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People talk 6/20/02

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Men use video tape to blackmail Crowe

SYDNEY, Australia -- Two men tried to use video footage showing Russell Crowe in a drunken brawl outside a nightclub to blackmail the Oscar-winning actor, prosecutors told a court Wednesday.

Philip Antony Cropper, 36, and Malcolm Brian Mercer, 37, are charged with trying to extort $112,000 from Crowe in exchange for destroying the security video taken in 1999. They face a maximum sentence of 10 years if convicted.

Prosecutor Colin McPherson told the district court trial that Crowe appeared to start a drunken fight in the early hours of Nov. 18, 1999, outside the Saloon Bar nightclub in Coffs Harbor, a resort town north of Sydney where the actor owns a cattle ranch.

Cropper and Mercer tried to contact him to sell him the video, jurors were told. Prosecutors didn't say how the men got the tape; the security camera belonged to the nightclub.

Bobby Brown enters hospital for infection

LOS ANGELES -- Bobby Brown was being treated for an infection Wednesday at a Virginia hospital, a family spokeswoman said.

The 33-year-old former New Edition singer was traveling with wife Whitney Houston in their tour bus Tuesday when they stopped at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, said Nancy Seltzer, a Los Angeles publicist.

Brown and Houston were traveling from Atlanta, where Houston was recording an album, to their home in New Jersey.

Seltzer said Brown had a fever, but said she didn't ask about the nature of the infection.

"He voluntarily put himself there for an infection that had gotten out of hand," she said.

Brown was being treated intravenously with an antibiotic. He was expected to be released by Thursday.

Guitarist, band resolve dispute over contract

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The lawsuit between a former Third Eye Blind guitarist and the rest of the rock group was resolved when the band members offered Kevin Cadogan a settlement, Cadogan's attorney said.

Cadogan had filed a fraud and breach of contract suit against the band, claiming members owed him about $191,000 in royalties and other income.

Terms of the settlement were not released Tuesday. It came just one day into a jury trial that was expected to last eight days.

Cadogan joined the San Francisco-based group in the early 1990s, before they signed with Elektra Records in June 1996. Their hit single, "Semi-Charmed Life," topped the charts a year later.

Cadogan, who co-wrote many of the band's songs, was ousted in January 2000.

Magazine chooses sexiest men in sports

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Rick Fox, New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and Olympic speedskating gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno were among those chosen by Sports Illustrated Women as "The Sexiest Men in Sports."

The list of more than 75 athletes, in no particular order, was released in the magazine's third annual swimsuit issue.

In an online survey that asked women which athlete they'd most like to see in the issue, Ohno finished first with 15,347 votes. Figure skater Alexei Yagudin was second with 2,308 votes, followed by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who received 756.

'Star Trek: Voyager' cast to help in campaign

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Tim Hagan is calling in the Federation to help in his campaign to transport Gov. Bob Taft out of office.

Hagan, the Democratic nominee for governor in the Nov. 5 election, is holding a fund-raiser in Cleveland on Aug. 24 featuring the cast of "Star Trek: Voyager," headed by his wife, Kate Mulgrew. They will be joined by William Shatner, who created the role of Capt. James T. Kirk on the '60s television classic.

Taft, a Republican seeking a second four-year term, holds a huge fund-raising advantage. A visit by President Bush last month was worth about $2 million, which would take his total to more than $8 million, Hagan said. He's raised about $500,000 but will have enough to be competitive in the crucial final weeks of the campaign.

--From wire reports


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