- - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Coroner: Don Cornelius death a suicide

Coroner’s officials on Tuesday ruled Don Cornelius‘ death a suicide, nearly a week after the “Soul Train” creator and host was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

The agency made the determination after conducting an autopsy on Cornelius‘ body Friday. Investigators are still awaiting the results of toxicology tests before issuing a final report.

Police quickly ruled out foul play after responding to Cornelius‘ Mulholland Drive home early on the morning of Feb. 1. His son had alerted authorities after receiving a call from his father.

Cornelius, 75, started “Soul Train” in 1970 and it became one of the longest-running syndicated shows in history, introducing audiences to many top music acts and providing a never-before-seen TV platform for black culture. The popular host was honored Saturday in Harlem with a lively celebration in tribute to him and the wide-ranging influence of his show.

Book critic’s scathing review wins hatchet job award

A critic who accused a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of scattering literary allusions like “tin cans tied to a tricycle” has won a prize for the year’s most lacerating book review.

Adam Mars-Jones’ review of Michael Cunningham’s novel “By Nightfall” was named the winner of the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, according to the Associated Press.

The review condemns the novel’s pretensions, saying it is “filled with thoughts about art, or (more ominously) Thoughts about Art.”

Mr. Mars-Jones, a British-born novelist, was awarded a golden hatchet and a year’s supply of potted shrimp at a ceremony Tuesday in London.

The U.K.-centric prize was established by review aggregating website the Omnivore to honor “the angriest, funniest, most trenchant” review published in a newspaper or magazine in 2011.

Gibson likely won’t testify in deputy’s discrimination suit

A civil jury likely will not hear directly from Mel Gibson about the night of his drunken driving arrest because his testimony doesn’t appear relevant to a deputy’s claim that he was discriminated against because of the traffic stop, a judge said Tuesday.

In a series of tentative rulings, Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper said she likely will block attorneys for Deputy James Mee from showing the jury a video of Mr. Gibson being booked into jail and a 30-second TV ad he made supporting the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department three years before his arrest.

Deputy Mee, who is Jewish, claims he suffered religious discrimination at the hands of his superiors after arresting Mr. Gibson in 2006, and that he was ordered to remove the actor-director’s anti-Semitic rants from a report.

He claims he was passed over for promotions and suffered other reprisals because of the case and that he was personally offended by Mr. Gibson’s remarks.

Mr. Gibson’s work as a spokesman for the department helps explain “the circumstances that serve as a backdrop to the harassment and hostile work environment that Deputy Mee suffered,” his attorneys wrote in a court filing.

Mr. Gibson “wasn’t just another arrestee. He was the ‘public face’ of the department,” the documents state.

Judge Scheper also says she won’t allow Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to testify during the case unless there is some evidence he ordered actions against Deputy Mee.

Judge Scheper said she will make final rulings in the case on Tuesday, with jury selection expected later next week. Unless she alters course, jurors will hear little about the events during and immediately after Mr. Gibson’s arrest.

“In my view, it’s what happened after this gentleman was arrested” that is crucial to the case, Judge Scheper said.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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