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Morning Report

Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press.

October 06, 2000|SHAUNA SNOW

TELEVISION

'Wing' Takes Off: NBC's Emmy-winning drama "The West Wing," starring Martin Sheen, launched its second year in spectacular fashion Wednesday, with an average of roughly 25 million people viewing the two-hour premiere, a nearly 50% increase over the show's previous ratings high. NBC also had reason to be encouraged by its new Aaron Spelling soap "Titans," which debuted with a respectable 11.6 million viewers opposite "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (19 million). An estimated 16.6 million people watched the Country Music Awards on CBS.

'Bachelor' Bother: A contestant from this week's "Sexiest Bachelor in America" Fox special is threatening to sue over being denied a shot at the $100,000 prize. Anthony Cyr of Michigan told "Inside Edition" he was disqualified minutes before the taping because of an "application for protection" order filed by an ex-girlfriend--a charge that set off red flags at Fox after the negative publicity surrounding its last pageant, "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" Cyr maintains that the order was never issued and that his ex-girlfriend told the producers as much. The network said Cyr failed to disclose the information, "raising concerns about Mr. Cyr's suitability." Fox added that Cyr was afforded the same compensation as other non-finalists.

POP/ROCK

Rap Suit: Sean "Puffy" Combs' former driver has filed a $3-million lawsuit claiming the rap mogul's bodyguard forced him to run red lights after a nightclub shooting in December. Wardel Fenderson, 40, claims in the suit that he picked up Combs, actress Jennifer Lopez and bodyguard Anthony Jones outside the Manhattan club where three people had been shot. Fenderson alleges that as the group fled in Combs' SUV, Jones grabbed the steering wheel and screamed at Fenderson "not to stop and to continue driving," despite police orders to pull over. Prosecutors say someone threw a handgun out a window while the vehicle sped through 11 red lights. The SUV eventually was stopped by police barricades, and another gun was allegedly found on the floor. Combs and Jones have been charged with gun possession and bribery, the latter charge for allegedly offering Fenderson $50,000 and a diamond ring if he would claim the gun in the car was his. Rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, 20, who had entered the club with Combs and Lopez, has been charged with attempted murder in the shootings.

No Intervention Intended: Responding to a Dallas Morning News report that the Drug Enforcement Administration and Houston police dropped an investigation into Rap-A-Lot Records and its owner, James A. Prince, after a letter she wrote to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) told The Times late Wednesday that the letter was merely a request for an investigation into alleged police civil rights abuse and was not intended to "intervene" with the DEA probe. "Mr. Prince believes that he is being harassed and intimidated by the DEA officials in . . . Houston because of their assumption regarding the legitimacy of his business finances," Waters wrote in the 1999 letter. Walters said that Prince came to her because he "felt his life was being threatened." The Dallas paper also reported, meanwhile, that the case's lead agent has since been transferred to a desk job.

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