LEGACY Though never a household name, Darren McGavin, who died at 83 of natural causes on Feb. 25 in L.A., always left an indelible impression. His ‘72-‘74 role as Carl Kolchak in TV’s The Night Stalker inspired The X-Files, and as the crotchety dad in 1983’s A Christmas Story, he taught us all how to change a tire in four minutes and curse like a pro.
Kindred author Octavia Butler, 58, died Feb. 24 after suffering an apparent stroke in Seattle. A recipient of the enviable MacArthur ”genius grant” and the PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award, Butler earned the distinction of being the first black woman to attain national success as a science-fiction writer. She said of her racially insightful work, ”I can’t write a completely apolitical book.”
NOMINATED U2 singer and Sunglass Hut frequenter Bono, 45, and rocker/Live 8 dude Bob Geldof, 54, have reportedly been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (It’s said to be the second nomination for both.) The two join a list of nearly 200 candidates — and yet Brangelina still gets the shaft.
DROPPED A Million Little Pieces author James Frey, 36, was reportedly dropped by his publisher, Riverhead, due to the fallout from Frey’s admission on The Oprah Winfrey Show that he fabricated parts of his memoir. Frey had a deal to write two more books, but instead he’ll likely be spending quality time with an Oprah photo and some darts. Both Frey and Riverhead declined to comment.
COURTS Michael Douglas, 61, filed suit Feb. 27 against two Boca Raton, Fla., companies he claims misappropriated his image to sell commercial products. Reps for the companies could not be reached for comment…. Dancing With the Stars’ Master P, 38, and his brother, rapper Silkk the Shocker, 30, have been ordered to stand trial after a January 2005 arrest in L.A. for one count each of carrying a loaded firearm. The siblings, who maintain their innocence, are due in court March 13 for arraignment…. Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent — authors of the nonfiction book Holy Blood, Holy Grail — went to a London court on Feb. 27 for a copyright infringement suit against their own publisher, Random House, claiming The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown illegally used their book’s central theme in Code. Random House could not be reached for comment…. Die Another Day director Lee Tamahori, 55, pleaded no contest Feb. 23 in L.A. to charges of misdemeanor trespassing. Police say he was wearing women’s clothing when arrested Jan. 8 on two misdemeanor prostitution charges. As part of his plea bargain, Tamahori must perform 15 days of community service, pay a small fine, and attend an AIDS education class…. CBS Radio filed a suit Feb. 28 in NYC against Howard Stern, 52, his company, and his agent, Don Buchwald, claiming Stern breached his contract by promoting new employer Sirius Satellite Radio during his last 22 months working for CBS. They are seeking unknown damages. Stern’s lawyer said the claims ”have no merit whatsoever.”… Singer Kid Rock (né Robert J. Ritchie), 35, won a temporary restraining order on Feb. 21 stopping World Wide Red Light District from releasing a sex tape that features Rock and singer Scott Stapp, 32, being serviced by women on a tour bus. Rock has also filed a suit seeking unspecified damages. A rep for Red Light said they would ”vigorously defend” themselves…. Actor Joe Pesci, 63, has been cleared of all charges stemming from an alleged assault on a fan Jan. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla. Pesci’s lawyer said the actor was ”pleased” with the outcome.
RECOVERING Singer Sheryl Crow, 44, had minimally invasive surgery for breast cancer on Feb. 22 in L.A. Doctors say her prognosis is excellent but she will still undergo a round of radiation. Her tour scheduled to start in March has been postponed indefinitely.
DEATHS Dennis Weaver, 81, who starred in TV’s McCloud, of cancer, Feb. 24, in Ridgway, Colo…. Sid Feller, 89, a musical arranger who worked on Ray Charles’ ”Georgia on My Mind,” of heart failure, Feb. 16, in Cleveland.
— with additional reporting by Stewart Allen, Whitney Pastorek, and Hannah Tucker