Plus, another Oscar screwup, Mariah Carey, Steven Bochco, Scott Speedman, and more

By Josh Wolk
Updated January 27, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

LAWSUIT, PART 1 Children’s-book writer Nancy K. Stouffer has filed a lawsuit against Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, claiming that Rowling stole characters and plots from Stouffer’s own 1984 book, ”The Legend of Rah and Muggles,” according to the Associated Press. In her book, Stouffer has a character named Larry Potter, as well as a Lilly Potter (Rowling has a Lily Potter), and features ”muggles,” who are little people who look after two orphans, and she claims she copyrighted the term. In the Harry Potter books, Rowling uses ”muggles” as a wizards’ term for humans.

Last year Stouffer tried to get Rowling, her publisher, Scholastic, and Time Warner (which owns the movie rights — and is the parent company of Entertainment Weekly) to settle out of court. The companies instead asked a judge to rule that there were no similarites between the books, and that they haven’t violated her copyright. Now that Stouffer has filed suit, a Scholastic spokesperson, who calls the claims ”completely meritless,” says, ”Unfortunately, success often leads to frivolous claims, and we’re confident the court will find in our favor.”

LAWSUIT, PART 2 Two writers are suing Steven Bochco for allegedly stealing their idea for his new CBS series ”City of Angels.” Jerome and Laurie Metcalf (not the ”Norm” actress) say that they originally pitched the idea of a hospital show with mostly African-American actors to actor Michael Warren in 1989, and that he gave their screenplay to Bochco, who passed, according to Variety. A decade later, they say that ”Angels” is the same idea, and they’ve also named CBS and Warren himself (who has a role in the drama) in the suit. It claims breach of contract, misrepresentation, and fraud, and asks for an indisclosed sum and an injunction to stop further production of the show.

OSCAR SCREWUP There’s been another foul-up in this year’s Academy Award preparations. Boxes containing around 40 Oscar statuettes were apparently stolen off a California loading dock after being shipped from Chicago, according to Variety. An Academy spokesperson did say, however, that there are still enough trophies left to give out at the ceremony. This occurred just two weeks after 4,000 Oscar ballots got lost in the mail. At this rate, can we expect to see someone forget the keys to the Shrine Auditorium come Oscar night? Nothing could puncture the glamour more than watching Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, et al waiting on the steps while Bruce Vilanch runs home to get his spare set.

JOINING IN SONG Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, and Donna Summer signed on for VH1’s ”Divas 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross,” which will air on April 11. The show’s production assistants should prepare for a glamorous night of browbeating.

ARRESTED Leonardo DiCaprio‘s stepbrother Adam Farrar was arrested Wednesday in L.A. for allegedly attempting to murder his girlfriend, according to Reuters. The 28-year-old Farrar, whose appearances in television commercials as a kid reportedly inspired DiCaprio to get into acting, is being held on $1 million bail. Although DiCaprio may not think it’s fair to link him with this story just because he’s related to the accused by marriage (Leo’s dad is married to Farrar’s mom), he can blame Farrar, who mentioned his connection to the actor during his arrest. (Name-dropping may be fine when you’re trying to get into Moomba, but is probably not so good when the cops are throwing you into their car.) DiCaprio had no comment.

CASTING Julie Andrews will star in a live broadcast of the play ”On Golden Pond” next season on CBS…. Scott Speedman (”Felicity”) will play the getaway driver for a bunch of twentysomething bank robbers in ”Wheel Man”…. Anna Paquin has joined the college-set interracial love story ”Finding Forrester,” along with Sean Connery and F. Murray Abraham, neither of whom plays her boyfriend: We said ”interracial,” not ”intercentury.”

HOSPITALIZED Rodney Dangerfield‘s organs don’t seem to be giving him any respect. He was hospitalized for undisclosed reasons on Thursday after finishing a six-night stint at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand. A Sunrise Hospital spokesperson said the 77-year-old comic was in stable condition, according to Reuters.

OBITUARY Comic actor Durward Kirby, who served as Garry Moore’s right-hand man for 30 years, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at the age of 88. Moore also hosted ”Candid Camera” from 1961 to ’66.