Today's News: Our Take


TREK TROUBLE

Video game giant Activision is suing Viacom for allowing the Star Trek franchise to "stagnate and decay." The company claims the $20 million video game licensing agreement it signed in 1998 has lost value because no new Trek films were made from 1998-2002 and no new movies are planned. The last pic, 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, tanked at the box office, and UPN's Enterprise continues to struggle in the ratings. Viacom insists the suit is without merit. read more

LEGAL TURMOIL

The former president of Bad Boy Entertainment — Sean "P. Diddy" Combs's music company — is suing the rapper for $25 million. Kirk Burrowes alleges that Combs wrongfully terminated him in 1996, and used a baseball bat to menace him into signing over his 25 percent stake in Bad Boy. Combs calls this "pure fantasy," adding Burrowes "hasn't been employed for seven years, and now he makes up a fictional story for financial gain." read more

SWEPT AWAY

Madonna has crushed plans for a new footpath 100 yards from Ashcombe House, her $14.5 million mansion in Wiltshire, England. Mr. and Mrs. Guy Ritchie actually wrote Prime Minister Tony Blair (!) complaining that the proposed walkway would invite busybodies and paparazzi to invade their privacy. The couple previously barked about low-flying aircraft over their home, and even erected 12-foot-high security gates without legal permission. read more

GOODBYE GIRLFRIEND

When one of the French suitors featured on last night's America's Next Top Model so eloquently said, "All good thing must come to end," he was apparently talking to Robin Manning. The 26-year-old Southern psychopath became Model's latest runway casualty after she proved herself a big ol' hypocrite for refusing to participate in a semi-nude photo shoot on moral grounds. (Earlier, the wannabe drag queen was seen gratuitously shaking her bare temple in front of a male makeup artist.) The UPN contest is now down to three catwalkers, who will face off in next week's two-hour finale. (Go, Elyse!) In the meantime, if you have a question for Ms. Manning, send them to me via the link at the bottom of this column. My colleague, Daniel "Party Boy" Coleridge, will be talking to the plus-sized diva later today. God help him. read more

CAR TROUBLE

Eminem's ex-wife, Kim Mathers, pleaded innocent Tuesday to drug charges and motor violations stemming from a June 10 arrest in Michigan when cops found 25 grams of cocaine in her car. The 28-year-old is currently free on bail. read more

Will The Sopranos Go For Seven?


Now that Sopranos kingpin David Chase has agreed to produce a sixth season of the HBO series (Season Five debuts in early 2004), mob mentality has set in: Greedy fans are already buzzing about the possibility of — holy cannoli! — a seventh season with James Gandolfini and Co. Will it happen?

"Definitely not," insists Robert Iler (A.J. Soprano), who learned of the Season Six pact at a "family" sit-down held on the set in early June. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who plays mouthy Meadow Soprano, elaborates: "David told us that he thought he'd be able to finish in five seasons, but he couldn't. So he's doing the extra 10 episodes in the sixth to finish up all the plotlines." While read more

TAKE A BOW

Tonight at 8 pm, the lights will be dimmed in Broadway theaters in honor of Katharine Hepburn's passing. On the TV front, Turner Classic Movies plans its own Hepburn tribute on July 10. Starting at 6 am, TCM will air 24 hours' worth of the late, great actress's films, including Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Lion in Winter and The Philadelphia Story. For our tribute to Hepburn, click here. read more

Scoop! Ruben/Clay Rematch Scratched


The latest showdown between American Idol champ Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken has been called off. RCA is reversing an earlier decision to release the duo's debut albums simultaneously on Aug. 19. "They're not going to come out on the same day," an RCA spokesperson tells TV Guide Online. "They're going to be spaced apart."

The about-face represents a change of strategy at the record company, which was attempting to capitalize on the controversy surrounding Idol's photo finish in May by once again pitting the superstar crooners against each other — this time in record stores. As RCA Music Group's Director of Sales Karen Lieberman recently said, "We saw the releases as a way for consumers to vote with their money." (Geez, so much for subtlety.)

The first rematch was held last month on the singles charts, when Aiken's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" outsold Studdard's "Flyin read more

LEGALLY BARRED

What's the first rule of PR 101? When hosting a movie premiere, do not — I repeat, do not — prevent the media from mingling with the film's stars. At last night's Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde world premiere after-party at Christies in New York, security guards barred hundreds of guests — including yours truly — from entering a room populated by Reese Witherspoon and Co. (They claimed the room was filled to capacity. Lies!!) I did manage to get co-star Sally Field to comment on a possible ER return this season. "I don't think so," she said, pausing thoughtfully. "I loved it, but... I don't think so." Sounds like Norma Rae didn't really, really love it. read more

BE NICE TO THE VALET

Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight was arrested Friday for allegedly punching a parking attendant outside a Los Angeles nightclub on June 21. In addition to being just plain rude, the alleged assault is a possible parole violation. The rap mogul was reportedly bent out of shape because his car wasn't ready fast enough. If Mr. Suge is reading this, here's a hot tip: If you're ever in the Big Apple, do not — I repeat, do not — try and retrieve your car from a parking garage immediately after the Broadway shows let out. You'll be waiting forever. read more

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