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LAWSUITS Herbert Simmons, 44, a former FBI special agent, filed a $1 billion copyright-infringement and breach-of-contract lawsuit on Feb. 28 in New York City against Saban Entertainment and Fox Television. The suit alleges that Saban and Fox took the concept for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from Star Patrol, a show Simmons pitched to Fox in 1991. ''Only when my client's ideas were included did the Power Rangers product take off,'' says Simmons' attorney. Fox and Saban Entertainment both declined to comment on current litigation. ENGAGED Actress Martha Plimpton (Running on Empty), 24, and stage actor Jon Patrick Walker, 27. ''She's just extraordinarily pleased,'' says a spokesman for Plimpton. ''Her immediate reaction was to call everyone she knew.'' The couple are planning to wed in April of next year. NBC Today show news hunk Matt Lauer, 36, and Waterloo, Iowa, television reporter Kristen Gesswein, 27, who met when she worked as a hostess at a New York City restaurant. The couple have been dating for five years and are scheduled to marry in June 1996.

Expecting Screenwriter and Oscar-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri (Bullets Over Broadway), 41, and his wife, actress Gianna Ranado, 29, are expecting their first child on Oct. 15.

RECOVERING Crooner (and husband of Julia Roberts) Lyle Lovett, 38, from a motorcycle accident on Feb. 25 in Mexico. Although he suffered a broken collarbone, a spokeswoman for Lovett reports he's ''fine and recuperating at home. I don't even think he's going to give up motorcycling.''

DEATHS Actor and three-time Emmy winner Ed Flanders, 60, best known as the kindhearted Dr. Westphall on the '80s NBC series St. Elsewhere, of a self- inflicted gunshot wound on Feb. 22 in Denny, Calif. ''There was no note, (but) he'd been struggling with depression,'' says Bill Fischer, deputy coroner of Trinity County. ''His family lived nearby in Eureka. (He and his wife) were divorced about a year ago.'' Entertainment chronicler Earl Blackwell, 85, who founded Celebrity Service, a trade bulletin, in 1939, of Parkinson's disease on March 1 in New York City.

Originally posted Mar 17, 1995 Published in issue #266 Mar 17, 1995 Order article reprints