The Fix

Paris Hilton blackmailed? Beatty picking fight with Schwarzenegger? Cruise and Holmes spotted "making out like cats in heat."

Published May 26, 2005 8:29PM (EDT)

Morning Briefing:
Hilton horror, over? Is the man behind the swiping (and leaking) of the alleged Paris Hilton N-word tape in police custody? Page Six reports that two months ago a fellow named Darnell Riley was arrested in connection with a January 2004 burglary at the L.A. home of "Girls Gone Wild" mastermind Joe Francis -- and is also under investigation for possibly robbing other celebs, like Hilton. Though Francis was robbed at gunpoint (and possibly later blackmailed), Hilton was apparently not around when her home was burgled in September 2004 and thieves made off with more than $100,000 in cash and valuables -- including a videotape in which she allegedly used the N-word. One source says Hilton has been paying $20,000 a month in hush money to keep the tape from being publicly released. (Page Six)

Warren vs. Arnold: Things are heating up between Warren Beatty and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Speaking at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy over the weekend, Beatty ripped into the California governor's policies, accusing him of "bullying  labor and the little guy" and suggesting that he "cut down the photo ops, the fake events, the fake issues, the fake crowds  the scapegoats, the 'language problems,' the broken promises, the 'Minutemen,' the prevarications and put some sunlight on some taxes." Added Beatty, "Can't we accept that devotion to the building of the body politic is more complex and a little more sensitive than devotion to body-building?  Does that make me a 'girlie-man'?" Schwarzenegger's people countered that Beatty was a "crackpot," prompting Beatty to say, "I don't think that that's the most intelligent response for Arnold to have his people give." Beatty has insisted that he has no designs on Schwarzenegger's job, but adds, "One never knows at what point one becomes sufficiently inflamed to take a step that one does not basically want to take." (Los Angeles Times)

Jackson trial update: The fat lady, whoever she is, has not yet sung, but the Jackson trial is nearly over. The defense rested its case yesterday after calling comedian Chris Tucker to the stand to reinforce its portrayal of Jackson's accuser and his family as clever, cash-crazed opportunists. Tucker said he and his girlfriend had befriended the family after they were approached to help out with a benefit to raise money, presumably for the boy's cancer treatment. Tucker not only gave the family about $1,500 in cash, but also took them shopping, flew them around on his chartered plane and put them up at his own expense, and nearly gave them a truck, until he became suspicious of them. Tucker testified that the boy was constantly using his health problems to appeal for sympathy gifts from him. "He would always say, 'Chris, let me have this ... I'm not feeling too good,'" Tucker said. "He was really smart and he was cunning at times, and his brother ... was definitely cunning." Tucker said he "always overlooked" the boy's behavior, but he had harsher words for the boy's mother, who he said raised his suspicions with her strange behavior. "I started getting nervous," Mr Tucker said, when the mother "started crying, not in the normal way. She started acting like frantically, like mentally. Something wasn't right." Tucker also said that after the mother went around saying "Chris is the brother" and "Michael is the father," he took Jackson aside and said, "Something ain't right  You need to watch out." The jury may get the case as early as the middle of next week. (Associated Press, The Guardian, N.Y. Post, Contra Costa Times)

Also: Word is that Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News, may be bucking to be released from his job following speculation that he's out of favor with NBC president Jeff Zucker in light of the "Today" show's rapid decline in its ratings race with rival "Good Morning America." (N.Y. Times)  In related news, NBC as a whole has plummeted from first to fourth place in the network ratings race, behind Fox, CBS and ABC. (N.Y. Times)  N.Y. Daily News gossip Lloyd Grove has repicked his old squabble with Tim Robbins, reprinting an old item about Robbins' mother-in-law that angered the actor back in 2003. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)  Tupac Shakur's mother is honoring him by using $4 million in royalties from his music to open the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts outside Atlanta on June 11. The center will help mentor high-risk youth, ages of 12-18. (AllHipHop)  After what seems like a very long separation, Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke may finally be officially divorced as soon as next month. (Rush & Molloy)  Film producer Ismail Merchant, one half of Merchant Ivory films, died at a hospital in London on Wednesday. The cause of his death has not yet been disclosed. (BBC News)  Renee Zellweger received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday. (Fox News)  Tom Sizemore has been ordered to show up in court next week to explain possible parole violations. (Associated Press) 

Money Quote:
A bystander who saw Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes "sucking face" at a Los Angeles restaurant: "They were making out like cats in heat." (The Scoop)

Turn On:
Season finale season is over. So now you can enrich yourself with thinkier fare like a documentary about women war correspondents, "Bearing Witness" (A&E, 9 p.m. EDT), or the History Channel's look at slavery in the U.S., "Slave Catchers, Slave Resisters" (8 p.m. EDT).

-- Amy Reiter

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