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Warner Bros.
Fans of the Mach 5 are looking forward to seeing it race in the movie version of "Speed Racer," but PETA isn't too happy about animal treatement on the film's set.
updated 7/11/2007 2:57:11 AM ET 2007-07-11T06:57:11

There’s more than speed racing going on on the set of Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci’s upcoming film. A chimp bit an actor on the set of “Speed Racer” — and there are allegations that the chimp was beaten.

“We are in receipt of information that may upset you,” PETA wrote to the producer Joel Silver, the man behind such megahits as the “Matrix” and “Die Hard” series. “We’ve received several troubling complaints from people who have been on the ‘Speed Racer’ set and report that the main chimpanzee ‘actor’ has been beaten and has bitten one of the human actors.” PETA urged Silver to stop using the live critters and switch to animatronics.

“We appreciate the concerns of your organization,” came back the letter from movie company Warner Bros. “We also respect the vision and choices of the filmmakers with which we work. Every option on a film is carefully weighed, and for this production, the decision was made to use live animals.” 

A spokesperson confirmed that a chimp did chomp on a young actor, but said that the actor was treated and the animal was given a rest. She sent along assurances from the American Humane Society that no animals were being abused.

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PETA isn’t satisfied. “No humane representative is closely monitoring those animals while off-set or during pre-production training, the very places where abuse is most likely to occur,” the organization wrote back, “so we regret to say that the assurances you offer are meaningless.”

No comeback for Michael Jackson
A Las Vegas entrepreneur who had hoped to stage Michael Jackson’s comeback is complaining that the singer simply beat it.

“I had (Jackson) on the telephone when he was in Ireland and he was all excited about working in Las Vegas,” deal-maker Jack Wishna told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It even got down to the detail of a statue of himself that he wanted out front (of the hotel). He also came up with the idea of having his own slot machines. I have a signed contract that he wanted us to put together to market his slot machines in Europe and Asia.”

But then neither Jackson nor his team would respond to Wishna's calls.

Meanwhile, the star’s rep is confirming that Jackson is leaving Las Vegas, where he lives in a 10-bedroom mansion in the suburbs. She explained: “He loved the house but decided to allow the lease to expire because of concerns that security wasn’t sufficient.”

Notes from all over
“Sicko” is also sad-o. “I cried for a whole year making this film,” documentary maker Michael Moore told Canada’s Globe and Mail. “I cried when we were editing it.”  ... Score one for the snoops. Prosecutors have dropped charges against paparazzi Jamie Fawcett, who was charged with bugging Nicole Kidman’s home in Australia. The actress’s bodyguards allegedly found a listening device near Kidman's Sydney mansion, wrapped in plastic, submerged in water and shielded by plants. The issue of Fawcett’s legal costs will be addressed this week.  ... Some folks who like listening to people’s conversations backwards have been playing Paris Hilton’s interview with Larry King in reverse and listening for hidden messages. The conclusions of ReverseSpeech.com is that when King asks Hilton about former best friend Britney Spears, if you listen carefully to Hilton’s response, it sounds somewhat like, “Snake, her soul is sick.” And what did she learn from her time in jail? Her backwards answer: “Name bigger.”

Jeannette Walls Delivers the Scoop Mondays through Thursdays on MSNBC.com

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