PEOPLE

Renfro boat escapade lands him in the brig

Brad Renfro better hope he tests positive for drugs, because stupidity isn’t a defense. The young actor, first discovered as a fifth-grader and cast in the 1994 John Grisham movie “The Client,” was arrested and charged with grand theft after allegedly trying to steal a yacht the day before filming his latest movie.

Apparently the 18-year-old and a friend were trying to sneak off with a 45-foot yacht at 4 a.m. Monday in Florida, police said. The twosome unfortunately neglected to untie the dock lines, which yanked the $175,000 boat back into the dock and damaged its stern. Two people sleeping on a boat nearby called the police and held Renfro and Harold Bond, 24, until the proper authorities arrived.

Renfro earned his get-out-of-jail card Monday night after posting $10,000 bail. Filming of the movie “Bully” began Tuesday. Bond remained in jail Wednesday on a $10,000 bond. In 1998, Renfro struck a plea bargain on cocaine and marijuana charges, agreeing to random testing for drugs. Police were investigating whether he and Bond had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Renfro “seemed to be the most distraught about being arrested,” said the boat’s manager, Paul Roydhouse.

WILL WEDDING BELLS RING AGAIN FOR THE MATERIAL GIRL? Guy Ritchie plans to wed Madonna by year’s end, according to Erin Berg, producer of the director’s movies and a close bud.

“Rocco’s difficult birth has led to Guy realizing all he wants is to marry Madonna and become a family,” Berg said. “He intends to marry Madonna by Christmas.”

The pop diva has fueled talk about the upgrade of their two-year thing by recently flashing a diamond-encrusted engagement ring about L.A. The Brit tab Sun says buds report that Ritchie has “completely changed her attitude to life.” Meanwhile, Ritchie, 31, has taken to referring to Madonna, 42, as his “missus,” as in: “The missus is incredibly inspiring, and we seem to work very well together.” Madonna’s lone marriage was to Sean Penn, 1985 to 1989.

LET THEM MEET, ALREADY! Britney Spears says she was once within hours of having a proper date with Prince William before it was abruptly called off. “I was asked to meet him, but it didn’t work out,” the popster said. “I would love to have met him, but it leaked out, and it was canceled. It was probably a blessing because, had we met, I would have never been left alone.” Umm, like she’s got privacy now?

Spears hopes Wills will be at one of her Brit concerts in October.

MAYBE NOW THE DAUGHTER WON’T SUE: Eminem will give up custody of his 5-year-old daughter to his estranged wife, Kim Mathers. The much-sued rap star also agreed Monday to continue her financial support, provide a driver for her and let her get the credit cards back. In return, he will have joint legal custody and have liberal parenting time while in Michigan. The exes also reached a settlement on a $10 million lawsuit that his wife filed over the song titled “Kim,” but details were not released.

WAIT WHAT WAS BRITT EKLAND DOING AT A HEAVY METAL SHOW, ANYWAY? Following last week’s trend-setting Source Hip-Hop Awards show, a food fight broke out this Tuesday at London’s Kerrang! Awards show for heavy metalists where Slipknot was the big winner and actress Britt Ekland the most serious casualty. She broke an ankle and wrist plus damaged her Achilles’ tendon after slipping on a thrown watermelon. Chaos included smashed chairs and tables on fire.

“I’ve never been in such pain,” said Ekland, 57.

DOWN WITH THE HATCH: Richard Hatch speaks at last to defend his name. No, not the manipulative millionaire of that manipulative CBS game show but the actor who replaced Michael Douglas in TV’s “Streets of San Francisco” and who played Cmdr. Apollo on “Battlestar Galactica.”

“It feels very violating,” he told TV Guide Online in twisted English. “We forget there are other people with our name, and somehow we feel an ownership with our name. Honestly, this is one of the strangest experiences that’s ever happened in my life, and I’m having to deal with it.” Even his agent (et tu, Brut?) asked him to sign an autograph for a secretary who mistook him for the Survivor. “I said, Are you kidding? He’s not an actor. He’s 39. (There’s) 15 years’ difference in age. I have a son who’s 33.”

What’s worse, Hatch also lectures, which might make scheduling rather difficult. “If people are marketing me to a group how do they explain that I’m not that Richard Hatch?’ ” Bringing up his role as No. 1 son in the 1981 “Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen” might help…but maybe not.

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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