JAILHOUSE BLUES: Officials at L.A. Twin Towers jail are investigating whether Robert Downey Jr. smuggled drug paraphernalia into his cell or was being framed by fellow convicts. Downey has been separated from the general population following a scuffle Friday.
WHERE'S THE BEEF? A big victory for Oprah Winfrey Tuesday. A federal judge has thrown out the major part of the slander lawsuit brought by Texas cattlemen against the talk-show host. The judge dismissed the "veggie libel" portion of the suit. However, the trial will proceed as a common-law business disparagement case--a much more difficult charge to prove.
STALKER CASE: In Los Angeles, jury selection began in the case of the man accused of stalking and plotting to rape director Steven Spielberg. Nearly 80 prospective panelists chosen Tuesday will be questioned by lawyers Wednesday.
CUT UP: Government censors in Jamaica have edited out the opening scene of Spielberg's Amistad--featuring the bloody mutiny of slaves against their captors--deeming it too violent. About 90 percent of Jamaicans are descended from West African slaves. The film opens on the island Wednesday.
SEXGATE: Country singer Lorrie Morgan says there's nothing to a Star tabloid report that she shared a "wild ride" with President Clinton in the back of a limo. Morgan says she has never been alone with Clinton, and now she's threatening to sue the Star.
SWITCHEROO: CBS is defending its move to allow news anchor Dan Rather to fill in for CNN talk-show host Larry King last night. The Eye net says it was good publicity. But both ABC and NBC say they wouldn't permit their anchors to take on an assignment on a rival network.
CAMERA CRACKDOWN: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) was at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Screen Actors Guild to outline proposed legislation that would outlaw "persistent chasing or following" of celebs by paparazzi. The proposal has the support of several actors but has been condemned by the ACLU as infringing on the First Amendment.
COURTHOUSE: A former Star Search comedian suspected in a series of campus assaults pleaded no contest Tuesday to raping an instructor at the University of Nebraska. Vinson Horace Champ, 36, still faces charges of attempted rape, stemming from attacks at two other colleges. He faces up to 50 years in prison.
NO DINERO: Robert De Niro told Paris investigators he had sex--free-of-charge--with a porn model reportedly involved in an international prostitution ring, a London newspaper reports. De Niro was detained by French police last week and quizzed on his knowledge of the hooker ring.
X-RATED: Independent video stores are doing what comes naturally--stocking porno movies in order to compete against the bigger, but X-rated-free, Blockbuster chain, an informal survey in today's New York Times finds.
THREE-RING CIRCUS: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus says it didn't kill Kenny--the baby elephant that actress Kim Basinger cried for last week. In a statement, the circus people called Basinger's allegations of mistreatment "false." Kenny, who succumbed to a stomach infection, was not made to perform while ill, nor was separated from his mother, Ringling Bros. said.
LOVE LOST: Courtney Love wants a Florida court to pay her--in full--for prosecuting her on battery charges that were later dropped. Love spent nearly $28,000 defending herself against claims she slugged two fans at a 1995 concert. So far, Florida officials have only been willing to repay Love $1,900.
MODEL BABY: Supermodel Elle Macpherson is a new mom--giving birth to a seven-pound baby boy on Valentine's Day in New York. Mother, child and dad--boyfriend Arpad Busson (the kid's namesake)--are said to be doing well.
CLINTON DIDN'T COLOR MOVIE? National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, dismissed claims made by John Travolta that Clinton offered the actor help with his pet cause, Scientology, in an attempt to gain a softer presidential portrayal in the upcoming film version of Primary Colors. Berger called Travolta's comments in the March issue of George magazine "conspiracy theories."
UNSINKABLE: Move over Jurassic Park, Titanic is now the No. 3 top-grossing movie of all time. This, after another weekend atop the box office. The sinking-ship epic pulled in $32.1 million in honor of President's Day, bringing its total take to $370.9 million.
ART DEAL: You'll find The Devil's Advocate in video stores today--but you may not find The Devil's Advocate you saw in theaters last fall. That's because Warner Bros. is reediting 20 minutes of footage that prompted a now-settled lawsuit by a noted New York artist. The sculptor was angered that Al Pacino did devilish things in the flick with his real-life works.
EXECUTIVE SUITE: A shuffle among the suits at Sony Pictures. Jeff Sagansky is exiting as copresident of the studio--ending a year-and-a-half run marked by hits like Men in Black. A power struggle that Sagansky couldn't swing his way is the reason behind the resignation.
MUM'S THE WORD: Everybody's favorite royal, the dear Queen Mum, is proving that there is too such a thing as a spry 97-year-old. She walked out of a London hospital today, just weeks after hip surgery.
CLIPPED WING: On-the-outs royal Sarah Ferguson is on the mend after chipping a shoulder bone in a ski accident Monday. The Duchess of York, who turns 38 later this week, is said to be already back on the Swiss slopes.
RAPPIN' RODNEY: Rodney King, the Los Angeles police beating victim whose caught-on-tape assault sparked the city's 1992 riots, is launching his own rap label. Straight Alta-Pazz Records' first release, "Do It How U Wanna" by the hip-hop group Stranded, is due out today.
COMEBACK: Today co-anchor Katie Couric, on leave from the top-rated morning news show since the death of her husband last month, may return to the air as soon as next Monday, Couric's colleagues noted on air Tuesday.
GOING AWAY? Tonight marks the likely last ABC broadcast of Grace Under Fire. Production on the once-hit sitcom was shut down last month after a reported on-set tantrum by series star Brett Butler.
FEED THE WORLD: Michael Jackson's love of children extends to the starving ones in North Korea. The Gloved One wants to hold a benefit concert in neighboring South Korea in October. Invites for the event, called We Are the World 2, are going out to everyone from Celine Dion to Pope John Paul II.
FOR SALE: Motown's doing some 40th anniversary attic-cleaning. The record label is shipping various knickknacks, including one of Marvin Gaye's old pianos, to Britain, for an upcoming memorabilia auction.
FORMER CHILD STARS: Willis and Arnold on the big screen? Todd Bridges may approach ex-Diff'rent Strokes costar Gary Coleman about appearing in his feature-film directing debut, the low-budget actioneer, The Cleaner, Entertainment Weekly reports.
FLYING PILOT: The Soul Food train steams ahead. The big winner at last week's NAACP Image Awards is being eyed as possible fodder for a TV series. Fox has ordered a pilot based on the family drama/comedy film.
SON ALSO RISES: Some comfort for fading action star Steven Seagal: Your kid's got a good job. Kentaro Seagal, the reincarnated lama's 21-year-old son, has signed a five-picture, seven-figure deal with the producers who launched the career of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
BATTLING BURT: Oscar nominee Burt Reynolds is already lining up work--signing with cable's TNT to star in a trilogy of TV-movies about an ex-cop. The Boogie Nights star will direct the first installment. For all the casting news, see The Dotted Line.
ANTONIO'S LINE: Antonio Banderas is a big-screen sex symbol, but he really wants to do--well, you know. The Evita star will direct wife Melanie Griffith in the drama Crazy in Alabama, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
TON O' 'TOONS: Launched last weekend in Canada: The Bugs Bunny Film Festival, a collection of classic Warner Bros. shorts starring the likes of Bugs, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. The expo, organized to mark Warners' 75th anniversary, will hit 80 cities in North America before it winds up.
HOOKED ON CLASSICS: In Austria, thousands of fans of only-in-the-1980s pop wonder Falco flocked to weekend funeral services for their beloved native son. The "Rock Me Amadeus" singer was killed February 6 in a car crash. He was 40.