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Also: Listen to "Celebrity Watch" from CNN Radio's Ken Pauli
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May 6, 1999
Web posted at: 5:27 p.m. EDT (2127 GMT)

Today's buzz stories:


Hugh Downs stepping down from '20/20' post

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Hugh Downs says it's time to move on -- to new media. The anchor of ABC's magazine show "20/20" on Wednesday announced plans to retire from a full-time role in the news business in September.

"It is time for me to move on," says Downs, 78. "The range of things I've been privileged to do up to now has set a foundation for what I'm planning in the context of the new media. This fast-moving cybernetic age holds such challenge and opportunity that I now find it irresistible."

Downs, whose 60-year broadcasting career has included stints as co-host of "The Tonight Show," "Today," and Sid Caesar's "Caesar's Hour," has been a part of "20/20" for 21 years. No word yet who will replace Downs to anchor opposite Barbara Walters.

Walters calls Downs "a gentleman in every way" and "above all things, an adventurer."

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Priscilla Presley wins $1.7 million in lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Priscilla Presley's attorney says the actress has won a $1.74 million judgment against two producers and a publicist who used her name without permission to promote a film project based on an unauthorized biography of her. The jury verdict was returned April 6 after a nine-day trial, but the award was not officially entered as a judgment until Monday, according to Presley's lawyer, Martin Singer.

Presley, 53, sued Third Coast Entertainment and its executives, Bud Grant and Robert Burge, along with Hollywood publicist Lee Solters and his company, over a press release and other publicity saying she'd been offered a job as a consultant on a film adaptation of "Child Bride."

Presley says promotional materials for the movie led to a story in the entertainment trade paper Daily Variety saying she "may act as a consultant on the movie." Presley said no financial offer was ever made and her name was used without her permission to tout the film project.

A lawyer for the defendants says they'll appeal.

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Busted Busta Rhymes won't do time

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Busta Rhymes is to be sentenced to probation after pleading guilty on Wednesday to charges of gun possession, a judge says. Police arrested the 26-year-old rap star in December after stopping his car and finding a loaded, unregistered .45-caliber pistol in his 1995 Mercedes-Benz.

In accepting the plea, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Herbert Adlerberg said he'll sentence the performer to five years' probation on June 16. The rap star, whose real name is Trevor Smith, could have received up to seven years in prison if he'd been tried and convicted on the weapons charge.

Smith's latest album, "Extinction Level Event," has sold more than one million copies.

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James Brown must feel good about this

AUGUSTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Following the lead of David Bowie and other singers, James Brown is cashing in on his future by "bonding" with his past. The "godfather of soul" plans to issue bonds that will pay interest from his song royalties, his agent confirms.

"This bond issue gives James Brown an opportunity to enjoy financial freedom without having to sell off any part of a musical catalog that has taken a lifetime to create," says agent Jeff Allen.

Bond broker David Pullman, who handled Bowie's $55 million bond transaction in 1997, hasn't confirmed reports that Brown will collect $35 million to $55 million from the deal. He said the amount of Brown's bonds hasn't been determined.

Brown's music career started in the 1950s, and includes hits like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)."

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