- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Freeman injured in crash

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was hospitalized in serious condition Monday after the car he was driving careened off a rural highway and rolled several times, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr. Freeman, 71, was airlifted late Sunday to a Regional Medical Center Memphis, Tenn., hospital about 100 miles from the accident near a home he keeps in Charleston, Miss. The actor “has a broken arm, broken elbow and minor shoulder damage, but is in good spirits,” according to a statement from Donna Lee, Mr. Freeman’s publicist.

“The vehicle went off the edge of the road and flipped several times,” Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Williams said. No other car was involved in the accident.

He also said it was possible that Mr. Freeman, who co-stars in the blockbuster Batman film “The Dark Knight,” had fallen asleep at the wheel; he added that authorities had ruled out alcohol as a factor in the wreck. Mr. Freeman was conscious and talking to arriving officers afterward, Sgt. Williams said, adding that no citation had been issued in the accident.

Both Mr. Freeman and a female passenger, identified as Demaris Meyer, were wearing seat belts, but the air bags did not deploy in the 1997 Nissan Maxima, registered to Miss Meyer, Sgt. Williams said. He did not know the extent of her injuries.

Clay McFerrin, editor of the Sun Sentinel in Charleston, told Associated Press that bystanders converged on the scene trying to get a glimpse of the actor. When one person tried to snap a photo with a cell-phone camera, Mr. Freeman joked, “no freebies, no freebies,” Mr. McFerrin said.

Mr. Freeman was born in Memphis but spent much of his childhood in Mississippi and has opened a music club in the state. He won an Oscar in 2005 for his supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama “Million Dollar Baby.” He also earned Oscar nominations for his work in the films “Street Smart,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Feds may quiz Olsen twin

Federal investigators want to question actress Mary-Kate Olsen about how Heath Ledger got two powerful painkillers that contributed to his accidental overdose death, but she wants immunity or she won’t talk, AP reported Monday.

Miss Olsen’s lawyer has twice refused requests to have her sit down with investigators probing the Jan. 22 death of the scene-stealing star of “The Dark Knight” in a Manhattan apartment, said a law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation has not been concluded.

The official confirmed a report that Miss Olsen — a close friend of Mr. Ledger’s who learned about the 28-year-old actor’s death in a frantic phone call from a masseuse — wants a promise of immunity before she speaks to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

DEA investigators suspect the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone found in his system were obtained with phony prescriptions or other illegal sources, the official said. The other drugs that resulted in what the medical examiner called “acute intoxication,” including anti-anxiety and sleeping pills, were prescribed legally by doctors in California and Texas, the official said.

Authorities have obtained a subpoena that could force Miss Olsen to appear before a grand jury if negotiations with her lawyer fail, the official said.

‘Hairspray’ to air fray

A judge in the Turks and Caicos islands has released “Hairspray” star Nikki Blonsky and “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Bianca Golden on bond in connection with a recent fistfight, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

Prosecutors said Miss Blonsky and Miss Golden, both 19, were aboard a flight in the Caribbean nation when they started fighting over an occupied seat. Miss Blonsky’s dad, Carl, also was charged in the fight and will remain in jail until Friday, the Daily News said.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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