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Showbuzz

May 18, 1999
Web posted at: 5:10 p.m. EDT (2110 GMT)

Today's buzz stories:

A ticket for the first showing of "Star Wars, Episode 1"

Scalpers demanding more than 10 times face value for "Phantom Menace" tickets

(CNN) -- If you thought $9 for a movie ticket was steep, wait until you find out what scalpers are asking for tickets to the opening of the "Star Wars" prequel on Wednesday: $100-plus.

Studio executives are horrified. "This just what we didn't want," says Tom Sherak, head of 20th Century Fox's domestic film group.

Director-producer George Lucas originally refused to sell advance tickets because he didn't want scalping problems. He relented under the pressure of theater owners, who agreed to limit tickets to 12 per person. But there was nothing to stop scalpers from hopping back in line for more.

In Bellevue, Washington, tickets to the first showing were up for bids beginning at $15. Not too bad considering bidding for tickets at a theater in Washington, D.C. were starting at $200.

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Pranksters turn MIT dome into "Star Wars" character

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Some Massachusetts Institute of Technology pranksters turned the university's trademark dome into a larger-than-life replica of R2-D2, the trash-can-shaped android in the "Star Wars" series.

School police discovered the dome covered in red, white, blue and black mesh fabric panels during a routine patrol early Monday morning. The students left a dozen doughnuts and instructions on how to remove the material. MIT officials plan to leave the prank in place until Thursday.

This stunt is just the latest in a long history of pranks on campus. Previous capers included what appeared to be a police cruiser put on top of the dome with a uniformed officer inside, flashing lights and a toy gun.

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Cruise

Journalist sentenced for taping conversation between Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A freelance journalist who taped a phone call from actress Nicole Kidman to her husband, actor Tom Cruise, then sold it to a tabloid newspaper has been sentenced to six months in a halfway house.

The judge also gave Eric Ford three years probation, a $3,000 fine and 150 hours of community service. Ford was ordered not to possess any electronic scanning devices in the future.

The 27-year-old pleaded guilty in March to a single federal wiretapping charge in a plea bargain.

Court documents show Ford used a modified radio frequency scanner to pick up a call Kidman made to Cruise on her cell phone from the set of the movie "Practical Magic" in February 1998. Ford then offered a recording to several tabloid television shows and newspapers.

He sold it to The Globe, which published an article dated June 30, 1998. The report indicates a woman's voice is heard telling a man that their eight-year marriage is "hanging by a thread." Cruise and Kidman were married in 1990.

Cruise's publicist says the couple has no comment on the sentence.

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Trebek

Jeopardy host gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Answer: A current game show host who can boast of his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Question: Who is Alex Trebek?

More than 400 fans, including fellow Canadian actor Alan Thicke, applauded as Trebek unveiled the star on Monday.

"Alex is a gifted man," Thicke proclaimed. "Gifted because he works four hours a week and makes $11 million a year."

In addition to "Jeopardy," Trebek has hosted other game shows including "Wizard of Odds," "Concentration" and "To Tell the Truth."

A special episode of "Jeopardy" celebrating Trebek's honor will air Friday, featuring fellow star recipients Jane Seymour, Garry Marshall and Graham Nash.

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Reuters contributed to this report.

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