- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Celeb steroid probe

A number of entertainers were named in connection with an Albany, N.Y.-based steroid investigation, but they are not part of an ongoing criminal probe, says a published report.

According to Associated Press, the Times Union of Albany cited unidentified law enforcement officials in reporting Sunday that R&B; music star Mary J. Blige, rap musicians 50 Cent, Timbaland and Wyclef Jean, and award-winning author and producer Tyler Perry may have received or used performance-enhancing drugs.

Law enforcement officials have said evidence does not indicate that the celebrities broke the law, but that investigators are focusing on doctors, pharmacists and clinics that provide the drugs.

A spokeswoman for Miss Blige denied the singer had taken illegal steroids. Ken Sunshine, a spokesman for Mr. Perry, declined to comment. There was no response to calls yesterday and Sunday seeking comment from representatives of other entertainers, AP said.

Records shared with the Times Union and information from several cooperating witnesses claim the celebrities received prescribed human growth hormone or steroids, the newspaper said. The Times Union said that Miss Blige received the human growth hormone Jentropin and Oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid, in orders sent to her at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Writer arrested

Oscar-winning screenwriter Roger Avary has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and driving under the influence after a Ventura County, Calif. car crash that killed a man and injured Mr. Avary’s wife, AP reports.

Mr. Avary, 42, was the driver in the single-car collision shortly after midnight Sunday in Ojai, said Capt. Ross Bonfiglio of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Killed in the accident was Andreas Zini, 34, a resident of Italy who was apparently visiting the couple. Firefighters cut Mr. Zini from the car with Jaws of Life, and he died several hours later at Ventura County Medical Center. Mr. Avary’s wife Gretchen, 40, was ejected from the car and found in the road by deputies, Mr. Bonfiglio said. She was hospitalized in stable condition.

Mr. Avary was booked but later released on $50,000 bail, Mr. Bonfiglio said.

Mr. Avary won an Academy Award along with Quentin Tarantino for writing “Pulp Fiction,” and was also a co-writer of the recent epic “Beowulf.”

Brit comes, goes

Britney Spears left a Los Angeles court yesterday only moments after arriving for a crucial hearing in her custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline, witnesses said.

According to Agence France-Presse, a harassed-looking Miss Spears was driven away in her black Cadillac Escalade sports utility vehicle as a sea of photographers and television crews swarmed around her at the Los Angeles County Court. Television footage showed Miss Spears’ vehicle driving away pursued by paparazzi before the troubled pop singer stopped by at a church for several minutes.

Earlier yesterday, she failed to show for the start of a custody hearing where her lawyers were expected to argue for the restoration of visitation rights with her two small sons. Miss Spears was stripped of access to her children on Jan. 4 after being wheeled out of her Beverly Hills mansion by paramedics following a three-hour custody stand-off.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports