HOLLYWOOD — MGM and Paramount Pictures are remaking the classic 1959 film “Ben-Hur,” which won Charlton Heston an Oscar. “Boardwalk Empire” star Jack Huston, grandson of John Huston and nephew of Anjelica Huston, will play Judah, aka Ben-Hur. The script, by John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) and Keith Clarke, is based on the 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.” You can bet the $359 million grosses of “Noah,” with Russell Crowe, prompted this reboot.
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The hot topic at Hollywood parties lately is the speculation that Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease might be attributed to the sugar-substitute aspartame. In the 1980s, Michael did commercials for Pepsi Co., and in later years of the contract promoted Diet Pepsi exclusively. Many believe because he became an ardent drinker of Diet Pepsi, he consumed a great deal of aspartame. Then in 1991, he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease.
In 2000, Fox founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which was dedicated to finding the cause and cure for Parkinson’s. It discovered that the disease occurs whenever dopamine-related nerve cells inside the brain are decimated. In studies, aspartame has been shown to decrease dopamine levels in the brain. Aspartame is found in most diet sodas, sugar-free mints and gum. It also may cause several fatal disorders, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, diabetes, various types of memory loss and even Alzheimer’s disease. It actually can cause weight gain, and when it settles in the brain, it can turn to formaldehyde … yes, embalming fluid.
Until very recently, Yoplait light had aspartame in it. It since has been replaced with Splenda (sucralose), which, some say, along with Equal (Nutra Sweet) and Sweet & Low, may be just as bad. Critics of artificial sweeteners say that so far, the only seemingly safe sugar substitute is Stevia. Some 250 million people consume aspartame every day, most unknowingly. To be safe, they say, read the label of everything you buy, and don’t eat or drink anything that contains these artificial sweeteners.
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Vanessa Hudgens, who starred with Zac Efron in “High School Musical,” “High School Musical 2” and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” and on the big screen in “Journey 2: Mysterious Island” with Josh Hutcherson and Dwayne Johnson (which grossed $316 million), is headed for Broadway in the Lerner and Loewe musical “Gigi.” The 1958 musical grossed over $13 million (big money then) and won nine Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Vincent Minnelli (Liza’s father). It’ll open at The Kennedy Center in January. Vanessa starts out as a teenager and then blossoms into womanhood. “Thank Heavens for Little Girls,” as the hit song in the show goes.
© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.