Entertainment Briefs – October 1

John Travolta has told a court in the Bahamas that a local paramedic threatened to sell stories to the news media suggesting the movie star was at fault in the death of his 16-year-old son.

Travolta says medic threatened to sell stories

NASSAU, Bahamas — John Travolta has told a court in the Bahamas that a local paramedic threatened to sell stories to the news media suggesting the movie star was at fault in the death of his 16-year-old son.

Travolta testified that the paramedic who is now on trial for extortion demanded $25 million from the actor.

He was testifying in the second week of the trial of paramedic Tarino Lightbourne and lawyer Pleasant Bridgewater.

Travolta told the court that Lightbourne had a consent document that the actor signed when medics came to the aid of his son. He says the medic threatened to use the document to “imply that the death of my son was intentional and I was culpable in some way.”

Lightbourne and Bridgewater have pleaded innocent.

Priestley to star as morally bankrupt salesman

TORONTO — Jason Priestley is returning to series television with a comedy about a morally bankrupt used car salesman.

Priestley will play the title character on the half-hour show Meet Phil Fitz, bound for The Movie Network and Movie Central next year.

The series is set to shoot in Halifax and Priestley says it’s “a great chance to get back to Canada and flex some comedic muscles.”

Most recently, Priestley finished filming the BBC miniseries The Day of the Triffids.

He’s also been adding to a growing list of director credits, with stints behind the camera of 90210 and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

But Priestley is perhaps best known as Brandon Walsh on the 90210.

He notes that his new series allows him to dive into a nasty personality for a change.

“I get to play a guy who is the embodiment of Freud’s, ’id,’ ” Priestley said Wednesday in a release.

“The writing is sharp, edgy and so fast it leaves you gasping for air. You don’t often have a chance to get paid to be morally bankrupt.”

Munro, Coupland among contenders for fiction prize

TORONTO — Alice Munro may have removed her name from contention for this year’s $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, but she could still nab at least one lucrative literary honour this fall — a Writers’ Trust Award.

The renowned author, who lives in Clinton, Ont., was named a finalist for the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize on Wednesday for her short story collection Too Much Happiness.

Industry watchers are now buzzing over whether the title will also make the short list for the $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Awards, set to be unveiled Oct. 14.

“I think it’s an interesting thing to think about in terms of what does that say about the Giller winner this year? If Alice does happen to win everything else, what does that say?” remarked Don Oravec, executive director of the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

“So it’s going to be a fascinating process to follow. I think the public will be very interested in this.”

Munro announced in August that she wouldn’t compete for this year’s Giller because she wants younger authors to get a crack at the award.

She has already won the Giller twice, in 1998 for For The Love of a Good Woman and in 2004 for Runaway, which won the Writers’ Trust the same year.

Other finalists for this year’s Writers’ Trust fiction prize include Douglas Coupland for Generation A and Annabel Lyon for The Golden Mean, which is also on the long list for this year’s Giller.

Both titles are published by Random House Canada and both authors hail from Vancouver.

Also making the cut is Montreal’s Nicole Brossard for Fences in Breathing, translated by Susanne de Lotbiniere-Harwood (Coach House Books), and Andrew Steinmetz of Ottawa for Eva’s Threepenny Theatre (Gaspereau Press).

Winnipeg native Miriam Toews, who won the Writers’ Trust prize for fiction last year for The Flying Troutmans, was on the jury for this year’s award, along with writers R.M. Vaughan and Marina Endicott.