First, some fluffy escapist news: Hugh Grant will not -- I repeat, not -- be appearing in the upcoming Harry Potter flick after all.
Though the floppy-haired eyelash-batter may have been perfect for the role of Gilderoy Lockhart -- by far the vainest of Hogwarts' ill-fated Defense Against the Dark Arts professors -- the U.K. site Teletext reports that scheduling conflicts will prevent his taking the role.
"To have Hugh on board we had to bring the production forward three months, which we can't do," a spokesperson from Warner Bros. told the site. "So sadly he's forced out."
According to the site, Grant had already dyed his hair blond for the role, insisting that wearing a wig for it would be "absurd."
But not nearly as absurd as that stuttering thing he does.
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Back from beyond to pay tribute to the fallen. Styx, REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Stynyrd, Bad Company, Journey, Kansas, Survivor, Eddie Money and other all-but-forgotten rock bands are joining forces for a series of concerts benefiting the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. The benefit concerts will take place in Atlanta and Dallas. "We are all feeling so many intense emotions that it's imperative that we channel our energy into doing what we can to help heal ourselves and our country," said REO Speedwagon front man Kevin Cronin. He's ready to roll with the changes.
Peace train's sounding louder: Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens) has announced plans to donate a percentage of the royalties from his new box set to the victims of the attacks on the U.S. and to orphans and victims in underdeveloped countries. "I feel this is my duty," Islam said. "A lot of my lyrics were about searching for peace and happiness in this wild world we live in, a few came true. The 'Peace Train' I still pray will one day arrive."
Paul McCartney has set the date for his benefit concert in NYC: Oct. 20. The concert, which will take place at Madison Square Garden and broadcast on VH1, MTV and other stations, will include performances by McCartney himself, John Mellencamp, Macy Gray, the Goo Goo Dolls, Bon Jovi, India.Arie, the Who, James Taylor and Melissa Etheridge. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Carrey, John Cusack and Jerry Seinfeld will also appear. Rumor has it that Eminem is considering making an appearance -- and that Led Zeppelin is contemplating reuniting for the occasion, though frankly, it might be more appropriate for the band to join Styx and co. for that '70s throwback tour ...
Shirley MacLaine, too, is helping out in her own way. The actress/self-help guru has posted a message on her Web site alerting visitors that a portion of the proceeds from all products sold in Shirley's World -- "including astrology charts" -- will be divided between the September 11th Fund, the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund and the ASPCA Animal Disaster Relief Fund. "I chose three charities because three is the number that represents the balance of body, mind and spirit," says MacLaine. What's more, she suggests, "Let's allow our souls to smile and remember that adversity introduces us to ourselves." Om my.
Even Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie are doing what they can to make the world a cheerier place. Not only are the scary music men planning to raise money for relief efforts during their upcoming tour, they've decided to change the tour's name altogether. "Black Christmas," they decided, was just too much of a downer. Apparently, they, too, would like us to allow our souls to smile.
Soap stars want to help, too. "All My Children" star Susan Lucci has arranged for free entry to her upcoming NYC singing engagement for the firefighters, policemen and rescue workers taking a break from digging at ground zero. According to the New York Daily News, Lucci will even pop for dinner. "It's my small way of thanking these people for their miraculous efforts to protect my beloved New York," she said. I guess she's going for a humanitarian award to go with her Emmy.
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Miss something? Read yesterday's Nothing Personal.