PEOPLE

Perry to be back on “Friends” for finale

Drugs may handicap your career, but they won’t threaten your television romance, apparently. According to an anonymous NBC executive, Matthew Perry will return from rehab for the hour-long season finale of “Friends,” which is also the episode in which his character, Chandler, marries Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette). Filming for the wedding, which airs May 17, begins in about two weeks. Currently on production hiatus, “Friends” returns to work Tuesday before wrapping its seventh season March 31. Not that anybody has noticed Perry’s absence: March 1 and 8 were repeats and six of eight original episodes are done.

CALLING THE GRASS GREEN: “Dude, you look like you’re doing too much weed.”

That’s the tune Steven Tyler is singing about Paul McCartney in Gear magazine. “He smokes too much pot,” the Aerosmith frontman says. “It’s none of my business, and he can do what he wants, but that’s just my opinion.” Tyler doesn’t give a recommended dosage, but he thinks the amount of drugs he did way back when was just right.

“I’m grateful for doing those drugs (in the ’70s), because they kept me from getting (sex) and I would have gotten AIDS,” Tyler says. Then again, that didn’t stop him from having sex with women like Penny Lane at age 15. “I’ve always been 15 in my mind,” the 52-year-old rocker explains. “I’ve had a nonadult, juvenile mentality for a long time. I always thought it was because when you start taking drugs and then you stop you subtract those years in between. It’s really like I’m 26 right now.” This is your brain after drugs.

THE TROUBLE WITH MUGGLES: “The Legend of Rah and the Muggles,” whose author is suing J.K. Rowling for stealing her ideas, will be reissued by Thurman House in May, the publisher announced Wednesday. Author Nancy Stouffer filed a lawsuit last March against Rowling, Scholastic Inc., Time Warner Entertainment Co., Mattel and Hasbro. In turn, Scholastic, Rowling and Time Warner filed their own lawsuit in November, asking a judge to rule that the Harry Potter books do not violate Stouffer’s trademark and copyright.

In a recent interview, Stouffer says she had a hard time finding a new publisher because some feared her book would be seen as ripping off the Potter stories.

“I have been accused of stealing; some children believe I am the one that followed J.K. Rowling,” she says. Several out-of-print Stouffer books are expected to come out by the end of 2002. Her book “Rah and the Muggles” includes little people named muggles and characters Larry Potter and Lilly Potter. In Rowling’s books, she has Harry Potter, Lily Potter and “muggles” is the word wizards use for humans.

NUTTIN’ HONEY: A puzzling story emerges from the New York Observer and MSNBC.com. An eagle-eyed, anonymous viewer notified Nickelodeon that a “Three’s Company” episode reveals that Jack Tripper (as played by John Ritter), clad in blue boxers, lets slip a family jewel. The cable network says the offending moment would henceforth be forever excised from future reruns.

The story brings up many startling elements, such as why “Three’s Company” continues to have a long rerun life and why viewers are so intently staring at Ritter’s crotch. The owner of said crotch, currently starring on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party” (with Henry Winkler), told the Observer that his inadvertent flash disturbs him not. “I’ve requested that Nickelodeon air both versions, edited and unedited,” he says, “because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”

ANATOMY LESSONS: Cedric Hailey, aka K-Ci of R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo, was charged Tuesday with 23 counts of indecent exposure and one count of lewd conduct. The charges stem from a December concert, attended by a youth-dominated crowd of about 4,000 people, at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. The show also featured pop acts Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees and Third Eye Blind.

During the performance, Hailey allegedly pulled down his trousers before the audience. City officials claim about 150 people fled to the lobby, and parents with kids as young as 5 years old complained about the alleged nudity. JoJo, whose real name is Joel Hailey, was not accused of wrongdoing. MCA, which represents the brothers, did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday. The name of the concert, ironically, was Jingle Ball.

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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