Today's News: Our Take


CLEARED

London police cleared Pete Townshend of kiddie porn charges today, but warned the Who guitarist not to access a website containing indecent images of children. Townshend was arrested in January as part of an FBI-led crackdown on Internet child pornography. At the time, the rocker said he believed he had been sexually abused as a young boy, and accessed the site as research for his autobiography. After a four-month investigation, London's Metropolitan Police concluded that the rocker "was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images." read more

LET'S MAKE A DEAL

Jeffrey Jones, best known as Principal Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is reportedly close to settling his child porn case with a plea bargain. The 55-year-old actor was charged with allegedly hiring a 14-year-old boy to pose for sexually explicit photographs. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted. read more

RAINBOW CONNECTION

Kermit and Miss Piggy are back where they belong — with their creator, the late Jim Henson. German media group EM.TV confirmed on Wednesday that it agreed to sell Jim Henson Company to Henson's children for $89 million. EM.TV bought Henson for $680 million at the peak of the stock market in 2000. read more

THE STORY THAT WON'T DIE

A country-music station in Colorado has suspended two disc jockeys for playing Dixie Chicks music in violation of a ban imposed after lead singer Natalie Maines dissed President Bush. KKCS DJs and free speech supporters Dave Moore and Jeff Singer will be out for a couple of days. read more

CAUSE OF DEATH

An autopsy has confirmed that Gimme a Break! actress Nell Carter died Jan. 23 of natural causes. She was 54. read more

COMING UP NECKS...

Vampires are returning to the Great White Way — but thankfully, Michael Crawford is not leading the charge. Elton John and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin are teaming up to bring The Vampire Lestat to Broadway. The musical, based on the character from Anne Rice's novels, is slated to open in 2005. At a press conference Tuesday, John said the show will "not be a rock opera" like Crawford's short-lived Dance of the Vampires. "It has to be classically written." read more

KOTTER STAR ARRESTED

Welcome Back, Kotter star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs — he played Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington — was arrested Sunday in Venice Beach, Calif., for investigation of misdemeanor domestic battery. The former child star, who is now 49, allegedly pushed a woman to the ground during an argument. He was released late Monday on $20,000 bond. read more

ON THE SIDELINES

Turner Sports has tapped pop stud Justin Timberlake to serve as a special correspondent. Among the TNT events the 'N Syncer will cover: the NBA playoffs, NASCAR races and the PGA championship. read more

MAC ATTACKS

Buoyed by another first-place finish from CSI, CBS ranked as the most-watched network last week — the first full week of May sweeps. NBC, meanwhile, narrowly beat Fox among advertiser-friendly adults 18-to-49. Still, Fox had plenty to celebrate. Thanks to its strong American Idol lead-in, Bernie Mac attracted 13.8 million viewers — its largest audience to date. America, you have good taste. read more

Cheers Stars Dating!


Pull up a barstool and make yourself comfortable — the cast of Cheers is finally reuniting! Well, at least two of the classic sitcom's co-stars are. In tonight's episode of ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (airing at 8 ET), barmaid Diane and mailman Cliff — aka Shelley Long and John Ratzenberger — drop in as the Hennessys' neighbors, Mary Ellen and Fred Doyle.

"Johnny was absolutely on his game, as he always is," an enthusiastic Long informs TV Guide Online. "This is a terrific character for him. Very different. And I got to do something new, too. There are bits and pieces of Mary Ellen that I don't think will be familiar to people who know my work. I'm also looking a read more

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