Seagal blames career slump on negative publicity

n LOS ANGELES - Steven Seagal wants an apology from federal investigators he says wrongly implicated him in a plot to scare a journalist who was working on a story about the actor's possible ties to organized crime.

The 56-year-old action star blames his slumping career on the negative publicity he says resulted from the FBI affidavit that accused him of hiring former private eye Anthony Pellicano to threaten a freelance reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Method Man to tour high schools as part of plea deal in pot case

n NEW YORK - Method Man is going back to school.

As part of a plea deal reached following a marijuana arrest earlier this year, the hip-hop star was ordered to visit 15 city high schools to warn students about the dangers of drugs.

Latest 'Idol' Sparks signs record deal

n NEW YORK - Jordin Sparks has signed the record contract that comes with winning 'American Idol.'

The bubbly 17-year-old inked a deal with Jive Records in conjunction with 19Recordings, the label managed by 'Idol' creator Simon Fuller, it was announced Friday.

Her debut album is slated for release in November. She'll offer a taste of the disc with her new single, 'Tattoo,' to be released to radio stations Aug. 27.

'Daily Show' to air reports from Iraq next week

n NEW YORK - 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,' whose phony news coverage has long included phony 'remotes' from war-torn Iraq, will be reporting from Iraq for real next week.

Giving its green screen a temporary rest, the Comedy Central series will air 'Operation Silent Thunder: 'The Daily Show' in Iraq,' several on-site dispatches filed by Senior War Correspondent Rob Riggle.