber hospitalized

Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer of such hit musicals as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats,” was back in a hospital Wednesday after developing an infection from prostate cancer surgery.

The 61-year-old’s spokesman revealed the composer had cancer last month but said it was in the very early stages and that he was expected to be back at work this year, Agence France Presse reports.

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