RELEASE As Bobby Brown was sprung from jail early this morning, Whitney Houston waited outside in a long white limo and leaped into his arms when he appeared. Chris Rock was also on hand, holding a mock vigil among a group of supporters for a sketch on his HBO show. ”It’s beautiful out here,” Brown cried, hugging Rock. The singer, 33, had been sentenced to 75 days in the slammer for violating parole on a 1996 DUI conviction, but he was released early with 10 days’ credit for good behavior. All he wants for Christmas now is a clean slate.
BOOKS Um, if you haven’t heard, ”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” hits the shelves tonight at midnight, but not everyone will be waiting anxiously outside of the bookstores. Amazon.com says the book has set a record for online sales, with nearly 400,000 copies on order worldwide. In Britain, one in four kids already has a copy waiting for them, according to the electronic bookseller…. J.K. Rowling wins the prize for children’s books sales, but she lost out to author Aidan Chambers, whose young-adult novel ”Postcards From No Man’s Land” — which touches on the themes of adultery, homosexuality, and euthanasia — won the esteemed Carnegie Medal literary prize. Maybe that will give Rowling some inspiration for the next book in the series: ”Harry Potter and His Sexual Awakening.”
LEGALESE Eminem‘s lawyer, Peter Peacock, says that the only person to blame for last month’s nightclub skirmish is John Guerra, the man supposedly caught kissing Em’s wife, Kimberly Mathers, reports Rolling Stone. Responding to a lawsuit filed by Kim’s alleged squeeze, Peacock said Guerra is ”100 percent responsible” for his own injuries, and that Eminem did not stick his gun in the man’s face and threaten to kill him.
COURTS Imagine Entertainment has joined Universal in the ”Dieter” fracas. The producer filed a breach of contract suit against Mike Myers for allegedly ditching a separate deal with the company when he pulled out of the Universal project last month, Variety reports. The company, which is seeking $30 million in damages, also makes the inexplicable allegation that ”Myers’ misconduct was also characterized by expressions of inexcusable bigotry.” Bert Fields, attorney for Imagine, said ”I think the jury will be stunned when they hear the things [Myers] said and did.” The comedian’s lawyer Martin Singer said, ”The claims made by Imagine are fictional and without merit.”
TV NEWS Looks like Americans are pretty interested in watching ”Big Brother” watch others after all. Despite critics’ grumbling about the excessive time spent on the contestants’ arrival at their new home, CBS’ latest reality series debut averaged about 22.4 million viewers, and scored big ratings in the young adult category coveted by advertisers…. ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” won’t take this latest ratings infringement lying down. ABC announced yesterday that the show is returning after two weeks of reruns and two new contestants will be crowned millionaires within the next week alone. (They’re also looking for ways to get Olympic athletes on the air.) Even ”Big Brother” can’t beat that for instant gratification voyeurism.
CONCERT DEATHS In a journal entry on his website, the Who’s Pete Townshend says that he offered Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder his support after hearing about the tragedies at last weekend’s Roskilde festival in Denmark. Back in 1979, the rocker had a similar experience when 11 people were trampled or suffocated to death shortly before the Who took the stage at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. ”I passed on what I think the Who had done wrong after the Cincinnati disaster — in a nutshell , I think we left too soon and spoke too angrily to the press without proper consideration of the fact that the people who deserved respect were the dead and their families. Luckily Pearl Jam and their management have stayed in Denmark, and canceled subsequent shows,” he writes. Police investigating the Roskilde incident say that it is unlikely charges will be filed against any of the participants.
CASTING Russell Crowe is set to start filming ”Flora Plum” in central Florida in September, Variety reports. The movie, set in a circus in the Depression, will be directed by Crowe’s buddy Jodie Foster and costars Claire Danes. (Wonder if Meg Ryan has heard about this?)… ”American Beauty”’s Wes Bentley is in final negotiations to join Heath Ledger in Paramount/ Miramax’s ”Four Feathers,” which will be directed by Shekhar Kapur (”Elizabeth”), according to the Hollywood Reporter.
HOT TICKETS ‘N Sync and Britney Spears may rule the charts, but veteran rockers are still kings of the road, according to figures compiled by Pollstar. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are the season’s top grossing act, with $45.2 million in ticket sales, followed by Tina Turner ($42.7 million) and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ($42.1 million.). Kiss is rocking out in fourth place ($39 million), while ‘N Sync — who admittedly started their tour later in the summer — hangs out at No. 5 ($30 million). Britney Spears is in 12th place, with $14.7 million in ticket sales.