PEOPLE

Rap star’s getaway driver files

a lawsuit

Sean “Puffy” Combs’ former driver has filed a $3 million lawsuit claiming he was forced to commit a traffic violation after a December nightclub shooting. Wardel Fenderson, 40, says in court papers filed earlier this week that he picked up Combs, Jennifer Lopez, and Combs’ bodyguard, Anthony “Wolf” Jones after three people had been shot, allegedly by rapper Jamal “Shyne” Barrow.

As the quartet fled, Jones allegedly grabbed the steering wheel and screamed at Fenderson “not to stop and to continue driving” despite police orders to pull over.

Prosecutors say someone threw a handgun out of a passenger-side window while the vehicle was speeding through 11 red lights. The vehicle eventually was stopped by police barricades, and another gun was found on the floor. Combs and Jones, scheduled for a January trial, have been charged with bribery for allegedly offering Fenderson $50,000 and a diamond ring if Fenderson would claim the gun in the SUV was his.

NOVEMBER WEDDING DATE FOR MAY-DECEMBER ROMANCE: Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who this week are introducing their 8-week-old boy Dylan Michael Douglas to her family in Swansea, Wales, will marry Nov. 18. A posting on www.michae ldouglas.com says the place will be New York, and sources say the cake cutting will be at the Plaza Hotel.

Meanwhile, part of the wedding preparations included publicist Alan Burry’s media cleanup. He denied reports in Wednesday’s New York Daily News that Douglas’ younger brother Eric (who told the News he’s “been clean and sober for four months”) had been eliminated from the guest list. He also naysayed the tale that father Kirk Douglas wanted Michael’s mother, Diana, banned from the ceremony, because he reputedly didn’t like a book she wrote.

A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE: Basketball star Allen Iverson apologized Thursday to gays and women who might be offended by the lyrics on his new rap album.

The album by the Philadelphia 76er, “Non-Fiction,” isn’t even due out until February. However, one song entitled “40 Bars” will be released to radio stations on Tuesday.

The song is peppered with references to women, blacks and gays and contains the line: “Man enough to pull a gun, be man enough to squeeze it.” The song ends with the sounds of a gun being cocked and fired.

“If individuals of the gay community and women of the world are offended by any of the material in my upcoming album, let the record show that I wish to extend a profound apology,” Iverson said in a statement.

“If a kid thinks that I promote violence by the lyrics of my songs, I beg them not to buy it or listen to it.”

Um, what’s the quickest way to get a kid to do something you don’t want him to do? Tell him not to do it, of course. But we digress.

Iverson said the lyrics are drawn from personal experiences.

“I lived in the projects all of my life before the NBA, and I witnessed sex, violence and drugs on a daily basis,” he said.

GRAMMY AWARD RETURN POLICY: After the glitzy hoopla, the Latin Grammys is now getting a little tarnished. Los Tigres del Norte, Los Temerarios, Los Palominos and Banda el Recodo have all rejected the awards that they won at last month’s ceremony. The four musical groups complained there weren’t enough artists nominated who play other popular Mexican styles. Besides, they declared in a statement, “these awards should not exist because they segregate Latin music.”

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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