People talk 12/13/02

Friday, December 13, 2002

Nick Nolte pleads no contest to charges

MALIBU, Calif. -- Actor Nick Nolte pleaded no contest Thursday to one count of driving under the influence of drugs. He was sentenced to three years probation, including counseling and drug testing.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a second misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of a controlled substance.

The "48 Hours" star, 61, had been swerving his black Mercedes into oncoming lanes on Pacific Coast Highway when he was stopped on Sept. 11 near his Malibu home. Lab tests showed he had used the banned depressant GHB, the so-called date-rape drug, although Nolte said after sentencing Thursday that he had taken "a synergistic amino acid thing."

"I have deep regrets being on the road in that condition," he said.--From wire reports

Nolte voluntarily entered a Connecticut rehabilitation facility four days after his arrest. He said after the hearing Thursday that he felt excellent.

"It was kind of a godsend, a wake-up call," said the actor, who wore a black suit and gray beard, his long, gray hair slicked back.

Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira reviewed a report from a drug counselor and said he would accept the plea because of Nolte's progress.

"I understand you are doing very well in this approach to rehabilitation," the judge said. "If there are any problems I will invite you to come back early."

He fined Nolte $500. Under terms of probation, the actor must take a 90-day safe driving program, undergo random drug and alcohol tests, and attend weekly drug counseling sessions and a 12-step anti-drug program.

Nolte had a reputation as a heavy drinker for years. After quitting, he became a health-and-fitness buff.

He was nominated for Academy Awards for 1991's "The Prince of Tides" and 1997's "Affliction." He received an Emmy nomination for his breakout role as Tom Jordache in the 1976 TV miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man."

Payne returns to Nebraska hometown

OMAHA, Neb. -- A bit of Hollywood came to Omaha as writer-director Alexander Payne returned to his hometown for the premiere of his latest movie, "About Schmidt."

About 900 people crammed into an auditorium Wednesday night to watch the dark comedy, which stars Jack Nicholson as a retired widower who goes on a road trip to stop his daughter from marrying the wrong man.

Laughter marked most scenes and applause greeted the closing credits, which included many local people in the Nebraska-based production.

The movie, which co-stars Kathy Bates, Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney, opens Friday in New York, Los Angeles and Omaha.

Greeted by handshakes, hugs and kisses, the 41-year-old Payne said the hometown audience lived up to his expectations. He doesn't usually sit through screenings of his films, but he did so here to get a feel for the audience's reaction.

"It seemed like they got, just as I thought they would get, all the jokes and the references," said Payne, who also made Omaha the setting for his two previous films, "Citizen Ruth" and "Election."

Model sued by ex-husband

LOS ANGELES -- Cheryl Tiegs' former husband has sued the model for allegedly not remitting $20,000 the couple's twin boys earned for posing in a magazine cover photo with their mother.

Rod Stryker, 45, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. He claims Tiegs was supposed to turn over the money that 2-year-old Jaden and Theo earned for posing for a More magazine cover photo.

But the 55-year-old model "misappropriated the funds for her own use," according to the lawsuit.

Attorney Neal Raymond Hersh, who handled Tiegs' divorce, said late Wednesday he hadn't seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Stryker filed for divorce in October 2001 after three years of marriage and was awarded full custody of the boys, who were born to a surrogate mother. He was Tiegs' fourth husband and her former yoga instructor.

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