Lucas sets up shop with special effects campus

Star Wars creator George Lucas hopes a $300 million special effects campus for his film company will help San Francisco rival Hollywood as a producer of movie magic.

"San Francisco's always had a quality of filmmaking that most people haven't been able to recognize, we always get shoved under the title 'Hollywood,'" Lucas said Saturday at the project's groundbreaking.

The campus, for the digital arts project of Lucasfilm Ltd., will be near the Golden Gate Bridge at the Presidio.

The 850,000-square-foot project is scheduled for completion in 2005 and eventually will house 2,500 workers, Lucasfilm officials said. Lucasfilm's headquarters, Skywalker Ranch, is across the Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio in Marin County.

Trouble in Paradise?

Brace yourself. Just days before Valentine's Day comes word that America's Sweethearts, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, could be having those dreaded marital problems, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It seems that Brad has become "friendly" with a woman who is working on his latest film, and that Jen walked in on them being, ahem, friendly.

Brad ran after her but she wouldn't listen - she just got in her car and drove off.

Home boy

Superstar rapper Eminem plans only one U.S. concert this year and it will be in his hometown of Detroit.

Also appearing at the July 12 show at the new downtown football stadium will be Missy Elliott and 50 Cent.

"His entire North American tour takes place at Ford Field," Rick Franks of Clear Channel Entertainment told the Detroit Free Press.

Ford Field holds about 45,000 people for concerts.

Xena draws a crowd

Her television adventures may be over, but Xena: Warrior Princess still attracts a crowd.

A talk by the princess warrior herself, actress Lucy Lawless, was the highlight of the annual Xena Convention, which ended yesterday in Pasadena, Calif., and was expected to draw 5,000 people over three days. The TV show's final episode aired two years ago after six seasons.

Appearing with Lawless on Saturday evening was Renee O'Connor, who played Xena sidekick Gabrielle.

Watch the fur fly

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has put Liza Minnelli at the top of its worst-dressed list, reports MSNBC.

PETA hopes that Liza, who abstained from fur for years, gets back on the "wagon of compassion." Tutu-wearing Lara Flynn Boyle also comes under fire: "If you're dying to look thinner, Lara, don't starve yourself - shed your skin. Like all fur coats, it adds 20 pounds."

Of The View host Star Jones: "In all that fur, is she out to prove that Bigfoot isn't a hoax after all?"

Also making the list: Macy Gray, Lenny Kravitz, Miss Universe Justine Pasek, Axl Rose and Sharon Stone.

Ebert recuperating

Film critic Roger Ebert is recuperating from follow-up surgery for papillary cancer, a common and curable type of thyroid cancer.

The 60-year-old movie reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times and television audiences underwent the procedure Thursday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

"It went very successfully," a hospital spokeswoman said.

Ebert said in a statement Friday that he would attend screenings today and would cover the Oscar nominations tomorrow.

Leading the parade

Author Armistead Maupin was chosen Friday to be the grand marshal of the 2003 San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Parade because 2003 marks the 25th anniversary of the author's first Tales of the City novel.

The six volumes tell the stories of four people, gay and straight, who live in the same apartment house in the city's Russian Hill neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s.

The theme for the June 29 parade is "You've Gotta Give Them Hope," a quote from Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, SF Pride President Joey Cain said.

Today's birthdays

Opera singer Leontyne Price is 76.

Movie composer Jerry Goldsmith is 74.

Actor Robert Wagner is 73.

Singer Roberta Flack is 64.

Singer Jimmy Merchant (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 63.

Olympic gold-medal swimmer Mark Spitz is 53.

ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos is 42.

Actress Laura Dern is 36.

Country singer Dude Mowrey is 31.

Pop singer Rosanna Taverez (Eden's Crush) is 26.

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