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Quick Takes: Sandra Bullock donates $1 million to Red Cross for Japanese relief

March 18, 2011

Actress Sandra Bullock sent a $1-million donation to the American Red Cross this week to help with earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan, the Red Cross said Thursday.

It is the largest celebrity donation to the Red Cross to be announced since the disaster struck last Friday, although the charity may have gotten large contributions that were kept confidential at the donors' request.

Dozens of celebrities used their social network accounts, including Twitter, to urge fans to support the Red Cross with small donations. The group has received $2.6 million since March 11 in $10 donations sent through cellphone text messages, it said.

—CNN

NBC renews three sitcoms

Michael Scott may be departing, but Dunder-Mifflin will carry on "that's-what-she-said"-ing without him: NBC has picked up "The Office," along with "Parks and Recreation" and "Community," for the 2011-12 season.

Despite less than stellar ratings, all three are "at the top of their game creatively," NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said Thursday.

Since "30 Rock" was renewed earlier this year, that means most of the Thursday-night comedy block will stay intact. The fate of "Outsourced" and "Perfect Couples" is uncertain.

"The Office" will be without the services of Steve Carell, who had played manager Michael Scott since the show premiered in 2005 but recently left to concentrate on his movie career.

—Melissa Maerz

Pet Shop Boys turn to ballet

British electro-pop duo the Pet Shop Boys have turned their talents to ballet for the first time, setting Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Most Incredible Thing" to music.

To many critics, the venture is a natural progression for an act that has thrived on filling the dance floors with catchy tunes such as "West End Girls" and "It's a Sin" often backed by orchestral-style synthesized sounds.

Neil Tennant, who with Chris Lowe boasts record sales of more than 100 million, agreed that "The Most Incredible Thing" was an extension of what the pair had done throughout their 30-year collaboration.

"I would regard this project as part of a long career of putting pop music in a theatrical context," Tennant said Thursday before a preview of the work at London's Sadler's Wells theater. The official opening is March 22.

—Reuters

Aronofsky exits 'Wolverine'

Darren Aronofsky, the Academy Award-nominated director of last year's "Black Swan," falls in love with a project, gets his star to pack on the pounds and gain new muscles for the role and then leaves the movie. It happened several years back with "The Fighter" and now it's happened again.

News came Thursday that Aronofsky has officially departed "The Wolverine," leaving star Hugh Jackman all bulked up with no one to direct him in battle.

Twentieth Century Fox confirmed that Aronofsky has moved on from the project, which didn't have an official start date but was expected to go before cameras in late spring.

In a statement, Aronofsky said that it had become clear that the production "would keep me out of the country for almost a year. I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time."

Studio executives had been high on the script from Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects"), in which Wolverine travels to Japan to train with a samurai warrior. Whether they will look quickly for a new director is up in the air.

—Nicole Sperling

'Memphis' on stage and screen

Are you ready for a "Memphis" onslaught? The Tony-winning, crowd-pleasing Broadway musical is set to play in movie theaters around the country before the launch of a national tour this year. Meanwhile, the production at the Shubert Theatre in New York, which opened in late 2009, is going strong.

"Memphis" will play in movie theaters on four days: April 28, 30 and May 3 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee May 1 at 12:30 p.m. A spokeswoman said that the Broadway production was filmed in January over the course of several performances, with original cast members including Montego Glover and Chad Kimball.

The national tour of "Memphis" will begin

in Memphis, Tenn., in October at the Orpheum Theatre. The tour will stop at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood from July 31 to Aug. 12, 2012.

—David Ng

Finally

Return engagement: Lara Spencer, who left "Good Morning America" in 2003 to work for the syndicated entertainment news show "The Insider," is rejoining the ABC morning program as lifestyle anchor.

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