- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Cops cuff feisty Mike

Associated Press

Veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace was handcuffed and driven to a police station Tuesday night after arguing with city inspectors over where his driver had parked.

The dispute began at about 8:30 p.m., as Mr. Wallace was leaving a Manhattan restaurant, New York’s WCBS-TV reported. Mr. Wallace, 86, saw two inspectors interviewing his driver, who they said was double-parked.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission said Mr. Wallace became “overly assertive and disrespectful” and interfered with the inspectors. At one point, the commission says, the newsman lunged at one of the inspectors. The other inspector then handcuffed Mr. Wallace and drove him to a police station, where he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct. He was later released.

Luigi Militello, the restaurant manager, told WCBS that the inspectors “manhandled” Mr. Wallace during the dispute.

Richard Leibner, a spokesman for Mr. Wallace, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Second time around

New York Post

Robert De Niro is taking himself off the market — again.

The two-time Oscar-winner plans to re-marry his ex-wife, Grace Hightower, the New York Post reports.

The recently reconciled couple, who have a son, Elliott, were married in 1997 but divorced in 1999. Miss Hightower, a former airline flight attendant, is said to be “ecstatic,” the newspaper said.

Village’ suit mulled

Reuters News Agency

Simon & Schuster Inc. is reviewing its legal options against the Walt Disney Co. and writer-director M. Night Shyamalan over what the author of a children’s book says are similarities between its plot and the film “The Village,” a spokeswoman for the publisher said Monday.

“The Village,” the latest thriller by Mr. Shyamalan, took in $50.8 million at the box office in its first weekend, the best opening this year for Disney, which has failed to produce any other major hits.

The film, which slipped to second place last weekend, has grossed $85.6 million. Reports circulated last week that its plot and surprise ending parallel Margaret Peterson Haddix’s first book, “Running Out of Time,” published in 1995.

Miss Haddix, a former journalist and the author of 16 books, told Reuters that she heard about the similarities last week when fans — and then journalists — began calling and e-mailing her and her publisher to ask if she had sold the book to Mr. Shyamalan. She said she has never spoken to the director or to Disney.

In a statement, Disney and Mr. Shyamalan’s Blinding Edge Pictures said they “believe these claims to be meritless.”

The Oscar-nominated director (“The Sixth Sense”) has also battled a copyright lawsuit brought by a Pennsylvania screenwriter who claimed the plot from the 2002 film “Signs” mirrored his unproduced script “Lord of the Barrens.”

In both “Running Out of Time” and “The Village,” adults in a bucolic 19th-century town keep the same secret from their children, and a plucky tomboy journeys through dangerous woods to get medicine.

Miss Haddix said she optioned the book twice — once to Viacom Inc.-owned Nickelodeon, which allowed the option to expire in May 2003 without making a film. She saw “The Village” last week but declined to discuss her opinion of the film. “Let’s just say that I saw the same similarities that other people have pointed out,” she said.

“This is a children’s book… that sold more than half a million copies and won prizes, so it’s not an obscure book for us,” Simon & Schuster spokeswoman Tracy van Straaten said. The book also was nominated for an Edgar Award, the nation’s top prize for mystery stories.

Simon & Schuster is the publishing arm of Viacom.

Back at No. 1


After a week of looking up from the second spot, Ashlee Simpson will be back on top on next week’s Billboard albums chart.

Miss Simpson moved more than 285,000 copies of “Autobiography” last week, according to SoundScan, to reclaim the No. 1 slot, a position she had held the week after her debut was released July 20.

In all, after just three weeks, Jessica Simpson’s younger sister has sold more than 955,000 copies of the album.

Compiled by Scott Galupo and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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