- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bush pardons Ex-Fugee

President Bush commuted the sentence of a former Fugees producer who has spent seven years in prison for cocaine possession with intent to distribute.

That means John Forte will be freed soon after serving about half of his 14-year sentence. He was one of two men whose sentences for cocaine offenses were commuted Monday night along with 14 pardons granted, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Forte - who studied violin at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire as a youth - co-wrote and produced two songs on the Fugees’ 1996 album “The Score,” a Grammy-winning hit. As a rapper, he also released two albums himself, the second of which - “I, John” - included a duet with singer Carly Simon.

Miss Simon posted bail for Mr. Forte at the time of his arrest and urged his release. Messages left with her publicist were not immediately returned Tuesday, AP said.

A New Jersey resident, Mr. Forte was arrested at Newark International Airport in 2000 after accepting a briefcase containing $1.4 million worth of cocaine, MTV.com reported. He later was found guilty of possession of 31 pounds of liquid cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Heidi, Spence say ‘I do’

On-again, off-again couple Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt are back on - for good.

The stars of “The Hills” tied the knot Thursday in an impromptu ceremony at the One&Only Palmilla Resort near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the New York Daily News reports. Miss Montag, 22, and Mr. Pratt, 25, met in 2006 while filming the MTV reality show. They announced their engagement via the show in May 2007, then split in December. They became re-engaged in May after taking a Mexican vacation together.

Odd honor for Updike

It’s not quite the Nobel Prize, but John Updike has a new literary accolade: laureate of bad sex.

The author, who has a long and graphic history of detailing coupling on the page, won a lifetime-achievement award Tuesday from judges of Britain’s Bad Sex in Fiction Prize, which celebrates crude, tasteless or ridiculous sexual passages in modern literature.

According to AP, the judges - editors of Literary Review magazine - said Mr. Updike had been shortlisted for the prize four times in its 16-year history. “Good sex or bad sex, he has kept us entertained for many years,” they said in a statement.

Making new music

Legendary performer, songwriter and producer Todd Rundgren will be reunited with New York City glam-punk icons the New York Dolls to produce their as-yet-untitled 2009 release.

He last worked with the Dolls 36 years ago to produce their classic self-titled 1973 release and is set to start production of the album in January at his studio on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The album will be released on the newly relaunched Atco label through Warner Bros.

Mr. Rundgren’s storied collaborations as a producer include Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” and acclaimed albums by Patti Smith, XTC, Cheap Trick, Bad Religion, Hall & Oates and Grand Funk Railroad.

Currently touring abroad in support of his new studio release, “Arena,” Mr. Rundgren has two local stops next month on his upcoming American tour - the Birchmere in Alexandria on Dec. 17 and RamsHead Tavern in Annapolis on Dec. 30.

Newman’s own will

Paul Newman has left his assets to his wife, Joanne Woodward, his Oscars to his foundation and his race cars to the highest bidder, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

Interest in Newman’s Own and Salad King also went to the Newman’s Own Foundation, which will distribute all profits to charity, the newspaper says.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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