Harrisons’ attacker was “possessed”; judged to be innocent

Innocent by reason of insanity was the verdict for Michael Abram, who broke into George Harrison’s mansion Dec. 30 and almost killed him by stabbing him repeatedly.

During the two-day trial, three psychiatrists testified that the defendant believed he was possessed by the former Beatle and has suffered severe paranoid schizophrenia for the last 10 years. The doctors also said while Abram responded well to drugs, he would be a danger to society if released from the psychiatric hospital. The judge denied the Harrisons’ request to be informed if Abram is ever under consideration for release, saying that would be a matter only for medical experts.

MUSICAL NOTES: Billy Joel is back on the wagon the touring wagon, that is. Although Joel forswore extensive touring, he may be traveling with spendthrift Elton John next year. Venue representatives at Washington State’s Tacoma Dome and Phoenix’s American West Arena confirm early 2001 dates for the two.

Stepping in front of the mike vacated by Zack De La Rocha, late of Rage Against the Machine, may be Cypress Hill’s B-Real. “You might see me fronting them next year,” B-Real told Melody Maker magazine, who added that he thought the band was “really great and I’m real good friends with them.”

Booking a band has a new meaning with the Rock Bottom Remainders. The members don’t dominate musical charts but are familiar names on booksellers’ lists: Stephen King, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Kathi Goldmark, Ridley Pearson and Scott Turow. The band, named after the publishing term for books that don’t sell, hit the road for their first performance since guitarist and singer King was hit by a van last summer. The three-city tour will raise money for children and will feature Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. Turow described the rockers as an “overage garage band who like to play songs that were popular when they were kids.”

Meanwhile, Tan arrived at a Denver press conference in a short black leather skirt and carrying a small whip. “I’m here to represent the discipline of writing,” said the author, who carries the whip when performing “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” The whip was apparently menacing enough to prevent people from running shrieking from the room. The Remainders play today in Boston and Friday in Washington, D.C.

UNCIVIL RIGHTS: If someone lives by you, tails you in his van and follows you around wherever you go, recognize him for what he is no, not a stalker, a tabloid photographer. Wendall Wall didn’t take too kindly to being arrested after Malibu neighbors Barbra Streisand and James Brolin drove to a sheriff’s station Jan. 8 to complain about him. They had noticed his van as they drove on Highway 101 earlier, than several hours later on Pacific Coast Highway when they were near their Point Dume home on Zumirez Drive, said Deputy Cruz Solis said at the time of Wall’s arrest.

Wall, arrested and booked for investigation of stalking, was released four days later. Prosecutors said there weren’t grounds for prosecution for the stalking allegations. Now Wall, feeling his civil rights have been mightily trampled, filed suit Tuesday against the sheriff’s office and the couple. The lawsuit charges that he was stopped without probable cause, falsely imprisoned and that the whole, messy arrest was “committed with evil motive and intent and in callous, reckless and wanton disregard” of his rights. And a paparazzi-type would sure recognize callous, reckless and wanton disregard for what it is.

NAMING THE DEAD: A 180-million-year-old pile of bones has been named after Michael Crichton, and the author couldn’t be more pleased. Dinosaur specialist Dong Zhiming, lead researcher at Beijing’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, cited Crichton’s literary popularity in China. Dong presented casts of skull bones to their namesake during a ceremony Tuesday at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Crichton’s ankylosaur is a small, armored, plant-eating dinosaur that dates to the early Jurassic Period. Dong, who identified the species with fossils discovered 62 years ago in southern China, believes it walked on two legs. “For a person like me, this is much better than an Academy Award,” Crichton said at the ceremony. “I’m honored that he’s named a new species for me.”

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

Birthdays: Actor Clu Gulager (72), blues musician Hubert Sumlin (69), actor David Leisure (50), actress Marg Helgenberger (42), rock musician Mani of The Stone Roses (38), tennis player Zina Garrison (37), baseball player Dwight Gooden (36), actress Lisa Bonet (33), R&B singer Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd (31), actress Martha Plimpton (30), Olympic gold medal figure skater Oksana Baiul (23), actress Kimberly J. Brown (16).