SUITS Legal snarls dominate the music biz buzz these days. Four songwriters filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco court against Will Smith for copyright infringement, according to Launch. The scribes of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five‘s ”Superrappin”’ allege that Smith used portions of their song without consent on his ”Willennium” album’s ”Will2K.” The writers also claim that the Fresh Prince ”omitted” their names and substituted Smith’s and Bobby Robinson‘s instead. Robinson, Treyball Music, and Sony Music Entertainment are also named in the suit. (Sony Music has not commented.)… Now that a court has ruled that the Rolling Stones improperly used bluesman Robert Johnson‘s tunes on two of their biggest albums — ”Let It Bleed” and ”Exile on Mainstreet” — under the assumption that the songs were in the public domain, the case will return to an L.A. court to decide if the tiny label Delta Haze is due compensation…. Members of Jefferson Airplane are suing cofounder Paul Kantner for allegedly using the band’s name without permission, reports Wall of Sound. Kantner and original Airplane singer Marty Balin have been performing gigs under the moniker Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers in New York and California for the last three months.
CASTING Sam Neill is the first big celeb to commit to ”Jurassic Park 3,” reprising his 1993 role as Dr. Alan Grant, Variety reports. Neill appeared in the original version of the film, but not ”Jurassic Park: The Lost World.” The three-quel is set to begin filming in late July or early August…. Robert Duvall will join Denzel Washington in New Line’s ”John Q” for director Nick Cassavetes. ”Q” is about a father who takes an emergency room hostage because he can’t afford to get the cash for his son’s heart transplant. Otherwise known as a sweeps episode of ”ER.”
WEBNEWS As Metallica prepares to testify before a congressional subcommittee on you know who, DreamWorks SKG has entered the digital music game from a different angle. The company has announced plans to extend its music label’s talent scouting to the Internet. Scouts will be scouring its website for unknowns to sign. Hopefuls can transmit a song and all-important photo to the site, where the entries will be judged by the suits. Songs deemed worthy will have the privilege of being ”streamed” (NOT downloaded) for public opinion.
SHOWDOWN Fourth of July weekend will mark an historic clash of marketing wills, with the openings of ”The Patriot” and ”The Perfect Storm.” Variety reports that this will be the first time two flicks with $100 mil-plus budgets and full-throttle hype have competed over a summer holiday weekend. (Mel Gibson’s ”Patriot,” which premieres tonight, will get a two-day head start.) Industry flacks are on the edge of their seats in the hopes that this weekend will end the offset the 6 percent drop in box office grosses compared to this month last year. Their poor kids might have to forgo that second swimming pool if the flicks don’t perform. (See EW.com’s article on the box office battle.)
STRIPTEASE Mick Jagger’s ex Jerry Hall is toning up to get her knickers down when she takes over for Kathleen Turner in a London production of ”The Graduate.” The Texan model says the Stones’ frontman has been helping her memorize her lines for the role of middle-aged seductress Mrs. Robinson. ”I’m planning to let it all hang out and really be in the moment,” says Hall, 44, who is engaged in thrice-weekly weight training. The British press now breathes a sigh of relief: Even on a slow news week, there’ll be a nice pic for Page 3.
TOURS You can almost hear the doleful cries echoing from the Midwest. ‘N Sync was forced to cancel a concert in Joliet, Ill., because a mini-tornado ripped through the town, wreaking havoc on their scheduled venue. (No one was hurt.) Dry your eyes, the band rescheduled their performance for Aug. 2, the last date of their tour…. The Wu-Tang Clan will take the stage as a collective for the first time in three years, with the launch of this summer’s Underground tour, reports Rolling Stone. Since 1997 the members of the 10-man ensemble have been focusing on solo careers, prompting confusion over its status. Though member Ol’ Dirty Bastard will miss the tour in order to undergo court-ordered rehab, a Wu spokesperson said the performances show the ”band is back and they mean business.”
MARRIAGE Billionaire Revlon mogul Ron Perelman and actress Ellen Barkin are getting hitched, reports the New York Post. Its Perelman’s fourth and Barkin’s second time to the altar.
AILING Singer Vic Damone, 72, canceled an appearance in Atlantic City this week after being hospitalized. The ”On the Street Where You Live” crooner is in the midst of his farewell tour.