TROUBLE Nothing like a little police investigation to really kick off a New Year’s countdown: Sean “Puffy” Combs was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon and of stolen property early this morning after police found a stolen gun in his and Jennifer Lopez’s car when they were stopped driving away from a New York club where there had just been a shooting. According to the Associated Press, after three people were shot at Club NY at 2:30 a.m. (and were taken to the hospital with minor wounds), police went after the car for leaving the scene of the crime, and the couple’s driver sped through one red light before finally pulling over. There they discovered the 9 mm gun, which had been reported stolen in Georgia. Lopez was originally charged as well, but the case against her was dropped later today after police evaluated the evidence. Although Combs has not been charged with the club shooting, a source told the AP that eyewitnesses saw him firing a weapon in the bar. One other man, a 19-year-old rapper named Jamal Barrow, was arrested separately at the club for possession of a 9mm gun. Combs’ reps had no comment.
ALL SETTLED It looks like ‘N Sync is heading toward a settlement in the $150 million suit filed against them by their former manager and label. According to MTV News, a source revealed that an agreement has been worked out between the band and Louis Pearlman and RCA Records. An official announcement should be made soon.
WEDDING In a marriage that had almost as much advance hype as the “Seinfeld” series finale, Jerry Seinfeld, 45, and Jessica Sklar, 28, got hitched on Christmas day in Manhattan in a small ceremony attended by only around 40 guests. The wedding was supposed to be secret, but the New York press had smelled rice in the water all week and trailed him all day Saturday. It is assumed that the toasts steered clear of stories of how the happy couple met, seeing as wife-napping anecdotes can really bring a party down.
MARATHON QUESTIONING Apparently there’s no such thing as too much “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” To kick the game show off as a regular series, ABC will run it eight nights in a row beginning on Jan. 9, after which it will begin its regular three-times-a-week schedule. But if ABC sitcoms continue to die, look forward to the day when “Millionaire” is on more often than Old Navy ads.
OBITUARY Curtis Mayfield, the influential R&B singer known for such hits as “Freddy’s Dead” and “People Get Ready,” died Sunday at the age of 57. Mayfield, renowned for his songs describing the state of African-American life during the Civil Rights movement, first made his name in the late 1950s as a member of the Impressions, and left the group in 1970 to begin a solo career. In August 1990 his performing career was abruptly cut short when a lighting rig fell on him, paralyzing him from the neck down, but in 1997 he released a comeback album, “New World Order,” which used computer technology to enhance his voice. Mayfield was a two-time inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having been entered once in 1991 as a member of the Impressions, and last year as a solo artist.
ON STAGE After the debacle that was “Encore! Encore!”, Nathan Lane is heading back to his old, safe home: Broadway. He’ll star in a revival of the Kaufman/Hart comedy, “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” premiering in June.
NEW LEAD SINGER? Van Halen may have a new recruit to enter the revolving door that is its lead singer position: Ex-Whitesnake crooner David Coverdale announced on his official website that he’s recorded 23 songs with the band since Gary Cherone left, and although he’s not an official replacement, he says, “Let’s just say that my management is meeting with their management.” He also revealed that Eddie Van Halen had approached him to join the band after Sammy Hagar left, but he was too busy with a Whitesnake farewell tour. More news to add to Gary Cherone’s low-self-esteem file.
FAMILY SPAT Eminem’s name is mud, at least around his own family. Not only did his mother file a $10 million defamation suit against him last September, but now his grandmother is talking trash about him, too. Betty Kresin told the Detroit News that she’s angry that on the rapper’s next album he’s planning to include a sample of his dead uncle’s voice from a tape they made together 13 years ago. “He’s changed for the worse,” she said about her grandson, born Marshall Mathers. “He talks filthy to me and is angry and disrespectful.” About the sample, she said, “I will not let my grandson destroy my dead son with this garbage. He’s a bitter boy with sad songs who wants to make fame. (His Uncle) Ronnie was a Godly person.”