The Buck Stops Here
Want to know how money talks when pols and stars get together? Check the Web

Focus

Lately a lot of celebs have been coyly flirting with politics. How deep is their love? That's not easy to say—but it is possible, via the Federal Election Commission Web site (www.fec.gov), to measure how deep the pockets are when it comes to candidates for President, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Log on, click in and let your mouse snoop around.

The results can be surprising. Warren Beatty (left), who dodged questions about a potential presidential run last week in the keynote speech at the Americans for Democratic Action dinner (base cost, $175 a plate), donated $2,293 during the past three years to candidates running for federal office—$1,000 to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S. Dak.), $1,000 to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and $293 to the unsuccessful reelection campaign of Sen. Carole Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.). Michael Douglas, on the other hand, gave more than $50,000 to various Democratic campaign funds during the same period. So did Rob Reiner. Barbra Streisand kicked in about $38,000; Alec Baldwin, $21,500; Tom Cruise, $9,500; Richard Dreyfuss, $7,700; and Paul Newman, $6,000.

Several politically vocal celebrities, including Charlton Heston, Bruce Wills and Clint Eastwood, were among those missing from the federal campaign donor list. So was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who last week floated—and then shot down—talk that he would run for governor of California in 2002. Cybill Shepherd, another possible presidential contender, donated $1,500.

Potential candidates Beatty, Shepherd and Schwarzenegger declined comment. Beatty's ADA speech in Beverly Hills on Sept. 29 attracted givers and nongivers alike, according to the FEC list, including Dustin Hoffman ($2,000), Jack Nicholson ($250), Penny Marshall ($4,000) and Courtney Love ($0). Notes the ADA's Jim Clarke: "Less than 1 percent of the entire population participates in giving money to campaigns."

Soon to Be Bonded

What's this? James Bond, the world's savviest secret agent, covertly gets engaged and then watches his fiancée spill the beans before he's ready to publicly commit? It happened Sept. 30 as Pierce Brosnan, the cinema's current Bond, and longtime companion Keely Shaye Smith attended a press conference to promote making Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California, Mexico, safe for whales. Photographers noticed a ring on Smith's finger and asked if it might indicate an. upcoming wedding. Yes, she said, hopefully soon. But Brosnan would only mumble "Thank you" when asked if it were true.

He need mumble no more. Scoop confirmed that the couple, parents of a 2-year-old son, Dylan, will indeed wed in the near future. No date has been set. Brosnan, 47, gave Smith, who turned 36 on Sept. 25, an engagement ring in a private setting and had hoped to keep it hush-hush.

It was only two years ago that Brosnan and Smith, a TV journalist, were telling IN STYLE magazine that there was no need to formalize their love with a wedding ceremony. The couple, both active supporters of environmental causes, met in Mexico in 1994 at a fund-raiser for actor Ted Danson's American Oceans Campaign. It will be her first wedding. Brosnan was married once before, to actress Cassandra Harris, who died of ovarian cancer in 1991.

The Rebirth of Radio
"New York is filled with great facelifts, but I am anxious to see what 70 million bucks can buy," jokes Later Today's Jodi Applegate on her way into the Oct. 4 gala for Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall, reopening after a seven-month restoration. Mary J. Blige 98°, Tony Bennett and Liza Minnelli serenaded 5,400 guests, including Christian Slater, 30, who performed in Radio City's annual Christmas show when he was 12. Billy Crystal took to the 66-year-old art deco theater's stage clad in black tie and tails, a leotard, stockings and high heels—paying a playful homage to the Rockettes, the Music Hall's high-kicking dancers, and inspiring envy in actress Shirley Jones. "I started coming here when I was 10 years old," says Jones, 65. "I wanted to be a Rockette like every other little girl."

A Moving Experience

Sometimes a final resting place isn't so final. Such is the case with the body of guitarist Jimi Hendrix ("Purple Haze"), which, his family says, will be moved sometime next year to a new mausoleum, complete with purple fountain and life-size bronze statue. "It's a dome structure, mainly to keep the fans dry so they can tell stories arid play guitar," says Hendrix's stepsister Janie. Adds his father, James: "Jimi in some ways belongs to his fans."

Not everyone, however, is thrilled by the proposed memorial, close to the spot at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, Wash, (near Seattle), where the incendiary '60s guitarist is buried next to his grandmother. Noel Redding, the bass player with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, says, "I think it's completely sick." How would Hendrix like his new digs, due to open Sept. 18 next year, the 30th anniversary of his death? "He'd turn over in his grave," says Redding.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Match

The fine art of courting is a natural topic for Andre Agassi, 29, who won the affections of fellow tennis star Steffi Graf, 30, in the months following his April breakup with Brooke Shields, 34. In Las Vegas, where Agassi's Fifth Grand Slam for Children, a celebrity fund-raiser, netted $3.9 million for children's charities, he addressed the issue.

How did your relationship with Steffi come about?

There was a lot of persistence on my part. We've been around for many years in the same arena. My life certainly took a turn earlier this year, probably even sooner. But I think it allowed me the opportunity to pursue a lady I have a lot of respect for.

You mean you asked her out before, and she said no?

Well, I was persistent; I'll just leave it at that. I have a strong will when I'm focused on something. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be completely pursued and appreciated, just ask Steffi.

Did you have to send her balloons and roses?

That's between us.

Have you been together long?

We've been spending time together very recently. We're talking weeks. Somewhere around the U.S. Open [in September].

If you and Steffi have children, what kind of tennis skills would they have?

We're getting a little ahead of ourselves here, but if we're talking hypothetically, they would probably cover a lot of real estate out there on the court.

Would a relationship with Steffi have worked while she was playing tennis?

It would be more difficult. It's always difficult when two people have big lives.

Will you have kids someday?

I hope so. In an ideal world, a few for sure.

How's Brooke?

We're real good friends, and we're real close. She's quite a special person.

ON THE BLOCK

THE HOUSE THAT FRED BUILT
With top hat, white tie and tails, Fred Astaire brought his own superb sense of style to the world of dance. His architectural taste was not bad either, as witnessed by the 7,033-square-foot manor Astaire had built in 1947 on Summit Drive, one of the elite neighborhoods in Beverly Hills (among his neighbors: Charlie Chaplin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford). The two-storied home features 29 rooms, including nine bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as a spa, cabana, guest house, patio and swimming pool. After Astaire's death at age 88 in 1987, the Wilson family, owners of a well-known suede and leather firm, purchased the home and made a few changes—including converting Astaire's movie projection room into a mirrored bar and living room. Fortunately, they kept his on-premises dance studio. Which means that if $3,495,000, the price the Wilsons are asking for the former Astaire estate, doesn't cause you to tap out, you can tap-dance on the same floors as the master.

  • Contributors:
  • Larry Sutton,
  • Mike Neill,
  • Erik Meers,
  • Liza Hamm,
  • Ron Arias,
  • Nicole Brodeur,
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  • Ellin Stein,
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  • Paula Yoo.