On Friday night at 8 p.m. EST, Fox airs "The 36th N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards." And at 9 p.m. EST, the USA Network premieres its remake of the old "Kojak" series, this time starring Ving Rhames. Who loves ya, baby?
Imus vs. the Journal: Don Imus has lashed out at a front-page article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal detailing questions about the finances of the New Mexico ranch he runs as a charity for sick children. "Dubbed the 'Cowboy Taj Mahal' by locals," Journal writer Robert Frank reports, "the complex has a 14,000-square-foot adobe mansion, swimming pool, billiard hall, herds of longhorn cattle, buffalo and sheep, and a replica of an 1880s mining town. Its stated mission is to give 'children with severe illnesses an opportunity to experience the life of an American cowboy.'" Imus and his family often stay at the ranch during the off-season -- when no children are around -- without reimbursing the charity or factoring that into the ranch's tax-exempt status. What's more, Frank writes, "According to its latest tax filings, the ranch's expenses totaled $2.6 million in 2003 and $2.7 million in 2002. That works out to $27,000 per child, or just under $3,000 per night for their typical nine-day stays. For the same amount, a child could stay in a top suite at New York's Waldorf Astoria or secure a cabin on the Queen Mary 2." Imus responded to the piece Thursday on his radio show, calling Frank a "punk" and the piece a "vicious hatchet job." "Why should I pay here when I run the place?" said Mr. Imus, referring to the ranch, where he was broadcasting from the ranch's fully equipped radio studio. "I'd get [attorney] David Boies to go to the Supreme Court before I'd give a penny to stay here. Are they nuts?" (N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal)
Abdul on probation: Paula Abdul has been handed a 24-month suspended sentence and a $300 fine (plus penalties and restitution) after pleading no-contest to hit-and-run driving in a case that had her facing as much as six months of jail time. The accident -- in which Abdul's Mercedes clipped another vehicle as she changed lanes -- took place in December on the Hollywood Freeway. As Abdul sped away from the other car, its driver managed to scribble down her license plate number and snap a cell-phone photo of her car. Abdul's lawyer said the "American Idol" judge had no idea her car had made contact with another car, and her spokeswoman said Abdul was "pleased the matter could be resolved today." Well, sure ... but today's news also brings word that, during a recent trip to Malaysia, when Abdul found out she would face charges back home, she lashed out at a girlfriend traveling with her and "scratched her friend's face." Yikes. (N.Y. Daily News, Page Six, Reuters)
Jackson trial update: Yesterday's testimony was all about the reliabitly of the evidence of fingerprints allegedly from Jackson's accuser and his brother on one of the pop singer's porn magazines. Yawn. But next week the proceedings promise to liven up a bit: Comedian George Lopez, once the alleged intended target of a minor scam by the accuser's family, is expected to be called to testify. (N.Y. Post)
Also: Word is it was Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, who compelled her to re-enter rehab for drug addiction. Said a source close to the family, "Cissy's been extremely upset. She's concerned for Whitney's health and wants her to see the treatment through this time." (Gatecrasher) ... Charlie Sheen is reportedly so angry that friends of his estranged wife, Denise Richards, have been telling tales about him to the media that he's decided to contest Richards' claim for spousal support and will fight for joint custody of the couple's daughter and unborn child. (Page Six) ... Lindsay Lohan's paternal grandmother is reportedly now selling videos and photos of Lohan as a child in order to raise money for the actress' troubled father, Michael. A rep for Lohan calls her grandmother "unsupportive" and prone to "doing her son's dirty work." (Page Six) ... Sarah Jessica Parker is turning the big 4-0 and her husband, Matthew Broderick, is throwing her a bash tonight at the Plaza. (Page Six) ... Neil Bush's ex-wife, Sharon, is trying to settle the defamation suit brought against her by Neil's new wife's ex-husband, Robert Andrews, after Sharon claimed the new Mrs. Bush's young son was fathered by Neil and not Andrews. Three DNA tests to determine paternity have come back inconclusive. (Page Six) ... The jurors in the Robert Blake murder trial are demanding an apology from a district attorney who called their decision to acquit the actor "incredibly stupid." (Associated Press) ... Tom Sizemore has been sentenced to serve 17 months in jail and four months in drug treatment for failing drug tests while on probation for his 2003 conviction for domestic violence against former fiancée Heidi Fleiss. The actor pleaded for leniency -- "I'm begging, I'm beseeching you," he told the judge -- but then, outside the court, made an obscene gesture at the press. (Associated Press) ... In Touch magazine reports that Martha Stewart is undergoing hypnosis for the treatment of nightmares she's been having since returning from prison. (In Touch via The Scoop) ... Russell Crowe's band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, is splitting up -- just as it's releasing a new album. (BBC News)
Vincent Gallo on another man's recent claim that he was the actor's phallic stand-in in the oral sex scenes with Chloe Sevigny in Gallo's film "Brown Bunny": "I'm flattered that people are so overwhelmed by the size of my [manhood] that they would think it was artificial or a body double ... [But it is] 100% real ... I can prove it, and I will prove it." (Gatecrasher)
-- Amy Reiter