The Fix

Billy Joel's back in rehab. SpongeBob's latest scandal. Plus: "The Lord of the Rings," the musical?

By Salon Staff
Published March 16, 2005 1:55PM (EST)

Turn On:
On Wednesday night Cedric the Entertainer hosts the "TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV" (TV Land and Nickelodeon, 9 p.m. EST), honoring Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart, William Shatner and other TV personalities with remarkable staying power.

Morning Briefing:
A singing, dancing Gandalf headed your way? A stage musical version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," directed by Broadway veteran Matthew Warchus, is set to premiere in Toronto next March -- and possibly move to Broadway or London's West End sometime thereafter. But don't expect to see the wildly successful movie version onstage. Warchus pledges to be true to the book trilogy first and foremost. "We have not attempted to pull the novel towards the standard conventions of musical theater, but rather to expand those conventions so that they will accommodate Tolkien's material," Warchus told the Toronto Star. "As a result, we will be presenting a hybrid of text, physical theater, music and spectacle never previously seen on this scale." Variety reports that the set will feature "three interconnected turntables containing 16 elevators." (Playbill)

Falsehood, unmasked: Anyone out there who was all excited about those reports that Quentin Tarantino was fixing to write and direct a "Friday the 13th" movie -- "The Ultimate Jason Voorhees Movie" -- will be disappointed to learn that Tarantino has no plans to do so at this time. "What's happening with 'Friday the 13th'? Nothing at all! It's a complete lie," he said when asked about the rumors by the British movie magazine Empire. "I like Jason and everything, but I've no intention of directing a movie! New Line talked to me about it, but it was a complete fabrication, that article. I would love to do a horror film. I'm just saying it's not going to be 'Friday the 13th.'" (Empire Online)

Bottle of whatever: Billy Joel has checked himself into rehab "for treatment of alcohol abuse" after suffering "a recent bout of severe gastrointestinal distress," according to his spokeswoman. It's his second stint in rehab in less than two years. Speculation had been mounting about the car-accident-prone piano man after he appeared drunk while singing a tribute at Donald Trump's wedding the other month. But his spokeswoman insisted at the time that it was not drink that made him appear so out of it, but rather bad lighting. (N.Y. Post, N.Y. Daily News)

Damage control: Michael Jackson's teenage accuser again took the stand yesterday to clarify why he twice told a dean at his school that Jackson had not molested him. "All the kids would laugh at me, try to push me around, say, 'That's the kid that got raped by Michael Jackson,'" the boy, sporting a trim new haircut, told prosecutor Tom Sneddon. "All of the kids were already making fun of me at school -- I didn't want them to think it really happened." The boy later went on the offensive, testifying that he suspected Jackson of keeping a pair of his worn underpants has a souvenir. As he was headed to the shower one day, the teen said, Jackson told him to "leave your stinkin' underwear in the hamper." And he never saw the soiled skivvies again. (N.Y. Post)

Also: Just-released documents pertaining to the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed reveal that the car they were killed in was one that they'd switched to either after another one failed to start or in an attempt to circumvent the paparazzi. (The Independent) ... The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard have passed a no-confidence vote against the university's president, Lawrence Summers, in light of his recent comments about women in science, but Summers says he has no intention of stepping down. (N.Y. Post) ... Jurors in the Lil' Kim perjury trial have begun deliberating (Reuters) ... Sarah Jessica Parker is reportedly out and Joss Stone in as the new Gap poster girl. (Page Six) ... Lindsay Lohan has sprained her ankle on the set of her new film "Just My Luck." (Rush and Molloy) ... Controversial New York hawks Pale Male and Lola are expecting as many as three baby hawks sometime next month, if egg-spotting observers of their Fifth Avenue nest are correct. (N.Y. Daily News) ... MTV News correspondent Gideon Yago is offering a major -- though unspecified -- reward for the return of his laptop computer, which was stolen from his New York apartment on Monday night. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Charges against Rosario Dawson brought after her arrest for filming outside a Republican National Convention protest in New York last summer have been dropped. (Reuters) ... Michael Jackson has been praying over the phone with Rev. Jesse Jackson every morning before his trial. (MTV News) ... Demi Moore's spokesman insists that the actress is not pregnant with Ashton Kutcher's child. (USA Today)

Money Quotes:
"American Idol" ditcher Mario Vazquez, who according to his contract with the show cannot sign a record deal until August, on why he abruptly dropped out of competition: "I was enjoying the whole experience. I was excited that I kept continuing in the competition. But personally ... I felt like the competition wasn't right for me ... It's like this: When you're going out, you fall in love ... and just for some reason, after a while, you don't understand why, you're falling out of love." ("Live with Regis and Kelly" via N.Y. Post)

A spokesman for Nickelodeon on a Page Six report that a writer who worked on "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," David Hillenbrand, is now working on a "National Lampoon" movie with porn star Jasmin St. Claire: "This is ridiculous. This sponge generates more gossip than Paris Hilton." (Page Six)

-- Amy Reiter

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