FIRST-CLASS RACISM On Monday, Nelly filed a complaint against TWA, accusing a flight crew of mistreating him because he’s black. He said that during a recent flight from St. Louis to Denver, an attendant in the first-class cabin where he was sitting refused to get the rapper a pillow, and when he got up from his seat to get one himself, the pilot ordered him back to his seat and threatened him with arrest. Police officers were waiting for him at the arrival gate, and he says they also threatened him with arrest before he could obtain the pilot’s name. TWA disputes Nelly’s account of the event and claimed to have a witness backing its version.
HIP-HOP NATION Hoping to end hip-hop feuds and improve rap’s image problems, Russell Simmons convened his Hip-Hop Summit yesterday at Manhattan’s New York Hilton. Guests included such hip-hop leaders as Sean ”Puffy” Combs, Master P, and Chuck D, but those who sounded the most prominent warnings yesterday were five African-American members of Congress, who urged the industry to regulate itself better, or else Washington would. ”Washington can regulate you out of business if you do not have your act together,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) ”We do not know the hip-hop generation. We do not know the hip-hop industry. We feel that those who know themselves and those that know the industry can regulate it better,” said Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.)….
Not coincidentally, nominations were handed out yesterday for the Source Hip-Hop Awards, with magazine founder David Mays promising that this year’s ceremony would be free of the violence that marred last year’s event. He’s hiring Fruit of Islam guards to run security, inviting 1,500 fewer guests, and moving the show from Los Angeles to Miami. Eminem and OutKast led the list of nominees, with five nods apiece.
REEL DEALS Break out the chianti: Universal is set to pay Brett Ratner $4 million to direct ”Red Dragon,” based on the first of Thomas Harris‘ Hannibal Lecter novels. Because if you were going to produce another Hannibal Lecter movie, you’d hire the guy who directed ”Rush Hour” and ”The Family Man,” right? Of course, ”Red Dragon” has been filmed before, as Michael Mann‘s ”Manhunter” in 1986, but that version had Brian Cox in a small supporting role as Lecter. With Anthony Hopkins on board this time, expect Lecter to take a bigger bite of the running time. Writing the screenplay is Ted Tally, who adapted ”The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991….
The law firm on CBS’ ”Family Law” will be a couple suits smaller next season. Cristian de la Fuente won’t be back in the fall, and Julie Warner will quit sometime during the first half of the season, though it hasn’t been determined how her character will be written out of the series. Hey, if these lawyers need work, there always seem to be openings at ”Ally McBeal” and ”Law & Order”….
Screenwriter Darryl Quarles (”Big Momma’s House”) will make his directorial debut shooting his script ”So This Is Love.” It’s a dramedy about four married African-American couples whose friendship is disrupted when one husband leaves his wife for a white woman.
SPLITSVILLE Soapdom’s most celebrated couple, ”General Hospital”’s Luke and Laura, are divorcing. The split comes this Monday, though both Anthony Geary and Genie Francis will remain on the show. Thirty million people watched Luke and Laura’s 1981 wedding, making it the most popular event in daytime TV history. Their marriage survived a kidnapping, a presumed drowning, and both actors’ years-long absences from the series.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED Elton John isn’t the only knighted British rocker who’s an Eminem fan. ”I like some of the Eminem stuff because it’s kind of clever,” Paul McCartney said on ”Larry King Live” last night. ”I like the rhythm. I like the attitude, and I can imagine if I was a young kid now, I’d like that.” Can’t wait to see that duet on next year’s Grammy show.
NET VIEWERS Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal helped NBC win the week in TV ratings. Game three of the Philadelphia 76ers-Los Angeles Lakers series was the week’s top show, drawing 20.3 million viewers, the highest for an NBA finals match since Michael Jordan‘s last series in 1998. Hockey finals did well too, with ABC’s broadcast of the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday earning the highest ratings for any NHL game since 1987, though it still couldn’t beat ”Cops” and ”America’s Most Wanted” on Fox. NBC averaged 11.4 million viewers for the week, followed by CBS (9.3 million), ABC (7.3 million), Fox (5.0 million), UPN (3.2 million), and the WB (2.5 million).
‘CHARMED’ LIFE Shannen Doherty pleaded no contest yesterday to drunk driving charges and was fined $1,500. She was sentenced to three years probation and a series of alcohol-awareness classes. She was also sentenced to 10 days in jail or 20 days of work-release duty, and having opted for the latter, offered to fulfill her community service by speaking at teen centers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving meetings. Prosecutors had wanted her to pick up trash along the highway like everyone else, but the judge agreed with her attorney that she was in a ”unique position to help the community.” Doherty quit ”Charmed” last month, remarking in Movieline magazine that her talents were being wasted on a show ”for 12 year olds.” Apparently, she’s found a more productive use for them….
Felony and misdemeanor drug charges against Andy Dick were dropped Monday, following the MTV comic’s successful completion of court-ordered rehab. Dick had pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and marijuana after driving into a telephone pole in Hollywood two years ago.