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Thursday, May 22, 2003

NICOLE AND NICOTINE: Nicole Kidman's televised cigarette puffing at the Cannes Film Festival in France has anti-smokers in Sydney, Australia, fuming.

Critics said the sight of the Oscar-winning Australian thespian lighting up in front of the world's media this week while promoting her new film, "Dogville," was free advertising for the tobacco industry.

"Mass media coverage of celebrity smokers, like Nicole Kidman, is priceless for the tobacco industry in their drive to addict new smokers, most of whom are children," said Anne Jones, of the Action on Smoking and Health group in Australia.

At a media briefing, Kidman scammed a cigarette off her co-star, Stellan Skarsgard, only to be admonished by director Lars von Trier in front of the world's press. "Oh, Nicole, don't do that - you promised," von Trier said. Kidman coolly kept puffing.

The images made major Australian news bulletins and were reported in Wednesday's newspapers.

Wendy Day, Kidman's Australian publicist, said she hadn't spoken to the actress since the news conference.


LAYOFFS AT LAW FIRM: "The Practice" may be looking for smaller offices next season on ABC.

The legal drama, returning from the brink of cancellation for its eighth season, will be minus star Dylan McDermott and five other cast members, series creator David E. Kelley said.

Kelli Williams, who played McDermott's wife; Lisa Gay Hamilton; Lara Flynn Boyle; Marla Sokoloff and Chyler Leigh are leaving the series.

Steve Harris, Camryn Manheim and Michael Badalucco will stay on. McDermott may return as a guest star in four episodes, and Kelley said he hoped other ex-cast members could also drop back in.

In a statement Monday, Kelley attributed the departures to "economic and creative realities." The license fee ABC pays for the show reportedly has been cut about in half, to about $3.5 million per episode.


SCORSESE TO MAKE DYLAN DOCUMENTARY: How many roads must a man walk down before Martin Scorsese makes a movie about him?

The answer, my friend, is in the tentatively titled "Bob Dylan Anthology Project," a biography about the iconic folk singer directed by the "Gangs of New York" filmmaker.

The film, planned for release in 2005, will chronicle Dylan's 1963 breakthrough and the cultural and political influence of his music, Scorsese and his producing partners said Tuesday.

"I've admired and enjoyed his many musical transformations," Scorsese said in a statement. "For me, there is no other musical artist who weaves his influences so densely to create something so personal and unique."

Besides playing in some theaters, the movie also will air on PBS in the United States and the BBC in the United Kingdom.

The documentary is in the tradition of "The Last Waltz," Scorsese's 1978 concert film about The Band, which also featured Dylan. The Dylan film is expected to feature live concert performances, studio recording sessions and a rare interview with the singer-songwriter.


HELP FOR HOMELESS: Pink Floyd singer-guitarist David Gilmour has sold his large London house to fund a $5.9 million contribution to a housing project for the homeless.

"David Gilmour's generosity has provided a real launch pad for this project, and we are immensely grateful for the belief he's shown," Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of the charity Crisis said at a news conference Tuesday.

Crisis plans to build an urban village with apartments for 400 people - half homeless and half public-sector workers.

The musician said he'd recently moved to the country and only used his London house once or twice a week.

"Homeless people do not just want a roof over their heads, they need a way to be drawn back into the community," Gilmour said. "This seems to be a way forward and I give it my full support."

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