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Quick Takes: Dennis Hopper items withdrawn from art auction

January 14, 2011

Hopper items withdrawnAn auction of art items from the collection of the late Dennis Hopper hit a legal bump this week after the actor's estranged wife filed a lawsuit contesting the sale of certain pieces, among them works by Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston and Manuel Ocampo.

Victoria Duffy, who was estranged from the actor when he died last year, has filed a title claim in L.A. Superior Court against the Dennis Hopper Trust, resulting in the withdrawal of 32 items from the auction at Christie's in New York.

Christie's said in a statement Wednesday that it is withdrawing the items "until such time as the title claim is resolved." The auction house said the Hopper sale includes more than 300 works. A hearing date has been set for Jan. 27 to consider the disputed works.

—David Ng

Gibson film to premiere at fest

"The Beaver," Jodie Foster's drama that features Mel Gibson as a depressed man who reinvents himself with the help of a beaver hand puppet, will have its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March.

Gibson's public meltdown — and its uncomfortable proximity to "The Beaver's" subject matter — has ignited enormous curiosity about the film. But festival organizers, who announced the premiere Thursday, said it was Foster's direction that won them over.

"We didn't want to become involved with a film that would hijack our festival with tabloid noise," said film conference and festival producer Janet Pierson. "But we were completely moved by the film itself. It's a tough topic and incredibly well realized."

It has not been determined whether Gibson will attend, Pierson said.

—Rebecca Keegan

'Superb' call by Aretha Franklin

A month after surgery in Detroit for an undisclosed ailment, Aretha Franklin says her health is "superb."

Franklin called in to Wednesday's installment of "The Wendy Williams Show," telling the host she was relaxing at a casino hotel in her hometown and hopes to begin traveling soon, saying she'll be "looking for a fabulous beach." She says she has two more weeks of down time as she continues her recovery.

The singer, who had surgery Dec. 2, also vowed to reschedule the concert dates she missed.

Franklin's voice was strong and steady during the interview.

—Associated Press

Grammys going for variety

The 53rd annual Grammy Awards, Feb. 13 at Staples Center, will feature a well-rounded collection of sounds and styles, at least based on the initial list of performers.

Announced Thursday morning, the musicians vary from the sturdy country sounds of Miranda Lambert to the grand rock 'n' roll of the Quebecois band Arcade Fire, from the king of the two-word profanity, Cee Lo Green, to the reigning Queen of Pomp and Pop, Lady Gaga. Rounding out the list of heavy-hitters will be Detroit rapper Eminem, whose 10 nominations lead the pack, and Katy Perry, who will no doubt be competing with Gaga in the unofficial "most buzzworthy costume" category.

—Randall Roberts

Presley group sues publisher

Elvis Presley Enterprises is suing Chrysalis Music Group to the tune of $5 million, charging that Chrysalis failed to perform its duties administering publishing of songs owned by EPE.

In a suit filed last week in New York Supreme Court, EPE and the heirs of publishers Julian and Jean Aberbach charge Chrysalis with underpaying royalties on songs to which EPE and the Aberbachs hold the copyrights and other royalty collection and payment issues. Presley and his manager, Col. Tom Parker, entered into a music publishing deal with the Aberbachs in 1955, at the outset of the singer's career.

Chrysalis Music Group had been contracted by EPE and the Aberbachs to protect their publishing rights and collect royalties from 2002 to 2006, according to the suit, which also alleges that Chrysalis failed to make payments to EPE and the Aberbachs even after its own audits showed that additional money was due them.

"The lawsuit came as a surprise to us, as we have been working with the Presley estate on resolving an ongoing audit," a Chrysalis spokesman said in a statement. "Without prejudice, it is our intention to keep working towards a satisfactory solution for all parties concerned."

—Randy Lewis

Salinger estate settles dispute

The estate of J.D. Salinger and Swedish author and publisher Fredrik Colting entered into a consent agreement to end the copyright battle over Colting's book "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," the so-called unauthorized sequel to "The Catcher in the Rye," that would bar the book's publication in the U.S., Publishers Weekly reports.

Colting has agreed not to publish or otherwise distribute the book, e-book, or any other editions in the U.S. or Canada until "The Catcher in the Rye" enters the public domain.

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