Plus, LeAnn Rimes plans her film debut, and the Beastie Boys announce their latest Tibetan Freedom Concert

By EW Staff
Updated April 19, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

IN COURT Sean ”Puffy” Combs was charged with assault and criminal mischief on Friday by a New York court, and he was released after posting his own $15,000 bail. Combs, 29, turned himself in to police around noon after he and two cohorts allegedly beat Atlantic Records executive Steven Stoute with a champagne bottle, chair, and telephone in his office. Stoute’s arm was fractured during the tussle, which was supposedly the culmination of an argument Thursday between the two over the Nas video ”Hate Me Now.” In the video, Combs is shown nailed to a cross and saying ”I think I like this”; Combs reportedly decided that he didn’t like the scene after taping it, but it was left in for its MTV premiere and he blamed Stoute. Combs’ two accomplices have not been taken into custody. (Stoute said he had his head covered and couldn’t see exactly who was beating him.) Puff Daddy’s court date has been set for June 24, and if found guilty he could serve up to seven years in prison. ”He will be vindicated in court when the time comes,” said his lawyer, Jay Goldberg.

CASTING NEWS Brandy isn’t the only teen singer who moonlights on the movie screen: Country singer LeAnn Rimes has signed on for the indie film ”Under the Mimosa,” a coming-of-age drama set in the Deep South during the Vietnam era. Rimes will play a student heading off to college while her boyfriend (”Apt Pupil”’s Brad Renfro) joins the army…. Andre Braugher may have left ”Homicide,” but that doesn’t mean he’s dropped his gun. He’ll star as a sharpshooter hunting for a missing federal agent who’s involved in a case against the Chicago mob in “A Better Way to Die”…. Catherine McCormack (”Braveheart”) is in final negotiations to join ”Rumor of Angels,”a drama about a young boy who befriends a hermitlike widow. Vanessa Redgrave and Ray Liotta also star…. Louis Gossett Jr. has signed a deal with CBS to produce and star in original TV-movies. He’s already decided on his first two: ”Exodusters,” about a freed slave and his family heading west, and ”Georgia,” about a white grandmother and black grandmother who learn to get along when it’s up to them to raise their grandchildren.

CONCERT NEWS The Beastie Boys have announced the lineups for their fourth annual Tibetan Freedom Concert, to be held on June 13 in four different international venues near Chicago, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. (The specific locations haven’t been announced yet.) The performers include the Beasties, Blondie, Live, Eddie Vedder, and Biz Markie in the U.S. show, and Ben Harper and Rage Against the Machine in the Amsterdam concert.

REEL DEAL Stephen King’s movie frights are about to get bigger — literally. His 1990 novella ”Sun Dog” (published in his ”Four Past Midnight” compilation) is being made into an IMAX feature. Lawrence D. Cohen, who wrote the script for the 1976 adaptation of ”Carrie,” will also write this one.

ONLINE MUSICIANS Public Enemy is selling its next album, ”There’s a Poison Going On” exclusively on the Internet for its initial release. The rap group’s label, Atomic Pop, is now taking advanced orders for the CD through its website . Purchasers can either get the $10 disc in May, or they can download the music in MP3 format. Those without a modem can buy ”Poison” in stores after June 21.

VICTORIOUS Twenty-one-year-old Thalia DaCosta was voted the winner of MTV’s ”I Wanna Be a VJ Too” contest on Saturday. The Sunrise, Fla., resident beat out 6,000 other fame-hungry contestants. In addition to her on-camera gig (which starts next week), she also took home $25,000 and a new car. ”I was really a struggling, starving artist yesterday,” said DaCosta after her victory, ”and today I have… a really well-paying job.” Some viewers may be happy too — they’ll get a well-earned rest from last year’s winner, the departing Jesse Camp.

OBITUARY Skip Spence, a pioneer of psychedelic music as a member of Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, died Friday at 52 of complications from lung cancer. After being ousted from the influential Moby Grape in 1969 for drug use and mental problems, Spence had a turbulent life, and at times found himself homeless and begging. A tribute album featuring Beck, Robert Plant, and Tom Waits was already in the works; it will be released in a couple of weeks.