Phil Loftus/Capital Pictures
Lori Reese
August 15, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

AILING Madonna underwent emergency surgery that saved the life of her baby boy, Rocco, according to the BBC. The Material Mom — who turns 42 tomorrow — was reportedly rushed to L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai hospital after suffering from acute abdominal pain and bleeding. The U.K. news service says doctors found that she had a detached placenta, which was cutting off the oxygen supply to the baby, and they performed a cesarean section to save his life. Rocco was born healthy — weighing in at 5 pounds, 9 ounces. The pop star’s Warner Bros. publicist had denied the report, saying the BBC story is ”exaggerated and inaccurate.”

PROTEST The L.A. police fired pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd of 9,000 that gathered to hear Rage Against the Machine‘s protest gig last night at the Democratic National Convention. About 40 so called anarchists, clad head to toe in black, turned violent during the performance, hurling concrete blocks, water bottles, and street signs at the police phalanx gathered around the demonstration site. Apparently the singing and dancing crowd hardly noticed the problem until the anarchists set fire to a pile of banners and placards and the officers in riot gear moved in on horseback with billy clubs in hand. Fans scrambled for an exit; many fell to the ground. ”The police completely overreacted. I am wondering whether this looks like a free country or a police state,” a former U.S. Senate candidate who was caught up in the chaos told Reuters. ”We believe our response was strategic, measured, and appropriate to the situation,” said police commander Dave Kalish. Paramedics said they treated at least 36 wounded after the incident, and Kalish said that 10 people were arrested.

CANCELED Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes have scrapped a portion of their tour because the Led Zeppelin guitarist is suffering from a back injury. Details of the 56 year old Page’s ailment have not yet been disclosed. The cancellation will affect eight shows between Irvine, Calif., and Houston. The combo said via a statement that will try to reschedule the gigs before the second leg of their tour starts in September. That won’t help anyone who’s on vacation with tickets to see them in Las Vegas, though, now will it?

KING OF POP Quoth the pop maven… Michael Jackson says he will begin work on a feature film, ”The Nightmares of Edgar Allan Poe,” in which he’ll play the American goth poet, after his new album is released in January, reports USA Today. Jackson is excited about the script for the ”very scary” movie and looking for a director, his coexec producer, Gary Pudney, told the paper. ”Michael has had conversations with Steven Spielberg, who is a good friend,” he said. ”Spielberg was enthusiastic and suggested several people, including Tim Burton, who did ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands.”’ The singer also plans to write a song for the film’s soundtrack and to begin his research for the role with a visit to the site of Poe’s death in Baltimore. Cool. Afterwards, he’ll no doubt undertake earnest study of 18th century French in order to shed light on Baudelaire’s alleged invention of Poe’s Romantic legacy.

NIXED For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee, ”American High.” After only two weeks, Fox has expelled R.J. Cutler’s (”The War Room”) critically lauded documentary that tracks the lives of teens in an affluent community, Variety reports. But the show — which faced stiff competition in its Wednesday night slot opposite ”Big Brother” — may still find a home. Fox Family Channel is in talks to air the four episodes that have already run, and Cutler is hopeful about its future. ”There’s no question there’s a home for this show,” he told the industry daily. ”People have already been calling [and] we expect ‘American High’ to live on.” We suggest Cutler do a little reediting and turn ”High” into a more commercially viable venture: ”When the Pets of Good Kids Go Bad.”

JUST SAY NO The Dixie Chicks passed up a multimillion dollar promotional deal with Coke because of the ongoing commercial actors’ strike. Apparently, the Grammy winning country singers walked out of negotiations with Coca Cola because the company refused to sign an interim agreement with the Screen Actors Guild. The soda pop giants have refused to comment on the failed deal. Presumably, ”We’d Like to Teach You All to Sing” was not one of Coke’s more effective bargaining chips.

CASTING Things will get a little weird for Brad Pitt after he finishes filming ”Ocean’s 11.” The newlywed has committed to star in Joel and Ethan Coen‘s ”To The White Sea” after the Warner Bros. brat pack remake is wrapped. The WWII movie, which will be filmed in Japan, has been adapted from a James Dickey novel by ”Blade Runner” and ”Unforgiven” screenwriter David Webb Peoples.

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