Plus: Phil Spector's murder indictment, a $198,600 plane ticket, and more

By Frank Swertlow
Updated September 28, 2004 09:00 AM

PLEADED: American gymnast Paul Hamm took his case to keep his Olympic all-around champion gold medal to a sports tribunal in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday, arguing that he should not surrender his trophy to South Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young. At issue is a scoring error by judges in Hamm’s favor during a parallel bars routine. Hamm, with one of his lawyers at his side, told NBC News on Tuesday morning he could not discuss what was said inside the Court of Arbitration for Sport during a session that lasted 12 hours. Yang also attended the session, and he and Hamm shook hands. A decision in the dispute is due within two weeks.

DECIDED: U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden denied Sylvester Stallone‘s bid to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of inappropriately using former heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner’s name to promote his Rocky movies, AP reports. But Hayden dismissed Wepner’s two other claims: that Stallone was unjustly enriched by trading on Wepner’s life story and that Wepner suffered by relying on Stallone’s promises. A lawyer for Stallone declined comment, while Wepner’s attorney, Anthony G. Mango, said of the plan to go ahead with a trial: “For us, it’s 100 percent victory.”

CHARGED: Record producer Phil Spector, 64, was charged in an indictment unsealed Monday with murder in the shooting death of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, 40, at his L.A.-area mansion last year. Spector showed no emotion in the courtroom, reports the Associated Press, but outside, he railed against District Attorney Steve Cooley. “The actions of the Hitler-like DA and his storm trooper henchmen are reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable,” said Spector, who remains free on $1 million bail. Dec. 16 is seen as the earliest possible trial date.

ARRESTED: Damien Patrick Holland, 25, the son of R&B singer Chaka Khan, was arrested in the shooting death of a 17-year-old male in south Los Angeles, reports TV’s Celebrity Justice. Police say Holland was taken into custody after a Friday night incident over a high-powered rifle. The shooting took place in a private residence, and the victim died at a local hospital. Bail reportedly has been set at $1 million.

DIED: Izora Armstead, age unknown, one-half of the disco duo the Weathergirls, died of heart failure in a California hospital Sept. 16, according to reports. With her other Weathergirl Martha Walsh, Armstead had a 1982 hit, “It’s Raining Men,” written by the late Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer, who now is the musical director of the Late Show with David Letterman. Armstead is survived by seven children and several grandchildren.

RESTED: Joe Jackson, father of Michael Jackson and his siblings, is at home at the family compound in Encino, Calif., after undergoing emergency surgery last week on two bleeding ulcers. “He’s doing great,” his attorney, Debra Opri, tells PEOPLE. “He wanted to go back on the road where he is selling his new book, The Jacksons, but he was told he had to stay home and rest. He lost a lot of blood.” Jackson returned home from a book tour of Germany and was rushed to a San Fernando Valley hospital, where he underwent laser surgery. Opri said she anticipated that Jackson would be up to full speed within a month when he can resume his book tour. So far, the autobiography has been released only in Germany, though there are plans to release the book in other countries.

HOSPITALIZED: Johnnie Cochran Jr., 66, was hospitalized at an undisclosed location Monday for additional tests and evaluation of a previously diagnosed neurological condition, a spokeswoman for the celebrity attorney tells the Associated Press. In April, Cochran announced that he would temporarily curtail his work to receive treatment for the neurological condition. His family has requested that the nature of the condition, which is not life threatening, remain private.

OFFERED: Virgin Airlines tycoon Richard Branson and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen announced the launch of Virgin Galactic, the world’s first passenger service to space, to take off from the California Mojave Desert in 2007. “I’m over the moon,” Branson said at a London press conference on Monday. The fare for the two-to-three-hour flight: $198,600, which will include three days of training and, most important, free drinks.