The Fix

Big Pussy arrested. Jackson slept with chimp. Britney denies marital strife, blames dog.

Published April 6, 2005 11:58AM (EDT)

Turn On:
PBS airs an opera-inspired version of Saint-Exupéry's"The Little Prince" on Wednesday night (check local listings), and two reality TV shows make their debuts: "Meet the Barkers" (MTV, 10 p.m. EST) and "The Con" (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. EST)

Morning Briefing:
Big Pussy, big jerk? Vincent Pastore, who played Big Pussy on "The Sopranos," was charged with assault and harassment yesterday after he turned himself into New York police. Pastore is accused of beating up his fiancée -- er, now former fiancée -- Lisa Regina on Mott Street in New York's Little Italy on Saturday after she showed up late to meet him. According to prosecutors, Pastore punched Regina in the back of the head, slammed her head between the car seats, causing her eye to collide with the gear shift, then chucked her out of the car so forcefully, she hit her head on the doorframe and her backside on the car's floorboard. Regina's attorney said his client is "terrified" of Pastore. And Pastore's lawyer told the press, "Mr. Pastore regrets what happened the other night." (N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Post)

Tales of trouble in Britneyland: The latest reports of marital trouble between Britney Spears and her husband (and soon-to-be reality TV show co-star) Kevin Federline have the two taking separate rooms at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica and calling in their family in for an "emergency meeting" to help them work out their squabbles. But a representative for Spears denied the rumored difficulties and blamed the drama on the dog: "Britney and Kevin were at the hotel to celebrate [sister] Jamie Lynn's birthday. An emergency meeting was called, but only because Britney was afraid her dog, Bit Bit, was pregnant by [brother] Brian's dog, Porkchop -- and that would be incest." Bit Bit is a chihuahua; Porkchop is a bulldog. (Page Six)

Huffington, the anti-Drudge? Arianna Huffington -- and a few of her close celebrity friends -- are apparently mad as hell at the Drudgification of the news and not gonna take it anymore. Huffington is planning to launch a new "group blog" next month that will regularly feature liberal-leaning posts not just from Huffington, but also from Warren Beatty, David Geffin, Barry Diller, Tina Brown and Gwyneth Paltrow. (Gwyneth Paltrow?) So what did Matt Drudge have to say about the new competition? "This isnt a dinner party, darling," he told the New York Observer. "This is the beast! This is the Internet beast, which is all-consuming, as anyone knows who works in this business." Oh, and he had other, nastier, things to say, too  (N.Y. Observer)

Jackson trial update: An ex-maid for Michael Jackson -- and the mother of the man who testified on Monday that he'd been manhandled by Jackson three times when he was between ages 7 and 10 -- took the stand on Tuesday to inform the jury that she often saw Jackson sleep with young boys, including Britney Spears' choreographer Wade Robson (when he was just a child Jackson impersonator) and Macaulay Culkin, who has denied sleeping with the star. The maid, Blanca Francia, who cleaned three of Jackson's homes from 1986 to 1991, said she once walked in on Jackson and Robson, then 8, taking a shower together and vividly described seeing the boy's "green-neon color" Spider-Man undies on the bathroom floor next to Jackson's tighty-whiteys. Jackson, Francia testified, also frequently slept with his pet chimp, Bubbles, whom he dressed in a diaper for bed-sharing sessions. (N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Post)

The Force? Whatever  It's just as you suspected. At least some "Star Wars" fans are now admitting that their dedication to the "Star Wars" franchise is not about the movies themselves, but rather the culture around them: hype for hype's sake. In L.A., a cluster of fans have started lining up outside Grauman's Chinese Theater more than a month in advance of the opening of "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," despite the fact that the film is not scheduled to open there. "The telling thing is -- for me, at least -- if the film is not playing at the Chinese ... I have zero desire to see it at all," one fan posted on a message board at "I'm in it for the lineup only and don't give a darn about the conclusion of this lackluster, so-called 'Star Wars' series." (Variety)

Also: Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Europe's longest-reigning monarch and the widower of Grace Kelly, has died as a result of heart, kidney and breathing ailments at the age of 81. (Associated Press)  Writer Saul Bellow died in his Massachusetts home on Tuesday at age 89. (Associated Press)  Marlon Brando has been posthumously slapped with a $5 million wrongful termination and sexual harassment suit by his former business manager, who claims he regularly exposed himself to her and shared his sexual fantasies, including a "disturbing" attraction to underage girls. (Rush and Molloy)  Jimmy Carter has been denied a spot in the presidential delegation to attend the Pope's funeral on Friday -- or he gracefully turned down a spot to make room for others, depending on whom you believe. (N.Y. Post)

Money Quote:
Peter Jennings, joking even as he announced that he was about to begin chemotherapy for lung cancer, which he told ABC News staffers was likely to leave him "cranky" some days and "really cranky" others: "Finally, I wonder if other men and woman ask their doctors right away, 'Okay, Doc, when does the hair go?'" ("ABC World News Tonight" via N.Y. Daily News and N.Y. Post)

-- Amy Reiter

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