LOS ANGELES – The mammoth service for fiery frontman Ronnie James Dio was more akin to a spirited rock concert than a dreary funeral.

With chants of “Dio, Dio, Dio,” headbangers were loud and proud Sunday as they paid tribute to the late metal legend, who died from stomach cancer May 16 at age 67.

More than 1,200 fans commemorated Dio inside Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Hall of Liberty. Hundreds more gathered in the scorching heat outside the auditorium to watch monitors of the performances from some of Dio’s rocker friends, including Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Paul Shortino of Quiet Riot.

“He touched all of us with his music and his message and his magic,” said David Feinstein, Dio’s cousin and Elf bandmate. “I know that Ronnie truly loved all of you. He had a great appreciation for your loyalty. I’m talking about all you out there, all the fans.”

Those gathered remembered the feisty vocalist from such bands as Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the self-titled Dio as a passionate performer who was gracious on and off stage.

Many recalled Dio’s continued support over the years of Children of the Night, the teenage prostitution rehabilitation organization where his wife, Wendy, serves as chairman.

 

Director quits ‘Hobbit’ over production delays

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Hollywood director Guillermo del Toro said Monday that production delays have forced him to quit the planned film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” a two-part prequel to New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson’s blockbuster trilogy “Lord of the Rings.”

“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit,” I am faced with the hardest decision of my life,” del Toro told a “Lord of the Rings” fan website.

Del Toro would continue to co-write the screenplays with Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.

Jackson is serving as joint executive producer with Walsh.

 

Fergie tells Oprah of being ‘in the gutter’

CHICAGO – Sarah Ferguson says she had been drinking and was “not in my right place” when she was caught on video offering access to her former husband, Prince Andrew, for $724,000.

The Duchess of York made the comments to talk show host Oprah Winfrey in an interview to air Tuesday. The interview was taped Friday in Los Angeles, and excerpts were released Monday by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.

Ferguson tells Winfrey that she’d seen snippets of the video in airports but had not “faced the devil in the face” by watching it in its entirety. But she says she could tell she’d been drinking and was “in the gutter at that moment.”

 

Beresford-Redman wanted

CANCUN, Mexico – A judge issued an arrest warrant Monday for a former “Survivor” producer suspected in the killing of his wife while on vacation with their children at a Cancun resort, the state attorney general in Quintana Roo said.

Francisco Alor said prosecutors would initiate extradition proceedings soon seeking to return Bruce Beresford-Redman from the United States.

Beresford-Redman has denied any involvement in the death last month of his wife, Monica Beresford-Redman.

Police detained the husband briefly and then released him after confiscating his passport and telling him not to leave Mexico. But Beresford-Redman returned to Southern California.