Metallica members treading on one another

Too bad the heavy-metal infighting documented in the April issue of Playboy didn’t happen earlier that whole Napster hullabaloo might never have happened. Wall of Sound, which apparently had a sneak preview of the magazine, reports that members of the Bay Area metal band Metallica are sniping at one another. The separate interviews were conducted two months before bass player Jason Newsted announced he was quitting after 14 years, citing “private and personal reasons” and “physical damage” resulting from his playing.

The he said/he said goes something like this: Newsted knocked singer James Hetfield for his “limited” but improving vocal range. Drummer Lars Ulrich called the singer homophobic. “Let there be no question about that,” Ulrich said. “I think homophobia is questioning your sexuality and not being comfortable with it.” Hetfield blasted Ulrich for his infrequent bathing in the early 1980s and his poor musical skills: “To this day he is not Drummer of the Year. We all know that.”

The only one who refrains from comment is a spokesman for the band’s U.S. label, Elektra Records, since he said he hasn’t seen the article yet. Better hang around the newsstands.

JACKSON RAGES AGAINST HIS DAD: For more excerpted missives, we now go to Michael Jackson, who hobbled to Oxford University Tuesday and spoke about his charity, Heal the Kids. He might believe in healing the young, but he slammed the old, in this case his father, Joseph Jackson. “He was scared of human emotion. But he did know doughnuts,” which he frequently left in the kitchen for his nine children. “If I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show,” Jackson recalled. Then, with tears in his eyes and pausing to ask for a tissue, he added: “If I did an OK show, he would say nothing. (He was) a managerial genius. But what I really wanted was a dad. I wanted a father who showed me love and my father never did that. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow or a water balloon at me.”

Jackson also described himself as “the product of a lack of childhood. When I was young, I wanted more than anything else to be a typical little boy. I used to think I was unique in feeling that I was without a childhood. The cheery 5-year-old who belted out Rockin’ Robin’ and Ben’ to adoring crowds was not indicative of the boy behind the smile.” Lest it reeks too much of self-pity, the pop star professed a message of forgiveness. “As an adult, and as a parent, I realize that I cannot be a whole human being nor a parent capable of unconditional love until I put to rest the ghosts of my own childhood,” he said. Of his son, Prince, 4, and his daughter, Paris, 2, the singer said, “I hope that my children will not judge me unkindly and will forgive my shortcomings.” The packed hall of 500 cheered Jackson at the beginning and end of his talk.

RAGE AGAINST THE COPPERS: Rapper DMX apparently didn’t do himself any favors Tuesday. The incarcerated hip-hop star allegedly tossed a food tray at two correction officers and wound up extending his prison stay. DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was scheduled to be freed from the Erie County (N.Y.) Correctional Facility on Tuesday after serving 10 days of a 15-day sentence for driving without a license. That morning, though, the discipline committee revoked Simmons’ “good time” credit, and now he’ll be held until Friday. He was also arraigned on a charge of felony assault of a corrections officer and ordered to return to Alden Town Court, near Buffalo, March 27. “He vehemently denies assaulting anyone,” Simmons’ attorney, Paul Cambria said.

QUOTE OF THE ERA: Jamie Lee Curtis, who stars with Geoffrey Rush and Pierce Brosnan in “Tailor of Panama” (due for a March 30 release), has deprived audiences of her talents for a good cause: Motherhood. “We are raising generations of motherless children,” she said in the March issue of More magazine. The “we” clearly refers to upper middle-class mothers “who have chosen careers that demand they hand over the child-rearing to other people.” The 42-year-old actress also said: “The realities are that as you get older, there’s a point where you quickly become a caricature of yourself. I have to be careful to get out before I become the grotesque caricature of a hatchet-faced woman with big knockers.” Ah, the smart, built ones always are so sparing with their favors.

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