Sideshow | Prince's CD release provokes record-sellers

Superstar Prince is freaking out music retailers, captains of industry, and champions of capitalism with his latest PR gimmick. Free copies of the pint-sized funk god's new 10-track CD Planet Earth will be included with this weekend's edition of the Brit paper the Mail on Sunday - long before the CD's July 24 release date.

Paul Quirk, cochairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, comes off humorless and angry: "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores."

Yeah - whatever.

Washington blames racism

A fine actor despite his various peccadilloes, Isaiah Washington continues to pick at his scabs.

In an interview with Newsweek, Washington argues that racism played a part in his being fired from ABC's Grey's Anatomy. "My mistake was thinking black people get second chances," he said.

Washington made headlines when he used a homophobic slur about costar T.R. Knight during an on-set scuffle with Patrick Dempsey, then repeated the insult in front of the media throngs at the Golden Globes.

He said that since he apologized and volunteered to enter counseling, he should have been forgiven: "My mistake was believing I could correct a wrong with honesty and sincerity."

Washington did not pull any punches. "I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that 'some people' were afraid of me around the studio," he said. "I asked her why, because I'm a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn't go around saying 'Yessah, massa sir' and 'No sir, massa' to everyone?" (He did not say what the HR person responded.) ABC would not comment.

Britney bashes mom

Wonder lately how Britney Spears is getting on with her lovely and talented mum, Lynne Spears? Funny you should ask, because things are bad. So bad that celebrity Web site has caught Brit handing Lynne, 52, what appears to be a lawyer-drafted letter warning Lynne to stay away from her grandsons, 21-month-old Sean Preston and 9-month-old Jayden James, if she is impaired by any medications she may be taking. (Huh?)

Gossips say Brit is still enraged that Lynne pressured her into rehab. (Great reason to go Psycho on mom!) As for Lynne? An anon friend tells People that she "has cried her heart out." The source said Lynne is simply brokenhearted. "She wants her baby to be OK and to bring her grandkids home."

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