Names and Faces: Madonna in Malawi; Dennis Hopper divorce

LESS STRESS: Dennis Hopper's wife, Victoria, will stay at least 10 feet away.
LESS STRESS: Dennis Hopper's wife, Victoria, will stay at least 10 feet away. (Jacques Brinon/associated Press)
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Villagers won't budge for Madge

Make room for Madonna: The government of Malawi has told an unhappy group of villagers that they will have to relocate so the American pop star can build a $15 million school for girls, the Associated Press reports.

A district commissioner in Lilongwe, the nation's capital, told 200 residents Thursday that their land has been handed over to Madonna. The government has offered the residents other land on which to live, but they have refused to leave their homes, despite pledges that the school would benefit their children.

Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, who will be principal of Madonna's school, says the singer paid the villagers 16 million kwacha ($115,000) to compensate them.

The controversy isn't Madonna's first in the southeast African country. Both of her bids to adopt Malawian children -- David Banda, 1, in 2008 and Mercy James, 3, last summer -- were ultimately successful, but faced legal challenges and claims she had used her celebrity to subvert Malawi's adoption laws.

Hopper's divorce darkens

Dennis Hopper's doctor says the actor's treatment for prostate cancer requires him to eliminate unnecessary stress -- and that includes wife Victoria Hopper.

Victoria, 42, has agreed to stay 10 feet away from Dennis, 73, and not contact him directly as they wrangle through a messy divorce, according to court papers filed Thursday. Dennis had requested an emergency restraining order prohibiting contact with his wife of nearly 14 years, citing her "outrageous conduct" and its detrimental effects on Dennis's ability to regain his health. A declaration from the physician was included in the filing.

In papers filed last month, Victoria made claims of her own: that Dennis has threatened her, has smoked marijuana in front of their 6-year-old daughter and has been rendered incapable of making sound decisions by his illness. She also contends that the divorce is an attempt to keep her from receiving an inheritance. (Dennis admits using medicinal marijuana but denies smoking it near his daughter.)

Banks to host technical Oscars

The Los Angeles Times reports that actress Elizabeth Banks will host this year's scientific and technical Oscars presentation, better known as the Nerd Oscars, recognizing milestones in movie technology (past recipients include IMAX and Dolby sound). Sci-tech Oscars, presented during a dinner, will be handed out Feb. 20. Taped excerpts will air during the March 7 Academy Awards, hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.

End Notes

Engaged: Former supermodel Maggie Rizer, 32, to businessman Alex Mehran, 28, Rizer tells US Weekly. The couple are planning a September wedding in Lake Placid, in Upstate New York.

Quoted: "I'm very excited to have the chance to show people what I am capable of and to prove that there's more to me than a mistake I made in a stressful situation when I was a teenager." -- Caite Upton, the former Miss South Carolina Teen USA who made it big on YouTube in 2007 by trying to explain why "U.S. Americans" can't locate "the Iraq" on a map. Upton, now 20 and a contestant on "The Amazing Race," tells People magazine she's "pretty confident with my geography."

-- Marissa Newhall, from staff, wire and Web reports

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