PASSAGES: Robert Blake Blasts Leno
UPSET: Speaking to Barbara Walters in an ABC “20/20” interview set to air Wednesday night, jailed actor Robert Blake, 69, awaiting trial on charges that he murdered his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, is “angry with comedians who make fun of him,” Walters, 71, tells the New York Post. She says that he specifically names “Tonight” show host Jay Leno. “He (also) says he doesn’t even know what it would be like if he did get out” of jail, Walters added, “because everyone assumes he’s guilty.”
SOUGHT: Police are searching for whoever sprayed bullets into Busta Rhymes’s SUV on Friday, a few minutes after the rapper left it parked on a Manhattan street outside Violator Records and Violator Management (which represents Busta, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott and others), reports the Associated Press. No one was injured, said Sgt. Michael Wysokowski, a police spokesman. “It’s not known if (Busta Rhymes) was the intended target,” he said. It was the second time in a month that Violator’s offices were the scene of gunfire. A rep for the rapper, 30, had no comment.
DIED: Rock Hall of Fame musician Howie Epstein, 47 bassist for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for 20 years until he was ousted from the band last May, died in a New Mexico hospital on Sunday, Billboard magazine’s Web site reported Tuesday. He had battled legal and drug problems in recent years, though the precise cause of death has not yet been announced. “We are deeply saddened at the news of Howie’s passing,” Petty & the Heartbreakers said in a statement. “It’s difficult to put into words how much we loved him and will miss him … Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends.”
DECLINED: A Los Angeles judge refused to dismiss a misdemeanor charge accusing Pee-wee Herman alter ego Paul Reubens, 50, of possessing child pornography, reports AP. Defense attorney Blair Berk had argued that a state law enacted in 1989 does not apply to material produced before that year and that the one-year statute of limitations for a misdemeanor crime expired before Reubens was charged in November. A trial date will be scheduled in Superior Court on Friday.
BUSTED: Alton Williams, 23, who appeared on MTV’s “Real World Las Vegas,” was arrested after a barroom brawl at a Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. According to a police report posted on the Smoking Gun Web site, Williams was “scratching, biting and using abusive language” toward employees who were trying to calm an argument. Williams, who was serving as a celebrity bartender at the benefit, was arrested and charged with assault and resisting arrest before being released on $3,000 bail. MTV had no comment.
COUNTED: Sunday’s 2003 Grammy telecast averaged 24.9 million viewers from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., a 31 percent jump from last year’s average, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. CBS estimated that 55 million viewers watched some portion of the Grammy telecast. Viewership peaked between 9-9:30 p.m. with 27.7 million viewers.