Names & Faces: Guillermo del Toro, Fergie, Prince Andrew, Naomi Campbell, more
Del Toro won't direct 'Hobbit'
After almost two years on the project without a green light from MGM, director Guillermo del Toro on Sunday said he will step down as director of "The Hobbit," Peter Jackson's two-part "Lords of the Rings" prequel. The creatures, sets, wardrobe and planned battle sequences were ready to go, del Toro said, but reportedly struggling MGM, which owns "a considerable portion of the rights," had yet to approve filming.
"I am faced with the hardest decision of my life," del Toro told a "Lord of the Rings" fan site. "After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien's Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures," said del Toro, who directed "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy."
Jackson, who will continue to work with del Toro on the scripts of the "Hobbit" movies, told TheOneRing.net: "The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn't feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years."
Duchess of York does 'Oprah'
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey set to air Tuesday, Sarah Ferguson says she had been drinking and was "not in my right place" when she was caught on video offering access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, to an undercover News of the World reporter for $724,000. The Duchess of York, who taped the interview in Los Angeles on Friday, says she has seen the video in airports but not watched it in its entirety. Ferguson has apologized for the incident and said she has financial problems.
Campbell in diamond dispute
Defense lawyers for former Liberian president Charles Taylor, on trial at the Hague for war crimes, on Monday described the prosecution's request to call Naomi Campbell and Mia Farrow as witnesses "a publicity stunt." Prosecutors filed a motion in May to subpoena Campbell to testify about claims that Taylor gave her "blood diamonds" at a reception in South Africa in 1997. Taylor's lawyers criticized the prosecution for bringing it up 15 months after they closed their case. Farrow, who attended the reception with Campbell, has said Campbell told her that two or three men "presented her with a large diamond, which they said was from Charles Taylor." Another witness, Carole White, says she heard Taylor say he was going to give Campbell diamonds and saw them being delivered. Taylor is charged with 11 counts of murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers when backing rebels in Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war, which left 500,000 people dead, mutilated or otherwise harmed.
-- Christian Hettinger, from Web and wire reports