TV Notes: Downey Makes a Deal

Lawyers for Robert Downey Jr. have worked out a tentative plea agreement that will keep the actor from returning to prison.

Under the agreement, Downey will plead no contest July 16 to two drugs charges stemming from his arrest last November in a Palm Springs, Calif., hotel. In return, he'll enter rehab for up to a year.

The deal was arranged after Downey, 36, hired a new group of lawyers.

While they were successful in keeping their client out from behind bars, it remains to be seen whether Downey's career can be saved. When he was got out of prison last year, Hollywood hailed his comeback, but now its patience seems to have worn thin.

Downey's appearances helped boost ratings for Ally McBeal, and he was welcomed back to the show after his November arrest. But producer David E. Kelley finally wrote his character out after Downey was arrested again in April (prosecutors ultimately decided not to charge him).

Sopranos Surprises

It's been almost two weeks since the season finale of The Sopranos, but fans are still speculating about some of the loose ends left in that last episode. The actors are also wondering whether their characters will stick around or end up buried in the swamps of South Jersey.

Tony Sirico, who plays Paulie Walnuts, says series producer and creator David Chase lets the cast know a week, maybe two, before shooting an episode of the HBO Mafia drama.

"You know, that's the way it is," Sirico said. "We're doing a mob story and sometime, unbeknownst, your number comes up. Whether you like it or not, you gotta go."

So Sirico doesn't know whether whether Paulie Walnuts will try to double-cross Tony next season, or whether that Russian mobster Paulie and Christopher tried to kill will be coming back.

However, Sirico says Paulie is ready for anything, even the possible return of the Russian. "It can unfold anyway it wants. If he comes back, I'll put him in the dirt again, this time I'll put him in for good. Who knows, maybe he's dead already. You don't know what's going on."

Moreover

The Muppets may be on the move. EM.TV of Munich, Germany, is looking to sell the rights to Kermit, Miss Peggy et al. The asking price is $400 million. …

Wacky comedian Phyllis Diller escaped a car accident unhurt, but her driver was killed. Canada's Cambridge Reporter, says Diller, 83, was on her way to a performance when her driver got lost. The driver got out of the limo to ask for directions, but the car rolled backward, killing her. …

There is life after Survivor. Former castaway Keith Famie will host the Food Network's Taste the Adventure week June 17-24. The chef from Michigan — who couldn't prepare rice, but still wound up in the final three — has also written a book called Famie's Adventures in Cooking. …

West Wing star Martin Sheen has narrated a video called Stop the Bombs, which encourages people to demonstrate the Y-12 nuclear plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. …

And, last week was a very good one for Law & Order. The season finale topped the Nielsen list, as viewers tuned in to see Angie Harmon's last appearance. Another episode of the 11-year-old drama, which aired an hour later, was No. 3.

ABCNEWS Radio contributed to this report.

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