Mötley Crüe, sympathetic underdog? The bad boys of Mötley Crüe have filed a lawsuit against NBC, claiming that the network has trampled on the band's free-speech rights by banning it from its shows. The network issued the Crüe-free edict after lead singer Vince Neil swore on the air during an appearance on "The Tonight Show" last New Year's Eve, a move the band says has weakened its album and concert-ticket sales. "We meant no harm, but it feels that we're being singled out unfairly," bassist Nikki Sixx told the New York Times. "This is a discrimination issue, pure and simple. All we've ever asked is to be treated like everybody else, which is why we're taking this action." NBC says banning the band is well within its rights and has labeled the lawsuit "meritless." (N.Y. Times)
Hot or not? The Parents Television Council is protesting that Carl's Jr. ad starring Paris Hilton -- in revealing black swimsuit, washing a Bentley and frolicking suggestively in hose spray -- saying it is "inappropriate for television." According to the research director for the group, which has asked the FCC to block the ad from airing, "This commercial is basically soft-core porn." Meanwhile, a special Carl's Jr. Web site highlighting the commercial -- featuring a 60-second version, interviews with the people behind the ad and a chat with Hilton about the merits of Carl's Jr.'s Spicy BBQ burger (she says it's "juicy" and "hot") -- got so much traffic last week after the ad debuted, it crashed. Commented one Carl's honcho, "It turned out that Paris was too hot for our servers." Ugh. (Los Angeles Times via the Associated Press, Reuters)
Jackson trial update: Jay Leno took the stand as expected to testify about several phone calls he received from Michael Jackson's accuser a few years back, but he apparently surprised the defense by offering a muted version of his statement to police that he felt that the boy and his family were after money and looking for a "mark." Leno did say that voice-mail messages left by the boy appeared to have been rehearsed, and that he was suspicious that a 12-year-old boy would hold him up as a hero, but that's hardly as damaging to the prosecution as the defense had led the court to expect Leno's testimony to be. Later in the day, comedian Chris Tucker testified that he had helped the accuser's family by taking part in a comedy benefit to raise money for the cancer-stricken boy and had also sent the family a check for $1,500 and taken them shopping. The defense says it will wrap shortly, and Jackson himself is not expected to testify. And if the pop star walks free? There's speculation that he'll ditch the United States and move to Europe to rebuild his life and career. "My money is on Paris or London, where he has legions of fans," writes Fox News gossip Roger Friedman. (Associated Press, the Smoking Gun, Fox News)
Also: The owner of a restaurant in Rome is mulling filing a lawsuit against Bill Clinton after Clinton's people called to make a reservation for a group of 18 at the restaurant and then failed to show or cancel the reservation. The restaurateur says he not only cleared the space for the party but purchased around $1,500 worth of extra food and wine. (Scotsman via Drudge) ... Britney Spears has reportedly had to give one of her dogs, a Chihuahua named Lucky, to an assistant because the pooch took a dislike to the singer's husband, Kevin Federline, growling and snapping at him. (The Scoop) ... Burt Reynolds' rep insists the actor was just joking around when he (gently) slapped an assistant producer for CBS Newspath on the red carpet at the premiere of the remake of "The Longest Yard" after the unfortunate fellow admitted he had never seen the original. "He playfully tapped him on the cheek as if to say, 'Well, that's not very nice.' He was kidding," said the flack. (N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Post) ... Yesterday's report on E! Online that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey had filed for divorce appears to have been a misfire. Simpson quickly refuted the report and the site pulled it down. (Rush & Molloy) ... Lindsay Lohan's rep is denying that the teen actress' chest had to be digitally downsized and her necklines raised after "Herbie: Fully Loaded" test audiences objected to her va-va-voomness in the film. (Rush & Molloy) ... Annabella Sciorra has signed on to star opposite Chris Noth next season on NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." (Hollywood Reporter) ... Bobby Brown says that his wife, Whitney Houston, has successfully completed her latest stint in rehab and that "she's doing wonderful. Everything about her spirit right now is just great ... we're enjoying life again." ("Access Hollywood" via Associated Press)
"The Sopranos" creator David Chase on how he plans to cope with whatever sanitized version of his show ends up in syndication: "It's going to be very painful for me to see the show transformed like that, and I probably won't even look at it." (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)
Whoopi Goldberg on getting shelved as a stumper by the Democrats after her racy performance at a John Kerry fundraiser last summer: "My party abandoned me. There's no other way to say it: They put their tails between their legs and they ran. I've closed my eyes to the party. I haven't turned my back on them, but I no longer feel comfortable saying that I feel like I'm represented by them. Until people can stand up for what's right in the face of whatever is flying at you, nothing is going to change." (Air America's "Politically Correct" via Page Six)
On Wednesday night, "Lost" (ABC, 8 p.m. EDT) and "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m. EDT) wrap up their seasons, as do "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 10 p.m. EDT) and "Alias" (ABC, 10 p.m. EDT). And CBS offers a drama based on the book by the star witness in the Scott Peterson case, "Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution" (9 p.m. EDT). Look for Salon's finale recap of "Lost" on Thursday.
-- Amy Reiter