Shirley MacLaine will be returning to “Downton Abbey” next season, and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa is joining the cast.
MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, Lord Robert Crawley’s freewheeling American mother-in-law, Carnival Films and “Masterpiece” on PBS said Saturday. MacLaine appeared in episodes early last season.
New Zealand-born soprano Te Kanawa will play a houseguest. She will sing during her visit.
Meanwhile, the producers have confirmed that villainous housemaid Sarah O’Brien won’t be back. Siobhan Finneran, who played her, is leaving the show.
Cooper receiving GLAAD award
Madonna will present CNN’s Anderson Cooper with an award for openly gay media professionals, according to GLAAD, a gay advocacy group. GLAAD told the Associated Press on Saturday that the singer has been chosen to give Cooper the Vito Russo Award at the 24th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 16.
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick says Madonna and Cooper are longtime friends who have both used their careers to support lesbian, gay and transgender people. Cooper declined to speak publicly about his sexuality for years.
But last July he gave blogger Andrew Sullivan permission to publish an email in which Cooper said he was gay and “couldn’t be more happy.”
Band’s Hudson gets auction reprieve
Musician Garth Hudson has temporarily blocked a Kingston, N.Y., landlord’s plans to sell some possessions dating back to his days with The Band to recoup unpaid storage costs. The Times Herald-Record of Middletown reports the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer won a restraining order late last week to halt an online auction scheduled for April 6.
Landlord Mike Piazza told the newspaper he was selling Hudson’s property because the musician couldn’t pay at least $60,000 owed for seven years of storage in a Kingston loft. Hudson’s lawyer says Piazza has illegally taken some items and is claiming more rent than Hudson owes.
Hudson’s lawsuit claims he wasn’t properly notified of Piazza’s plans to sell his property, including an alto sax and cassette recordings of The Band’s shows.
The birthday bunch
Socialite Lee Radziwill is 80. Movie producer-director George Miller is 68. Singer Jennifer Warnes is 66. Actor-director Tim Kazurinsky is 63. Actress Miranda Richardson is 55. Radio personality Ira Glass is 54. Olympic track and field gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee is 51. Rapper-actor Tone Loc is 47. Actor David Faustino is 39. Actress Jessica Biel is 31.