Plus, Martin Sheen is banned from an Air Force base, Benjamin Bratt takes solace in a new job, and more

By Gary Susman
July 03, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Eminem: Salif Idriss/REDFERNS/Retna

LEGAL BRIEFS Eminem learned yesterday that he can’t just wave a gun at any old clown. He was sentenced yesterday to one year of probation for brandishing a 9-millimeter semiautomatic in front of an employee of rival Detroit rappers Insane Clown Posse last summer. The artist occasionally known as Marshall Mathers had said that he didn’t point the gun at Douglas Dail, and that it wasn’t loaded, but he pleaded no contest in April to felony charges. Instead of jail time, Judge Denise Langford Morris ordered him to pay $2,300 in fines and perform community service, giving him 21 days to come up with something ”impactful to young people” that he can do. She also demonstrated her knowledge of Slim Shady’s music, quipping, ”Mr. Mathers, now is the time for you to please stand up.”

The rapper’s punishment comes two months after receiving another probation sentence for another gun incident that same weekend last summer. The day after his confrontation with Dail, he allegedly pistol-whipped a man he caught kissing Eminem’s estranged wife, Kim, outside a nightclub. For that incident, he pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to undergo counseling and submit to drug testing.

If you’re suffering sleepless nights over the turmoil in Eminem’s life, at least you can console yourself during the wee hours by watching his new video. In fact, that’s the only time you’re going to get to see the new clip by Slim’s posse D12. The group toned it down for MTV, softening the lyrics and changing the title from ”Purple Pills” to ”Purple Hills,” but the network was still anxious enough over the song’s drug references to banish the video to MTV’s after-hours programming….

Another dangerous celebrity was put on probation and fined this week. On Wednesday, Martin Sheen pleaded guilty to one count of trespassing, having taken part in a protest against the proposed ”Star Wars” missile-defense system at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base last October. Sheen said he would have contested the charge, as his fellow protesters plan to do, but his contractual obligation to ”The West Wing” wouldn’t permit him jail time or a lengthy trial. He was fined $500 and ordered not to visit the base without permission. Or if he’s on board Air Force One….

The child abuse charges against comedian Paula Poundstone do involve her own children, according to Anita Bock, who heads the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Poundstone was charged Wednesday with three counts of committing a lewd act on a girl under age 14 and another count of endangering two girls and two boys. Her three adopted children and five foster children are now in the care of Bock’s agency. Because the children involved are underage, police have revealed few details about their identities or the nature of the three incidents that led to Poundstone’s arrest. ”There’s just not a whole lot we can divulge,” Bock told the Los Angeles Times. ”But I will say this: At this point, Paula Poundstone has to be considered innocent until otherwise proven.” Lawyers for Poundstone, a former foster child herself, maintain her innocence. She will be arraigned July 27….

Courtney Love won an injunction against the surviving members of Nirvana, keeping them from releasing late husband Kurt Cobain‘s song ”You Know You’re Right.” The song was to be included in a boxed set due out October 23, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the grunge trio’s groundbreaking album, ”Nevermind.” The courtroom contest is part of Love’s larger battle to gain full control over Cobain’s assets and dissolve her legal partnership with his bandmates, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic….

You’d think Howie Epstein, bassist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, doesn’t have to live like a refugee. So what was he doing in a stolen car containing illegal drugs? Epstein was reportedly getting a ride on Tuesday from singer-songwriter Carlene Carter to the Albuquerque airport to catch a flight to Scranton to play a Heartbreakers gig the next night. Police pulled them over for speeding, found 2.9 grams of heroin and some drug paraphernalia (which Carter allegedly claimed were for her own personal use, not for dealing), did a background check on the SUV, and found it had been reported stolen in Santa Fe on March 15. Carter (daughter of June Carter, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, ex-wife of Nick Lowe) and Epstein, both 45, spent the night in jail.

Out on bail the next morning, Epstein made it on time to Scranton, where the Heartbreakers played their first concert since taking a break earlier this month for Petty’s wedding. (Petty and longtime girlfriend Dana York tied the knot in Las Vegas on June 3. Though it was an Elvis-free wedding, they apparently still needed the blessings of a ’50s rocker, so they renewed their vows June 21 at Petty’s Malibu home, with Little Richard officiating.) Prosecutors have yet to determine what charges, if any, will be pressed. Howie, you should have followed Bugs Bunny’s advice and taken that left toin at Albuquoique.

CASTING CALL Even as the rest of us ponder the mystery of why Benjamin Bratt and Julia Roberts broke up, Bratt is preparing to solve mysteries of his own. He’ll put his ”Law & Order” experience to good use as the star of ”Chico Cervantes,” a made-for-TNT movie about the private eye who appears in a series of mystery novels by Bruce Cook….

Like Noah Wyle and the returning Sherry Stringfield, ”ER” medic Goran Visnjic has signed a deal that will keep him on the series for four more years, through the show’s 11th season….

Meanwhile, Variety reports that former ”ER” star George Clooney is again attached to ”Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” the film that has died more deaths than the performers on ”The Gong Show.” Apparently, the adaptation of ”Gong Show” host Chuck Barris‘s memoir is back on track at Miramax. Clooney would make his directing debut, with some guidance from pal Steven Soderbergh, for whom he recently finished ”Ocean’s Eleven.” Clooney would also play the CIA agent who Barris claims recruited him for spy work, for which his day job as a TV game show producer was supposedly a cover. The screenplay is by Charlie Kaufman, creator of the similarly odd ”Being John Malkovich.” Johnny Depp may still play Barris.

STRIKE WATCH It’s down to the wire for negotiations between actors and Hollywood producers, as the actors’ contracts expire tomorrow at midnight. Even so, it could take five weeks for members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists to vote to authorize the Hollywood-crippling strike that producers fear. Still, studios have been delaying the starts of new productions until fall in case actors walk out.

As with the talks that narrowly averted a writers’ strike last month, both sides have imposed a media blackout, so it’s not clear how close they are to reach an agreement or what issues are being discussed. Actors want a raise in residuals they earn from rebroadcasts of movies and TV shows on basic cable, the Fox network, and foreign TV, as well as possible future airings on the Internet. Talks continue today, and may well continue for days past the contract expiration, as the writers’ talks did.

NAME GAME CBS is already planning to change the title of the yet-to-premiere fall series ”American Wreck.” The sitcom’s title is a pun on the recreation center where Daniel Stern‘s character works, but the network apparently doesn’t like the word ”wreck” because it’s too dark and provides easy fodder for lazy TV critics if they don’t like the show. Taking a page from the show’s lead-in, Ellen DeGeneres‘ ”The Ellen Show,” CBS is thinking of renaming it ”Danny.”

Another upcoming series that is losing its name because of supposedly negative connotations is ”Maybe I’m Adopted.” Adoption activists were reportedly unhappy with the name of that WB/Disney-produced show, lest anyone take the teenage-alienation wisecrack of the title literally.

SLIPPED DISCS Officials in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai don’t like ”Charlie’s Angels,” and not just because of the film’s bubblegum-action plotting. Although the movie played in Dubai theaters for several weeks, police are seizing copies of the video because authorities consider blasphemous the sequence in which a belly dancer’s undulations are accompanied by the Islamic call to prayer. They were just fine, though, with Cameron Diaz‘s desecration of ”Soul Train.”

At least Dubai authorities didn’t see the bootleg discs of ”Pearl Harbor” that are circulating in Malaysia. Police there have seized 39 copies of a disc that shows the first five minutes of the Disney epic, followed by nothing but porn. For unwary customers, the disc’s cover should be a giveaway; it shows a woman in an army uniform with her breasts exposed. Street peddlers in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, are also selling bootlegs that purport to be copies of ”The Mummy Returns,” but which feature similarly unwrapped performers.

PASSING NOTES Bruce Willis‘ brother, website designer Robert Willis, died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. In addition to Bruce, the 42-year-old Willis is survived by his parents, another brother, and a sister….

The autopsy performed on Matthew Michael Ansara, the only child of Barbara Eden, was inconclusive, so investigators will have to wait four to six weeks for the results of toxicology tests to determine the cause of his death. The 35-year-old bodybuilder/actor was found dead in his truck Monday night near a gas station outside Los Angeles.

BOX OFFICE PREVIEW And they’re off! As the flag goes down on the lucrative Fourth of July weekend, ”The Fast and Furious” has a seven-day lead, having stolen last week’s take from Eddie Murphy’s ”Dr. Dolittle 2.” But ”A.I.,” Steven Spielberg’s secret weapon, has yet to reveal what’s under Haley Joel Osment’s hood (hint: more metal than a ’57 Chevy). Read the Box Office Preview to see which hot rod will prevail.