PEOPLE

Sorkin gets treatment program instead of prison time

Aaron Sorkin won’t be inspired to turn “The West Wing” storylines into “Oz,” at least not from personal experience. The NBC series creator will enter a drug treatment program instead of serving prison time for possession of cocaine and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Sorkin was arrested April 15 at Burbank Airport. The 39-year-old, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor and two felony counts, must complete the two-year program under the direction of a probation officer. “Needless to say, it is a relief to have a resolution regarding my legal situation,” he said in a statement. “I fully intend to proceed as directed by the court and am eager to get back to work and focus on what’s important.”

An “excellent probation report” and lack of a criminal record made him a candidate for treatment, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He cannot withdraw his guilty plea, Gibbons said. A Dec. 3 hearing was set for a progress report.

DISSED JOCKEYS: Job security ain’t what it used to be, at least for prankster radio hosts. Dallas radio station KEGL-FM has given the Texas boot to two disc jockeys who spread a phony report that Britney Spears was killed and boyfriend Justin Timberlake was in a coma after a car crash. The prank by nighttime jockeys Kramer and Twitch, otherwise known as Keith Kramer and Tony Longo, caused a deluge of phone calls to Los Angeles police and fire department lines. Spears’ publicist quashed the rumor the next day with a statement that the 19-year-old and Timberlake, 20, were in “great health.”‘

“They were let go on Monday,” said Gabrina Soliz, a spokeswoman for Clear Channel Communications, regarding Kramer and Twitch. She said the Spears scare wasn’t the sole reason, but Soliz wouldn’t elaborate further. Clear Channel vice president and Dallas market manager Tom Schurr told the Dallas Morning News that there had been other controversies during a recent five-month stint, like telling motorists to run over or open their car doors in front of bicyclists. Meanwhile, Kramer told the Morning News that he and his partner were surprised by the decision. “We got permission to air the bit,” he said, referring to last week’s hoax. Kramer said when he and his partner decided to use Spears as the subject of the hoax they doubted that any of her fans would listen to a rock station like KEGL.

WITH THESE WORDS, I THEE SAID: Guy Ritchie know of what he speaks. In an interview with German weekly Stern about his marriage to pop star Madonna, he confided, “It is still too early to say how my wife will influence my life But I do already know that it’s sometimes hard work living with her.” The 32-year-old director of “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” also revealed, “My wife has great acting talent, but she also has a headstrong personality. A director would have to guide her in the right direction.”

Ritchie, who maintains the foursome (son Rocco and stepdaughter Lourdes) is a “normal small family,” said, “I can understand that the whole world is interested in my wife. That’s even why I married her.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “When it became famous, I watched like one or two episodes. I just find that I dealt with that world in Mean Streets’ and some of it in Raging Bull,’ certainly in GoodFellas,’ and very much in Casino.’ … I don’t know if I can get myself around somebody else’s vision of it. I need to move on.” Martin Scorsese on HBO’s mob drama “The Sopranos.”

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

Milestones

Release scheduled: For Marion “Suge” Knight. The rap mogul who co-founded Death Row Records is scheduled for release on Aug. 9 from a federal prison in Oregon where he is completing a sentence for violating probation on an assault conviction.

Birthdays: Country musician Chet Atkins (77), actress Olympia Dukakis (70), actor Martin Landau (70), actor James Tolkan (70), actor Danny Aiello (68), R&B singer Billy Guy (65), actor John Mahoney (61), movie director Stephen Frears (60), singer-songwriter Brian Wilson (59), actor John McCook (56), singer Anne Murray (56), TV personality Bob Vila (55), musician Andre Watts (55), actress Candy Clark (54), author Tina Sinatra (53), R&B singer Lionel Richie (52), actor John Goodman (49), singer Cyndi Lauper (48), rock musician Michael Anthony of Van Halen (46), rock musician John Taylor (41), rock musician Mark DeGliantoni of Soul Coughing (39), actress Nicole Kidman (34).

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