News, May 7: DiCaprio Questioned in Street Brawl Suit, J.Lo’s “Flashdance” Snafu, CBS Leads May Sweeps, More…

Top Story: DiCaprio Questioned in Street Brawl Suit

Leonardo DiCaprio has been questioned in a $45 million lawsuit stemming from a five-year-old case that alleges he ordered “his posse” to beat up actress Elizabeth Berkley‘s ex-boyfriend, Reuters reports. The suit accuses DiCaprio of inciting his entourage to attack screenwriter Roger Wilson on March 14, 1998 outside the Asia de Cuba restaurant on Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Wilson claims he suffered a broken larynx when he was punched in the throat, which he said ruined his singing career. But DiCaprio‘s lawyer, Paul Callan, expects the charges to be dismissed before the case reaches Manhattan Supreme Court on Sept. 2. “Leonardo DiCaprio has repeatedly and forcefully denied any wrongdoing in this case and looks forward to these false charges being dismissed by the court,” Callan told Reuters.

J.Lo’s Flashdance Snafu

Paramount Pictures has sent a legal letter to Sony Music’s Epic Label over Jennifer Lopez‘s latest video for the single “I’m Glad,” which the singer describes as a tribute the 1983 dance drama Flashdance. But what Lopez calls a tribute, Paramount calls copyright infringement.
The studio said Lopez‘s dance sequences in the video are so similar to the moves Jennifer Beals‘ double performs in the movie that it should be compensated. Like Beals, Lopez plays a female steel welder who moonlights as an exotic dancer but dreams of attending a real dance school. The two companies are settling out of court, reports.

CSI, American Idol Score Biggest Ratings

CBS has edged past NBC in overall viewers in the first half of May rating sweeps month. CBS led the way with 11.8 million overall viewers, barely passing NBC, which averaged 11.4 million. Fox followed with 9.7 million, ABC with 8.7 million, the WB had 4.1 million, UPN had 3.4 million and Pax TV had 1.1 million. According to Nielsen Media Research, the top shows for the week of April 28-May 4 were CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Fox’s American Idol (Tuesday and Wednesday), NBC’s ER, NBC’s Friends, NBC’s Law & Order, CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS’Survivor: Amazon, CBS CSI: Miami and NBC’s Friends special.

Timberlake Gets TNT Gig

Singer Justin Timberlake is branching out into sports. According to The Associated Press, Timberlake will serve as a special correspondent for Turner Sports and will report for TNT sports events including the NBA playoffs, NASCAR races and the PGA championship. The 22-year-old pop star will also appear at major league baseball games and Big 12 and Pac-10 college football games for TBS.

Nell Carter Died of Natural Causes

The coroner’s office determined Tuesday that actress Nell Carter, who collapsed in her Beverly Hills home Jan. 23 at the age of 54, died of probable heart disease and diabetes complications. The actress had also undergone two brain operations in 1992 to fix aneurysms, Reuters reports. Carter received two Emmy nominations for Gimme a Break!, playing a housekeeper to a family headed by a widower who was the town police chief. The show ran from 1981 to 1987.

Welcome Back, Kotter Actor Arrested

Actor Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, better known as Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington on the ’70s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, was arrested over the weekend for allegedly pushing a woman to the ground during an argument. According to the AP, Hilton-Jacobs was roller-skating with the 42-year-old woman in Venice Beach, Calif., Sunday afternoon when two officers heard a commotion. The 49-year-old actor was arrested and booked but was released from custody late Monday with bond set at $20,000.

NY Doctor Sues Rapper 50 Cent

Rapper 50 Cent is being sued by a New York surgeon who claims the artist owes him more than $32,000 in fees for the treatment of gunshot wounds nearly three years ago. According to the suit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, 50 Cent and a friend showed up at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens May 24, 2000 and received treatment for the gunshot wounds, including the use of X-rays and post-surgical treatment both in the emergency room and hospital. The surgeon claims 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, owes him $32,511.87.

Def Jam Loses $132 Million Lawsuit

New York-based TVT Records won a $132 million verdict against Island Def Jam Music Group and its top executive Tuesday in a dispute over an unreleased record by rapper Ja Rule, the AP reports. Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, started his career with TVT in 1993 and moved to Island Def Jam with president Steve Gottlieb’s blessing five years later. But when Ja Rule and two friends tried to make an album for TVT in 2001 that included early Ja Rule recordings, Def Jam’s parent record company Universal Music Group blocked its completion. Gottlieb said he was “in ruins” when he could not release the album, the AP reports.

Dr. Dre Loses Plagiarism Lawsuit

On the West Coast, a federal jury awarded $1.5 million to the England-based Minder Music Ltd., which sued rapper-producer Dr. Dre for song plagiarism, the AP reports. Minder claimed Dre used a riff from Fatback’s 1980 funk tune “Backstrokin” in his 1999 song “Let’s Get High.” The song, one of the lesser known tracks from Dre‘s 2001 album, has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide and has generated more than $150 million in retail sales.

The Muppets Are Homeward Bound

German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG said Wednesday it will sell Jim Henson Co. back to the late Jim Henson’s five children for $89 million, Reuters reports. EM.TV bought the 45-year-old company from the Henson family for $680 million at the peak of the stock market bubble in 2000. It has since sold off pieces of the company, including the Sesame Street characters and its stake in children’s network Noggin. The Jim Henson Co. produced the Muppets, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and many more.

Role Call: Luhrmann’s Epic Second to Stone’s

While director