The End--or Not

A Hollywood finish!

L.A. screenwriter--and Irish Republican Army sympathizer--Bill Norton ("The Scalphunters," "Brannigan") and his activist writing partner/wife, Ellie, are soon to be "free." Recall, they were arrested in France in June '86 for trying to sneak weapons into that country (with Northern Ireland being the guns' ultimate destination, according to an up-front Ellie Norton) and then imprisoned.

Sources tell us that Bill Norton will walk through prison doors next Sunday--after serving 19 months of a four-year sentence. (On appeal, a French judge reduced the sentence to two years, with time off for good behavior.) Ellie Norton--who got a three-year sentence--was released last December due to medical problems.

However, the Nortons are people without a country.

According to Ellie Norton--who spoke with us from France--they won't return to the U.S. because they face federal charges of weapons smuggling (because the guns originated in this country). An L.A. federal court will consider the case this month. And, while France doesn't extradite for political crimes, neither will it offer asylum. So the Nortons will be allowed to remain there only four months.

The affaire , as it is called in France, has not all been bad, claimed an irrepressible Ellie: "The positive side of having him in the slammer is that I damn well know where he is and I know what he's doing." And, she added, after 15 years of marriage, "he's finally getting decent meals."

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