Originally created 02/11/06

People in the News

AUSTIN, Texas - "American Dreamz," a satire about American identity starring Mandy Moore, Hugh Grant and Dennis Quaid, is among 50 feature films making their world debut at this year's South by Southwest film festival.

The festival, which runs March 10-18, will show 120 feature films. Other premieres include "95 Miles to Go," which follows "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Ray Romano on a standup comedy tour, and "Even Money," a tale about three gambling addicts starring Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer and Ray Liotta.

Organizers said they received a record number of roughly 2,800 submissions this year.

"We considered many more films this year," said Matt Dentler, South by Southwest producer. "Our job was harder than ever before, but it also means we saw a better array of films than ever before."

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NEW YORK - Britney Spears has taken responsibility - well, some of it - for driving with her baby son, Sean Preston, sitting in her lap.

"I made a mistake and so it is what it is, I guess," Spears tells "Access Hollywood" in an interview that was to air Thursday.

Several photos published Tuesday showed Spears driving her sport utility vehicle in Malibu, Calif., with her 4-month-old son perched on her lap rather than strapped into a car seat in the back seat.

The 24-year-old pop star said she did it because of a "horrifying, frightful encounter with the paparazzi."

In response, X17, the agency that snapped the pictures, said they were snapped "in a very peaceful context, in which photographers exhibited no aggressive behavior."

"Being put in the situation that I was in, it was kind of bad with the paparazzi," Spears tells "Access Hollywood." "Last week, my mom and I went out and they were on us really bad, so you instinctively do what you need to do."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has said it will not pursue any charges.

Sean Preston, who was born in September, is Spears' first child. She is married to Kevin Federline, a former backup dancer.

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NEW YORK - Barry Manilow has landed on the top of the charts with a just-released album for the first time in 29 years.

Manilow's "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, followed by Mary J. Blige's "The Breakthrough" and Andrea Bocelli's "Amore."

The album, 13 standards such as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "Unchained Melody," has sold more than 156,000 copies in the United States since it arrived Jan. 31.

His previous debut chart-topper was the 1977 concert recording, "Live." His last album, "Scores: Songs From Copacabana and Harmony," had a weak debut in 2004, peaking at No. 47.

Manilow, 62, said he was inspired to sing the 1950s pop classics because he feels they deserve more attention.

"The reason I connected with it is when I looked at the list of songs that came out of the '50s, it seemed to me that they had been neglected," he told Associated Press Television News.

"Nobody seems to have done 'Unchained Melody' or 'It's Not for Me to Say' or 'Beyond the Sea,' any of these songs that were wonderfully written that came out of the '50s. So that turned me on. I dove in."


NEW YORK - Ali MacGraw will make her Broadway debut in "Festen," the London hit that will also star Larry Bryggman, Michael Hayden and Julianna Margulies.

The play, David Eldridge's stage adaptation of the acclaimed 1998 Danish film, is the story of a family in turmoil, with Bryggman playing the patriarch, MacGraw as his wife and Hayden and Margulies as their children.

"Festen," originally seen in London in 2004, will open April 9 at the Music Box Theatre. Preview performances begin March 23.

MacGraw's screen credits include roles in "Love Story," "Goodbye, Columbus" and "The Getaway." Bryggman is best known for his role as Dr. John Dixon on the TV soap opera "As the World Turns." Margulies played nurse Carol Hathaway on the long-running TV series "ER."

Rufus Norris, who directed the London production of "Festen," will also direct in New York.


LOS ANGELES - A judge sentenced Tom Sizemore to three years probation after the actor tearfully admitted he used methamphetamine last month.

Sizemore, 44, could have faced 16 months in prison after violating his probation stemming from a conviction for methamphetamine possession.

The judge's sentence Thursday came after a series of hearings to determine if Sizemore's probation should be revoked a second time.

Sizemore's probation was revoked in July after he admitted using a prosthetic device to fake a drug test and failing to be checked for drugs every three days. A judge reinstated probation in October after concluding Sizemore had begun to make "remarkable" progress in his battle with drugs.

Sizemore then tested positive for drugs Jan. 23.

The actor, who appeared in "Saving Private Ryan" and "Black Hawk Down," was convicted in 2003 of domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend, former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. He is free on bail pending an appeal in that case.


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