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HBO sues Gandolfini

HBO fired back Tuesday at The Sopranos star James Gandolfini in court, saying the actor must settle his contract dispute or risk being liable for more than $100-million in damages.

In a counterclaim filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, HBO is "seeking the damages that will result from his failure and refusal to perform his contract," said Bert Fields, the attorney for the cable channel.

Gandolfini, who plays New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano in the hit HBO drama, had filed a Superior Court complaint claiming that HBO breached his contract.

The complaint didn't mean that Gandolfini would fail to report for filming, Gandolfini's attorney, Martin Singer, said last week.

In Oscar news . . .

THE SHOW WILL GO ON: Oscar organizers are hoping the movie awards ceremony doesn't get lost in a U.S.-led war with Iraq.

A U.S.-backed proposal sets a Monday deadline for Iraq to prove it has disarmed _ which means a military strike could be dominating the news by the time Hollywood kicks off its annual awards extravaganza on March 23.

Gil Cates, executive producer of ABC's live Academy Awards telecast, told a gathering of nominees Monday that "the show will go on," even if it means interrupting the ceremony with periodic announcements or running a news crawl at the bottom of the screen.

EMINEM WILL NOT PERFORM: Eminem will not perform his Oscar-nominated song Lose Yourself at the show.

The rapper's spokesmen have confirmed that he will not be performing the song from 8 Mile during the 75th annual Academy Awards, held March 23 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. A staffer at Interscope Records tells Zap2it.com that the singer is taking time off and that is why he has opted out of performing at the awards show.

Officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were reportedly nervous about Eminem singing the song on the air, given his penchant for using swear words.

But there is no indication that this went into his decision not to perform.

Suicide ruled out in

death at Spector's home

Suicide has been ruled out in the death of actor Lana Clarkson, found shot at the suburban Alhambra, Calif., home of music producer Phil Spector, authorities said Tuesday.

Sheriff's Capt. Frank Merriman said authorities believe the shooting was a crime, and he disputed reports that Spector would soon be cleared.

No charges have been filed, and Spector was released on $1-million bail.

Head fractures man's skull

A flying sheep's head hit a concertgoer and fractured his skull at a concert of Norwegian band Mayhem.

The band, part of the country's death metal music scene, was carving up a dead sheep as part of its stage act when the animal's head flew off lead singer Maniac's knife and struck 25-year-old Per Kristian Hagen.

"My relationship to sheep is a bit ambivalent now. I like them, but not when they come flying through the air," Hagen told the Associated Press Monday from his hospital room. He is expected to recover.

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