Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International  |  May 8, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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TOWNSHEND CLEARED IN PORN CASE

Legendary rocker Pete Townshend has been cleared of possessing pornographic images of children.

However, the 57-year-old guitarist and co-founder of The Who still was placed on a national registry of sex offenders as part of a formal reprimand he received after accessing a Web site featuring sexually explicit pictures of children. His fingerprints and a DNA sample also were taken as part of the "cautioning" procedure.

Townshend was arrested in January on suspicion of making and possessing indecent images of children. His arrest was part of Operation Ore, an FBI-led sting to crack down on Internet child pornography.

London's Metropolitan Police announced Wednesday Townshend "was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images" but said he had accessed a site containing such images in 1999.

At the time of his arrest, Townshend admitted he used a credit card to enter a Web site advertising child pornography, but insisted he was conducting research for his autobiography. He has claimed he was a victim of child abuse at the hands of his mentally ill grandmother.


GRAND JURY INDICTS VIDEO PIRATE

A grand jury has indicted a Hollywood man in what officials call the first federal arrest for covertly taping films at preview screenings.

Johnny Ray Gasca, 33, was charged in Los Angeles with criminal infringement of a copyright, interstate communication of a threat, possession of a false identification document of the United States, and witness retaliation. Gasca was arrested April 22, six weeks after FBI agents executed a federal search warrant on his home.

Agents seized video duplication equipment, a false Social Security card and two diaries in which Gasca allegedly kept an accounting of profits from the sale of pirated copies of "Anger Management," "The Core" and "Cradle 2 the Grave."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Johnson said Gasca gained access to pre-release screenings of feature films in various ways -- including hanging out at places where studios assigned workers to hand out passes to test screenings.

"Once he would go to screenings," Johnson said, "he would try to pass himself off as an anti-piracy employee working for the Motion Picture Association of America. In one particular case, he used a fake name and a fake business card."

Johnson said investigators had determined Gasca was involved in piracy for several months before moving to Los Angeles from New York in August 2002. He also said Gasca had an extensive criminal record, with 89 arrests and a conviction in the early '90s in an attempted murder case.

"This (video piracy) appears to be his newest occupation," Johnson said. The MPAA has suggested piracy costs its members $3 billion a year in lost revenue.

(Thanks to UPI's Pat Nason in Los Angeles.)


'FLASHDANCE' -- WHAT A LAWSUIT?

Jennifer Lopez has been put on legal notice for using scenes and costumes from the hit 1983 film "Flashdance" in her new music video.

Word from E! Online is Paramount Pictures, which owns the rights to "Flashdance," is furious that Sony, which owns J. Lo's label Epic Records, allowed the singer to blatantly copy the dance steps and look of the movie in her new video, "I'm Glad."

Lopez, who has cited "Flashdance" as one of her all-time favorite movies, reportedly wanted to pay homage to the film starring Jennifer Beals. E! reports, however, Paramount wasn't all that flattered and sent Sony a legal notice claiming the studio's copyright on "Flashdance" had been violated by J. Lo when she lifted the dance sequences performed in the film by Beals' body double without seeking Paramount's permission.

Paramount spokeswoman Nancy Kirkpatrick says such legal notices are standard practice in the industry. "This was a simple clip-licensing agreement, no problem," Kirkpatrick says.

A rep for Epic Records declined to comment on the letter, but said the matter is being settled and the case probably won't go to court.


'ALEXANDER' MOVIES WILL BE A YEAR APART

Those two eagerly awaited "Alexander the Great" movies reportedly won't be released in the same year after all.

"Moulin Rouge" filmmaker Baz Luhrmann told the Los Angeles Times he plans to release his version of the epic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, in 2005, while the Oliver Stone opus, starring Colin Farrell, is set to hit theaters in 2004.

"I am not going to be drawn into a race," Luhrmann told The Times.

Meanwhile, producer Dino De Laurentiis told Daily Variety the $150 million Stone feature involves 70 speaking roles. "This huge preparation can't be done in less than eight or nine months," De Laurentiis said.

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