UNDERSTANDABLE REACTION: Hootie & the Blowfish is back--with a lawsuit against a medical-supply company. The band's steamed about the use of its name in an ad for plastic splints.
COUNTRY QUEEN REIGNS: Tammy Wynette has won settlements from the two supermarket tabs she sued over stories about her health. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
BOOM! Paul Simon's The Capeman will close March 28, producers have confirmed--a move that should make the critically panned, $11 million musical the Great White Way's biggest bomb ever.
PENN SUIT: Rather than punch the guy out, actor Sean Penn has filed a $130,000 suit against former investment partner Michael McInerney, according to Associated Press. Penn claims the defendant wrested control of an L.A. nightclub from a partnership the actor was involved in, leaving him out in the cold.
WHOA, MILO! A musical based on the 1984 Kevin Bacon dance flick, Footloose, will bow on Broadway in October, it's been announced.
TRICKY TRIANGLE: Showgirls star Elizabeth Berkley says her new boyfriend's old girlfriend has threatened to "cut" her. The ex- now faces a criminal harassment charge.
TAINTED LOVE: Starting today, ABC soap General Hospital reexamines the glossed-over history of its famed Luke-and-Laura love duo: Namely, the rape.
OUT OF WHACK: In Australia, Oasis's Liam Gallagher is facing assault charges for allegedly breaking a fan's nose with a head-butt. The rocker, now free on bail, says he's innocent.
UNDER THE KNIFE: Morton Downey Jr., 64, has had surgery to remove his right lung. The ex-TV loud mouth became an anti-smoking advocate after first being diagnosed with cancer in 1996.
SOUL MAN: The publicist who fell in love with Marla Maples' shoes and did prison time for stealing them now stands accused of harassing the quasi-actress and estranged hubby, Donald Trump.
BUT SHE COULD REALLY COOK: The porno star who became a member of the Italian parliament has lost custody of her 5-year-old son. Cuddles was declared an "excessively liberal" mother.
B.I.G. R.I.P.: MTV will mark the one-year anniversary of Notorious B.I.G.'s still-unsolved murder Sunday with a special Biggie video countdown and a Biography-esque documentary.
SONNY RISES: Due in record stores March 24: Cher and Sonny & Cher: Greatest Hits. The 16-track collection was planned before Sonny Bono's skiing death in January.
OSCAR WATCH: Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Trisha Yearwood, Aaliyah and Elliott Smith are set to warble this year's batch of Oscar-nominated songs. The big show's March 23.
BIG BEN: Oscar nominee Ben Affleck is moving onto Glory Days, Daily Variety says. The rising star will shoot the character drama this fall. For all the casting news, see Dotted Line.
MODELS EAT? Naomi Campbell, Elle Macpherson and Claudia Schiffer are among a business group that's won the rights to the name, Fashion Cafe. An eatery will presumably follow.
MOM VS. MOM: Anne Heche's estranged mother Nancy is in bed with the tabloids--selling them stories. So charges Betty DeGeneres, Ellen's mom.
BENCHED: Say goodbye to Between Brothers and Ask Harriet. Fox has yanked the sitcoms from its Thursday night schedule.
NEW LOW: David Caruso's Michael Hayes helped CBS achieve new futility in attracing key viewers on Wednesday--falling to sixth behind the lowly WB and UPN in one demographics ratings group.
AXL ROAST: Former Wall of Voodoo singer Andy Prieboy has found a new career as a playwright, and his first project is a '30-style musical based on the life of another '80s-band lead singer--Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose. Tentatively titled White Trash Wins Lotto, Prieboy insists his production--due to open next month in Los Angeles--is not a rock opera.