Passages

updated 06/02/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/1997 01:00AM

A Long Grove, Ill., man was arrested on May 9 for mailing four threatening letters to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, 41. Police say computer enthusiast Adam Pletcher, 22, wrote to Gates—who, with a reported net worth of about $30 billion, is America's richest man—claiming he would kill him and his wife, Melinda, 32, unless he were, paid $5 million. Pletcher, who was released on $100,000 bail posted by his parents, could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted on the extortion charge.

Lorenzo Lamas, 39, star of the syndicated TV series Renegade, and his fourth wife, model Shauna Sand, 26, are expecting their first child in December. Lamas already has three children, two with former publicist Michele Smith and one with actress Daphne Ashbrook....

Talk show host Leeza Gibbons, 40, and her husband, actor Stephen Meadows, 43, are expecting their second child, a boy, in October. The couple have a son, Troy, 5, and Gibbons has a daughter, Lexi, 7, with her first husband, actor Christopher Quinten.

On May 14, Eddie Murphy, 36, filed two $5 million lawsuits in Los Angeles superior court, accusing the supermarket tabloids the Globe and the National Enquirer of libel, slander and invasion of privacy for publishing interviews with transsexual prostitutes who claimed to have had sex with the actor. Murphy was stopped by police on May 2 after picking up prostitute Atisone Seiuli, 20. Murphy was not charged with a crime, but Seiuli was arrested on an outstanding warrant. The Enquirer said in a statement, "Mr. Murphy is attempting to rehabilitate himself at our expense." Murphy also sued auto mechanic Ioane Seiuli, 36, for $1 million for telling the New York Post that Murphy was a friend of his cousin's and had promised Atisone a role in a movie....

Actress Debra Winger, 42, filed a breach of contract suit against the CineFin Corp. film production company and its backers on May 14 in L.A., alleging that they failed to pay her $1.5 million for the movie Divine Rapture, which was shut down in July 1995 after two weeks of shooting. Winger is seeking payment on her $1.5 million contract plus unspecified punitive damages....

Frank Monte, 51, a private investigator and movie producer, filed suit against actress Lesley-Anne Down, 43, and Spelling Television on May 12 in L.A., charging that Down backed out of her commitment to appear in Monte's film A Private Eye after taking a role on Spelling's new TV series Sunset Beach. The suit alleges that Down made unreasonable demands including a dramatically higher salary, casting approval of the male lead and that her role be filmed in L.A. rather than in New York City. Monte is seeking damages in excess of $1 million....

On May 15, actor Charlie Sheen, 31, was ordered to stand trial June 9 in L.A. on a criminal charge of battery brought by former model Brittany Ashland, 25, who claimed the actor knocked her unconscious during an argument last December when the two were dating. Sheen, who rejected a plea bargain offered by the prosecution, could receive a year in jail if convicted. The actor also faces a civil lawsuit brought by Ashland.

Big band singer Thelma Carpenter, 77, died on May 15 of undisclosed causes in New York City. Carpenter, who sang with jazz greats including Coleman Hawkins and Count Basie, appeared in the film The Wiz (1978) and on Broadway as Pearl Bailey's standby in Hello, Dolly! in the 1968-69 production.

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