Paris Hilton defends 'gay guys' comment
September 20th, 2012
02:16 PM ET

Paris Hilton defends 'gay guys' comment

Paris Hilton's comments about gay men who use a cell phone app for sexual hook ups were expressions of concern about the dangers of unprotected sex, not homophobic slurs, her publicist said Thursday.

The Hollywood socialite said, "Gay guys are the horniest people in the world," called them "disgusting" and suggested "most of them probably have AIDS" in the short conversation secretly recorded by a New York cab driver two weeks ago, according to RadarOnline.

The online celebrity gossip site did not identify the driver or reveal how much, if anything, was paid for the recording published Thursday.

Hilton's publicist, in a statement sent to CNN Thursday, confirmed the recording was authentic, but said, "It was not her intent to make any derogatory comments about all gays."

"Paris Hilton is a huge supporter of the gay community and would never purposefully make any negative statements about anyone's sexual orientation," the statement said.

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Filed under: Entertainment • U.S.
Hip hop manager Chris Lighty found dead
August 30th, 2012
07:40 PM ET

Hip hop manager Chris Lighty found dead

Chris Lighty, who managed several of hip hop's biggest artists, apparently shot himself to death in his Bronx, New York, apartment Thursday morning, a New York police spokesman said.

Lighty, 44, was found with a gunshot wound to his head and a semi-automatic firearm next to his body at 11:30 a.m., the police spokesman said.

While the death appears to be a suicide, police investigators will wait until the medical examiner's report before closing their investigation, the spokesman said.

Lighty founded Violator Records & Management, which counts Mariah Carey, Soulja Boy, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, and Diddy among their artist.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Showbiz
The Jackson strife: Family bickers over whereabouts of Michael's mom
July 23rd, 2012
04:05 AM ET

The Jackson strife: Family bickers over whereabouts of Michael's mom

Katherine Jackson, reported missing Saturday by her nephew, told a law enforcement officer in Arizona Sunday that she was "fine," a source close to the investigation said.

But Michael Jackson's three children still have not heard from their grandmother a week after she left the Calabasas, California, home where she lives with them, according to Katherine Jackson's lawyer.

The lack of contact with the Jackson family matriarch led her nephew Trent Jackson to file a missing person's report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department late Saturday, Jackson attorney Sandra Ribera said.

It is the latest chapter in a messy dispute between several of Jackson's children and her advisers over her finances and legal affairs.

Jermaine Jackson, in a statement posted on Twitter Sunday night, said the children were not "being 'blocked' from speaking with Mother," who he said "is safe and well in Arizona with her daughter and our sister, Rebbie, resting up on doctor's advice."

"She is merely an 82-year-old woman following doctor's orders to rest-up and de-stress, away from phones and computers," he tweeted.

His statement did not explain why Paris Jackson, the 14-year-old daughter of Michael Jackson, was rebuffed in several attempts to reach her grandmother on the phone. That led Paris to post messages on Twitter early Sunday pleading for help in finding her.

"yes, my grandmother is missing," Paris tweeted. "i haven't spoken with her in a week i want her home now."

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Filed under: Michael Jackson • U.S. • World
July 22nd, 2012
02:41 AM ET

Michael Jackson's mom reported missing

A nephew of Katherine Jackson reported the Jackson family matriarch missing late Saturday night after her grandchildren were unable to get in touch with her for a week.

It is the latest chapter in a messy dispute between several of Jackson's children and her advisers over her finances and legal affairs.

Jackson's nephew, Trent, filed the report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. But one of her sons involved in the dispute said she was fine and resting in Arizona.

"I want to reassure everyone (inc all sudden medical experts) that Mother is fine but is resting up in AZ on the orders of a doctor, not us," Jermaine Jackson tweeted.

"This is our mother and her health is paramount. We are not inventing or plotting anything. We are following doctor's advice. Period," he added.

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Filed under: Michael Jackson • U.S. • World
Prolific writer Nora Ephron dead at 71
Nora Ephron created strong female characters for films like "Silkwood" and "Sleepless in Seattle."
June 26th, 2012
09:18 PM ET

Prolific writer Nora Ephron dead at 71

(CNN) – Novelist, filmmaker and screenwriter Nora Ephron has died after a battle with leukemia, her publisher said Tuesday. She was 71.

"She brought an awful lot of people a tremendous amount of joy. She will be sorely missed," said the statement from Alfred A. Knopf.

Ephron's romantic comedies included the box office hits "When Harry Met Sally," and "Sleepless in Seattle," both of which earned her screenwriting Oscar nominations.

She was also nominated for an Oscar for writing "Silkwood," the story of anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood.

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Filed under: Movies • Showbiz
Police: Musician Bob Welch kills self
Bob Welch, Fleetwood Mac's guitarist for three years, is pictured in 1978 in Los Angeles.
June 7th, 2012
06:51 PM ET

Police: Musician Bob Welch kills self

Bob Welch, a guitarist who played with Fleetwood Mac before launching a solo career, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest, Nashville, Tennessee, police said Thursday. He was 66.

Welch's wife found his body in their Nashville home about 12:15 p.m., Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said.

"All indications are that it was a suicide," Aaron said. A suicide note was found, he said.

Welch played guitar with Fleetwood Mac starting in 1971. He left the group in late 1974, just before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the group.

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Death penalty sought for ex-Marine charged in 'serial thrill-kill spree'
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Itcoatl Ocampo is charged in four homeless men's deaths.
May 21st, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Death penalty sought for ex-Marine charged in 'serial thrill-kill spree'

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a 24-year-old former Marine charged with a "serial thrill-kill spree" that killed four homeless men and a mother and her son, the Orange County, California, district attorney said Monday.

Itzcoatl Ocampo is scheduled to be tried in September on six counts of murder with special circumstances for the stabbings.

Ocampo served in the Marines from July 2006 until July 2010 and was deployed to Iraq for six months in 2008, according to Marine service records. He completed his service, with the rank of corporal, with the 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton, south of Orange County.

The first killings happened on October 25, 2011, when Raquel Estrada, 53, and her 34-year-old son Juan Herrera were left dead on the floor of their Yorba Linda home, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. Estrada was stabbed more than 30 times and Herrera was stabbed more than 60 times.

DNA evidence links Ocampo to the crime scene, which is a mile from his home, Rackauckas said. The defendant was a childhood friend with a man who was the son and brother of the victms, he said.

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Legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon dead at 84
Vidal Sassoon cuts the hair of a lookalike for Vogue editor Anna Wintour at his autobiography signing in 2010.
May 9th, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon dead at 84

Vidal Sassoon, the legendary hairstylist, died of "apparent natural causes" at his Los Angeles home Wednesday morning, a Los Angeles police spokesman said. He was 84.

Police were called to Sassoon's Bel Air home on Mulholland Drive at 10:30 a.m., spokesman Kevin Maiberger said.

"When officers arrived, there were family members at the residence," Maiberger said.

Sassoon, a British native, spent several years as a young boy in a London orphanage after his father left and his mother could not afford to care for him.

Later, after his mother dreamed of her son being in a barber shop, she apprenticed him to a local barber. That began a career that saw him develop two classic hairstyles of the 1960s - the bob and the even shorter five-point cut - along with an eponymous hair care line, a range of hair care tools, and a chain of salons.

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Junior Seau's family consents to brain study, chaplain says
Seau amassed 1,526 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions in his 20-season career with the Chargers, Patriots and Dolphins.
May 4th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Junior Seau's family consents to brain study, chaplain says

[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET] The family of former NFL star Junior Seau, who authorities say committed suicide this week, has decided to let researchers study his brain to see whether it was damaged by concussions suffered during his football career, San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Friday.

Seau was found Wednesday in his Oceanside, California, home with what authorities said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. It is not clear if Seau left a note or an explanation.

The family made the decision to allow the research in hopes it will help NFL players and others in the future, Mitchell said.

Since news of Seau's death broke, there has been speculation about whether repeated hits to his head over the linebacker's 20-year pro career could be a contributing factor.

There is no evidence Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease brought on by multiple concussions, though friends and family have stepped forward to say the legendary linebacker suffered a number of hits to the head during his career.

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'America's oldest teen' Dick Clark dies
April 18th, 2012
03:48 PM ET

'America's oldest teen' Dick Clark dies

[Updated at 4:34 p.m. ET] Broadcast icon Dick Clark, the creator and longtime host of "American Bandstand," has died, publicist Paul Shefrin said. He was 82.

Clark suffered a heart attack while at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica for an outpatient procedure, his publicist said. "Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful."

iReport: Share your favorite Dick Clark memory

Photos: Clark through the years

Clark suffered what was then described as "a mild stroke" in December 2004, just months after announcing he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

That stroke forced Clark to cut back on his on-camera work, including giving up the hosting duties for the "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" specials. He reappeared as a co-host with Ryan Seacrest on December 31, 2005.

His "American Bandstand" work, which he began as a local TV show in Philadelphia in 1956, earned him the nickname "America's oldest living teenager." The show was picked up by ABC and broadcast nationally a year later.

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Retired Illinois couple claims share of record Mega Millions jackpot
Pat Butler and her husband, Merle Butler, of Red Bud, Illinois, are the last winners of March 30's record Mega Millions jackpot to claim their prize.
April 18th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Retired Illinois couple claims share of record Mega Millions jackpot

[Updated at 11:26 a.m. ET] Merle and Pat Butler, lifetime residents of Red Bud, Illinois, hold the third winning ticket worth $218 million in last month's record $656 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot, officials announced Wednesday.

"I looked (at) my wife, who was right there with me, and said, 'We won,' Merle Butler, 65, told reporters in Red Bud on Wednesday of the moment he realized he had a winning ticket on the night of the March 30 drawing. "Then she looked at me funny, and I said, 'No, we won.' "

"She giggled for about four hours, I think," he said.

The retired couple bought just three numbers for the drawing, meaning they spent $3 to win their share of the jackpot. They bought the ticket in Red Bud, a community of about 3,700 people roughly 25 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri.

The Butlers came forward publicly in their hometown's City Hall on Wednesday after spending the past two weeks hiring "real good financial advisers" and a lawyer to help them manage their new fortune, which is $158 million after taxes are deducted, they said.

Two other winning tickets (worth roughly $218 million each, before taxes) were sold for the March 30 drawing that had a record $656 million pretax payout: One in Maryland, and one in Kansas.

The three people who shared a winning ticket in Maryland and the one winner in Kansas claimed their prizes earlier this month, but they exercised their rights in those states to not reveal their names. Illinois, unlike those states, requires lottery winners to come forward publicly.

Still, the Maryland lottery winners made it known that they are three public school employees - a woman in her 20s, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 50s. The Maryland winners are an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher and an administrative worker, according to Maryland Lottery.

The man and two women who shared ownership of the winning ticket in Maryland are known only as the "Three Amigos." They said they plan to keep their fortune a secret - and keep working.

mega millions

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Coroner: Houston drowned after cocaine use
Whitney Houston performs at the O2 Arena on April 25, 2010, in London.
March 22nd, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Coroner: Houston drowned after cocaine use

Whitney Houston died from an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub, but the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use" were contributing factors in her death, the Los Angeles County Coroner said in an autopsy report released Thursday.

Houston, 48, was "found submerged in bathtub filled with water" and "no trauma or foul play is suspected," the coroner said.

The toxicology tests found other drugs in her body, including marijuana, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the allergy medicine Benadryl, the report said. But these drugs "did not contribute to the death," it said.

The final coroner report is expected to be made public within two weeks, the coroner said.

Houston died February 11 in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the day before the music industry gathered for the annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

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'Desperate Housewives' trial starts
Actress Nicollette Sheridan is suing the creator-producer of her former show, "Desperate Housewives."
February 29th, 2012
02:13 AM ET

'Desperate Housewives' trial starts

Actress Nicollette Sheridan is expected to testify Wednesday about her claim that her "Desperate Housewives" character was killed off because she complained about mistreatment by the TV show's creator.

Testimony in Sheridan's wrongful termination lawsuit against series creator-producer-writer Marc Cherry and ABC begins before a Los Angeles jury Wednesday.

Several of Sheridan's former cast mates - including Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross, James Denton, Felicity Huffman and Neal McDonough - are on the list of witnesses expected to defend Cherry.

The suit contends that Cherry created "a hostile work environment" from the show's beginning in 2004.

"Cherry has a reputation for behaving in an extremely abusive and aggressive manner toward the individuals who work on the show, and is known for regularly demeaning the writers and staff in front of others on the show, including Sheridan," the suit says.

Cherry focused his hostility on Sheridan in the fifth season when "Cherry consistently behaved in a dismissive, demeaning and unprofessional manner toward Sheridan, not only in front of the other case and crew on the show, but before the public at large," it says.

This "hostility and aggression toward Sheridan culminated" on the set of the show on September 24, 2008, the suit says.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Showbiz • U.S.
February 22nd, 2012
02:02 AM ET

Lindsay Lohan's probation nears end

Lindsay Lohan's probation should end next month, clearing the way for the actress to revive her acting career possibly playing Elizabeth Taylor in a made-for-TV movie.

Lohan appears in court Wednesday for a judge to check her progress, but she's gotten glowing probation reports for the last two months.

Lohan's "on the home stretch" to completing her 480 hours of community service - most of it cleaning up at the Los Angeles County morgue - on schedule next month, her publicist Steve Honig said.

Once she's done, Lohan will be released from the strict probation requirements that started five years ago after two drunk driving convictions. She should have finished two years ago, but it was extended after several probation violations, including missed counseling sessions, failed drug and alcohol tests and a shoplifting conviction.

Stints in jail and court-ordered rehab cost Lohan acting jobs, but the light at the end of the strict probation tunnel appears in sight for Lohan.

Lohan travels to New York next week to host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on March 3. It's her fourth time hosting the show, but the first since her legal troubles began in 2007.

She appears close to signing a deal to play the lead in a Lifetime network movie about legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died last year.

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February 21st, 2012
01:46 PM ET

California teacher pleads not guilty in student 'bondage' case

A former southern California schoolteacher entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to allegations he bound young students, then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and three-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces, among other graphic depictions.

Authorities have said they have discovered roughly 600 images allegedly taken by Mark Berndt, 61, in his classroom.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marcelita Haynes set the next hearing for March 28.

Berndt's lawyer is asking to see all of the photographs seized by investigators, but the district attorney's office has only given him copies of 200 photos of the 23 alleged victims who have been identified.

Berndt did not speak during the short hearing.

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Filed under: California • Courts • Crime • Justice
Coroner: 'Soul Train' founder dead of gunshot wound
Don Cornelius holds a plaque at the Hollywood Walk of Fame after his star was unveiled in Los Angeles in February 1997.
February 1st, 2012
10:12 AM ET

Coroner: 'Soul Train' founder dead of gunshot wound

Don Cornelius, the founder of the "Soul Train" television show, has been found dead in Los Angeles, Lt. Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said Wednesday. He was 75.

He died of a gunshot wound at a house on Mulholland Drive, said Los Angeles police Officer Tenesha Dodine. Police responded to the call about 4 a.m. (7 a.m. ET), Dodine said.

An investigation was ongoing into whether the gunshot wound was self-inflicted, police said.

Cornelius created a pilot for "Soul Train" using $400 of his own money, according to the website biography.com. The show was named after a promotional event he put together in 1969, the site said.

"Soul Train is the longest running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history," according to the website of Soul Train Holdings. "During its 37-year run, the show featured such staples as the Soul Train line and performers as important and diverse as Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and Beyonce."

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Filed under: California • Crime
January 31st, 2012
01:42 PM ET

Teacher accused of taking elementary student 'bondage' photos

A Los Angeles elementary school teacher allegedly took bondage photos of more than two dozen students in his classroom, including some with suspected semen-filled spoons at their mouths, investigators said Tuesday.

The young students were told they were playing a game and that swallowing the semen, which they believed was liquid candy, was part of that game, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott told CNN Tuesday.

Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested on child molestation charges at his Torrance, California, home Monday and is being held pending $2.3 million bond in a Los Angeles County jail, according to Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Los Angeles
January 8th, 2012
03:34 PM ET

Papa John's apologizes for receipt's racial slur

Papa John's Pizza fired a cashier at one of its New York restaurants and apologized to an Asian-American customer for a receipt that identified her as "lady chinky eyes."

"We were extremely concerned to learn of the receipt issued in New York," the company said in a statement posted on its Facebook page Saturday.

Minhee Cho, a communications manager at nonprofit investigative journalism group ProPublica, posted a photo of the receipt on her Twitter account Saturday morning and by the afternoon it was picked up by a local newspaper.

Along with the receipt, Cho tweeted "just FYI my name isn't 'lady chinky eyes.'"

The receipt had been viewed online almost 200,000 times by Sunday afternoon, according to the counter on the Twitpic page.

Cho did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment, but her boss did.

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Filed under: New York • Race • U.S.
December 14th, 2011
10:25 AM ET

'The Artist,' 'The Help' lead SAG Award nominations

"The Artist" and "The Help" lead with three Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations each as Hollywood's movie awards season revved up Wednesday.

"The Artist," a French movie about the silent film era, is competing for best movie, while Jean Dujardin was nominated for best actor and Berenice Bejo for best supporting actor.

The other best movie competitors include "The Descendants," "Bridesmaids" and "Midnight in Paris."

"The Descendants" also garnered a best actor nomination for George Clooney.

The 18th annual SAG Awards show will be televised live from Los Angeles January 29.

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December 9th, 2011
01:44 AM ET

Prosecutors want prison time for Barry Bonds

(CNN) - Federal prosecutors want baseball legend Barry Bonds to serve 15 months in prison for his obstruction of justice conviction, according to a sentencing memo filed in court Thursday.

Defense lawyers argued in their filing that the judge should accept the probation office's recommendation that Bonds be sentenced to two years probation, fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

Bonds, 47, is set to be sentenced on December 16 in a San Francisco federal courtroom, less than two miles from the ballpark where he broke Hank Aaron's major league home run in August 2007.

Jurors who found Bonds guilty in April said he was "evasive" in his testimony to the federal grand jury investigating illegal steroids use by pro athletes.

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