News Summary

'N Court

Plus, Wilt Chamberlain, Edward Norton, ''The Sixth Sense,'' NetAid, Robert Downey Jr., and more

LAWSUIT Louis Pearlman, the man who assembled and nurtured 'N Sync, is now suing the band and their new label, Jive Records, for $150 million after the boys abruptly left RCA a few weeks ago, according to MTV News. Pearlman is filing the suit in conjunction with BMG Music, which owns RCA, and the many offenses listed include breach of contract. Pearlman's lawyer told MTV that they are hoping to keep the band ''from existing'' unless they honor their contract with RCA and Pearlman, and they are demanding that the recordings of songs that 'N Sync made for their second album (which is now coming out on Jive) be returned. On the bright side, the band are still on very good terms with their hairdressers, so their impish good looks will not be affected no matter which label wins.

OBITUARY The seven-foot-one-inch basketball great Wilt Chamberlain was found dead from an apparent heart attack in his Bel-Air home yesterday at the age of 63. He joined the NBA in 1959 on the Philadelphia Warriors, and over his career eventually spent three seasons with the 76ers and five with the Lakers. His records include highest scoring average, most career rebounds, and -- most legendarily -- most points scored in a game (100) during a 1962 match against the Knicks.

STAYING HOT ''The Sixth Sense'' writer/director M. Night Shyamalan isn't resting on a big ole bed o' money: He's already presented his next script to Disney, which has first right of refusal since it released ''Sixth.'' The plot of this project, which already has Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson attached, is being kept hush-hush, with Shyamalan only allowing that it is another supernatural thriller, but not a ''Sixth'' sequel.

CASTING Edward Norton will star in and produce ''Motherless Brooklyn,'' based on the Jonathan Lethem novel about a detective with Tourette's syndrome.... Greg Kinnear will play a college professor whose student has a huge crush on him in ''Loser.'' Mena Suvari is being wooed to play the student vamp.... Comedian Richard Jeni has been signed to star in a CBS sitcom next year, although no plot has been developed yet. Just, for God's sake, don't let him use the scripts from his last sitcom, UPN's ''Platypus Man,'' no matter how few people saw them the first time.

AIRDATE TNT is rebroadcasting highlights from Saturday's three NetAid concerts tonight at 8. Qualifying for the two-hour best-of show will be David Bowie, Sean ''Puffy'' Combs, Eurythmics, Counting Crows, Sting, and the duet between Wyclef Jean and Bono.

KEEP ON TRYING Say one thing for Robert Downey Jr.: Whether he's feeding a drug habit or trying to get out of jail, he never gives up. He made yet another plea to be released early from his three-year rehab sentence, according to the Associated Press, but the Malibu judge rejected it, saying the actor was manipulative and had already been given plenty of chances to stay out of jail.

TV WOES Quick, sweeps is coming! Hide the crap! Fox is taking its three most poorly performing series -- ''Family Guy,'' ''Action,'' and ''Get Real'' -- off the air at least until the valuable ratings period is over, and possibly longer. ''Family Guy,'' which has been trounced on Thursdays, may not return until summer, taking ''Futurama'''s place on Sundays after its season is over. ''Action'' should be back on Dec. 2, and ''Get Real'' (which will air once during sweeps) will reemerge after retooling, with a new boyfriend for the female teen lead added to lure in more female viewers. Better scripts be damned, nothing improves a show like an upped hunk factor.

LIFE STORY Boy, if Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was mad at his brother before, wait until he reads Variety today: David Kaczynski has sold the rights to his own story to Disney, which will develop a movie around his agony over whether to turn in his terrorist sibling. David reportedly made the deal only on the condition that part of the movie's profits would go to the families of the Unabomber's victims and part would help cover legal fees.

COMING OUT FIGHTING Celine Dion will fight a $3.5 million lawsuit filed against her in Toronto last month by Peter Barbeau, a former drummer who maintains that he was wrongfully dismissed back in 1995, was denied the correct publishing rights for writing the song ''Dreaming of You,'' and also claimed that Dion lip-synched in her concerts, making his job as a drummer more difficult. Dion plans to fight the suit in court, and seemed most pained by the lip-synch jab, writing in a court statement that ''in the past, we've used instrumentation and voice samples on the up-tempo numbers. This just gives the dance tracks a bit more punch to enhance the live performance, but I think that's normal.'' She also says that Barbeau has been given the appropriate songwriting credits and rights.

FINAL REPORT A Los Angeles coroner has determined that the wife of William Shatner, Nerine, was drunk when she drowned in their swimming pool in August, according to Reuters, and he listed the cause of death as accidental. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.27, three times the state's legal driving limit, and she was found in the pool with a broken neck.

AILING Dale Evans was hospitalized on Monday after possibly suffering a mild heart attack. The 86-year-old Western legend is in serious condition.

Originally posted Oct 13, 1999