Country queen LeAnn Rimes has always maintained a squeaky-clean, girl-next-door sort of image, but that all changed this week when the married crooner was accused in Us Weekly of having a steamy affair with her co-star in the Lifetime TV movie Northern Lights, the also-married Eddie Cibrian. Us ran photos taken from a video security camera that depicted LeAnn and Eddie supposedly canoodling on a romantic dinner date; reported that the two had trysted at the Malibu Beach Inn; and quoted Northern Lights director Mike Robe as saying, "From the moment we rehearsed, LeAnn and Eddie honestly developed a really strong bond and a warm relationship."
Both actors quickly denied that their relationship was anything more than professional/platonic, although LeAnn's statement on the scandal was far more vague that her co-star's. "This is a difficult time for me and my loved ones," she wrote on her website. "But I appreciate all your continued support. I would like to assure all of you that this [site] is a place for you to hear things directly from me and as you all know, not everything in our lives is black and white." Eddie, however, was more emphatic and to-the-point, telling Access Hollywood: "Other than being friends and two actors who were romantically intertwined in a movie-for-television we filmed last fall, there is no truth to the reporting initiated by Us magazine. It is a fabricated story that is using random snapshots as connective tissue to create a scandalous relationship."
LeAnn's husband of seven years, backup dancer Dean Sheremet, further backed up his under-fire significant other, posting "I love my wife!!!" on his personal Twitter page as a demonstration of his loyalty and the Rimes-Sheremets' strong marital bond.
Well, whether or not the rumors of LeAnn's affair are true, they certainly helped bolster ratings for Northern Lights, proving the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity. The Lifetime movie drew 4.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched movie of the year for the cable network. Too bad for the USA Network that there were no rumors of LeAnn having an affair with celebrity judge Bret Michaels when the two of them co-starred on the relatively low-rated Nashville Star.
Moving on...in other country scandals, this week Dolly Parton addressed the gay rumors that have surrounded her for years due to her long, close relationship with her BFF, Judy Ogle. "We're absolutely totally honest, open, and comfortable with each other," said Dolly--who's been married to husband Carl Dean for 43 years--in AARP magazine. "We've been accused of being lovers. We do love each other, but we've never been like that."
So, that's settled.
Oh, and speaking of troubled marriages, three years ago the then-married Madonna and Guy Ritchie generated controversy by adopting Malawian infant David Banda. But Madge had made up her mind, she was keeping her baby. Eventually she got her way (who says no to MADONNA?), and David's adoption was finalized in 2008...and now she is reportedly attempting to adopt a Malawi-born sibling for little David. This week officials confirmed that Madonna has filed adoption papers for a second Malawian orphan, and Madonna herself told Malawi's The Nation newspaper: "Many people--especially our Malawian friends--say that David should have a Malawian brother or sister. It's something I have been considering, but would only do, if I had the support of the Malawian people and the government."
Officials say Madonna's adoption case may be heard as soon as Monday...but that she may experience an even tougher time now due to her newly divorced status, as single motherhood is largely frowned upon by the Malawian system.
Meanwhile, legendary record producer and accused murderer Phil Spector had his own tough time in court this week, as his second trial in the second-degree homicide of actress Lana Clarkson was turned over for deliberation by a new jury. (His first trial ended in a jury deadlock in 2007, with the majority favoring a "guilty" verdict.) Deputy District Attorney Truc Do stated in her concluding arguments that Spector was "a demonic maniac" when he drank alcohol and "a very dangerous man" around women, who "had a history of playing Russian roulette with the lives of women." Chillingly, referring to five female witnesses for the prosecution in this case, she added: "Five women got the empty chamber. Lana got the sixth bullet."
Meanwhile, Spector's own lawyer, Doron Weinberg, insisted that Lana shot herself and that there were no traces of Spector's DNA anywhere on the gun. "The forensic evidence shows that Phillip Spector is innocent," he said, listing 14 pieces of scientific evidence presented by the defense. Now the "Wall Of Sound" producer's fate lies in the hands of his California jurors. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 15 years-to-life behind bars.
One trial that's still far from over is that of Chris Brown, in his domestic violence case involving his on/off girlfriend Rihanna. A private court meeting had originally been called for last Monday at Chris's attorneys' request, but on Friday the hearing was postponed, and later it was canceled altogether without any public explanation. Chris's lawyer-to-the-stars Mark Geragos (who's defended Chris's idol, Michael Jackson, as well as Winona Ryder) has yet to comment on why the meeting was called off, although the singer's manager denied reports that the cancellation had anything to do with rumors of Chris's desire to fire Geragos. Chris's arraignment is now set for April 6, with this week's hearing not being rescheduled at all.
And in a final bit of legal news, rapper T.I. was sentenced this week to one year and one day in a Georgia prison for a 2007 felony weapons charge. T.I.--who originally faced up to 10 years behind bars, before making plea deal and agreeing to complete 1,000 hours of community service prior to his sentencing--is required to voluntarily turn himself in within the next 30 to 60 days.
In lighter news, it seems like every band is reuniting these days, from pop combos like New Kids On The Block and the Spice Girls to alt-rock groups like Rage Against The Machine and Faith No More. But there are still a few holdouts who refuse to sell out. For instance, this week legendary '90s "Madchester" rockers the Stone Roses followed their Mancunian brethren the Smiths' example and steadfastly refuted recent rumors of their much-demanded reunion. "I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group the Stone Roses," wrote the band's ex-guitarist John Squire--in an arty collage style, yet--on the landing page of his solo website. Oh well, Squire minced no words there, but maybe there's still hope that the Roses (or the Smiths, for that matter) will change their mind by Coachella 2010.
But...eh, probably not.
Meanwhile, this week on the Smashing Pumpkins' website a statement was posted, somewhat anti-climactically announcing the departure of drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, the only remaining original member of the '90s grunge group aside from leader Billy Corgan. However, Billy apparently does have some desire to desecrate the grave of seminal Chicago pop group the Smashing Pumpkins, as the Pumpkins' site also announced that the last Pumpkin standing will "continue to write and record as Smashing Pumpkins with plans to head into the studio this spring." Apparently Billy realized releasing solo music under his own name, as he did with the one-off The Future Embrace, was not as lucrative as using the "Smashing Pumpkins" moniker. After all, he did take out a full-page ads in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times the same day of that rather unsuccessful album's 2005 release, declaring his desire to reform his old band.
However, without Jimmy (not to mention crucial original members James Iha and D'Arcy Wretzky, or even D'Arcy replacement Melissa Auf Der Maur), Billy's Smashing Pumpkins now seem to be following the same questionable career path as Guns N' Roses, a band featuring no familiar original members except for deluded frontman Axl Rose. But that being said, we're sure that Corgan fans are hoping he won't take a Chinese Democracy-esque 15 or so years to come up with the next "Pumpkins" album.
Oh, and by the way, for those of you deflated by the news of Stone Roses' stonewalling or Smashing Pumpkins' latest lineup smashup, you'll be happy to hear that one band did confirm reunion plans this week: '80s new romantics (or is that old romantics?) Spandau Ballet. We know this much is true.
And on that happy, hopeful note, thus concludes another week in news. Come back next week for more headlines, and until then, goodnight and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Does Rimes Have No Reason? - LeAnn is accused of having an extramarital affair.
2) Little Jimmy Dickens Dies - The Grand Ole Opry legend was 88.
3) Phil Spector Gets Another Day In Court - His fate is now in the hands of the jury.
4) The Road To Redemption Leads To Prison - T.I. is sentenced to one year and one day behind bars.
5) Madonna To Be A Mama, Again? - Officials say Madge wants to adopt another Malawian infant.
6) Chris Not In Court - Brown's hearing is cancelled without explanation.
7) Sharon Is Not Carin' - Mrs. Osbourne lashes out against the press.
8) Dolly Parton Works 9 To 5 To Quash Rumors - She addresses gossip that she's gay.
9) Pumpkins Smashed Again - Original member Jimmy Chamberlin quits Smashing Pumpkins.
10) Still Gold - Spandau Ballet reform for a reunion tour.