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People in the News

Eds: UPDATES with items on Jayson Williams, Whitney Houston, Reba McEntire, Christopher Plummer and Sophie B. Hawkins. Contains items on The O’Jays, Supla, John Debney and Mel Gibson, Sybil B. Harrington and Robert Davi.

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – Jayson Williams, in the midst of his trial on manslaughter, has become a father again.

Tanya Williams, wife of the retired NBA star, gave birth to the couple’s second child Tuesday afternoon.

The baby girl, named Whizdom J. Williams, weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and was delivered at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, said Judy Smith, a spokeswoman for the couple.

Williams was present for the delivery, and mother and child are doing well, Smith said Wednesday when the birth was announced. The couple has another daughter, Tryumph, born in December 2002.

Despite her pregnancy, Tanya Williams has been in court since the trial began Feb. 10, enduring the hard benches behind her husband. She usually sat with her father and other supporters.

Tanya Williams and the baby will be in the hospital for several days, and Jayson Williams won’t be in court when a hearing resumes Thursday, Smith said. Criminal defendants are allowed to waive their appearance during a trial if they choose.

Court wasn’t in session Tuesday in her husband’s manslaughter trial because of a death in the lead prosecutor’s family.

The judge is expected to rule on a defense motion to dismiss all charges against Williams. The trial has been suspended since April 1, with defense lawyers claiming that evidence prosecutors produced after they closed their case has deprived Williams of his right to a fair trial.

The prosecution claims the error was inadvertent, and that the case should be allowed to continue. Closing arguments were being prepared when the dispute arose.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – A judge has dismissed a $100 million breach of contract lawsuit filed against Whitney Houston by an entertainment company that her late father had founded.

Superior Court Judge Francine Schott found that Kevin Skinner, who claims to be the current owner of John Houston Entertainment, had refused to provide information to the pop diva’s attorney. Schott dismissed the lawsuit April 5, but her ruling wasn’t made public until Tuesday.

John Houston, who died in February 2003, filed the lawsuit in September 2002 in Essex County, claiming his daughter failed to pay his company for representing her interests beginning in fall 2000. The lawsuit said the singer was in financial straits and facing marijuana possession charges in Hawaii until her father’s company stepped in.

Skinner continued the lawsuit after John Houston’s death, but Bryan Blaney, Whitney Houston’s attorney, said Skinner refused to sit for a deposition. Blaney also questioned whether Skinner was John Houston’s business partner and said he wouldn’t turn over documents that proved his claims or showed that he had legal standing to continue the lawsuit.

Blaney also said John Houston Entertainment is no longer a viable business and that Houston’s estate had no interest in pursuing the lawsuit.

Skinner told The Star-Ledger of Newark that he withdrew the lawsuit to avoid harming Whitney Houston, who recently entered a drug rehabilitation center. He declined further comment after being told that court records made it clear the lawsuit had been dismissed.

LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) – A woman accused of posing as a manager for country singer Reba McEntire was charged with persuading two people to lend her more than $3,000 under false pretenses.

Michelle Greene-Egberts, 38, allegedly posed as McEntire’s tour manager and convinced an elderly man she could get him a job with McEntire’s entourage, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Fleck. The man paid Greene-Egberts at least $2,000, Fleck said.

In another case, Greene-Egberts, also known as Mikki Nelson, allegedly persuaded a woman to send her $1,100 by saying she was stranded in Nevada, Fleck said.

Greene-Egberts was charged with two counts of grand theft and one count of elder theft.

She was arrested Saturday after the 77-year-old Lancaster man called police when Greene-Egberts never showed up with McEntire’s tour bus as promised, according to sheriff’s deputies.

The man had quit his job as a community services assistant in the Lancaster sheriff’s station after telling staffers he was going to work for McEntire, said sheriff’s Detective Brad Feehan.

Deputies tracked down Greene-Egberts several hours later.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Christopher Plummer has been cast as Cardinal Bernard Law in “Our Fathers,” Showtime’s TV movie about the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Plummer will bring “authority, humanity, and an appropriately chilling detachment” to the part, Robert Greenblatt, Showtime Networks’ entertainment president, said Tuesday.

Law resigned as archbishop of Boston while under fire for mishandling abuse cases.

“Our Fathers” is based on a book about the scandal written by Newsweek’s David France. One recently released study found there had been more than 10,000 abuse claims against nearly 4,400 priests from 1950 to 2002.

The 74-year-old Plummer, who’s playing King Lear on Broadway, has had a varied career in films, stage and TV and is the winner of Tony and Emmy awards. His films include “The Sound of Music,” “The Insider” and “A Beautiful Mind.”

Production on “Our Fathers” is scheduled to begin in June. An air date has yet to be announced.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) – Singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins won $324 in small claims court for the early release of three advance copies of her latest CD.

One promotional copy of “Wilderness” appeared on eBay for $300 in December, five months before it was to be released. Hawkins, best known for her 1992 hit “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” told the Internet auction site to stop featuring the item, and it did.

But the seller contacted buyers independently and sold two more copies, for $12 each.

When the defendants did not appear in court Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Roberta H. Kyman found in favor of Hawkins.

The 36-year-old singer, who lives in Santa Monica, said in a statement she understands why major music labels are alarmed by file-swapping and piracy.

“I’m not stressed about the one or two CDs here – I had to make a statement,” she said. “I think more artists should take a stand.”

Hawkins had said that if she won the case she would return the money to the buyers.

“Wilderness,” which comes out Tuesday, is the first album Hawkins has produced under her own label.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Three decades after they sang that money was “the root of all evil,” The O’Jays lost a bid to block their former record label from cashing in on songs they recorded but didn’t think were good enough to release.

A federal judge lifted an injunction that had briefly stopped Philadelphia International Records from distributing “Together We Are One,” an album of unreleased tracks recorded by The O’Jays in the early 1980s.

O’Jays founding members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams had argued in a lawsuit filed April 2 in Philadelphia that the songs were “stale and artistically inferior,” and that releasing them would hurt their legacy and ability to tour.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick said in an opinion signed April 9 that a contract the group signed in 1979 appeared to give the record company unlimited rights to release the songs.

He also expressed some doubt that the album would hurt The O’Jays, whose hits include “For the Love of Money,” now being used as the theme song for Donald Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice.”

“It appears to us that the dispute between these parties has more to do with the financial aspects of their relationships than their professional standing,” Surrick wrote.

Lawyers for Levert and Williams declined to discuss the case Tuesday, other than to say they would continue to pursue the lawsuit.

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) – Brazilian MTV’s next reality show, featuring rock musician Supla in the company of girlfriends, siblings and parents, is the Osbourne family with a twist – this rock ‘n’ roll family also helps run the country.

Supla was christened Eduardo Suplicy Jr. when he was born 38 years ago. His namesake show, which will run for six weeks, debuts May 3 on MTV.

His mother, Marta Suplicy, is mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city. His father, Eduardo Suplicy Sr., represents Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest and richest state, in the Senate.

“It’s like Chelsea Clinton becomes a rock star and MTV follows her home for Sunday dinner and there’s Bill and Hillary,” said Zico Goes, program director for MTV’s Brazilian affiliate.

The senator and the mayor represent the Brazilian New Left. Both are members of the leftist Workers’ Party, also known as PT, and close allies of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the PT’s founder.

“The mayor and the senator will appear in the show, but as Supla’s parents, not as political figures,” Goes said.

Supla himself isn’t politically engaged. “In fact, he’s not engaged in much of anything,” said Goes. “He’s not that great of a musician, either. He’s kind of a joker, a professional celebrity, a fun guy.”

Besides being powerful and famous, the Suplicy family is also rich.

“The Suplicys may be unique,” said Goes. “They’re leftist aristocrats, top-of-the-pyramid rich, but with a social conscience. Supla is a rock star. Marta, the mayor, started out as a pop psychologist with a TV talk show on sex. It’s a great mix. Only in Brazil.”

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – The soundtrack to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, according to Integrity Media Inc.

The album sold 500,000 copies in February, the Mobile-based company that publishes and distributes Christian products, said Monday. The CD was released by Integrity Music to the Christian market and by Sony Music to the general market.

The company also said Nielsen SoundScan reported that through the week ending April 4, the soundtrack had been the best-selling Christian music album for six consecutive weeks on Billboard’s contemporary Christian chart.

“The success of this CD clearly illustrates the power and appeal of music, by allowing so many moviegoers to extend their experience of “The Passion of the Christ’ through the purchase of the soundtrack,” Integrity Music President Jerry Weimer said in a statement.

John Debney composed the film score. The soundtrack features vocals and chants provided by Shannon Kingsbury, the Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir, The London Voices and Gibson, who co-produced the soundtrack with Debney.

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AMARILLO, Texas (AP) – A lawsuit alleging a donor’s $5 million gift to the Metropolitan Opera should have gone to a Texas charitable foundation has been settled out of court.

The deal between the Metropolitan Opera Association Inc., the Amarillo Area Foundation and Sybil B. Harrington’s estate came last week after court-ordered mediation, lawyers for both sides confirmed Tuesday.

Sharon Grubin, a lawyer for the Met, and Adam Shaw, who represented Harrington’s interests, declined to comment on the terms because of a provision in the agreement.

The lawsuit, filed in July, sought revocation of a $5 million donation. The lawsuit alleged that Met representatives had made false claims concerning the status of funds Harrington donated and disposition of other contributions after her death in 1998.

The foundation was to get the donation if the Met didn’t use the funds in the way Harrington wanted them used, foundation lawyers said, citing a legal agreement.

The lawsuit sought an accounting of all donations by Harrington and a special trust created after her death. The lawsuit says Harrington donated more than $27 million to the opera during her lifetime, and the Harrington trust donated more than $6 million after her death.

Harrington was the widow of oilman Donald D. Harrington, who died in 1974.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Neighbors are crediting actor Robert Davi with saving their home after a fire broke out under a water heater.

Shea Logdson, 19, said Davi got her 10-year-old sister out of the Northridge home Monday and fought the flames until firefighters arrived.

Davi was joined by two plainclothes police officers, apparently friends of the actor who played the villain in the 1989 James Bond film “License to Kill” and an FBI agent in the “Profiler” TV series from 1996-2000.

“This actor saved my home,” said Larry Logdson, the girls’ father and a high school teacher. “The flames were beginning to burn up the walls.”

Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said the fire was smoldering in a crawl space and had the potential to quickly engulf the home.

AP-ES-04-14-04 1317EDT

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