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AP Entertainment NewsBrief at 8:50 p.m. EDT
[September 03, 2008]

AP Entertainment NewsBrief at 8:50 p.m. EDT

(AP Online Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) 'Peanuts' animator Bill Melendez dies at 91SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ Bill Melendez, the animator who gave life to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and other "Peanuts" characters in scores of movies and TV specials, has died. He was 91. Melendez died Tuesday at St. John's Hospital, according to publicist Amy Goldsmith. Melendez's nearly seven decades as a professional animator began in 1938 when he was hired by Walt Disney Studios and worked on Mickey Mouse cartoons and classic animated features such as "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia."

Spears to open MTV Video Music AwardsNEW YORK (AP) _ It's Britney, baby, one more time. Despite her train-wreck performance at the MTV Video Music Awards last year, the network confirms Spears will kick off the show once again. But it won't be a performance. Instead, MTV Networks Music Group President Van Toffler said Wednesday, it'll be something "fun and unexpected" on Sunday night's show.

Judge refuses to dismiss case against SpearsLOS ANGELES (AP) _ A judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a misdemeanor driving without-a-valid-license case against Britney Spears. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James A. Steele issued his ruling after reviewing statutes cited by prosecutors and Spears' attorney, J. Michael Flanagan. The ruling means the singer may go on trial in October.

Mackenzie Phillips charged with drug possessionLOS ANGELES (AP) _ Mackenzie Phillips was charged Wednesday with felony possession of drugs for allegedly carrying narcotics at Los Angeles International Airport. District attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said the former teen star was charged with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, heroin and cocaine.

Judge nixes claims in Heath Ledger tape lawsuitLOS ANGELES (AP) _ A judge on Wednesday dealt a serious but possibly temporary blow to a lawsuit filed by a celebrity magazine reporter who has accused a paparazzi agency of secretly filming Heath Ledger doing drugs in her hotel room. Superior Court Judge John S. Wiley Jr. tentatively dismissed 11 of 12 claims filed against the agency and two photographers, saying most of the allegations lacked legal standing.

Reggaeton's 'El Father' turns to The FatherSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A Puerto Rican reggaeton star announced Wednesday he will give up his role as a rapper known for lyrics about violence and womanizing to devote his life to God. Hector "El Father" Delgado held a surprise news conference in Puerto Rico's capital to say he will follow a religious calling and preach positive messages to youngsters once he has completed a tour for his latest CD.

Network TV's anchor trio join the cancer fightNEW YORK (AP) _ Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams have something in common besides their jobs: Each has lost loved ones to cancer _ which gives them something in common with nearly everybody. The evening news anchors are planning to join dozens of A-list entertainers and sports figures on "Stand Up to Cancer," a live, one-hour special being simulcast at 8 p.m. EDT Friday on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as cable's E! Entertainment channel.

NBC stayed on top last week, with viewership downNEW YORK (AP) _ What a difference the Olympics makes, especially when it's over. An average audience of more than 23 million viewers flocked to NBC for its final week of Summer Games coverage. Then, last week, the network's prime-time viewership plunged to 5.9 million.

List of top 20 shows in prime-time Nielsen ratingsPrime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen Media Research for Aug. 25-31. Listings include the week's ranking, with viewership for the week and season-to-date rankings in parentheses. An "X" in parentheses denotes a one-time-only presentation. 1. (14) "America's Got Talent," NBC, 11.12 million viewers.

Oprah Winfrey hosts Olympians in ChicagoCHICAGO (AP) _ Thousands of spectators cheered Olympic medalists Michael Phelps, Dara Torres and Kobe Bryant on Wednesday as the city of Chicago got a high-profile boost to its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Oprah Winfrey was taping the season premiere for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" at a downtown park, and she invited 150 U.S. Olympic athletes to join her. The athletes were introduced under a shower of red, white and blue confetti.

Copyright ? 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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