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Celebrity news

Hugh Grant claim settled

Actor Hugh Grant has settled his phone hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid for a ‘‘substantial’’ but undisclosed sum of money, his lawyer said Friday. Mark Thomson said that the ‘‘Notting Hill’’ star would donate cash from the settlement, as well as an additional payment, to media reform group Hacked Off, which is campaigning for stricter oversight of Britain’s scandal-tainted press. Thomson said in a brief statement that Grant’s claims arose from ‘‘the unlawful activities of News of the World journalists and others over a number of years,’’ but didn’t go into any further detail. Grant (inset) was one of the first celebrities to turn on Murdoch’s powerful tabloid as it emerged that journalists there had hacked the phones of people in the public eye, rifling through their private communications in search of stories. The ensuing scandal rocked Murdoch’s media empire, leading to scores of arrests and resignations and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses from lawsuits and legal fees. Murdoch was forced to close the News of the World amid an advertiser boycott, and his once-formidable influence over British politics was dealt a body blow as politicians rushed to distance themselves from the tycoon’s British newspaper company, News International. Prime Minister David Cameron, two of whose closest confidants saw their careers crushed by the scandal, was pushed to set up a judge-led inquiry into media ethics, which in turn exposed a culture of bullying, bribery, and blackmail across the British press. Grant was one of the inquiry’s first and most outspoken witnesses, testifying that a section of the British media had been ‘‘allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years.’’ A spokeswoman for News International, an arm of the New York-based News Corp., declined comment. Thomson said a statement would be made before England’s High Court early in the new year. (AP)

1 billion views for PSY

Viral star PSY has reached a new milestone on YouTube. The South Korean rapper’s video for ‘‘Gangnam Style’’ has reached 1 billion views, according to YouTube’s own counter. It’s the first time any clip has surpassed that mark on the streaming service owned by Google Inc. It shows the enduring popularity of the self-deprecating video that features Park Jae-sang’s giddy-up-style dance moves. The video has been available on YouTube since July 15, averaging more than 200 million views per month. Justin Bieber’s video for ‘‘Baby’’ held the previous YouTube record at more than 800 million views. PSY wasn’t just popular on YouTube, either. Earlier this month Google announced ‘‘Gangnam Style’’ was the second highest trending search of 2012 behind Whitney Houston, the singer who died in February. (AP)

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