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'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' film sequel planned

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April 03, 2010

'Diary' movie gets sequel

Fox 2000 has greenlighted a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" sequel, based on the second book in author Jeff Kinney's bestselling prose/comic series.

The production will work from a new script from Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, who wrote the shooting script of the first movie, and will take a fair amount of input from Kinney himself. Star Zachary Gordon will come back too in a plot that finds Greg Heffley back for a second year in middle school.

-- Steven Zeitchik ABC News lays off Betsy Stark

ABC News has laid off business correspondent Betsy Stark as part of a wrenching series of cuts in the news division that will ultimately see the departure of a quarter of the staff.

The Emmy-winning correspondent, who joined ABC in 1998, served as the network's lead reporter covering the economic downturn. In an e-mail to colleagues Friday, Stark called it "ironic" that one of her final pieces for ABC News was about mid-career professionals forced to reinvent themselves after being laid off.

In all, ABC plans to cut between 300 and 400 staffers, including half its domestic correspondent corps, who will be replaced with digital journalists who will shoot and edit their own video. Last week, Los Angeles correspondents Brian Rooney and Lisa Fletcher, and San Francisco correspondent Laura Marquez were let go as part of severe cuts to the California bureaus.

-- Matea Gold Paquin says she's bi, crashes site

A gay rights campaign that features a declaration of bisexuality by Anna Paquin has received so much traffic that its website crashed.

The campaign was launched Thursday by Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund. The Web-based initiative hopes to educate for "the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality."

The campaign drew particular interest because the video features Paquin, the 27-year-old star of HBO's "True Blood," declaring she's bisexual.

The website, wegiveadamn.org, said Friday that it was "overwhelmed" by the "enormous traffic." Additional servers were added.

The video also includes appearances by Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Mraz and Cynthia Nixon.

-- associated press Merkerson to leave 'Law'

S. Epatha Merkerson, the senior member of the "Law & Order" cast, is leaving after the show's current 20th season.

Merkerson, who joined the NBC drama in 1993 as New York police Lt. Anita Van Buren, has decided to exit after 16 years, according to a person close to the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because that person wasn't authorized to speak about cast changes.

Merkerson, 57, who held firm on a series that has seen dozens of cast members come and go, has played a strong, no-nonsense supervisor in a Manhattan police precinct.

As Merkerson prepares to depart "Law & Order," the show awaits news of whether it will be back. A renewal for next season would make it TV's longest-running drama. It currently ties "Gunsmoke."

-- associated press Palin's show draws 2 million

Sarah Palin's new Fox News series debuted Thursday evening amid substantial chatter, but in the end "Real American Stories" delivered about the same number of viewers that usually tune into the network at that hour.

The show, in which Palin interviewed people about their inspirational stories of heroism and determination, averaged 2.07 million viewers at 7 p.m. PDT, down slightly from the average of 2.12 million who watched "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren" at that hour in the first quarter of this year.

Palin still got more viewers than all her cable news competitors combined.

-- Matea Gold Doherty will voice twins

Shannen Doherty was the first celebrity bounced from the new season of "Dancing With the Stars" this week, but the former "Beverly Hills 90210" star is staying busy. She'll provide the voice for identical twins in "Mari-Kari," an animated series that will premiere in June on Fearnet.com, a website devoted to the horror, thriller and suspense genres.

What's the supernatural hook in "Mari-Kari"? Mari is alive; Kari isn't.

-- from a times staff writer Cox, Holleman pick up awards

Brian Cox and Lily Holleman picked up the acting honors at the 12th annual Method Fest, the independent film festival that was held in Calabasas over the last week.

Cox won for "The Good Heart," while Holleman won best actress and the rising star award for "UrFrenz." The audience award for a feature went to "Tic," directed by Keith Parmer. "Butterfly Circus" won for best short film. Bruce Dern won the lifetime achievement award.

-- from a times staff writer

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