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A big, fat 'Greek' lawsuit

A lawsuit brought by Nia Vardalos regarding profits for the movie she wrote and starred in, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," was referred Monday to mediation.

Vardalos and her co-producers, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, maintain that Gold Circle Films, co-financier of the hit 2002 film, owes them a share of profits that they claim have gone unpaid. If they can prove fraud, they also are entitled to seek punitive damages.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos told them to try mediation but set a trail date of Jan. 20 in case that fails.

In addition to Gold Circle, which is backed by billionaire Norm Waitt Jr., co-founder of Gateway Inc., the suit names Big Wedding Productions and Vortex Pictures as defendants.

From City News Service

Oscar noms will be delayed

Academy Award nominees are usually revealed on a Tuesday about four weeks before the big show, which is typically held the last Sunday in February. For 2009, though, the targeted Tuesday -- Jan. 20 -- is Inauguration Day.

So the 81st annual Oscar nominees will be revealed Thursday, Jan. 22, and the Academy Awards will be presented Sunday, Feb. 22 -- the earliest Oscars ever.

"It didn't make any sense for us to try to compete with [the inauguration] from a news point of view," academy Executive Administrator Ric Robertson said Monday.

From the Associated Press

Mullins goes to USC program

Playwright and poet Brighde Mullins will become director of the University of Southern California Master of Professional Writing program, starting July 1.

The organizer of reading series at REDCAT, LACMA and New York's Dia Art Foundation, Mullins directs a writing program at the California Institute of the Arts. Her plays include "Fire Eater," performed at Venice's Electric Lodge in 2004.

The faculty for the USC program includes writers Janet Fitch, Judith Freeman and Sandra Tsing Loh.

-- Scott Timberg

Braxton to return in May

Toni Braxton won't return to the stage on the Las Vegas Strip until at least next month.

The Flamingo Las Vegas says Braxton's show will remain dark this week while the 40-year-old Grammy winner has more medical tests after her April 7 hospitalization for chest pain. Braxton was released the following day, but last week's shows were canceled.

Flamingo President Don Marrandino said her Tuesday through Saturday shows are also off, and Braxton will take advantage of a previously scheduled two-week break. She is due to resume her show at the Flamingo Showroom on May 6.

The exact cause of Braxton's chest pain hasn't been made public.

From the Associated Press

CBS has big summer plans

CBS said Monday that it will air nearly 90 hours of original programming this summer, including the scripted dramas "Swingtown" and "Flashpoint," two new competition series and a revival of the game show "Password."

The new competition series are "Greatest American Dog," in which owners and their pets will live together and compete against one another for a $250,000 grand prize, and "Jingles," in which contestants will write and perform a jingle each week.

Regis Philbin will host "Million Dollar Password," with celebrity players including Rosie O'Donnell, Rachael Ray and Betty White. White is the widow of the original "Password" host, Allen Ludden.

From City News Service

FINALLYBook deal: Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former Defense secretary and architect of the Iraq war, is working on a memoir to be published by Penguin Group (USA) in 2010. He will receive no advance, only money for expenses. Profits will be donated to a foundation he started, whose projects include grants to "promising young individuals" interested in public service.

KUSC promotion: Gail Eichenthal, director of arts programming at classical music outlet KUSC-FM (91.5) since April 2005, has been named the station's program director.

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