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Jay-Z is indicted on assault charges

Plus, Russell Crowe, ”The Simpsons,” Steven Spielberg, ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Spike Jonze, and more

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Courtesy Def Jam

INDICTED Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) has been indicted on two counts of assault for the alleged stabbing of record exec Lance ”Un” Rivera, and if found guilty, he could face up to 22 years in prison, according to the Associated Press. The incident occurred on Dec. 1 in New York’s Kit Kat Club during a record release party for Q-Tip, when Rivera was stabbed in the stomach and back, and then hit over the head with a bottle. ”We’re very disappointed in this [indictment],” Jay-Z’s lawyer said outside the Manhattan Criminal Court. ”We have provided witnesses and photographs as well as videotapes to the District Attorney’s office, hoping that they would submit them to the Grand Jury. Maybe they will have the opportunity to resubmit them should they desire, but we feel that had this material been provided, the entire case would have been exonerated with relation to Mr. Carter.” An arraignment will be held on Feb. 22.

CASTING Russell Crowe will act for his Golden Globes escort, Jodie Foster, in her next directorial effort, ”Flora Plum.” He’ll play a Depression-era circus freak who falls for Claire Danes.

”SIMPSONS” SPOILER It’s time to play Tap-diddily-aps. Maude Flanders will likely die on ”The Simpsons.” The producers have said that one character will shed his or her two-dimensional coil on the Feb. 13 episode, narrowing it down to Maude, Moe, or Principal Skinner, but the Associated Press has deducted that it will likely be Ned’s wife. The evidence: The woman who does Maude’s voice, Maggie Roswell, has left the show. And far more revealingly, the episode’s title is ”Alone Again, Natura-Diddly.”

HONORED The Directors Guild of America will bestow this year’s Honor Formerly Known as the D.W. Griffith Award on Steven Spielberg. This Lifetime Achievement Award (which recently dropped the Griffith appellation when it was decided that his ”Birth of a Nation” was racist) will be handed to Spielberg during the DGA awards on March 11…. ”The Green Mile”’s gentle giant, Michael Clarke Duncan, will be named ShoWest’s Male Star of Tomorrow at the exhibitor convention this March. Previous winners have been Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Johnny Depp, none of whom ever belched bees.

MO’ MONEY Can’t get enough ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”? According to Variety’s Army Archerd, ABC is adding a fourth night of Regis — Wednesdays. And if that fails to win over the entire planet, the network will start sending Philbin door to door to shout ”Is that your final answer?” in your ear until you get ”ABC” tattooed on your forehead.

REEL DEAL ”Being John Malkovich” director Spike Jonze may take on an adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story ”Benjamin Button,” about a senior citizen who begins getting younger. Who knew that ”Mork and Mindy”’s Merth had such a literary precedent? And here we always thought it was just Jonathan Winters acting like a ninny.

SURPRISE! Keep your eyes peeled for Pumpkins: Smashing Pumpkins will embark on an unannounced string of 35 surprise shows this week in clubs and stores, according to MTV News, to warm up for their U.S. tour, which starts in April. ”We’re going to do mostly in-stores,” says Billy Corgan. ”But nobody knows where we’re going to pop up and play.” Let’s hope somebody cares.

MIXED RESPONSE That creepy Super Bowl ad for Nuveen Investments where Christopher Reeve walks up to a podium has been getting mixed reviews from experts in spinal-cord-injury research. The point of the ad was that within the next decade, medical progress will allow paralyzed people to walk again, and some think that’s unreasonable. ”It would be dreadful to live without hope,” Mercedes Rauen, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, told the Associated Press. ”But hope has to be tempered with reality.” Reeve himself appeared on ABC’s ”Good Morning America” to defend the ad. ”The biggest problem actually is people who have been in a chair for a very long time, because in order to survive psychologically they have had to accept, ‘OK, I’m going to have to spend my life in a chair,”’ he said. ”So I get shots from some of them, you know, that I don’t know what I am talking about.” He also released a statement through Nuveen that he believes what’s depicted in the ad could happen.

WHICH SHOW? Here’s news on two TV shows you’ve probably never seen: Showtime has canceled its low-rated basketball drama series ”The Hoop Life” after just one season; and the Cartoon Network is resurrecting the short-lived animated UPN series ”Home Movies.” Only five episodes of the comedy aired, but the Cartoon Network will likely commission eight more original shows.

BIG MONEY You gotta love the TV business: Ex-”Seinfeld” writer Peter Mehlman has his series ”It’s like, you know…” axed, and next thing he knows, he’s signing an eight-figure, three-year deal to develop new shows for DreamWorks. He’ll be concentrating on sitcoms, and he tells Variety that his first idea is ”a look at the history of the last 20 years of the last century as seen through the eyes of one woman.” And if it’s canceled quickly enough, imagine the payday!

OBITUARY A.E. van Vogt, considered one of the greatest science-fiction writers, died last Wednesday at the age of 87 from pneumonia. The Canadian author wrote 85 novels and short-story collections (the tale ”The Black Destroyer” was considered to be the inspiration for the movie ”Alien”), and he is credited with helping transform the sci-fi genre from just dealing in crazy-extra-terrestrial tales into taking on philosophical issues.