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Web posted on:
Thursday, October 29, 1998 4:34:13 PM EST

Today's buzz stories:

Kidman and Cruise

Cruise, Kidman win damages from British newspaper

LONDON (CNN) -- Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman won "substantial" damages on Thursday for press reports that the couple were gay and their marriage was a sham. Cruise, who appeared in a London libel court wearing a sober grey suit, said the couple will donate the damages to charity.

"I take no pleasure in having to be here today, but it is the last recourse to counter the vicious lies that have been printed about me and my family," Cruise told reporters outside the court. Kidman, who has won rave reviews for her performance in the London play "The Blue Room," did not appear in court.

The exact amount of the damages was not revealed. The couple sued after an Express Newspapers report claimed their marriage was a business arrangement, and that Cruise was impotent or sterile. The report also alleged Cruise and Kidman had adopted two children on a fashionable whim. Express has apologized and accepted that there was no truth to the allegations.

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Bardot must pay fine for criticism of Muslim ritual

PARIS (CNN) -- An appeals court upheld a 20,000 franc (US $3,600) fine against Brigitte Bardot Wednesday for inciting racial hatred with her published criticism of Arab customs. The actress-turned-animal-rights-activist criticized the ritual slaughter of sheep in the Aid-al-Kebir Muslim festival, describing Arab customs as barbarian. Last year, Bardot was fined 10,000 francs (US $1,800) for similar criticism. The court said her statements on the Muslim ritual exceeded any possible concern over animal welfare.

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Schwarzenegger on hand for groundbreaking of Universal theme park in Japan

OSAKA, Japan (CNN) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger participated in a Shinto ceremony Wednesday to bless the groundbreaking of a new Universal Studios theme park. "The last time I was here, I said, 'I'll be back,' and the Terminator always keeps his promises," the actor told the audience for the groundbreaking.

The 170 billion yen (US $1.4 billion) theme park in the central city of Osaka is Universal's first outside the United States. It is expected to attract 8 million visitors a year. At a gala event after the groundbreaking, Schwarzenegger told guests the park represents an extraordinary business event "because everyone is going to make money out of this." Universal Studios Japan is due to open in 2001.

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Prince Charles 'spices' up his image

LONDON (CNN) -- Prince Charles is shedding his staid image. At a charity gala held Wednesday night to mark his 50th birthday, Charles was serenaded by ex-"Spice Girl" Geri Halliwell, who sang "Happy Birthday" to England's heir-to-the-throne in the breathy style of Marilyn Monroe's famous crooning to U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Then, Charles took to the stage himself, playing a waiter in a comic sketch with comedian Stephen Fry and actor Roger Moore of James Bond fame. Since his ex-wife Princess Diana died in a car crash a year ago, Charles has been seen as a caring single parent. His popularity has been soaring in opinion polls, and even his long-time love affair with Camilla Parker Bowles is beginning to gain acceptance. Parker Bowles plans to host a 50th birthday party for Charles next month that is to be attended by fellow European royals.

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Reuters contributed to this report.

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