Published April 25, 2001
Robert Downey Jr. will no longer be shimmying to oldies songs, taking on ludicrously quirky cases or dating a certain single female lawyer.
The troubled actor was fired from the Fox show Ally McBeal on Tuesday, hours after being arrested for his latest drug-related incident.
Downey, 36, was on foot in Culver City, near southwest Los Angeles, at the time of the midnight misdemeanor arrest for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs, police Lt. Dave Tankenson said. Police offered no other details about what precipitated his arrest or what substance he was suspected of using. Downey was detained a few hours, issued a citation and was released to his parole agent, the lieutenant said. The actor must appear in court May 4.
David E. Kelley, the Emmy-winning producer of Ally McBeal, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying Downey will not appear in any more episodes of the show, as previously planned.
"We are wrapping up the stories on the final few episodes of Ally McBeal for the season without him," Kelley said.
The producer had publicly supported Downey until his latest arrest, even signing him to more episodes following the actor's arrest last November on drug charges. That arrest came just months after Downey was released from state prison on another drug charge.
"Robert is a unique talent and a very special person," Kelley said in the statement. "And we wish him the best and hope for his full recovery."
A few scenes featuring Downey have already been shot for future episodes, said Kelley publicist Bonnie Winings, but it is not clear whether that footage will be used now.
Downey's role as Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart's boyfriend won him a Golden Globe Award and is credited with boosting sagging ratings for the Fox comedy this season. In 1992, Downey, son of director Robert Downey, was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Charlie Chaplin.
Downey's arrest Tuesday could have sent him back to jail. But rather than pursuing a parole violation his parole agent decided to send him to a detoxification center for at least 72 hours, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections. After that, Downey will stay in a live-in drug treatment center for at least six months, with increased drug testing, she said.
"The goal is to help them not go back to prison," Thornton said. "There's only so many beds."
Downey spokesman Alan Nierob said the actor is now "in charge of his own destiny."
"Obviously he is working hard at his sobriety and his rehabilitation," Nierob said, noting Downey had gone directly to the rehabilitation center.
The actor's legal troubles began in 1996 when he was stopped for speeding and authorities found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his vehicle.
A month later he was found passed out in a neighbor's home and hospitalized at a substance-abuse treatment center. Three days later, he was arrested for leaving the recovery center.
In August 1999, Downey was sentenced to three years in prison for violating his probation by missing scheduled drug tests. He was released a year later on $5,000 bail.
Last November, he was arrested at a Palm Springs hotel after police received a 911 call reporting someone in a hotel room with guns and drugs.
He was charged with felony possession of cocaine and Valium and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance. No weapons were found.
He is scheduled to appear in court Monday in that case, in which his lawyers have been challenging the legality of the hotel room search that led to his arrest.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report