Plus, Robert Iler's day in court, new Paula Poundstone revelations, and more

By Gary Susman
Updated July 12, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
AJ McLean, Backstreet Boys
Credit: AJ McLean: Gregg Deguire/Zuma Press


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BLACK AND BLUE A.J. McLean has entered rehab to combat his alcoholism and depression, forcing the Backstreet Boys to postpone the rest of their North American tour for at least a month. The other four members of the band made the announcement Monday on MTV’s ”Total Request Live.” Kevin Richardson noted that McLean, 23, has been depressed for some time, with his anxiety intensified by the recent death of his grandmother. ”He’s been burning the candle at both ends and partying quite a bit to escape it. His alcoholism is — it’s pretty bad. And we’re worried about him.” Brian Littrell said, ”He came to us yesterday for the first time. I heard him say, ‘Guys, I have a problem and I need to get help.’ We figured this was the best for him. It’s all about him being healthy.” The band did not disclose where McLean is being treated, but his 30 days in rehab mean the band’s tour won’t resume until August 7 in Vancouver. That was to have been the tour’s final date, but the band hopes to reschedule the 19 missed dates through late September.

LEGAL BRIEFS Another troubled A.J., Robert Iler, appeared briefly in court yesterday to face charges of second degree robbery and marijuana possession. But prosecutors told him to return on July 18, by which time a grand jury will have decided whether to hand down an indictment. The 16-year-old ”Sopranos” star was arrested last week after two teens identified Iler and two other young men as the ones who robbed them of $40 on a Manhattan street.

Iler’s father, Edward McGreevey, said his son is embarrassed ””for all the grief he’s caused his family and friends,” according to the New York Daily News. His TV parents released statements of support. ”Robert is a terrific kid,” said James Gandolfini. ”I’ve never known him to be anything other than hardworking and truthful. If he says he wasn’t involved, then he wasn’t involved.” Said Edie Falco, ”Robert is a sweet kid and a pleasure to work with. I find it impossible to believe he’d ever be involved in something like this.”…

Paula Poundstone‘s lawyer acknowledged on Monday that his client has been undergoing treatment for alcoholism, and that her drinking was a factor in her arrest last month on child abuse charges. ”It is my belief that Paula’s drinking problems clearly had a bearing on the allegations that led to her arrest,” said Steven Cron. ”Nonetheless, after having had a chance to study the details of the case against her, I remain convinced that she is not guilty of the lewd conduct charges pending against her.” He did not specify how the drinking was related to the charges, but he said she had made arrangements to enter a residential treatment program in Santa Monica before she was informed of the investigation against her, and had been there for two weeks when police vaulted over the wall of the facility and arrested her.

Poundstone is charged with committing lewd acts on a girl under 14 and endangering two girls and two boys. Los Angeles’ Department of Children and Family Services has said that the children involved are the comedian’s two adopted and three foster children. Variety reports that police took all the kids into foster care when they informed Poundstone of the investigation, three days before she went into rehab. The department declined to comment on whether it was aware of her alcoholism when it first allowed her to become a foster parent.

COMING OUT PARTY Michael Jackson’s upcoming set of tributes to his 30 years as a solo artist, at Madison Square Garden in September, is bringing out some of Hollywood’s old timers and recluses. The Hollywood Reporter says that Marlon Brando has agreed to appear on stage during the performances, even though the 77-year-old star traditionally avoids such events. Also paying their respects are the likes of Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, and M.J. pal Elizabeth Taylor, while those who have RSVP’d to the after-party at Tavern on the Green include Esther Williams Jane Powell, Jane Russell, and Ann Miller. All this in addition to the pop stars young and old, from Ray Charles to Britney Spears to Jackson’s siblings, who will sing at the two shows.

THE UNBELIEVABLE TROTH OK, this time they really, really mean it. After a year of yes-we-did-no-we-didn’t teasing, Drew Barrymore and Tom Green finally held an actual exchange of wedding vows before actual friends and family members on Saturday on a Malibu beach. Guests included fellow ”Charlie’s Angels” Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, as well as Courtney Love (whose daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was the flower girl), Molly Shannon, Jared Leto, and Adam Sandler. No word on whether Sandler also served as the wedding singer. Even Jaid Barrymore, the estranged mom who once offered Drew’s baby clothes for sale over the Internet, was there, as well as Green’s much-abused parents. The couple’s alleged South Pacific elopement a few months ago aside, it’s the first marriage for Green, 29, and the second for Barrymore, 26, who was married for less than a year to bar owner Jeremy Thomas in 1994.

I FEEL FINE George Harrison urged fans not to make too much of disclosures that he has been treated for a brain tumor in Switzerland a couple months after undergoing lung cancer surgery in the U.S. ”I am feeling fine and I am really sorry for the unnecessary worry which has been caused by the reports appearing in today’s press. Please do not worry,” said the 58-year-old in a statement. Swiss cancer specialist Franco Cavalli confirmed that he finished treating Harrison with radiation therapy a month ago, and that he foresaw no need for further treatment….

In other celebrity health news, such country singers as Loretta Lynn and Charlie Daniels can get your heart pounding — literally. Nashville International Airport is mounting about 30 defibrillators on the walls, each accompanied by a commemorative plaque honoring a country star. For $4,250, donors can name the remaining defibrillators after country musicians of their choice. (Tennessee Christian Medical Center bought the Lynn heart-charger, while Daniels paid for his own.) Of the 9 million travelers who pass through the airport each year, about 25 go into cardiac arrest. No doubt officials in Liverpool and New Orleans, who just renamed their airports after John Lennon and Louis Armstrong, respectively, are kicking themselves for their lack of creativity.

REEL DEALS Francis Veber, the French writer/director who has seen many of his comedies remade by Hollywood (”The Birdcage,” ”Father’s Day,” ”Three Fugitives,”), has sold to Miramax the remake rights to his current import hit, ”The Closet,” about a man who pretends to be gay to keep his bosses from firing him, lest they be accused of sexual discrimination. Miramax has also bought remake rights for other foreign films currently in U.S. theaters, including the black comedies ”Everybody’s Famous” and ”With a Friend Like Harry.”…

A foreign classic scheduled for a remake is ”Rashomon,” the 1950 drama of a crime recounted from four points of view that put director Akira Kurosawa, actor Toshiro Mifune, and Japanese cinema on the international map. Los Angeles-based Harbor Lights Entertainment bought the rights from Kurosawa’s son, Hisao, and plans to shoot in 2002….

I was a vampire for the FBI. So goes the plot of ”Darksiders,” a script by ”The Flintstones” screenwriters Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein picked up by New Line.

TUBE TALK Robert Iler may have to serve an extra year — on ”The Sopranos,” at least. Creator David Chase is in talks to do a fifth season of the series, despite his previous assertions that the show’s upcoming fourth season would be its last….

Dennis Hopper is shooting his first TV series, a 22-episode, ”Matrix”-like action drama called ”Flatland.” The series has not yet been picked up for U.S. broadcast….

Annette O’Toole, who played Clark Kent’s flame Lana Lang in 1983’s ”Superman III,” will play his mom on ”Smallville,” the upcoming drama on the WB about Superman’s teenage years.


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