It was a wondrous week for media mergers: The Walt Disney Co. announced July 31 that it will acquire Capital Cities/ABC Inc., owner of the ABC television network, among other holdings, for $19 billion; Westinghouse Electric Corp. announced Aug. 1 that it would acquire CBS Inc. for $5.4 billion.... A settlement reached July 28 in Seattle has returned rights to Jimi Hendrix's estate to his father. Former family attorney Leo Branton Jr., reportedly without the family's knowledge, had been attempting to sell portions of the estate, which includes unmastered tapes, concert recordings, compositions, photographs, and other personal possessions. ''Branton was a friend of ours,'' says Janie Hendrix Wright, the late guitarist's sister. ''We didn't know he was doing dealings with what we thought was ours to begin with.'' Wright says the family is considering offers regarding albums and a feature film. ''Our main goal now is putting out what Jimi would have wanted.''
Model Christie Brinkley, 42, and her husband of seven months, real estate developer Ricky Taubman, 46, have separated. Brinkley, who moved out of the couple's Telluride, Colo., home, is reportedly distressed over how Taubman handles money. Their 2-month-old son, Jack, is living with Brinkley. ''All Christie will say is that she is separated and everything else is private,'' says her spokeswoman.
Actor Eric Douglas, 36, younger brother of Michael and son of Kirk, on July 31 in L.A. for disrupting a July 30 American Airlines flight from New York. According to a complaint filed by the FBI agent who made the arrest, Douglas, who pleaded no contest to assault in 1991, refused to put his dog in the requisite carrier, grabbed the buttocks of one flight attendant, a woman, and verbally insulted another, which caused ''concern and disquiet among the fellow passengers.'' Family members had no comment.
Musician Guy Thomas filed a $5 million copyright-infringement suit against country top-hat Garth Brooks, 33, and his co-songwriters on July 21 in L.A. Thomas alleges that Brooks' 1993 hit ''Standing Outside the Fire'' plagiarizes ''Conviction of the Heart,'' a tune Thomas released three years earlier. ''Brooks heard ['Conviction'] and wanted to...record a song just like'' it, the suit states. Brooks, through a spokeswoman, ''has no comment at this time.''... Call it Lunchmeat v. The Muppets. Hormel Food Corp., maker of canned Spam, filed suit against Jim Henson Productions on July 21 in New York, charging trademark violation. The food company is turning up its nose at Spa'am, an unsavory character scheduled to appear in the upcoming Henson film Muppet Treasure Island. The suit alleges in part that because Spa'am portrays ''evil in porcine form,'' Hormel's product will suffer bad publicity. A Henson spokesman says it does not intend to change the name. ''We are sorry that Hormel apparently does not share the Muppet sense of humor, and we certainly meant no offense,'' said a company statement.