Not getting what they pay for

Orlando, Fla. -- Boy-band hitmaker Lou Pearlman is the target of a state probe into complaints that hundreds of aspiring models and actors were duped into paying up to $1,500 each for spots on his company's Web site.

Clients say they were led to believe that Pearlman's company, Trans Continental Talent Inc., would help them find work -- not just post their pictures online.

The investigation, which began in August, has turned up "hundreds of potential violations" but no one who actually landed a job through the company, Assistant Atty. Gen. Jackie Dowd said.

Pearlman, best known for launching the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, issued a statement Friday saying he was unaware of the investigation.

Florida law prohibits talent agencies from collecting fees upfront, but the promoter said Trans Continental was exempt because it is a "scouting" company that finds talent without marketing it.

Taylor has her day

Dana Point, Calif. -- A nasty cold and a broken foot that put her in a wheelchair couldn't keep Elizabeth Taylor from at a benefit for AIDS research. After all, Gov. Gray Davis had declared it Elizabeth Taylor Day for her work in support of the cause.

"Every day is filled with threats ... but the reality is, we are in the middle of one of the worst threats, global AIDS," Taylor told about 600 people at the Feb. 8 gala. "As of January, 42 million people worldwide are affected. In 1984, I made a vow to myself and a vow to God to do something. Together, we will!"

Aerosmith mansion downsized

Marshfield, Mass. -- Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer knows a thing or two about bringing down the house.

The rocker, 52, has taken the bulldozer to his 15-room mansion to build cozier quarters in its place.

Kramer had put the 1910 Georgian colonial on the market in 2001 for $3.75 million but opted to downsize the residence instead after it failed to sell.

Kramer's new seven-room home is half the size of the old one, but he and his wife, April, will be able to host friends at a new pool house and offer plenty of parking in two garages.

Out of hatred, understanding

New York -- More than 30 years after the breakup of the Beatles and on the brink of her 70th birthday, Yoko Ono has become philosophical about the days when many Beatles fans hated her and blamed her for the band's demise.

"I think that through that kind of incredible, strange confrontation, people started to understand me," the widow of John Lennon told the New York Post for a story in Sunday's editions.

Ono turns 70 on Tuesday and more than 200 guests are expected to attend a cocktail reception in her honor at a Manhattan restaurant, the Post said.

Ono keeps busy these days managing the legacy of her late husband and producing dance mixes of his music and her own. She is about to release a dance mix of "Walking on Thin Ice" -- the song Lennon was working on the night he was killed in 1980.


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