LEGAL BRIEF Opening arguments begin today, Jan. 29, in the gun possession and bribery trial of Sean ”Puffy” Combs. Combs, his bodyguard Anthony ”Wolf” Jones, and rap star Jamal ”Shyne” Barrow,” were arrested Dec. 27, 1999, after Barrow allegedly shot three people in a New York nightclub. Barrow, 19, faces attempted murder charges. Combs, who pleaded innocent to both charges, claims the gun found in his vehicle that night doesn’t belong to him.
CONGRATULATIONS Actress Beverly D’Angelo, 46, gave birth to twins, a boy and girl, last Thursday night in Los Angeles. The father is D’Angelo’s longtime boyfriend, Al Pacino, 60. The twins are D’Angelo’s first children; Pacino has a daughter from a previous relationship. It was a boy, Al, a boy!
TUBE NEWS Singer actress Brandy has signed on to play Dorothy in Fox Television’s hip-hop update of ”The Wizard of Oz,” tentatively called ”The O.Z.” In director Randall Kleiser’s (”Grease”) version, Brandy will star opposite Busta Rhymes (Cowardly Lion); Ginuwine (Scarecrow); Queen Latifah (Glenda the Good Witch); and Little Richard as the Wizard. The script for the musical TV movie is currently being written by Tina Andrews (”Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis”).
REEL DEAL Rapper – writer – producer Ice Cube will star in and produce a comedy for New Line called ”All About the Benjamins.” Ice Cube will play a bounty hunter who ends up joining his target in a heist. Music video director Kevin Bray, who has worked with ‘N Sync and Whitney Houston, was tapped for the project. According to Variety, Ice received a back end deal, which means he’ll make a cut of the profits, instead of a flat salary. Smart move, considering that Ice Cube’s urban comedies, ”Players Club,” ”Friday,” and ”Next Friday,” are three of the most profitable low budget films in New Line’s history.
FINAL DAYS The cast of ”3rd Rock From the Sun” shot a potential series finale last week, when the crew wrapped the alien comedy’s sixth season. Although NBC has yet to make a final decision on the Emmy winning sitcom’s future, the producers decided to make a final episode, just in case. John Lithgow even made a farewell announcement to the studio audience right before the shoot. After 138 episodes, ”3rd Rock” holds the record for having the most time slots (18) of any series in TV history. The finale, if shown, will be either a two parter or a special one hour episode. Elvis Costello guest stars in the episode and sings ”Fly Me to the Moon.”
REHAB Comedian Andy Dick (”NewsRadio”) is just a few months away from clearing his criminal record. Dick, who pleaded guilty in 1999 to cocaine and marijuana possession, has faithfully attended court ordered drug rehabilitation, a Los Angeles judge said Friday. If Dick remains drug free through a final court hearing in June, he will be free from legal restrictions. ”I feel excellent, really, because I’ve been sober,” Dick told Reuters outside court.
HERO WORSHIP In a readers’ poll for Britain’s Total Film magazine, subscribers chose Indiana Jones as the top movie hero of all time. The muscular archaeologist beat out the English double agent, James Bond, who came in second. Maximus from ”Gladiator” was third, while Bruce Willis’ courageous cop John McClane (”Die Hard”) came in fourth. Rounding out the top five was Ellen Ripley, Sigourney Weaver’s character in the ”Alien” franchise.
OBIT Character actor Sandy Baron, best known for his portrayal of Lenny Bruce on stage, died last week in Los Angeles. Younger audiences will remember Baron, who played himself as the narrator of Woody Allen’s 1984 comedy ”Broadway Danny Rose,” for his recurring role on ”Seinfeld.” Baron was Jack Klompus, the obnoxious Florida retiree who always fought with Jerry’s father.