Oh, Canada! You knew there'd be a Harry Potter leak somewhere. And you were right. A bookstore in Vancouver, British Columbia, mistakenly put its copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," embargoed until 12:01 a.m. on July 16, on sale last Thursday, eight days before the book's official release date. Now, the book's Canadian publisher has won a court injunction prohibiting the people who bought the 14 copies from copying or telling anyone about the story. What's more, the publisher is asking all 14 people to return their books temporarily in exchange for a book plate autographed by J.K. Rowling herself -- and a T-shirt. So far, only a few of the early purchasers have taken the publisher up on its offer. (CanWest News Service)
DreamWorks nightmare? DreamWorks Animation announced Monday morning that the SEC was looking into the way the company's stock had been traded and that the company was in the midst of its own internal analysis of its severely sluggish TV sales. According to Fox News gossip Roger Friedman, a class-action suit filed against the studio in June may have hinted at Monday's news. "The suit claims that the defendants 'flooded the market' with DVDs of 'Shrek 2' last fall, and followed the release with false claims of success, thus inflating the newly formed DreamWorks Animation company's stock price," Friedman writes. "The suit alleges that the company's insiders knew this, and that when the 'truth' was revealed on May 10 of this year, the stock price tumbled. By then, according to the suit, all the principals had cashed out and made handsome profits, leaving holders of the common stock to fend for themselves." Jeffrey Katzenberg was named in the suit, not because he's been accused of profiting from stock sales but because he is the head of the company. (Fox 411, Associated Press)
Imus in the morning, not always so nice? A Yale-affiliated doctor has filed a lawsuit against Don Imus, claiming that the radio host slandered him on the air when he announced to his listeners that the pediatric cancer and blood specialist "was one of the worst doctors in the world and did not care if children suffered." The physician, Dr. Howard Allen Pearson, and Imus clashed over the treatment of an ill young girl who was staying at Imus' New Mexico Ranch, where the radio personality hosts groups of sick children each summer. Imus apparently felt that the doctor took his sweet time getting to "a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan who had been up all night in abject agony and pain," refusing the offer of a ride and pausing to drink his morning coffee. "The place was a quarter mile away and he refused to get in the truck. He said he wanted to walk down there," Imus griped. "He's about 80 years old, and the way he walks, who knows how long it would take him to get there? I thought it was just the most outrageous and repulsive behavior in a doctor. It's disgraceful." The doctor contends that Imus not only slandered and defamed him on the air, but also threatened him on the morning in question, "screaming uncontrollably" while in possession of a knife and a revolver. (Associated Press, N.Y. Post)
Going out with a bang, and then another one: If all goes as planned, on Aug. 20, Hunter S. Thompson's ashes will be shot out of a cannon installed on a 150-high-tower near his Woody Creek, Colo., home. It's part of a private tribute being planned by the writer's family and friends, including Johnny Depp. "He was a great pal, one of my best friends. We had talked a couple of times about his last wishes to be shot out of a cannon of his own design," Depp, who has hired an events planner to oversee the tribute, said in a recent interview. "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out." (AP Television News)
Refreshing approach: New York party boy Fabian Basabe is in serious hot water (and gossip columns galore) after losing control at a Hamptons bash (Lizzie Grubman was there, naturally; she even broke a shoe in the excitement over Basabe's conduct) and calling bouncers a bad name. So he's issued a preemptive apology, printed on Gawker.com:
"I had an incident this weekend where I was definitely not myself. I was at the Star Room in East Hampton, had a few too many, was hanging from the rafters, and was eventually thrown out. I make no apologies for all of that, but I regret what happened next.
"When a bouncer wouldn't let me retrieve my things, I referred to him as a 'negro.' It is not a word that I ordinarily use, and being drunk was no excuse. It was tasteless, stupid and insensitive, and while intending to insult one person, I affected a much larger range of people and I know this.
"Anyway, as Hugh Grant famously said after his peccadillo a decade ago, 'I did something completely insane.' I sincerely apologize to all I offended and hope that people understand the context of stupidity in which the comment was made."
(Gawker.com, Rush & Molloy, Page Six)
Also: Tiffani Thiessen (she dropped the Amber back in 2000) married actor Brady Smith in a private ceremony in California on Saturday. (People via Associated Press) ... Michael Jackson is being sued for $48 million in unpaid fees by Prescient Acquisition Group, Inc., a financial company that, in 2004, helped him refinance a $272 million debt to Bank of America and save his stake in the Beatles catalog. (Associated Press) ... The Montana handyman who allegedly planned to kidnap David Letterman's toddler son and nanny will get 10 years in prison in exchange for agreeing to plead guilty to lesser charges. Prosecutors will drop the felony solicitation charge they'd brought against him. (N.Y. Daily News) ... Cameron Diaz is expected to testify in a case brought against a photographer she says unlawfully tried to sell topless, S&M-themed photos of her taken before she became famous. (N.Y. Daily News) ... Star Jones has enlisted the help of tough guy lawyer Bert Fields to combat reports that her husband, Al Reynolds, toured a few L.A. gay bars after the BET Awards. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Brooke Shields is headed back to Broadway, this time to play Roxie Hart in "Chicago," a role she's been playing for nearly three months in the London production. (N.Y. Daily News) ... Preparations are reportedly underway for a sequel to the film "Gladiator," sans Russell Crowe. (BBC News)
Ashlee Simpson on her infamous "Saturday Night Live" lip-syncing fiasco: "The kid that peed their pants at school -- that was me on 'SNL'! But you've got to move forward and find the good things. It's not about proving that I can sing; it's about being confident with myself and being able to say, 'I know that I can do that.'" (CosmoGIRL magazine)
Andre Agassi, volleying questions about his ex-wife Brooke Shields' recent war of words with Tom Cruise over the use of anti-depressants: "Actually I haven't spoke to her for a while, but I haven't followed that whole saga ... I don't know much about Scientology nor Tom Cruise nor medication nor postpartum depression." (Boldface)
Bill Moyers returns to PBS tonight as host of "Wide Angle" (check local listings), which tonight focuses on last September's Russian elementary school seige.
-- Amy Reiter