Minnelli files for divorce

New York -- Liza Minnelli filed for divorce from estranged husband David Gest on Wednesday, a day after he filed a $10 million lawsuit against the entertainer, accusing her of beating him during alcoholic rages.

Minnelli moved to end her 16-month marriage shortly after issuing a statement denying Gest's allegations.

"I hoped very much that the end of my marriage would be handled with mutual respect and dignity," Minnelli said. "The allegations in this lawsuit are hurtful and without merit. My lawyers will respond to the lawsuit in the proper forum."

Gest, 50, alleged in court papers filed Tuesday that Minnelli, 57, flew into drunken rages on several occasions, insulting him and beating him all over his body.

New court for Billie Jean King

New York -- Billie Jean King will trade her tennis whites for a black robe when she plays the role of a judge in an upcoming episode of NBC's "Law and Order," her favorite TV show.

King accepted an offer from the show's stars, Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston, during the Women's Sports Foundation's tribute Monday night.

It wasn't immediately clear when the episode would be taped or broadcast.

Songwriter Smith found dead after apparent suicide

Los Angeles -- Elliott Smith, a singer-songwriter whose dark, introspective songs won him critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination, has apparently committed suicide, coroner's officials said Wednesday. He was 34.

Smith's body was found by his live-in girlfriend Tuesday, Los Angeles County Coroner Records Supervisor Marsha Grigsby told AP Radio.

He suffered a single stab wound to the chest that appeared to be self-inflicted, she said.

Smith released five solo albums that received widespread acclaim from rock critics and garnered modest commercial success. "Miss Misery," recorded for Gus Van Sant's "Good Will Hunting," was nominated for an Oscar in 1998.

Smith's songs often were compared to those of Alex Chilton, Nick Drake and the Beatles, his favorite band.

Actor Fred 'Rerun' Berry dies

Los Angeles -- Fred Berry, the bulb-shaped, squeaky-voiced actor famous for playing red-beret-wearing Rerun on the 1970s TV sitcom "What's Happening!", has died at age 52, police said Wednesday.

Berry died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles apparently of natural causes, police Officer Jason Lee said. The county coroner was investigating, but friends said Berry had been ill because of a recent stroke.

"What's Happening!", which ran from 1976-1979, focused on three teenage friends -- Rerun, Raj and Dwayne -- who learn about life, women and trouble while growing up in Los Angeles.

The name Rerun, according to Berry, referred to the character's brainlessness: In the summer, he had to rerun all the classes he failed during the school year.


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