Originally created 05/12/05

People in the News

MODESTO, Calif. - Mark Hamill, who starred as Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" movies, will be in Modesto Friday for a sneak peek of the last episode of the series.

"Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" will play on three screens in Modesto's Brenden Theatres. There will be two showings. The screenings will raise money for the Gallo Center for the Arts.

Since immortalizing Skywalker, Hamill, now 53, has spent most of his time working on Broadway and doing cartoon voice-overs.

"It is so fitting because he is the first person (that) people think of when they think of 'Star Wars,'" said center spokeswoman Caroline Nickel.

Modesto is the hometown of "Star Wars" director George Lucas.

"Star Wars: Episode III" makes its theatrical debut May 19.

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NEW YORK - Next up: reality ballroom dancing.

Trista Sutter, who appeared on two versions of ABC's "The Bachelor" and wed Ryan Sutter on television, is among the celebrities who will appear on ABC's new reality series, "Dancing With the Stars."

Model Rachel Hunter, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, singer Joey McIntyre, John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld") and Kelly Monaco ("General Hospital") will be paired with professional ballroom dancing partners in the competition, set to debut June 1 (9 p.m. ET).

They will be judged by viewers and a panel of dance experts. One couple will be eliminated each week, ABC said Tuesday. The show is based on a series airing in other countries called "Strictly Come Dancing."


LOS ANGELES - Unlike her character in the new movie "Monster-in-Law," Jennifer Lopez says she's never had any trouble with the mothers of the men she's dated.

"I've never really had any trouble with boyfriends' moms or any moms of anybody that I've been with," Lopez told reporters recently, according to AP Radio. "So, I've been lucky. They like me."

After her much publicized romances with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Ben Affleck, Lopez wed Marc Anthony in June 2004. She was previously married to Cris Judd and Ojani Noa.

In "Monster-in-Law," which opens Friday, Jane Fonda plays a mother trying to sabotage the upcoming nuptials of her son, played by Michael Vartan, and Lopez.

Lopez and Fonda's characters literally come to blows.

"We wound up slapping each other a lot," Lopez told reporters. "I did get her bad in the eye.... She said with my ring. I don't even remember doing it to her.... That happened after doing it a few times.... But my face was swollen, you could see it, I think, in one of the takes."

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NEW YORK - The Fridge didn't hold that much cake.

William "The Refrigerator" Perry badly lost a cake-eating contest Tuesday to 135-pound Richard LeFevre.

LeFevre, a retired auditor from Henderson, Nev., devoured a 5-pound birthday cake in 11 minutes, 26 seconds to earn the title of "World Cake Eating Champion."

"My strategy was to attack the cake with reckless abandon, and it worked," LeFevre, who weighs about 130 pounds and goes by the nickname "The Locust," said in a statement. His mouth, forehead and eyeglasses were covered with yellow and white icing at the end of the competition.

Perry, a former NFL defensive lineman known for his girth, was the featured attraction among 10 contestants at Grand Central Station. He started strong but had eaten less than a quarter of his cake when LeFevre finished, and wound up last.

It was Perry's first sanctioned event since a poor showing at a hot dog-eating contest in 2003.

The cake-eating event celebrated the one-year birthday of TripRewards, a hotel rewards program.

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NEW YORK - Billy Dee Williams has withdrawn from "The Mambo Kings," the Broadway musical scheduled to open in August, because of an aggravated hip condition.

A replacement for the 68-year-old Williams, who had been set to play nightclub owner Fernando Perez, will be announced shortly, Marc Thibodeau, a spokesman for the musical, said Tuesday.

"The Mambo Kings" concerns the two Castillo brothers, Nestor and Cesar, who leave Havana in the 1950s for the heady world of New York nightclubs. Mexican superstar Jaime Camil will play Nestor, and Esai Morales has been signed to portray Cesar.

The cast also includes Latin Grammy winner Albita and Justina Machado, a regular on the TV series "Six Feet Under."

The musical, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" by Oscar Hijuelos, opens Aug. 18 at the Broadway Theatre. Preview performances begin July 20. "The Mambo Kings" will play at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre, May 24-June 19. A 1992 movie version starred Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante.


NEW YORK - Just weeks after undergoing a kidney transplant, George Lopez says he feels better than ever.

"It hasn't even been a month and I feel alive," the 44-year-old actor says in an interview on ABC's "Primetime Live," to air Thursday (10 p.m. ET). "I feel as good as I did bad, I mean it's unbelievable. Everything has changed. My personality has changed, my appetite has changed, my energy level has changed."

Lopez, star of the ABC comedy "George Lopez," had a genetic condition that caused kidney deterioration. Last month, he received a kidney donated by his wife, Ann.

"It was really bad," says Lopez. "I was operating on 18 percent kidney function in both kidneys and at 50 percent, you go onto dialysis."

"It's almost like, if you were buried alive and you were trying to dig yourself out," he says. "That's what it felt like, just everything was just a burden."

Still, Lopez says he never considered quitting his TV show, which has wrapped for the season.

"You can't quit," Lopez says. "I wasn't going to quit. You know, this is what I was made to do and I was going to do it and I wasn't going to stop until you know, it stopped me."

He co-stars in the film "The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D," which opens June 10.

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VIENNA, Austria - The director of Vienna's renowned Burgtheater will take over the leadership of Germany's Bavarian State Opera during the 2008-2009 season.

Klaus Bachler will leave for the Munich opera when his 10-year-contract with the Burgtheater expires, theater spokeswoman Konstanze Schaefer said in a statement Tuesday.

Bachler, 54, has led Vienna's Festwochen and the city's second opera, the Volksoper.

He has criticized Austrian officials for what he says are inadequate subsidies and too little recognition of the Burgtheater, the Austria Press Agency reported.

The opera's director, Peter Jonas, and its musical director, Zubin Mehta, are leaving in the summer of 2006. Kent Nagano will become the musical director and will lead the opera until Bachler begins his new job, said Thomas Goppel, Bavaria's culture minister.


NEW YORK - Eva Longoria of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" tops Maxim magazine's sixth annual Hot 100 list of the most successful women of the year in film, television, music, sports and fashion.

Evangeline Lilly ("Lost") is in the No. 2 spot, followed by Jennifer Garner, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Rachel Bilson ("The O.C."), Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Jessica Simpson and Sara Foster.

"These are the women whose names are on the lips of people the world over, whose careers are headed for the dizziest heights and whose looks will scorch the back off your retina," Maxim Editor-in-Chief Ed Needham said in a statement Tuesday.

Longoria, who ranked No. 91 on the 2004 list, said her selection for the top spot was "incredible."

"This year has been amazing for me," the 30-year-old actress said in a statement.

Tom Cruise's girlfriend, Katie Holmes, made her debut on the list at No. 22.

The Hot 100 also includes Ashanti (No. 13), Paris Hilton (No. 20), Anna Kournikova (No. 29), Avril Lavigne (No. 36), Halle Berry (No. 41) and Jennifer Aniston (No. 88).

Selections were made by the editors.


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