The tawdry tale of Hugh Grant's Sunset Boulevard peccadillo ended Tuesday--at least legally--when the actor pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of lewd contact with a prostitute, was fined $1,180 and sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation.
The British actor, who became a Hollywood star as the charmingly awkward bachelor in the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral," waived his right to appear before Municipal Commissioner Robert Sandoval in Hollywood. He left that duty to his attorney, Howard Weitzman, who asked the commissioner to arraign his client Tuesday afternoon instead of on the scheduled July 18 court date. Prostitute Stella Marie Thompson (a.k.a. Divine Brown) is set to be arraigned on that date.
One condition of Grant's probation is that he attend an AIDS education program by Nov. 13.
"He's going to do his in England, I think," said Sandoval's clerk, David Yaguchi, who described the course here as an eight-hour session "just to counsel you about the virus."
Weitzman made no other remarks about Grant's June 27 crime, Yaguchi said. "It was pretty much your average everyday plea."
Far more daunting than Grant's literal 15 minutes of infamy in court Tuesday is the weeklong gantlet of media interviews he kicked off Monday night with his first post-arrest appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
The press tour, scheduled to promote his new movie, the comedy "Nine Months," has turned into a combination promotional junket and town flogging as Grant offers himself up for jokes, pointed questions ("What the hell were you thinking?" Leno lobbed at the actor), and some obligatory discussion of the movie.
Tuesday night, Elizabeth Hurley--the girlfriend he embarrassed with his escapade--was on his arm as Grant attended the premiere of the movie at the Cineplex Odeon theater in Century City. The couple smiled but did not respond to questions as they entered the theater.
Today, Grant is off to New York to visit Larry King. Friday should find him doing the "Today Show" and chatting with Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford.
Grant has been appropriately remorseful, walking out on the stage of "The Tonight Show" with a pained hang-dog look that rarely vanished despite the seemingly supportive studio audience's screams of delight and prolonged applause. He has admitted he was bad, but so far he has yet to truly answer what he was thinking about that night.