A Page Six scandal primer: The New York Post gossip column scandal we wrote about on Friday has just grown curiouser and curiouser. First a quick recap: Page Six writer and sometimes editor Jared Paul Stern is being investigated for allegedly trying to solicit a payoff of $220,000 from California billionaire Ron Burkle to keep Burkle's name off the gossip page. Things look bad for Stern: A secret tape of the two meetings Stern set up with Burkle to discuss payment options includes exchanges like this: Burkle: "How much -- how much do you want?" Stern: "Ahhh, I think, like, you know, a hundred thousand to get going, and then we can do something like, month to month, like say, ten thousand." As scary as the Stern case is -- can we ever trust Page Six again? -- it may be just one example of a wide range of payoffs that dictate who gets written about in the column. The New York Daily News, certainly not an unbiased observer of the scandal, writes that along with the Stern news, "those familiar with the gossip page painted a picture of an out-of-control institution where lavish gifts are routinely bestowed on columnist Richard Johnson and his staffers." Johnson (who was married over the weekend) is well known for his connections to the people he covers, and Stern cited him as a model of gossip success who takes "the right approach, because it's a pretty complicated business." Meanwhile, James Brady, the man who invented Page Six back in 1977, takes the bad-apple approach in an interview with Editor & Publisher: "I think it is embarrassing. But to my knowledge, if it doesn't go any further than Stern, it is an aberration. If he did what he is accused of doing, he is a bad guy and ought to be canned." (N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Times, Gawker, Editor & Publisher)
72 more hours for Kiefer: Kiefer Sutherland signed a new deal with Fox on Friday that gives him three more seasons with "24," raises his title from co-executive to executive producer and gives his fledgling production company a two-year development deal. The exact details of the deal haven't leaked out yet, but speculation put Sutherland's acting salary from "24" alone in the neighborhood of $40 million, which, if true, may make him the highest-paid drama series actor. (Hollywood Reporter)
This isn't confirmed, but rumors are swirling that Gwyneth Paltrow had a C-section over the weekend and gave birth to a baby boy. (Perez Hilton) ... After leaving France, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have holed up in Namibia and are renting out all the rooms at a beachside resort there. (People) ... Reviews for Julia Roberts' Broadway play, "Three Days of Rain," won't really be out until the show debuts on April 19, but Fox 411 caught a preview over the weekend and says, "She is funny and charming when appropriate, somber and grim with conviction too. She has all her lines digested and you cannot take your eyes off of her." (Fox 411) ... Debuting this coming Halloween, a new, as-yet-unnamed horror channel put together by Sony and Comcast will feature thousands of movies and TV shows on demand. (Associated Press) ... A designer who claims he's behind Melanie Griffith's fashion makeover is suing her for not giving him the proper credit for the feat. Niklas J. Palm filed suit in Los Angeles on Friday for $27,000 in damages, claiming he reorganized her closets and designed her dress -- as well as dresses for her daughters -- for the 2006 Golden Globes, but has yet to be paid or to get any of the publicity Griffith allegedly promised him. (TMZ) ... The British publishers of "The Da Vinci Code" won their court case against charges of plagiarism on Friday. "Dan Brown has not infringed copyright," said a judge at the High Court in London. "None of this amounts to copying 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.'" (Hollywood Reporter) ... "Ice Age: The Meltdown" topped the box office again this weekend, taking in an estimated $34.5 million -- which, while not shabby, is a 49 percent drop from the previous weekend's take. (Box Office Mojo) ... And for those who still doubt, Sky offers up a pretty convincing photographic roundup of Katie Holmes' pregnant belly. (Sky)
Mick Jagger on the Chinese government's censorship of the Rolling Stones' Shanghai playlist: "We have 400 more songs that we can play, so it's not really an issue." (People)
-- Scott Lamb
On Monday, Lifetime airs the original telefilm "Gospel of Deceit" (9 p.m. EDT), while ABC premieres the first of a two-part miniseries, "The Ten Commandments" (9 p.m. EDT), and Chris Matthews is on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EDT).
-- Joe DiMento