PBS' "Slavery and the Making of America" series continues Wednesday night with "Seeds of Destruction," which examines slavery during the early 19th century and the Civil War (check local listings for times). And UPN's "Kevin Hill" (9 p.m. EST) includes a storyline about the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq who sue his school for letting the military recruit him on campus.
Felled by the flu: Some people stay in bed or go to the doctor, Michael Jackson apparently heads to the emergency room when he has a touch of the flu. The judge in Jackson's child-molestation trial explained yesterday that it was a bug that kept the defendant from making it to the courtroom for jury selection on Tuesday, or as a doctor treating Jackson put it, a "flu-like illness with some vomiting." Jackson, expected to make a full recovery, was held overnight at the hospital and jury selection will be delayed until Feb. 22, prompting grumbles from prospective jurors and new nicknames for Jackson in various newspapers, including the N.Y. Daily News, which has redubbed him the "King of Plop." (Associated Press, N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Post)
Diddy or didn't he? Random House has filed suit against Sean "Puffy/P.Diddy" Combs, claiming that he failed to write the autobiography he'd promised to deliver to them in 1999 -- and had pocketed the $300,000 portion his advance paid to him, despite repeated requests by the publisher for its return. Random House issued a statement yesterday, saying it has "seldom resorted to a legal course of action with its prospective authors who don't write the books we have contracted for, but Mr. Sean Combs has left us no choice ... He signed an agreement with our Ballantine imprint in 1998 to write his autobiography, which he agreed to complete and deliver to us in 1999. We now have waited for over five years and have received neither the manuscript nor the return of the money we advanced Mr. Combs." Combs' spokesman, meanwhile, said, "We have a disagreement with Random House that we hoped would be resolved without litigation. We anticipate this will be resolved quickly." (Associated Press)
Camelot's worth: You know all those predictions that the current Sotheby's auction of Kennedy tidbits would be way lower key than the house's last Kennedy stuff auction, back in 1996? Well, though it may not rake in anywhere near the $34.5 million the 1996 sale took in, the Kennedy stuff on the block this week was going like hotcakes -- at extremely high prices. An anonymous phone bidder forked over $96,000 for a humble oak rocking chair favored by President John F. Kennedy. A cast-iron doorstop in the form of a basket of posies from one of the Kennedy homes, expected to fetch only $60 to $80, went for more than $4,800. And a sugar bowl estimated to be worth about $100 to $150 was snapped up by a bidder willing to pay $7,200. In all, opening day of the auction took in $1,747,620. The estimated value for all goods offered in the three-day sale was a mere $1 million, and there are still two days left. (N.Y. Daily News)
Segregated eats: Conde Nast is under fire from the Rev. Al Sharpton and others for featuring "African-American" cuisine -- "Jamaican beef patties, shrimp jambalaya, rice, okra, corn, black-eyed pea stew, deviled eggs and biscuits" -- at the "International Table" in its company cafeteria. Sharpton says the food move "is symbolic of their corporate view that we are not part of American culture. Their attitude is 'Let them eat soul food!'" The company says its cafeteria caterer was honoring Black History Month. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)
Also: Snoop Dogg had to cut short a concert in Nottingham, England, after he got nailed in the head with a beer bottle apparently chucked from the crowd. He had to get medical treatment for the resulting wound, but "He's okay now," says his rep. (Rush and Molloy) ... Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, has been awarded "substantial damages" by two Rupert Murdoch-owned British newspapers that reported, falsely, that he had supported terrorist activities. (BBC News) ... O.J. Simpson's older brother, Melvin Leon Simpson, was the driver of an airport shuttle bus that crashed on a San Francisco-area highway, killing one of the passengers and injuring six others. (Associated Press) ... PBS President Pat Mitchell, recently embroiled in the controversy over an episode of the children's show "Postcards from Buster" featuring lesbian mothers, says she's planning to resign from her post next year. (N.Y. Post) ... A studio engineer filed a lawsuit Monday against Ray Charles Enterprises and Concord Music Group claiming that he was denied proper credit on Charles' last album, the Grammy-winning "Genius Loves Company." (Reuters) ... Nicolas Cage, 41, and his current wife, Alice, 21, a former sushi waitress, have announced that they are expecting their first child. (Associated Press) ... Morgan Spurlock has snagged the Writers Guild of America's inaugural award for documentary feature writing for his film "Super Size Me." (Reuters/Hollywood Reporter) ... The upcoming issue of Us Weekly features photos of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline drinking, snuggling and getting foot massages on their $2,000-a-day Fiji honeymoon. (Us Weekly via N.Y. Post and Gawker.com)
Amiri Baraka, speaking to an audience about the current presidential administration: "We cannot be tricked by the recurrent minstrel show. What kind of sleaza is Condoleezza?" (Page Six)
-- Amy Reiter