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Downey's fate in judge's hands

Robert Downey Jr. is ready to enter a locked drug rehabilitation center in Malibu, Calif., his lawyer says, but a prosecutor has a different lockup in mind: jail. The 31-year-old actor, arrested three times in the last month, has been in a jail hospital since July 20, when he walked out of a court-ordered rehabilitation center. At a hearing Thursday, prosecutor Ellen Aragon suggested at least another month in jail for Downey, "to make it more serious and impress on him the need to change." Defense lawyer Charles English said he had spoken to officials of a "lock-down" drug center about taking Downey, but the center hadn't decided whether to accept the actor. Judge Lawrence J. Mira said he would evaluate the facility and hear the proposal Monday. Downey was arrested June 23 when police said they found crack cocaine, heroin and an unloaded gun in his truck during a traffic stop. Hours before his arraignment, police arrested him after he was found asleep in a child's bed at a neighbor's home. Downey received an Oscar nomination for the 1992 film Chaplin.

Say it isn't so, Dr. Forrester

Wanted: a snide movie critic. Must be able to endure countless bad movies. Apply to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Actor Trace Beaulieu is leaving the cult TV show after seven seasons of playing the mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester and working the Crow T. Robot puppet. "It's kind of bittersweet, but it was time for me to go," Beaulieu said Thursday. He said he will be "mowing a few lawns, planting some perennials." Beaulieu, 37, had been with Mystery Science Theater since its debut on a Minneapolis station in 1988. MST3K, as fans know it, features a space-stranded human and his homemade robots making fun of cheesy movies that Dr. Forrester forces them to watch as part of an evil experiment. The Sci-Fi Channel recently picked up the show for 13 new episodes after the Comedy Central dropped it. The shows will begin airing in February.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Rutles!

The Sex Pistols have come back, as have Kiss and a number of other bands from the '70s, so why shouldn't the Rutles? Why not, indeed. On Oct. 29, Virgin will release Archaeology, "an album of vintage, previously unreleased material," according to the band's handlers. The Rutles, created by Monty Python's Eric Idle, are responsible for such seminal albums as Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band, as well as the groundbreaking documentary All You Need Is Cash. The new/old album was, according to lore, buried in a time capsule to be discovered in the next millennium by archaeologists or to be dug up by the members of the band when they were strapped for cash.

In other news . . .

+ Actors Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo are back in New York Undercover after staging a three-day walkout and demanding more money and perks. Executive producer Dick Wolf, who called their bluff and threatened to write them out of the show with a double funeral, says they returned under their original contracts.

+ Add cable's USA Network to the list of outlets preparing movies about Ted Kaczynski, the alleged Unabomber, a network spokeswoman has confirmed. Production starts Monday on a film USA plans to air as early as September. Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap) has been cast as postal inspector Tony Muljat, who tracked the bomber for 17 years. Robert Hays (Airplane!) will play David Kaczynski, who turned in his brother to the authorities. The role of Ted Kaczynski has not been cast. ABC and CBS have Unabomber films in the works.