By Keith Knight
Saturday, May 24, 2008

TomKat Roars

When A-listers throw a tantrum, it usually involves lawyers -- and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are no exception. The couple are pitching a legal fit over a Life & Style magazine article, which claims that since 2006 they've spent $400,000 on things for daughter Suri at über-trendy Los Angeles baby boutique Petit Tresor.

According to the New York Daily News, the couple's lawyer, Aaron Moss, sent a prelude-to-a-lawsuit letter to Petit Tresor's owners last week, warning the shop to stop giving tabloids bogus information about Cruise and Holmes's shopping habits in an effort to boost publicity.

"Not only does this statement violate our clients' confidentiality, but it is simply false," Moss wrote. "We hereby request that you no longer use our clients as part of your public relations and marketing efforts."The Daily News did not reach the owners of Petit Tresor, also a favorite of Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Jessica Alba and Jamie Lynn Spears, for comment.

Trapped in the Courtroom?

As the R. Kelly child pornography trial continues in Chicago, a judge says Chicago Sun-Times lawyers have a week to respond to a motion asking for a reporter to testify in court, the Associated Press reports.

The defense wants to call pop music critic Jim DeRogatis to the stand to ask him how, in 2002, he got a sex tape that's now at the center of the trial -- as well as whether he made a copy. A Sun-Times lawyer says DeRogatis's actions should be privileged under the First Amendment; the judge says he'll make a ruling on May 30.

Kelly, who prosecutors charge taped himself having sex with an underage girl, has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys deny that Kelly is the man on the tape.

Flowers for Baker

Another laurel for Howard Baker to rest on: On Thursday, the former senator became the only non-Japanese recipient of this year's Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the emperor of Japan. (In 1984, Baker received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor.)

Baker, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan from 2001 to 2005, was joined by his wife (former senator Nancy Kassebaum) and various pols, diplomats and friends at the residence of Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato for the ceremony. Among the crowd: Brent Scowcroft, Tom Foley, Sens. Lamar Alexander, Pete Domenici and Ted Stevens, and former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, a Baker protege.

Free -- for Now

Bailed Out: A judge granted bail to Wesley Snipes on Thursday, pending an appeal of the actor's conviction and sentencing last month to three years in prison for failing to file income tax returns for 1999 through 2001. Reuters reports that an Ocala, Fla., judge agreed to allow Snipes to remain free while trying to overturn his conviction but wrote that he was "dubious" of Snipes's appeal arguments.

Pardoned: New York Gov. David Paterson is granting rapper Ricky "Slick Rick" Walters a full and unconditional pardon for the attempted murder of two men in 1991, AP reports, a move expected to halt efforts to deport Walters to his native United Kingdom, which he left as a child. Paterson says Walters, a rap artist, Bronx landlord and youth outreach volunteer, has not had any other criminal problems since he served more than five years behind bars in the 1990s for shooting his cousin and another man.

-- Marissa Newhall,

from staff and wire reports

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