The official cause of Brittany Murphy's death has not been released yet, but her husband, Simon Monjack, says Warner Brothers caused her Dec. 20 death by firing her, and he plans to file a wrongful-death suit against the studio. Monjack told the Daily Beast, “They killed her." Monjack and Brittany’s mother, Sharon, said they believe the star died of a heart attack from the stress caused by Warner Brother’s canceling of a contract to work on "Happy Feet 2," two weeks before she died. "She was devastated," Monjack said. The studio released a statement denouncing the charges. "Any claim that Warner Bros. Pictures was somehow responsible for Brittany Murphy's tragic death is demonstrably false, reprehensible and defamatory," it said. "Despite press reports to the contrary, Warner Bros. Pictures and Ms. Murphy never entered into any deal for 'Happy Feet 2' and thus, there was no contract to cancel."
In a wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey Thursday afternoon, Jay Leno admitted that being asked six years ago to step aside so Conan O'Brien could take over the "Tonight Show" "broke my heart." "I was devastated," he said, and he found the move "pretty shocking." To explain the shakeup, Leno said he claimed on the air that he planned to retire. "I told a little white lie on the air," he said. "It made it easier that way." On another topic, Leno said that he was taken aback when Jimmy Kimmel slammed him while he was a video guest on Leno's show. "I got sucker-punched," he said. Leno said he could have edited the interview, "but I said, ‘No. Put it out there. I walked into it.'" He said when you get hit, "You get right up again. You don't whine and complain."
Samantha Harris, co-host of "Dancing With the Stars" since 2006, won't be doing ballroom duty when the ABC show returns for its 10th season March 22. Harris says she is leaving "Dancing" to concentrate on her expanding correspondent duties at "The Insider," but deciding to leave wasn’t easy. It "could not have been more of a dream job,” she says. “I loved every single second of it and I’ve made lifelong friends at the show.” Dancing executive producer Conrad Green says he has begun the search to fill the job. "Samantha has been a brilliant part of [DWTS] and we wish her the best of luck on The Insider," he said. Co-host Tom Bergeron says he will miss Harris, but "I’m hoping this frees her up for us to have her as a contestant."
Nancy Grace didn't want to give a deposition on tape in connection with a wrongful-death lawsuit against her, but she was ordered to -- even though she was sick with a cold. The parents of Melinda Duckett, whose 2-year-old son remains missing, have sued Grace, saying she pushed Duckett to suicide by badgering her and accusing her of hiding information from police during an interview for her cable TV show. Duckett, 21, shot herself shortly before the interview aired.
Sandra Bullock's husband, Jesse James, has hired a lost-pet-locating firm to look for his light brown pit bull, CinnaBun, left, who fled the West Coast Choppers garage in Long Beach on Monday. The company computer-dialed neighbors of the Chopper garage to ask them to look for CinnaBun, who has been sighted several times since Monday. James first posted the loss on Twitter and has offered a $2,000 reward for her return. A female friend of James has stepped forward to offer her own reward -- she says she'll go on a date with the person who returns the dog.
Several child-abuse prevention organizations have sent out mailings to schools and people who live around Sun Life Stadium in Miami warning that the area is about to be visited by a sex offender -- Pete Townshend of The Who, who will perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. Townshend became a registered sex offender after being arrested in 2003 in a British child-porn sting. One of the postcards says his "known associates" are the NFL and the Bridgestone Tire Co. and adds that "he will be at large in Miami on Feb. 7th when he arrives to perform at the Super Bowl with his musical group The Who."
Also singing at the Super Bowl are Carrie Underwood, who will sing the National Anthem, and Queen Latifah, who will sing "America the Beautiful." EOnline reports that this gig will make Underwood the most-watched "American Idol" winner ever, in addition to its most popular. More than 151 million viewers tuned into the game last year, and about the same number are expected to watch this year.
Two members of the ensemble cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore" have agreed to settle for $10,000 per episode, but the others are said to be holding out for more, TMZ reports. Ronnie and J-WOWW have accepted MTV's offer, but still unsigned are stars Snooki, The Situation and DJ Paulie D. An MTV source says that the rest of the cast has been given until close of business today to accept the offer or MTV replaces them. The original deadline was Monday night, but the source says there will be no more extensions. Vinny Guadagnino, for one, has a backup plan -- he says he took the law school admission test. "My score was decent," he said. "I had a plan that if my score was really well [sic], then I might of just went to Yale or Harvard ... But it was just mediocre. I can get into law school," he said, calling law school "always on the back burner."
-- Anne Neville