PEOPLE

Elton John loses suit against managers

Maybe Elton John should have gone into criminal celebrity court; he might have fared as well as star brethren Eminem and P. Diddy. After near-bankruptcy, which threatened his multiple homes, cars and annual $200,000 flower allowance, the singer sued his money managers. London’s High Court came down Wednesday on the side of accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers and former manager Andrew Haydon.

“Obviously, I am disappointed and I am considering with my lawyers the question of appeal, which seems likely,” John said in a statement.

The suit had charged Haydon with negligence, claiming he had mismanaged John’s money. The 54-year-old singer/pianist had reached a $5 million out-of-court settlement earlier with another defendant, former manager and lover John Reid.

Justice Andrew Ferris made a little judicial comment on the pop megastar. “Sir Elton is clearly a man of an uncommonly generous disposition. He likes spending money on himself and on gifts or other benefits to friends,” he said. “But he has little or no interest in business matters and does not bother to understand matters which do not interest him Sir Elton’s indifference to the details of financial and business matters was for a long time compounded by the fact that he had serious problems with alcohol and drug abuse.” Ouch.

Haydon’s lawyer commented, “This is both a just and wonderful result.” Meanwhile, John’s lawyer and manager Frank Presland predicts the singer will have to slum it, like by selling 19 cars in an upcoming auction; however, he added, “I don’t think he will cut back on his flowers.”

SEND IN THE CLOWNS OH, FORGET IT: Wondering how Tom Selleck found the wherewithal to develop the nuances of his “Magnum, P.I.” character? Wonder no more. The Herb Gardner play, “A Thousand Clowns,” Selleck said, “helped me figure out who I really was and what my appetites were Were it not for this play, I would have never fought to make Magnum a more flawed, more human character.”

Now the former screen investigator is Broadway-bound to star in the same play, a romantic comedy about an unemployed comedy writer being investigated by two social workers on whether he’s fit to be a guardian for his nephew. “I’m not nervous I’m scared,” Selleck said at a news conference Tuesday. “But actors should be scared. My father always said that risk is the way to opportunity.” The show, which first ran on Broadway in 1962, also stars Barbara Garrick and Robert LuPone, brother of Broadway singer Patti LuPone.

HOT POTATO: Next up on eBay celebrity tubers. A former vice president may have given spud-spelling notoriety, but Berkeley resident and Primus lead singer and bassist Les Claypool uses it as fan defense. “I’ve kinda gotten to this thing now where I don’t shake people’s hands, you know. I give ’em a potato,” Claypool said. “You get some guy who’s just so excited and he grabs your hand and just squeezes. So I don’t do that anymore because I had it actually hurt my hand pretty bad one time.” Time for the singer to invest in one of those hand squeezers.

K.O. FOR JUDGE’S SHOW: The verdict is in Paramount has canceled the “Judge Mills Lane” show. The former Reno judge, who gained notoriety as a boxing referee when he disqualified Mike Tyson for biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, said he’d concentrate on his Reno law practice and boxing promotion firm.

COMMERCIAL SUCCESS CAN BE A BAD THING: A thousand optometrists had to plug back in the eyeballs of young men who watched Shannon Elizabeth, as foreign-exchange student Nadia, strip in 1999’s “American Pie.” The actress, now co-starring in “Tomcats,” had a more bloated route to fame. One of her gigs involved being the model on the back cover of a Midol booklet that ran inside teen girl magazines. She was dressed in gym clothes, looking off into the distance.

“I looked kind of miserable. I did it because I was just happy to get a job,” she said in the May issue of Gear magazine. “It was like, Look, I’m in Teen.’ I have cramps!'” Then the 23-year-old worked for food in a Taco Bell commercial. “I just sort of bopped around eating a taco No money for that we got paid in burritos. Then that Chihuahua came along and stole all our jobs.” Nobody tell her about how many burritos the dog earned.

QUOTE-O-RAMA: Says D.L. Hughley on filming “The Brothers”: “It took two hours to do the first scene It was like working at the post office. I was like, Y’all do this for 14 hours?'”

Says former first lady Barbara Bush about Kent State University protests regarding her $45,000 speaking fees: “When I was just Mrs. now-out-of-office George Bush, no one even showed up to yell at me It’s sort of flattering to be yelled at again.”

Milestones

Award granted: To Edward James Olmos. John F. Kennedy University’s annual fund-raising dinner in Concord on May 19 will present the Kennedy Laureate Awards to the actor and to the late Ruth Galindo, a direct descendant of city co-founder Don Salvio Pacheco. Carlos Santana will introduce Olmos while Ed Begley Jr. will be the master of ceremonies.

Birthdays: Actress-dancer Ann Miller (78), country singer Ned Miller (76), actress Jane Withers (75), opera singer Montserrat Caballe (68), actor Charles Napier (65), jazz musician Herbie Hancock (61), actor Frank Bank (59), rock singer John Kay of Steppenwolf (57), actor Ed O’Neill (55), actor Dan Lauria (54), talk show host David Letterman (54), author Scott Turow (52), singer David Cassidy (51), actor Andy Garcia (45), country singer Vince Gill (44), actress Suzzanne Douglas (44), rock musician Will Sergeant of Echo & the Bunnymen (43), rock singer Art Alexakis of Everclear (39), country singer Deryl Dodd (37), folk-pop singer Amy Ray of Indigo Girls (37), figure skater Elaine Zayak (36), rock singer Nicholas Hexum of 311 (31), actress Shannen Doherty (30), actress Claire Danes (22).

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.

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