Jury selection began today in a court case against Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, whose former chauffeur claims the rap mogul and a bodyguard forced him to speed away from the scene of a 1999 nightclub shooting, The Associated Press reports. Wardel Fenderson, 45, is suing Combs for $3 million. Combs' company, Bad Boy Entertainment, and Combs' bodyguard, Anthony Jones, who died in an unrelated shooting in Atlanta this past November, have also been named in the suit. Fenderson's lawyer, Lawrence Bernstein, told the Daily News for Monday's edition that his client "was afraid that if he stopped [the car], he was going to be hurt by somebody in the car, and if he didn't, he was going to be hurt by the police." A spokeswoman for Combs, however, said the lawsuit was an attempt to cash in on Combs' celebrity. New York City police arrested Combs in December 1999 after a nightclub shooting that left three people wounded. At the time, Combs was accused of illegal gun possession and bribery but was later acquitted of all charges. Combs and his former girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, who was present during the shooting inside Club New York, have been subpoenaed to testify.
Judge OKs Limited Media Coverage in Blake Trial
Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp ruled Friday that TV and still cameras will be allowed in the courtroom in the Robert Blake murder case during opening statements, closing arguments and the verdict, but not during testimony, the AP reports. But while the District Attorney's Office has already filed papers challenging the judge's decision, Blake's attorneys welcome the decision. "I think this will be a professionally conducted trial," Thomas Mesereau Jr., said. "And any time the public gets to see such a trial, the public benefits." Blake, who is free on $1.5 million bail, is charged with murdering his 44-year-old wife, Bonny Bakley, on May 4, 2001. She was found shot to death in their car outside a restaurant.
Barbara Walters Leaves 20/20
Famed broadcaster Barbara Walters is leaving her post as host of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 this fall, the AP reports. The 74-year-old Walters, who has been an integral part of the show for more than 25 years, will do about six interview specials a year for ABC News, including her annual pre-Oscar show, and will remain executive producer and co-host of the daytime talk show The View. "Starting in September, I want to have more flexibility in my life without the responsibilities of a weekly newsmagazine," Walters said in a statement issued by ABC. 20/20 will likely to continue with co-host John Stossel, but with less emphasis on major interview subjects.
Doris Roberts Wants Raymond Spin-Off
Everybody Loves Raymond star Doris Roberts told AP Radio Monday that she hopes Ray Romano will keep the sitcom going for at least one more season but added that she would also be thrilled at the prospect of a spin-off about Robert's (Brad Garrett) new in-laws, played by Fred Willard, Georgia Engel and Chris Elliott. "Now you just have to leave it alone. You can push just so far and then you get to be annoying. I can't imagine how CBS would let it go. I understand from the writers' point of view. If they can't come up with good ideas and new ideas that are not repetitive, they don't want to go on with that. But they're far from that this year, so I keep my fingers crossed. I'm sure CBS will find a way to make it work," Roberts said.
Scott Weiland Ordered Back to Rehab
After leaving a live-in drug detoxification center in California after only a month, Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland has been ordered to return, AP reports. The 36-year-old singer was ordered to report to the Pasadena center last October after pleading no contest to possession of heroin. But a Superior Court judge learned Friday that Weiland had either walked out or was discharged and ordered him to return. Weiland returned immediately and is eligible for release in July, providing he participates in a six-month follow-up program.
Songs Banned From American Idol
American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell won't have to worry about hearing karaoke-type renditions of Sarah McLachlan' s "Angel," Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," and Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" during the third season of the show, which premiered Jan. 19. According to Launch.com, those songs were banned from being performed at this year's auditions. Don't expect to hear anything by Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Mariah Carey, No Doubt, R. Kelly, Tom Petty, Korn, Linkin Park, Carly Simon, or John Mellencamp during the audition process, either, since those artists' songs were also nixed. No explanation was given as to why the tunes were discouraged.