Haze Over Hendrix's House

A childhood home of Jimi Hendrix faces demolition unless Seattle activists win a legal battle to save it. Last week, city workers were prepared to destroy the house where the rock legend lived from age 10 to 13. However, a King County judge issued a two-week restraining order at the request of owner Pete Sikov.

Seattle officials say the issue is public safety. When a condominium complex was built on the home's original site in 2001, Sikov, treasurer of the nonprofit James Marshall Hendrix Foundation, relocated the house and got a six-month lease to store it on a city-owned lot in central Seattle. Since then, the building has reportedly become a haven for squatters and drug dealers. Sikov wants to move the structure to a permanent location near Hendrix's gravesite in Renton, Wash.

The now-dilapidated house is among 20 that Hendrix lived in during his childhood, but it's the only one his parents ever owned, according to biographer Charles R. Cross. When Hendrix's parents took in renters to help pay the mortgage, Cross notes, the tenants brought along a huge collection of blues records, exposing the budding musician to influences such as Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.

To those who want to save the house, the battle has become symbolic of what they say is the city's indifference toward Hendrix, who died of a drug overdose in 1970. "It does fit into a larger pattern of a lack of recognition for African American leaders," said Cross. "You go to Memphis, and there's Elvis Presley Boulevard."

"They have had 31/2 years to take care of this house, and they haven't done anything," said City of Seattle spokeswoman Katherine Schubert-Knapp. "They keep breaking their word." Sikov says he needs more time to obtain the permits to move the house. A court hearing on his quest for a permanent injunction is set for July 19.

Letterman Plot Thickens

Montana prosecutors say they have reached a tentative plea agreement with a man who allegedly plotted to kidnap the infant son of David Letterman.

Teton County Attorney Joe Coble told reporters that Kelly Frank, who previously pleaded not guilty in the case, is to appear tomorrow in state court for a change-of-plea hearing. Details of the agreement were not made public.

"We have a verbal agreement," Coble said. "We have presented a written agreement to the defendant, and he has it over the weekend to consider before he signs it."

Frank, a former employee of Letterman's Choteau, Mont., ranch, was arrested in March after an acquaintance notified authorities that Frank had mentioned plans to kidnap Letterman's then 16-month-old son, Harry Joseph, along with the boy's nanny. According to the acquaintance, Frank hoped to ransom the pair for $5 million.

Frank has also pleaded not guilty to a theft charge for allegedly overcharging Letterman for painting work. Frank's attorney, Jim Hunt, did not return calls seeking comment. A spokesman for Letterman's production company said that the talk show host was not aware of the agreement.

End Notes

* Nike is using photos of L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant in Sports Illustrated ads for the first time since his 2003 arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a female employee at a Colorado resort. Bryant had a five-year, $45 million contract with Nike, signed shortly before the allegations, but has not made any commercials for the company since.

"Kobe ranks among the very best players in the NBA, and his training and preparation are key elements of his game," Nike spokesman Rodney Knox said. Prosecutors dropped charges against Bryant in September when his accuser decided not to go ahead with the case. A subsequent civil suit was settled out of court with no details released. Bryant publicly apologized to the woman without admitting guilt.

* Jackie Chan says the third installment of "Rush Hour" has stalled because co-star Chris Tucker is making too many demands. "He wants too much power," Chan told reporters Thursday. "The movie company hasn't obliged. He wants final editing rights and the final look at the movie and so on." The martial arts star called Tucker "a good friend," but said he's "still a new actor. . . . He needs to learn slowly." Tucker's publicist, Samantha Mast, did not return calls for comment Friday.

* R&B star Omarion is facing a Brit publicity backlash after the singer, who was in London at the time of last week's terrorist bombings, issued a statement asking for his fans to pray for him. When U.K. reporters pointed out that Omarion had suffered no harm and that the statement made no mention of the actual victims, Londoners were angered, according to E! Online. Omarion's Web site quickly disowned the offending release, calling it a hoax.

* Leonardo DiCaprio has optioned Kurt Vonnegut's dystopian novel "Cat's Cradle," Variety reported last week. DiCaprio's Appian Way production company has tapped "Contact" screenwriter James V. Hart and his son, Jake Hart, to write the script. Published in 1963, "Cat's Cradle" was described on its dust jacket as "an apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate."

* Rod Stewart, 60, who proposed to girlfriend Penny Lancaster atop the Eiffel Tower just a couple of months ago, is becoming a father again. Due in December, the little one will be Rod's seventh child and Penny's first.

-- Compiled by Michael Cotterman

from wire reports

Jimi Hendrix's onetime home, shown at its original location, is threatened by the wrecking ball.David Letterman was said to be unaware of a plea deal.