News Summary

Gay '90s

Plus, ''Saturday Night Live,'' Jessica Simpson, MTV, Marv Albert, Penny Marshall, and more

SO SORRY As the Beastie Boys become Beastie Men, they are looking back with shame on some of their early antics. Adam ''Ad-Rock'' Horovitz wrote a letter to Time Out New York publicly apologizing for the homophobic lyrics in the trio's first album, ''Licensed to Ill'' (which was originally supposed to be titled ''Don't Be a Faggot''). ''I would like to... formally apologize to the entire gay and lesbian community for the s---ty and ignorant things we said on our first record,'' Horovitz wrote. ''There are no excuses. But time has healed our stupidity.... We have learned and sincerely changed since the '80s.... We hope that you'll accept this long overdue apology.''

GONE TOO FAR? After the Anti-Defamation League protested a sketch from ''Saturday Night Live'''s Dec. 4 show as anti-Semitic, NBC has promised never to rerun the offending part of that skit, although Lorne Michaels says the issue isn't settled yet, according to Variety. The bit in question was a commercial parody for a special called ''And so This Is Chanukah,'' and one section had Celine Dion (played by Ana Gasteyer) mentioning that the Jews owned the movie studios and the banks, and, in the part the ADL called most galling, Britney Spears (done by host Christina Ricci) said that the Christians had forgiven the Jews for killing Jesus Christ. These topics ''represent anti-Semitic stereotypes at their worst and which have been at the root of much suffering in our own century,'' wrote ADL national director Abe Foxman to NBC executive VP Roz Weinman. Weinman responded by saying the network had reevaluated the sketch and decided the cited parts were ''problematic and... will be excised from future broadcasts.'' But Michaels (through a spokesman) said, ''As far as I'm concerned, it's still under discussion.''

RECOVERING Jessica Simpson will keep quiet for the rest of 1999: An upper respiratory infection has forced her to cancel all of her gigs for the next few weeks, according to MTV News. She will be in full voice in her guest spot on the NBC special ''Katarina Witt's Divas on Ice'' (Jan. 8, 4 p.m.), but that was taped back on Nov. 6.

UNDER SUSPICION The U.S. Justice Department is investigating MTV Networks for possible antitrust violations in the way it deals with record companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The government's investigation was sparked this year when MTV Networks bought a competing video channel, The Box, and the probe is looking into a number of potential violations, including demanding exclusive rights to videos for MTV, M2, and VH1. (We're afraid the government is having more trouble finding a Constitutional precedent to get ''Say What Karaoke'' off the air.) Viacom, the corporate owner of MTV, says that it is cooperating with the investigation and is sure that everything it does is the entirely legal dealings of a network in a competitive marketplace.

PLAY-BY-PLAY Marv Albert will be back in the NBA announcers' booth starting in January, replacing Bob Costas, who had held Albert's slot since he was fired in 1997 for admitting to biting a woman during sex. (Costas needs more time to prep for the Summer Olympics and a new HBO series he's starting in 2001.) Albert signed a new three-year deal with NBC in June for NBA games and the Olympics, but he was only supposed to do lower-interest games, as opposed to the high-profile matchups he'll take over now. Wow! A whole Marv Albert piece and no ''bite'' puns! Doesn't this deserve a special award from Brill's Content?

CHANGE WITH THE TIMES The Directors Guild of America will change the name of its prestigious D.W. Griffith Award (the group's top directing honor of the year), taking into account that although Griffith was an influential filmmaker, his 1915 ''Birth of a Nation'' was inherently racist. ''As we approach a new millennium,'' said DGA president Jack Shea, ''the time is right to create a new ultimate honor for film directors that better reflects the sensibilities of our society at this time in our national history.'' Past winners of the award have included Woody Allen, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, and Frank Capra. No new name for the honor has been chosen, but odds are the ''Michael Bay Award'' isn't in the running.

REEL DEALS Penny Marshall will direct ''Showtime,'' a movie on the history of the Harlem Globetrotters. Typically, there's still no biopic in place for the Washington Senators.... Director Bruce Beresford (''Double Jeopardy'') will take on ''Bride of the Wind,'' the story of Alma Mahler, who inspired her three creative husbands: composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and poet Franz Werfel.

LAWSUIT Julie Andrews has filed a medical malpractice suit against two doctors and Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, claiming they mishandled surgery on her vocal chords and ruined her ability to sing, according to Reuters. No specific amount was mentioned in the lawsuit, only that she would be asking for ''substantial damages to compensate for loss of past and future earnings.'' (The hospital and doctors had no immediate comment.) Her daughter, Jennifer, told People magazine that when her mom had the operation two years ago, the doctors told her she'd be crooning again in six weeks, but she's still not able to do so.

BLAST FROM THE PAST What with the popularity of the new VW bugs, it was only a matter of time before Disney tried to resuscitate its ''Herbie the Love Bug'' movies. The studio has commissioned a writer to come up with a script called ''Herbie and Millie,'' with Millie no doubt a female car and possible love interest. To avoid an R rating, Disney will have to tone down the hot muffler-on-muffler action.

Originally posted Dec 15, 1999