I BELIEVE I CAN BEAT THE RAP: R&B crooner R. Kelly pleading innocent to child pornography charges Wednesday in a Chicago courtroom. The Grammy winner, accused of videotaping sex with an underage girl, is due back in court August 7.

LAST SONG: Legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti telling CNN's Connie Chung that he will retire on his 70th birthday in 2005--and after that, he says he won't even sing in the shower. Pavarotti also says he missed two "farewell" performances in New York last month because of ill health.

THE CONNIE ZONE: Connie Chung's debut on CNN Monday lifting the network's ratings, but Connie Chung Tonight didn't get even half as many viewers as Fox's The O'Reilly Factor.

CHECKING OUT: Piano man Billy Joel planning to check out of a Connecticut rehab facility today after spending time there for alcohol abuse and depression. Joel's Columbia Records publicist tells the New York Post "he's doing very well."

IS NO MOVIE SACRED? Columbia Pictures developing a remake of Stanley Kramer's 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, this time starring Bernie Mac, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The original starred Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

NOT LEFT OUT: Grammy also-ran India.Arie finally nabbing an award Tuesday night, for Best Female R&B Artist at the Second Annual BET Awards in Hollywood. Boxing great Muhammad Ali received a humanitarian award from presenter Will Smith, who scored Best Actor for Ali.

THE LIVING'S NOT SO EASY: Federal prosecutors widening their investigation into home decorating maven Martha Stewart to include possible charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements, the Wall Street Journal reports.

LEFT OUT? The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences accidentally leaving out Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode, "Once More with Feeling," when Emmy nomination ballots were mailed out to voters earlier this month, TV Guide Online reports. The Academy insists the problem was immediately corrected, but some say the snafu could hurt the show's Emmy chances.

THE WRITE STUFF: David E. Kelley (The Practice), Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and Matt Tarses (Scrubs) among the 12 writers awarded the 2002 Humanitas Prize for film and TV writing.

TOO BAD: Steven Spielberg telling Britain's Empire magazine that he always wanted to direct a Star Wars film, but George Lucas turned him down. "Star Wars is George's baby," he said. "George is my best friend and I believe I am his, but we are all competitive."

VOLLEY: Actress Tatum O'Neal telling ABC's Barbara Walters that her ex-husband, tennis great John McEnroe, used steroids during his tennis career and became violent because of it. McEnroe said in a statement he's "disappointed" with O'Neal's comments.

SETTLED: A Los Angeles judge approving a $4.75 million settlement of a class-action suit filed by late singer Peggy Lee. Lee had accused Decca Records (now under Vivendi Universal's control) of underpaying song royalties to her and hundreds of other artists.

GETTIN' JIGGY TOGETHER: Will Smith and Ryan Phillippe teaming up to produce White Boy Shuffle, a new film described as a hip-hop Catcher in the Rye, Variety reports. Production is expected to begin this fall.

DHARMA SINGS! Former Dharma & Greg star Jenna Elfman taking singing lessons in an attempt to score the title role in a revival of the 1966 musical Sweet Charity, the New York Post reports.

NOT SO MAGIC KINGDOM: Disney chief Michael Eisner and his wife filing a federal lawsuit against their accounting firm, claiming they ended up having to cover $3 million in unpaid state taxes and interest, the Associated Press reports.

BIG BUCKS: The 1932 Picasso painting "Nude with a Necklace" selling for $23.9 million Tuesday at Christie's auction house in London. The painting was sold by a private European collector to an anonymous bidder.

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