Downey Jr. fired from 'Ally McBeal' following latest arrest

Wednesday, April 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Robert Downey Jr.'s latest brush with the law has cost him the job for which he won a Golden Globe earlier this year.

The actor, who made a much-heralded comeback as Calista Flockhart's love interest on TV's ``Ally McBeal,'' was fired from the show Tuesday, hours after his arrest for investigation of being under the influence of drugs.

The arrest was the latest in a string of substance-abuse troubles for the actor, whose career has been derailed several times by rehabilitation and prison time.

Downey was on foot in Culver City, near southwest Los Angeles, when he was taken into custody by officers who said he displayed symptoms of being on drugs, according to police Lt. Dave Tankenson.

Police said they believed the drug was a stimulant, but did not elaborate.

Albert Alexio, 45, of Los Angeles, was arrested with Downey for investigation of being on drugs, Tankenson said. Alexio was arrested at the nearby Baldwin Motel, which Tankenson described as ``kind of a low-rent hotel'' where past drug arrests had been made.

Downey, 36, of Malibu, was detained a few hours, issued a misdemeanor citation and released to his parole agent. He was ordered to appear in court May 4.

Hours after his release, ``Ally McBeal'' producer David E. Kelley issued a brief statement saying Downey had been fired.

``We are wrapping up the stories on the final few episodes of 'Ally McBeal' for the season without him,'' the Emmy-winning producer said, adding that the show wished Downey the best and hoped for a full recovery.

A few scenes featuring Downey have already been shot for future episodes. Kelley publicist Bonnie Winings said it is not clear whether that footage will be used now. However, 20th Century Fox spokesman Chris Alexander said there was a good chance it would be.

Kelley had publicly supported Downey until Tuesday, even signing him to more episodes following his arrest last November.

Weeks after that arrest, Downey won a Golden Globe for best supporting TV actor for ``Ally McBeal,'' joking afterward that he wanted to ``share this with my fellow parolees, er nominees.''

Tuesday's arrest could have returned him to jail immediately, but his parole agent decided instead 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.

Downey spokesman Alan Nierob said the actor is ``working hard at his sobriety and his rehabilitation.''

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 was hospitalized at a substance-abuse treatment center. Three days later, he was arrested for leaving the 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.

Downey is scheduled to appear in court Monday in that case, in which his lawyers have challenged the legality of the search that led to his arrest.