August 25, 2003 03:38 PM

DENIED: A Manhattan judge practically laughed the FOX network’s lawsuit against the publishers of Al Franken‘s new book out of court Friday. The network tried to block sales of Franken’s book, which satirizes the FOX-associated phrase “fair and balanced” and features pundits Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter on its cover. “There are hard cases and there are easy cases,” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said to FOX’s lawyers, according to Reuters. “This is an easy case in my view and wholly without merit, both factually and legally.” Franken’s book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” hits stores Thursday.

DIED: Musician Wesley Willis, 40, known for his erratic stage behavior and often bizarre, obscene lyrics, died Thursday of an apparent heart failure at an Illinois hospice, where he was recovering from surgery to find the cause of internal bleeding. Willis, who suffered from schizophrenia, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in late 2002 and his health had been deteriorating rapidly. Willis performed with the punk band Wesley Willis Fiasco and, according to recent record label Alternative Tentacles, recorded more than 50 albums.

DIED: Major league baseball great Bobby Bonds, 57, the father of Giants slugger Barry Bonds, died Saturday of health complications after battling pneumonia and undergoing an operation on a brain tumor in April, according to published reports. He also battled lung cancer. In 1969, with the San Francisco Giants, Bonds became the second National League player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. He was seen on Wednesday at Pacific Bell Park cheering on his son.

REMEMBERED: Inimitable country legend Patsy Cline, who died in a plane crash in 1969 at age 30, will be honored on a tribute album featuring performances by heavy hitters including Norah Jones, k.d. lang, Amy Grant, Martina McBride and Michelle Branch, among others, reports. The album, called “Remembering Patsy Cline,” comes out Sept. 9, one day after what would have been the singer’s 71st birthday.

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