- - Sunday, March 11, 2012

Whitney Houston’s sister-in-law said she feared that drugs would end the singer’s life. In a partial transcript of an interview with Oprah Winfrey that was set to air Sunday, Patricia Houston said she would be “kidding herself” to say otherwise.

Ms. Houston, who was her sister-in-law’s manager, was asked if she thought drugs would end up “taking” Whitney Houston. The “handwriting was kind of on the wall,” she replied.

The pop star was changing how she lived, Ms. Houston said, and “it wasn’t about substance abuse or anything like that relative to the … latter days or anything like that.”

“It was just more of a lifestyle. I was afraid for other things,” Ms. Houston said. “I saw her chasing a dream, you know, looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Bobbi Kristina, Houston’s daughter with singer Bobby Brown, also was interviewed for the episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” The 19-year-old discussed how she wants her mother to be remembered, OWN said Thursday.

Marco Andretti grateful his dad’s on ‘Apprentice’

Marco Andretti has been following his father’s progress on “Celebrity Apprentice,” and is grateful the retired race car driver filled in for him following the death of fellow driver Dan Wheldon in October.

The IndyCar Series driver was scheduled to begin filming the NBC hit show immediately after the Oct. 16 season finale race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race was canceled following an early 15-car accident that killed Wheldon, and Mr. Andretti decided he could not honor his commitment to do the show.

“I had a private plane right next to the track in Las Vegas, and we were literally going to start filming hours after that race,” Mr. Andretti said this week during testing for the March 25 season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla.

“I lost my maternal grandfather the same week and I was just like ‘I’m not ready to do this.’ I always said if my heart is not in it 100 percent, then I’m not going to do it. I knew I was not going to be at my full potential. I was not going to do well. My mind wasn’t in it,” he said.

Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, had agreed the morning of the race to rejoin Andretti Motorsports for the 2012 season, and would have been one of Mr. Andretti’s teammates.

Michael Andretti ultimately replaced his son on the show, and joined the cast midway through the first episode. He had made it through the first three boardrooms heading into Sunday night’s telecast.

“I am glad Dad stepped up because it’s great for all of us, but I didn’t want to be seen on national TV in the state I was in,” Mr. Andretti said.

Britney Spears reportedly close to ‘X Factor’ deal

Britney Spears is nearing a deal to serve as judge on next season’s “The X Factor,” a well-placed source told the Hollywood Reporter. Ms. Spears’ fiance, agent Jason Trawick, reportedly is negotiating the contract, which could be signed as soon as next week.

Reports surfaced recently that the pop superstar was interested in joining the panel, but according to an insider, show creator Simon Cowell made the initial approach. Ms. Spears is signed to Sony Music’s RCA Records, which absorbed her original label Jive in 2011 and has exclusive music rights to “X Factor” artists.

As one of Sony Music’s marquee acts, Ms. Spears brings legitimacy as a successful recording artist, something critics of “X Factor” say was missing in last year’s competition, as well as a level of unpredictability and drama that also was largely absent from the Fox show when Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul were judges.

During a conference call with reporters in February, Mr. Cowell would not confirm that talks had begun with Ms. Spears but hinted that “there’s going to be a lot of twists and turns over the next few weeks and a lot of things we’re going to announce.”

There has been no word yet on who might fill the fourth judging slot. Two hosts have yet to be named as well.

Seagal, sheriff’s office sued over reality show

Actor Steven Seagal and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are being sued over a 2011 arrest that a Phoenix-area man said was staged for a reality TV show.

According to the Associated Press, Jesus Llovera said Mr. Seagal and deputies unlawfully raided his home because they thought Mr. Llovera was raising fighting roosters. Mr. Llovera said the birds on his property were for show and not for fighting.

The civil suit asks for a jury to determine unspecified monetary damages.

The Arizona Republic reports the sheriff’s office was participating in a reality show, “Steven Seagal: Lawman,” that followed Mr. Seagal’s exploits as a deputized officer.

1st ‘Idol’ finalist booted in snap decision by judges

Jeremy Rosado has gotten the hook on “American Idol.”

Thursday’s edition of the Fox singing contest saw the exit of the 19-year-old receptionist from Valrico, Fla. He left behind a dozen finalists still in the running.

They include Elise Testone, a 28-year-old teacher from Charleston, S.C., whom the judges spared in favor of Mr. Rosado. The two were revealed as the female and male singers rated lowest by viewers after Wednesday’s show, and in a novel twist the judges were charged with deciding, on the spot, who would stay and who would go.

Among the other four who got the lowest viewer scores but, for now, remain safe: 25-year-old gentle giant Jermaine Jones of Pine Hill, N.J.; soaring 16-year-old vocalist Shannon Magrane of Tampa, Fla.; 26-year-old disc jockey Erika Van Pelt of South Kingstown, R.I.; and booming 19-year-old student Joshua Ledet of Westlake, La.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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