COURTS Looks like Michael Jackson has another pricey lawsuit on his hands (or wrist, perhaps). An upscale Beverly Hills jewelry store filed a lawsuit against the King of Pop claiming he walked out with a $1.45 million diamond encrusted watch and neglected to pay them. The store says it allowed Jackson to take the piece home for a few days while he decided whether to buy it. But instead, the singer allegedly kept it for four months and ignored requests for payment. He did return it eventually, but the store says the watch was scratched and could no longer be sold as a new item. (Jackson’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.) Maybe Rodeo Drive ”shoppes” should consider layaway plans.
CANCELED Could it be that one third of a legendary girl group has only one third the appeal? Diana Ross said that the remainder of her 23-city ”Supremes” tour has been canceled by producers. ”I was very much looking forward to performing for our fans,” she said. ”I promised our fans I would be there for them… and I will find a way to reconnect with them soon.” The Diana Ross and the Supremes Return to Love Tour started in June after a storm of hype and a splashy news conference in which Ross played down the exclusion of founding member Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong, who joined the group in 1967. The mega venues booked for the tour failed to fill up, not surprising, considering that the ticket prices ranged from $42.50 to $250. (Check out EW.com’s previous prediction about the tour.)
STANDING UP An attorney for Dr.Dre says that the rapper plans to sue Detroit for civil rights violations, after officials demanded that the Up in Smoke tour drop supposed sexually explicit content from its performance in the city last week. ”Dr. Dre is completely offended by what they did,” he said. ”The city, through its police force, stormed in there. He’s not going to take it lying down.” A spokesman for Detroit’s mayor, Dennis Archer, said that the city was within its legal rights when it said promoters would face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Yesterday it was reported that police had threatened to shut down the show altogether if a video featuring semiclad women and Snoop Dogg wasn’t excluded from the act. Apparently, the issue first came to light when a parent who had heard about the videos complained to a local TV station. Guess they don’t watch much cable.
DENIAL Surprise! Britney Spears‘ publicist denied reports that the ex Mousketeer is engaged to marry ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake. ”Contrary to what has been erroneously reported, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are neither engaged or married,” said a statement issued Monday by Spears’ publicist Lisa Kasteler. ”The story… is, not surprisingly, completely without merit.” As previously reported, British tab the News of the World ran a front page story claiming a ”friend” of the chart topper told them that Spears told her that the platinum pop stars planned to tie the knot. Pass it along: We heard that Britney Beers and Austen Tenderflake are just trends.
AILING Gérard Depardieu is recovering from heart surgery that took place yesterday in a hospital near Paris. A statement distributed today by his agent said that the actor saw his doctor after experiencing chest pains, and two days later decided to undergo surgery. There were no complications.
TV NEWS Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are getting into the reality game with an HBO series entitled ”Greenlight.” On the show, Damon and Affleck will award a wannabe filmmaker with $1 million and the opportunity to direct his or her first feature. The process will then be chronicled by HBO over 13 episodes, concluding with the director’s triumphant trot down the red carpet at the flick’s premiere. The winner will also get the chance to seek advice from other directors who made it big with their first indie debuts, including Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, and Kevin Williamson. Aspiring directors can submit screenplays to the ”Greenlight” website.
CHARGED Jean-Claude Van Damme got three years’ probation and a fine of $1,200 after pleading no contest to misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and driving without a license. A Beverly Hills Superior Court judge also restricted the Muscles From Brussels’ license for 90 days and ordered him to attend a 90-day anti-drunken driving program.
BOOKS All those who wept at the sight of signs in bookstore windows last weekend announcing that ”Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire” had sold out can find solace: Scholastic announced that it will deliver about 2 million more copies of the red hot title in the next few months. Retailer Barnes & Noble said it had its biggest weekend in history, as kids and parents snatched up 502,000 copies of ”Potter” before the close of business on Sunday night.
CASTING ”The Perfect Storm”’s Diane Lane is in final negotiations for two back to back Universal projects, ”Hard Ball” and ”Criminal Conversation”…. ”Friends” costar Matt LeBlanc is set to star in the $15 mil indie flick ”All the Queen’s Men,” a WWII comedy.
OBIT James Hill, baritone singer of gospel group The Fairfield Four died of complications from diabetes. The group had toured with Lyle Lovett and recently released ”The Fairfield Four and Friends,” which included performances by Steve Earle and Elvis Costello. Hill was 83.