Quick Takes: News in Brief

Weakest Link
NYPD Racial Profiling?
‘Suge’ free
5. Napster
Guinness Bisexual
Star Wars
Giant Records
Monday Night Football
12. ‘NSYNC

“Weakest Link”

Comments made about
the Welsh by Anne Robinson, host of the new NBC game show The Weakest Link,
have not been deemed racist by Britain’s Broadcasting Standards Commission, according
to the BBC News. By calling the Welsh “irritating and annoying,” however, Robinson
“came close to the boundaries of acceptability,” the BSC said.

Protests exploded when
Robinson called the Welsh one of her pet hates on the BBC show Room 101.

“I’ve never taken to them.
What are they for?” she reportedly said.

Parliament, Welsh MPs and
North Wales police criticized Robinson for inciting racial hatred.

The BSC ruled that “neither
the overall content nor the style of this programme was racist.”

Robinson has since made
amends with the Welsh community by giving free services to a Welsh Tourist Board
Easter publicity campaign. She wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the message “Wales
Open for Easter.”

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Diddy in trouble again

After his months-long trial
on bribery and gun possession charges, of which he was acquitted, rapper Sean
Combs cannot seem to stay out of court.

He was pulled over Saturday
night for allegedly making an illegal lane change while driving a scooter along
Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive. Police charged Combs
with driving without a suspended license. He had to sign “a promise to appear”
form for a court date, the police told Reuters. The date has yet to be set.

This was after he had been
stopped Tuesday for allegedly speeding in Golden Beach, Fla., where he was carrying
a suspended New York driver’s license. Police did not arrest Combs
because he said he did not know he had a suspended license.

license had been suspended in February because of failure to pay a parking fine,
according to the Miami Herald.

told Miami Beach police that he thought his New York attorney had straightened
out his license problem.

“Because of the holiday
weekend, paperwork that was processed in New York regarding the license had yet
to reach the national system,” Natalie Moar, Combs’ spokeswoman, told the Miami

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denies NYPD is gunning for rappers

Mayor Rudolph Guiliani
dismissed claims that the New York Police Department is looking to nail rappers
such as Jay-Z, who was arrested last week on a weapons charge after leaving a
Manhattan nightclub.

“The NYPD targets people
who illegally possess [and use] guns, and they target people who kill each other.
They criminally profile. Every bit of evidence suggests that…Here’s a way not
to get in trouble with the NYPD: Don’t shoot anybody, don’t rob anybody, don’t
rape anybody and don’t carry guns illegally.” Guiliani told NYPost.com.

Police, who arrested Jay-Z
and three members of his crew early Friday, said they found a loaded Glock 23
.40-caliber semiautomatic handgun in Jay-Z’s Chevy Suburban. They were released
Friday afternoon after their arraignment.

Jay-Z and his camp later
insinuated that the police may be “profiling” rappers – watching or pulling them
over to try and get some illegal activity, NYPost.com reported.

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Knight happy to get out

Multimillionaire rap mogul
Marion “Suge” Knight will be released from prison this week after serving five
years of a nine-year sentence on assault-related charges.

“The first thing that I’m
gonna do when I get out of here is take an hour-long bath. I’m sick of showers,”
Knight, the co-founder of the rap label Death Row, told The Associated Press.

“Then, I’m going to get
me a double cheeseburger and some chili-cheese fries. I’ve been thinking about
them…for five years.”

He is scheduled to spend
up to two months in a halfway house or work-release program and should be free
and clear by midsummer.

Knight produced several
platinum records by the late rap star Tupac
Shakur, whose just-released Until the End of the Time hit No. 1 its
first week in stores.

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talks to the experts

A conference call between
the popular song-swapping Web site Napster and a court-appointed technical expert
was held Friday to resolve disputes over the injunction against Napster in the
trading of copyrighted songs on the service.

Reuters reported that both
sides declined comment and that the U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered
the transcript of the call sealed.

Robert Frackman, attorney
for the recording industry, told Reuters on Thursday that the conference call
was to “set the protocol and parameters for the technical expert going forward.”

Napster had come under
fire after the March 5 injunction, with the court complaining that it was not
working quickly and successfully enough to stop the trading of copyrighted songs
completely, as ordered.

Napster said it is doing
the best it could to comply but blamed record labels for not identifying songs
to be blocked in total compliance. Judge Patel hoped the call with the technical
expert would help Napster to understand alternatives available to them.

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Alec Guinness’ secret

Apparently, one of Britain’s
best-loved actors, Sir Alec Guinness, was bisexual according to three new biographies
due out next year, the BBC News reported.

The actor, who died last
year at 86, was charged with a homosexual act in a public restroom in 1946, right
before he was to play his debut film role in Great Expectations.

Guinness was able to keep
it out of the press. Had the news been widely spread, it would have certainly
stifled a career that was just starting out.

His bisexuality was known
by his family and friends, according Garry O’Connor, whose biography is due out
next year.

“He escaped into his acting
and the church as comfort … [it gave] him much needed security from the demons
of his sexuality” O’Connor told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

Guinness received a knighthood
in 1960. He had one child with his wife, Merula.

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Wars” on display

The 34-foot Naboo starfighter
model used in the making of the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom
will be on display from April 28 through June 24 at the Arts and Industries
Building of the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit also will include an interactive
kiosk, showing the creative process of creating the starfighter and the film in

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Records closes shop

Giant Records, the Nashville
record label home to the Wilkinsons and bluegrass great Johnny
Staats, has packed up and called it a day.

Current clients, including Clay
Walker, Neal
McCoy and Georgia
Middleman, will move to the Nashville office of Warner Bros., Music Row
magazine reported. About 15 Giant employees lost their jobs.

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receive input from politicos

Leaders of the Writers
Guild of America aren’t afraid of a little political interaction.

According to a report by
the Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan sat down Thursday
with top honchos from the to discuss what measures might be taken to avoid a writers’

The WGA met Friday with
California’s director of the department of industrial relations Steve Smith to
talk about the potential work stoppage.

A study that quantifies
the negative fiscal impact of the looming writers’ strike will likely be released
this week by Riordan’s office.

“The mayor was great. He’s
leaving office soon, but he is not overlooking his responsibility to the city
of Los Angeles,” WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden told the Hollywood Reporter.

Talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers
have been stalled since March 1, but are scheduled to resume Tuesday. The current
agreement between the WGA and the AMPTA expires May 1.

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producer loses his wings

Peters, producer of such box office hits as A Star Is Born, Caddyshack,
Batman, and The Witches of Eastwick, has lost his lucrative production
deal with the Warner Bros. Studio, Variety reports.

Currently producing Columbia
Pictures’ Ali, starring Will
Smith and Jon Voight,
Peters’ arrangement with Warner Bros. quietly ended on March 6. Peters
will continue to develop projects for Warners, including remakes of Superman,
A Star Is Born, and Around the World in 80 Days.

Peters’ career as a producer
began in 1976 with the Barbra
Streisand vehicle, A Star Is Born. Peters,
partnered with Peter Guber,
produced Batman, The Witches of Eastwick, and Vision Quest
for Warner Bros.

and Guber tried to buy out MGM in 1988 and ran Sony Pictures from 1989 to 1994, but returned to Warner Bros. after each failed foray.

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ratings gain, NBC’s profits fall in Q1

The nation’s economic slowdown
has reached the high-flying world of network television.

Despite being the top-rated
network, NBC’s parent unit General Electric said Thursday that profits during
the first quarter of 2001 were $48 million less than the same quarter in 2000,
dropping from $394 million to $346 million. Revenues remained relatively stable
at $1.35 billion for the quarter.

According to Variety, NBC
has for the fourth straight year won the sweeps for the key demographic, adults
18-49. NBC has the five most popular comedies on telelvision (Friends,
Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me, Frasier, and The Weber Show),
the highest-rated drama (ER) and the newsmagazine that most people watch

In GE’s report, NBC claimed
to be the only network with ratings growth over 2000.

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Night Football” schedule remains rigid

ABC isn’t complaining.

ABC, host of Monday
Night Football
, will air three games featuring reigning Super Bowl Champion
Baltimore Ravens three times during the 2001-02 NFL season. The New York Giants
(NFC Champions), the Minnesota Vikings (AFC Central Champions) and the St. Louis
Rams (Super Bowl XXXIV Champs) also will each play three Monday night games. Three
times is the maximum number that a team can appear on Monday night in one season.

ABC had hoped for a more
flexible approach to the schedule, whereby the network could choose the matchup
in the waning weeks of the season, according to Variety. This would have
allowed ABC to choose games with playoff implications to keep ratings high.

While ABC wasn’t granted
that option, it did receive ratings relief, with permission to broadcast the final
two games on their slate on Saturday night. The last two Monday nights of the
season fall out on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when TV ratings traditionally
drop precipitously.

ABC also will broadcast
two wild-card games on Jan 3 and the Pro Bowl on Feb. 3.

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*NSync frontman’s hoop dreams

If his girlfriend can do it, why not Justin?

In the wake of girlfriend Britney Spears’ success as an author (A Mother’s Gift, co-written by Spears’ mom), *NSync singer Justin Timberlake has signed a reported seven-figure deal with Ballantine Books to pen his own novel, according to Rolling Stone Magazine.

With the working title Crossover Dribble, Timberlake’s tome centers around
a professional basketball star, Jason Windriver, trying to take his team to the
championship. Ballantine hasn’t released any other details.

There’s no set date for the release of Timberlake’s novel, according to the report.