LEGAL BRIEFS And so it begins. Robert Blake was arraigned yesterday in a Van Nuys, Calif. courtroom on charges of killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, last May. The session took just 10 minutes, with the actor saying nothing except, ”Not guilty, your honor” as he was charged with one count of murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait (which carries the death penalty), one count of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of solicitation of murder. Blake’s bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, also pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Blake will be held without bail, and Caldwell on $1 million bail, until the next court date, on May 1.
Prosecutors charge that Blake had been trying unsuccessfully to get others to kill his wife before finally shooting her himself. One of the would-be hitmen was Caldwell, prosecutors say, alleging that he once jumped out at the couple and waved a gun at them but, for some reason, didn’t shoot. Caldwell also made a list that prosecutors described as a murder kit: ”2 shovels, small sledge, crowbar, 25 auto, ‘get blank gun ready,’ old rugs, duct tape, Draino [sic], pool acid, lye, plant.” Blake’s lawyer, who will argue that someone from Bakley’s past is the killer, has dismissed this list as an inventory of pool repair supplies. ”25 auto, ‘get blank gun ready?”’…
Robert Iler was carrying a still-hot marijuana pipe and a bag of pot when a policeman stopped him and his pals and frisked them, the cop testified yesterday at a hearing over the 17-year-old actor’s mugging charge. At the Manhattan hearing, the officer testified that, after two tourists were robbed of $40 at knifepoint on July 3, he stopped Iler and his two pals because they fit the description of the muggers, and he frisked Iler (who play’s pot-smoking A.J. on ”The Sopranos”) because he saw a bulge that he thought might be a gun. Instead, it was the pipe, which the cop said still had pot in it. Iler’s lawyers, who have said their client is innocent, argued for the suppression of the evidence, saying it could have been found only through an illegal search….
The parents of teen boy band Dream Street are suing to get the kids out of their contract with the impresarios who created the band, alleging that they’ve been cheating the boys and trying to entice the under-agers with booze, babes, and porn. In papers filed in Manhattan, the band alleges that producers Louis Baldonieri, Brian Lukow, and Matt Mitchell (who found the band members through auditions three years ago, when they were between 12 and 14) have encouraged the youths ”to have sexual relations with teenage girls (which the minors have refused),” offered them alcohol (also refused), sent some of the boys pornographic emails, and videotaped them dressing backstage. The suit also names Baldonieri as a vice president of World Media Group, which the plaintiffs say publishes several porn magazines, including one called ”Just Come of Age” that features simulated child pornography. (The New York Daily News quotes Baldonieri as saying that the publication isn’t porn but rather an ”adult sophisticated magazine.”) The producers deny the allegations, saying that the parents are just angling for a better deal now that the group is a success (its self-titled debut album sold 700,000 copies last summer). Responding to an allegation that he and Lukow called some of the moms ”dumb housewives” in front of their sons, Baldonieri told the Daily News, ”I have referred to them as worse than that.”
TUBE TALK Bryant Gumbel has been voted off the island. He’s the usual emcee of the ”Survivor” season-ending reunion specials, but since CBS doesn’t know if the ”Early Show” host will even still be working for the network on May 19, it’s hired Rosie O’Donnell to host the finale instead. O’Donnell, who’s made her ”Survivor” fandom known via sometimes lavish consolation gifts to the show’s also-rans (notably, a new Harley for Colby Donaldson), will gather the contestants on a grassy stretch of another jungle island: in Central Park in Manhattan. The event will serve as a nice plug for O’Donnell, as her final appearance on her daytime talk show is three days later, May 22.
REEL DEALS The millennium is only a couple years old, but Sylvester Stallone has already been named Action Star of the Millennium. So says the Video Software Dealers Association, the trade group representing home video and video game retailers, which will present Stallone with a citation at its 21st annual Home Entertainment convention in Las Vegas on July 16. The award comes in time for the release of the ”Rambo” trilogy as a special edition DVD set. Stallone must be relieved; this prize should make up for his being named ”Worst Actor of the Century” by the Golden Raspberry association (which gives out the Razzies every Oscar season) a couple years ago….