Robert Downey Jr. avoids prison
Plus, Staind have the year's 2nd best album debut, the latest on Eminem's movie, and more
PRISON ESCAPE Robert Downey Jr. has plea bargained his way out of a potential prison term. He’ll plead no contest to two drug charges stemming from his November arrest in a Palm Springs hotel, and he’ll agree to spend up to a year in rehab. The deal came after Downey hired a new team of lawyers, though it’s not clear what led to the switch, whether the new lawyers initiated the deal, or whether Calista Flockhart was among them.
CHART ATTACK Staind enjoyed the year’s second biggest first-week album sales, topping the Billboard chart by moving 716,000 copies of ”Break the Cycle.” That’s just 17,000 behind the year’s debut leader, Dave Matthews Band‘s ”Everyday,” which sold 733,000, according to SoundScan. It continues the cycle of hard rock chart toppers, pushing last week’s champ, Tool‘s ”Lateralus,” to No. 2 (198,000 sold). Destiny’s Child are at No. 3, selling 175,250 copies of ”Survivor.” Debuting at No. 4 is reggae rapper Redman‘s ”Malpractice” (148,000 units). Missy Elliott‘s ”Miss E… So Addictive” slips to No. 5 (136,250 copies)
Dropping one slot to No. 6 is Janet Jackson‘s ”All for You,” followed by ”NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 6” at No.7, the ”Moulin Rouge” soundtrack at No. 8, and Weezer‘s self-titled CD at No. 9. Debuting at No. 10 is Tyrese with ”2000 Watts.”…
On TV, NBC won the week with an average of 10.8 million viewers, though the hourlong season finale of ”Everybody Loves Raymond” on CBS was the week’s top show, with 20.13 million viewers. The NBC season finale of ”Law & Order” was a close second, with 20.03 million viewers. The two hour series finale of ”Star Trek: Voyager” drew 8.8 million viewers, the largest audience for UPN in nearly four years.
LEGAL BRIEFS The man accused of stalking Nicole Kidman is now under court order to stay at least 250 yards away from her for the next three years. Matthew Hooker says, however, that he’s countersuing her for slander. Guess she didn’t want to be his First Lady, a wish he’d expressed on his website, where he’d announced his candidacy for president in 2004. ”This whole thing by Kidman may be to kind of crush any political aspirations I have,” he said yesterday….
The author of the book that became the film ”Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is suing Disney over access to merchandising records. Gary K. Wolf, who wrote ”Who Censored Roger Rabbit?”, says that, while Disney continues to sell products inspired by his characters, he has no idea whether he’s getting all the royalties he’s entitled to because the company won’t let him see the books. Disney denies his allegations, saying in effect, the company isn’t bad, it’s just drawn that way.
Plans are finally coming together for Eminem to star in ”Fight Song,” a movie loosely based on his own life. Scott Silver (”The Mod Squad”) has finished a screenplay, and Curtis Hanson (”L.A. Confidential,” ”Wonder Boys”) has signed on to direct the film, which will go into production in the fall. Naturally, Em and Dr. Dre will do the soundtrack. The character won’t be the real Slim Shady but a very similar white rapper who grows up in in a black neighborhood in Detroit.
Meanwhile, with Eminem possibly touring Down Under after he visits Japan in July, Australian family, women’s, and gay rights organizations are lobbying their government to deny him an entry visa or, failing that, prohibit anyone under 18 from attending his concerts. Arguing that the Immigration Department has previously barred visitors who would offend racial and religious groups, an Australian Family Association spokesman said, ”Given that being sexist, misogynist, racist — everything — applies to Eminem, I would imagine there are a few groups who would be offended by him coming here.” Racist?
Christina Aguilera isn’t the only teen-pop star whose potentially embarrassing early performances have resurfaced. On ”Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life,” which airs tonight on CBS, ”you’ll see some of the high school and middle school tours we did in the very beginning, back in ’93,” Howie Dorough tells USA Today. ”It was quite funny, going back over all that stuff — seeing our different looks, different hairdos.” Wow, eight years — that’s like 56 in boy band years, right?…
First, it was Steven Tyler, who inadvertently angered veterans at the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend when he worked the words, ”And the home of the Indianapolis 500” into the national anthem. Now, Britney Spears will set motors running at a race at the Daytona International Speedway on July 7. The event is part of her endorsement deal with Pepsi — it’s the Pepsi 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Is she even old enough to drive?…
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw announced that they are expecting a third child in January. They have two daughters, Gracie, 4, and Maggie, 2. At least Faith already knows how to breathe….
Peter Gabriel is producing a movie about another offbeat English singer. The movie will be based on the true story of Barry Cox, a 22 year old from Liverpool who learned Cantonese and became a star on the local Chinese karaoke circuit. Cox plans to go to Hong Kong to become a full fledged Cantonese pop star.
SUDDENLY PSEUDO Is Brooke Shields taking lessons from Drew Barrymore and Tom Green? Columnist Liz Smith reports that the April wedding of Shields and ”Spin City” writer/producer Chris Henchy on Catalina Island was an elaborate ruse, complete with mannequins, to throw paparazzi and stalkers off the scent of the couple’s actual wedding, a Roman Catholic ceremony that took place on Saturday in Palm Beach, Fla., before 75 guests. It’s the second marriage for Shields (whose two year marriage to Andre Agassi was reportedly annulled when they split in 1999) and the first for Henchy. Also, today is Shields’s 36th birthday. Her real birthday….
Speaking of marriage, E! reports that Anne Heche is engaged to cameraman Coley Laffoon. (Yep, he’s a man.) She met him while working on a documentary about her then-girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres‘s return to stand up comedy. This will be Heche’s first marriage — or her second, if she follows Brooke’s example.
HARD DAY’S KNIGHT Is Jackie Chan the hardest working man in show buisness? He’s agreed to reteam with Owen Wilson for a ”Shanghai Noon” sequel, ”Shanghai Knights,” which will take the pair to London. This is the fourth movie Chan has signed on for in the last three weeks. Shooting begins in February.
HEALTH WATCH Five-time Tony-winner Julie Harris was hospitalized in Chicago after being found semi-conscious in her apartment. The 75 year old actress had failed to show up for a weekend performance of ”Fossils” at the Victory Garden Theater. A spokeswoman at St. Francis Hospital said the stage and screen star is in serious but stable condition, and while she wouldn’t identify Harris’ illness, she said it was not life-threatening.