CHARGED Rapper Jay-Z was freed on $50,000 bail Friday after being arraigned on first-degree assault charges for allegedly stabbing Untertainment Records founder Lance Rivera in the stomach and back, according to the Associated Press. The alleged attack took place Wednesday night at a party for Q-Tip in Times Square’s Kit Kat Club. But that wasn’t Jay-Z’s only assault charge; the rapper (whose real name is Shawn Carter) was also accused of hitting an unidentified man in the head with a bottle a week earlier at the same club, and a third victim, Marcus Delgado, came forward to say that the rapper had given him a similar bottle-beaning in April 1998. The PR firm for Jay-Z’s label, Roc-A-Fella Records, says he denies being involved in those incidents. UNDER ARREST Jason Priestley crashed his new Porsche into a ultility pole early Friday morning in Los Angeles, and was charged with suspicion of drunk driving and released on $50,000 bail, according to Reuters. (Didn’t he learn anything from those very special episodes of ”Beverly Hills, 90210”?) Priestley, 30 – who recently announced a trial separation from his wife of nine months, makeup artist Ashlee Peterson, 29 – said he had simply swerved to avoid a deer, and denied he’d been drinking, saying of his alcohol test (the results of which weren’t released), ”I think they do that to everybody… especially if you’re a celebrity in this town.” His passenger, Chad Cook, 27, suffered a broken arm.
FUTURE PLANS The ‘N Sync boys aren’t letting a little thing like a $150 million lawsuit get them down. Syncer Chris Kirkpatrick told MTV News that they’re planning to release a new single, ”Bye, Bye, Bye” (presumably about someone saying some sort of farewell) in January, and that their new album, ”No Strings Attached,” will be out in February or March. A tour should kick off in the spring, giving them plenty of time to choreograph it to within an inch of its life.
CASTING Isn’t it about time that incest was treated as the outrageously bawdy subject matter that it is? Heather Graham and Chris Klein (”American Pie”) will costar in ”Say It Isn’t So” as two young lovers who discover that they are siblings. No surprise, the Farrelly brothers are producing.
OH YEAH? TAKE THAT! Sylvester Stallone and his wife Jennifer Flavin are filing a countersuit against two of the five ex-employees who sued the actor for allegedly firing them for not following such bizarre rules as subjecting themselves to daily searches and not looking Mr. Stallone in the eyes. The Stallones’ lawyer said they brought the lawsuit (which claims slander and false-light invasion of privacy) to ”clear their names” of these false charges, and are asking for $1 million, which they say they’ll give to charity.
BACK AT THE TYPEWRITER After a 20-year sabbatical, Woody Allen will return to writing occasional witty articles for the New Yorker. ”I’ve grown up on Woody’s movies and his prose,” said the magazine’s editor, David Remnick. ”He’s an important writer for the New Yorker, in the same way Robert Benchley and S.J. Perelman were important.” Yeah, but did Benchley and Perelman also make a movie a year? Lightweights!
REEL DEALS Ethan Hawke will make his feature-length directorial debut with ”Last Word on Paradise,” an anthology of five stories taking place in a New York hotel, a description that can only give debilitating flashbacks to anyone who saw ”Four Rooms”…. Andrew Davis (”The Fugitive”) will direct ”The Travel Agent,” the story of an economist who uses a time machine to avert future financial disasters, but discovers that someone is planning to use his device to kill the president. Imagine ”Back to the Future,” but with Alan Greenspan instead of Michael J. Fox.
CANCELED Pack away the lights and camera for ”Action.” The critically acclaimed but ratings-starved comedy has been axed by Fox, after only 9 of its 13 ordered episodes were aired. The show will be replaced by ”Greed” on Thursdays at 9 p.m., and there’s an unpleasant morality lesson in there somewhere if you look closely.
OBITUARIES ”Match Game” host Gene Rayburn – who loved a good double entendre more than any man in history – passed away Monday from congestive heart failure at 81. ”Match Game” was the leading game show during much of the 1970s, and Rayburn invented the long, skinny microphone that was the show’s trademark…. Jazz guitarist and composer Charlie Byrd, 74, succumbed to his long battle with cancer on Thursday. During his career, Byrd had released more than 100 albums, both jazz and classical, and was credited with bringing the bossa nova sound to America in the 1960s with his record ”Jazz Sambe”…. Theater director Mike Ockrent – who made ”Crazy for You” and ”Me and My Girl” smashes on Broadway – died Thursday from leukemia at the age of 53. Ockrent was currently in preproduction for a stage adaptation of Mel Brooks’ movie ”The Producers.”