PEOPLE

Beep! Beep! Make way for new WB character

Hello, my baby, hello my darlin’, Chuck Jones is back on the drawing board with a techno twist. The director behind about 250 Warner Bros. shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote is going to unveil his first new character in almost 50 years on the internet. Timber Wolf debuts later this year in a 13-episode Internet series for Warner Bros. Online and Entertaindom.

“They play well on television, and now we’re giving the Internet a try,” Jones, 87, said Tuesday. “So I think the medium is not the message. Believable characters and good story lines will hold the audience.” The cartoon will center on a snooty, intellectual canine named Thomas T. Wolf, voiced by Joe Alasky, and a squirrel voiced by Nancy Cartwright, the vocals behind Bart Simpson on “The Simpsons.”

LIES, ALL LIES: Details are still vague, but Madonna’s publicist denies that emergency surgery was performed during the birth of Rocco Ritchie, the Material Girl’s new baby boy. A BBC article had reported that a detached placenta was cutting off the baby’s oxygen supply, and he had to be delivered by emergency Cesarean section on Aug. 11.

“None of that is true,” publicist Liz Rosenberg told The New York Daily News. She had previously refused to confirm or deny the reports. “Both the baby and Madonna are home and healthy and fine. There was never any life-threatening situation for anybody.”

DAS BIG BOOTY: Europe is fast beating Japan as the continent with the most grotesque and demeaning game shows. If the Los Angeles Times is to be believed, and why not, debuting in Berlin next spring will be “Big Diet.” That’s right, a game show in which 10 overweight Germans will be locked up for 100 days in a deluxe wellness center, complete with swimming pool, fitness center, personal trainers and cruel, cruel temptations.

The producers of evil Endemol Entertainment, the Dutch production company behind “Big Brother” are considering laying such traps as leaving cakes lying carelessly about, installing a gourmet restaurant in the complex or even taking participants out to restaurants. That way, fellow diners can have a live corpulent sideshow. The prize will be bars of gold equivalent to the amount of weight lost. Yes, hundreds have applied. We’re still waiting for the “Big Maggot” episode in which contestants live with corpses and try to figure out who’s alive and who’s not.

NO, YOUR WIFE CAN’T HAVE A ROLE. NO! WE SAID NO!! By the time newlywed Brad Pitt has to go to Japan next year, he’ll probably be ready for a break. Pitt is pairing with Joel and Ethan Coen (“Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski”) to star in the war drama “To the White Sea.” The story, based on “Deliverance” author James Dickey’s novel, tells of a World War II American tail gunner stranded in Japan.

Those who want a break from seeing photos of his million-dollar wedding can catch him in a flurry of movies: “Snatch,” from writer-director Guy Ritchie (and father of Madonna’s baby, Rocco); “The Mexican,” co-starring Julia Roberts and “Sopranos” boss James Gandolfini; and the all-star remake of “Oceans 11,” with George Clooney.

OH, HARRY, CAN’T YOU MAKE THIS DISAPPEAR? Will it be Scotland or Pennsylvania? Apparently neither the war of words over Muggles will be decided in New York. Nancy Stouffer of Camp Hill, Pa., had filed a lawsuit against author J.K. Rowlings, publisher Scholastic. Inc. and Time Warner Entertainment Co., claiming that she owns the trademark rights to “Muggles,” characters from the “Harry Potter” books. U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz decided Monday to hold the case in New York, and he refused to dismiss a countersuit brought by Rowling and publisher against Stouffer.

Scholastic says Stouffer’s claims were absurd: “Ms. Rowling’s creative mind works in a world filled with myths and legends, but let there be no doubt that these books are her unique creations. Unfortunately, nowadays, success seems to breed not only imitation but also litigation.” Stouffer’s book, “The Legend of Rah and the Muggles,” was about tiny and hairless creatures on the continent of Aura in a futuristic post-nuclear holocaust world.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

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