SELF-DEFENSE After two months of silence, Brandy has finally spoken out to deny reports that her hospitalization last November was the result of an addiction to diet pills. She told ”Access Hollywood” that her collapse was purely a result of chronic fatigue and dehydration. ”I just want to tell you it took me five years to get sick,” said the singer/actress, who had been working for 18 months straight when she was hospitalized. ”Dehydration is crazy when you don’t realize what you are doing and you are working all of the time.” When asked about the addiction rumors, she said, ”My family has kept me to where I need to be mentally. So to go that route and say those bad things about me, it was kind of weird, but I was true to myself and it didn’t matter.”
SPONSORED Finally, Burger King has something to lure kids away from McDonald’s Happy Meal baubles and trinkets: The Backstreet Boys. The fast-food chain has signed an exclusive promotional deal with the teen group, whose melodious harmonies go down as smooth as a Whopper greased to perfection. In addition to sponsoring the group’s fall tour, starting in August Burger Kings will offer a CD (with an advanced single from the Boys’ new October album, ”Jive,” and five unreleased live tracks) and a video (with interviews and backstage footage). Meanwhile, Stuckey’s continues to hope to land that ever-elusive Right Said Fred tie-in.
GUEST STAR ‘N Sync’s Lance Bass will guest on the Jan. 31 episode of ”7th Heaven,” in which he’ll smooch show regular Beverley Mitchell. But don’t start fashioning those voodoo dolls yet, girls: He was careful to mention, in an AOL chat, that it’s only acting – he’s not romantically involved with her. Lance then precociously added that with Valentine’s Day approaching, he and his bandmates were lonely and all needed valentines. Suffice it to say that within an hour, 1600 teenage girls had bandages on their fingers from rose-emoticon-typing-related injuries.
REEL DEALS Matt Damon and Ben Affleck met with HBO this week to pitch their pet project, a miniseries based on Howard Zinn’s ”People’s History of the United States,” according to the Hollywood Reporter The duo was originally supposed to produce it as a 10-hour production for Fox, but that deal fell apart and now they are shopping around a shorter version, possibly taking on only one moment in history (the American Revolution, for example, or the Civil War, or the Damon/Affleck years)…. Joel Schumacher, who directed 1987’s ”The Lost Boys,” has come up with a plan for a sequel called ”The Lost Girls,” which he will produce. Since the first movie introduced the comical mystique that is the Two Coreys (Haim and Feldman), the follow-up will hopefully introduce a young pair who will provide new punchlines for years to come…. Director Phillip Noyce (”The Bone Collector”) is developing ”Bloodline,” a drama about two brothers who find themselves on opposite sides of the Russia-Chechnya conflict.
SICK DAY Smashing Pumpkins had to abort their Brussels, Belgium, concert on Wednesday after Billy Corgan’s throat was killing him, according to MTV News. The band had played just two songs before they left the stage, and Corgan then came out to tell how ill he was and grovel for forgiveness. ”Don’t be mad at me,” he said. ”I’m very sick. I went to the doctor and everything and my voice is totally f—ed. There’s absolutely no way I can continue. My voice is going to go. So, we’re sorry you came, and we’ll give you all your money back.” The band has also canceled Friday night’s show in Manchester, England.
CASTING Holly Hunter will star in the Showtime movie ”Harlan County War,” about the Kentucky coal strike of the mid-1970s…. Dennis Rodman has joined the cast of the syndicated action series ”The Consultants,” completing a roster that ain’t exactly ”Mission: Impossible”: His costars are Rena Mero (formerly known as WWF’s Sable) and karate dude Jeff Speakman. Rodman plays a brilliant veteran who suffers wild mood swings because of a bullet permanently lodged in his brain. Let us never speak of this again.
LAWSUIT The 11th commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of Tesh! John Tesh has filed a lawsuit against Celebsites.com for registering the domain name www.johntesh.com, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He is citing a law passed last year that prohibits cybersquatting, which is when someone registers a celebrity’s name as a URL in the hopes of selling it back to that star for big cash. Tesh’s attorney says that this new site could compromise the New Ager’s own Web page, Tesh.com, which offers ”intelligence for the family.” Celebsites could not be reached for comment, possibly because they were incapacitated by giggles from that whole ”intelligence” remark.
HONORED The Writers Guild of America West is honoring Alan Alda with the Valentine Davies Award (named after the writer of ”Miracle on 34th Street”) for his achievements in entertainment and public service. Alda not only wrote and directed many episodes of ”M*A*S*H,” but he formed the Alda Family Center in New York for domestic violence, and started a foundation that helps kids and families at risk for home trouble.