PASSAGES: Jordan's Knee Faces Knife

02/27/2002 01:00PM

INJURED: Hoops legend Michael Jordan, 39, will have surgery on his injured right knee and his status for the rest of the season is uncertain, Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins said at a Tuesday press conference, according to The Washington Post. "Michael has decided to have an arthroscopic procedure. It will done in the next couple of days," he said. "Michael is very disappointed" . . . DISMISSED: Former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams, 34, charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a limousine driver, and NBC Sports "have reached a mutual agreement that it's best for Jayson to focus on his personal issues and to not be on the air until those issues are resolved," the network said in a statement on Tuesday. Williams's lawyer, Joseph Hayden, has called the shooting of driver Costas Christofi, 55, "a tragic accident," and said that the facts of the case would make it clear that Williams was innocent, reports the Associated Press. Williams surrendered to authorities Monday and is free on $250,000 bail . . . BACKED: NBC said on Tuesday that it stands by "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin's right to speak his mind, following his controversial comments in this week's New Yorker magazine that the country is pretending that President Bush is competent and brave. "Obviously we respect Aaron's right to say whatever he thinks," Jeff Zucker, President of NBC Entertainment, said in a conference call with reporters, according to Reuters. "We would never get in the way of his right to speak his mind." Sorkin, 40, did apologize to NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw, however, the network told New York's Daily News. In the same New Yorker piece, Sorkin said Brokaw was soft on the president . . . CONFIRMED: After earlier reports that such a deal was in the works, NBC has extended the contract for "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien, 39, for four more years in a deal that reportedly doubles his salary to nearly $8 million a year, reports the AP. O'Brien has been hosting the show since David Letterman's departure from NBC (to CBS) in 1993 . . . SOLD: The journals of late grunge-rock hero and Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain (who committed suicide in 1994 at age 27) will be published this fall by Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, which reportedly is paying $4 million for them, says Variety. The currently untitled book will include writings, drawings, and lyrics, such as early handwritten versions of Nirvana's hit song "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

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