Rapper Ja Rule leaves N.Y. prison in gun case

Platinum-selling rapper Ja Rule has left an upstate New York prison after serving most of his two-year sentence for illegal gun possession. But he is headed straight into federal custody in a tax case.

U.S. marshals escorted the 36-year-old musician out of Mid-State Correctional Facility at 9:30 a.m. He was being held at the Oneida County Jail in central New York as he awaited word from the Federal Bureau of Prisons about where he’ll serve time in the tax case. The rapper has some time remaining on a 28-month sentence for tax evasion. His lawyer says Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, may have less than six months left and may be eligible for a halfway house.

Gregory re-ups as ‘Meet the Press’ host

David Gregory has re-upped as host of “Meet the Press.”

NBC News shared no details, but described the new deal as “a long-term commitment.”

“What a great vote of confidence from NBC,” a pleased-looking Gregory said. He said his first four years in the moderator’s chair have passed quickly. “In some ways, it feels like we’re just getting started,” he said.

The 42-year-old Gregory began as host of the Sunday morning public-affairs program in December 2008, succeeding the late Tim Russert.

Before that, he was Chief White House correspondent during the presidency of George W. Bush. He joined NBC News in 1995.

Gregory is only the 10th permanent host of “Meet the Press,” which premiered in 1947 and continues as the longest-running program on network television.

Looking beyond the new contract, Gregory said he planned to be hosting the program “for as long as they’ll let me.”

Ex-Spice Girl named new ‘Talent’ judge

NBC says former Spice Girl Melanie Brown is joining the judges’ panel of “America’s Got Talent.”

Brown, also known as Scary Spice during her time with the 1990s pop group, will take her seat alongside Howie Mandel and Howard Stern when the variety competition show returns for its eighth season this summer on NBC.

Brown was previously a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” In 2010, she starred with her family in a reality series for The Style Network.

She recently completed a two-season run as judge on the Australian edition of “The X Factor” and for one season was co-host of the Australian “Dancing With the Stars.”

Wire reports

Feel the force at lightsaber class

A group of San Francisco Star Wars fans who want to travel to a galaxy not that far away have created a combat choreography class for Jedis-in-training with their weapon of choice: the lightsaber.

At a recent class, Alain Bloch, the self-proclaimed Jedi Master at Golden Gate Knights, demonstrated a slicing technique. He has a background in martial arts and stage combat.

“Always be mindful of the presence!” he said, donning a Luke Skywalker outfit and a green lightsaber.

With Star Wars movie music coursing through the dance studio, his disciples clutch their neon-glowing lightsabers.

These self-proclaimed “Star Wars geeks” slice and parry as they follow Bloch’s lead, and get a little exercise, too.

People in a recent class in the city’s South of Market district, including a couple on a date, said they embraced their quirkiness and had even converted some of the skeptical into the “Jedi order.”

“At first they giggle because they think it’s a little silly. Then they’re like, actually that’s kind of cool,” said Julio Reyes, a student. “Then they start asking more questions.”

Wire reports