The Doctor Is Out

Protests, and a kinder Dr. Laura, combined to put her TV practice on ice

Focus
After a year of battling against her syndicated TV advice show, gay rights activists rejoiced last week when Paramount pulled the plug on Dr. Laura Schlessinger. "Viewers and advertisers alike have decided to reject Dr. Laura's message of intolerance," said Joan M. Garry, executive director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, referring to Schlessinger's on-air comment that homosexuals are "biological errors." That remark led celebrities like Susan Saran-don to back the StopDrLaura.com Web site, which chronicled every dip in the show's ratings, crowed over every dropped sponsor (including AT&T, Kraft and Xerox) and kept a running account of Schlessinger's slide to the bottom. Within a few months, the doctor's hours were out of prime time in many major markets.

Another reason for the end: One critic said Schlessinger, a terror on her radio program (which still attracts 18 million listeners), "traded in her spike-heeled boots for fluffy bunny slippers" when it came to TV.

Meet Professor Dave
This may mark the first time a late-night talk show host has appeared as a politician's guest. David Letterman accepted an invitation from Al Gore to discuss humor in the media with the ex-Vice President's journalism class at Columbia University on April 4. No word on whether Letterman included this recent Late Show joke in his lesson: "If you're on spring break, don't even think about going to Florida. Al Gore has taken all the hotel rooms down there. They're still counting ballots, so you're never going to get a room."

Foxy Lady, Foxy Lashes
Think Jennifer Lopez looked doubly foxy on Oscar night? Credit her eyes, which were luxuriously fringed with custom-made false lashes crafted from real red fox fur. In fact, J. Lo's eye stoles—also available in mink and chinchilla—caused such a stir on the red carpet that Japanese cosmetics company Shu Uemura plans to work with Lopez's makeup artist, Scott Barnes, to add the furry creations to its fall 2001 boutique line. A price for the lashes has not been set yet. And the manufacturers are not certain if they will be available for sale in the U.S.

Oh, My Lord!
The transition from Lord of the Dance to Lord of the Manor hasn't been easy for Michael Flatley, the owner of a 19th-century estate in County Cork, Ireland. Following his purchase of Castlehyde in 1999, the boiler blew, bringing out the local fire brigade. Then a group of squatters settled on the land. "They didn't last very long," says Flatley. I And recently, a neighbor reportedly complained about Flatley to the County Council when his workers chopped down an ancient hedge. The council absolved Flatley—the hedge was fungus-ridden—but asked for a survey of his historic garden. Yet Flatley says he has no plans to sell. "I wouldn't," he says, "want to make a big mountain out of it."

One for the Road
Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe may not be driving off into the sunset together, but at least she gets to keep the 1963 Buick Riviera that Crowe gave her as a 39th-birthday gift last November. Reportedly, Ryan wanted to give the wheels back, but her spokeswoman says that's just not so. "It's sitting in New York," says Annett Wolf of the car. "How many people do you know [who] give gifts back?"

The Lauer Legacy
Just weeks before taking off on his annual globetrotting segment, "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" the Today co-host flew to a place closer to his heart. On March 30 Lauer, 43, visited Atlantis, Fla., to dedicate the JFK Medical Center's new hospice complex to the memory of his father, Jay Robert Lauer, a retired businessman who died at 74 of lung cancer in 1997. The 12-bed unit provides care to the terminally ill in a homelike setting. Though he and wife Annette Roque, 35, are expecting a child in July, "I can't think of a better way to carry on the family name than this," says Lauer, who has helped raise more than $500,000 for Hospice of Palm Beach County.

Happy Sales to You
Among the 3,500 items up for bid at the three-day garage auction last week at Roy Rogers and Dale Evans's home in Apple Valley, Calif.: Trigger. No, not the singing cowboy's trusty steed—he's stuffed and on display at the late couple's museum in nearby Victorville. This was Trigger 3, the electric cart Rogers used to get around in his later years, which sold for $10,000. ("At first he hated that thing," says family friend Jack Pope.) Other popular memorabilia at the auction, which drew nearly 1,200 people, included cap-gun replicas of Rogers's six-shooters ($8,500). Still available: the Rogerses' four-bedroom horseshoe-shaped house, designed by their son Roy Jr. (known as Dusty). All proceeds go to the Rogers Family Trust.

Evans's butterfly vest went for $900; Rogers's shirt brought $5,500.

Reef Madness
When Survivor's Colby Donaldson gave gifts of coral to tribe members on the show, the gesture likely bought him another week's survival. But there's no immunity from Australian law, which bans taking coral from protected reefs—an offense that could cost producers $53,000. Tipped off by an Australian-born viewer in L.A., the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Julia Austin is investigating whether Donaldson picked or purchased the coral fragments. Regardless, Austin says, "Americans should know better."

Heaven Sent
How did Valerie Bertinelli, 40, land the role of Gloria, the new angel on the seven-year-old CBS hit Touched by an Angel? "She's perfect," says executive producer Martha Williamson. "When you look at her, you know she's nice." Bertinelli's debut airs April 29.

ON THE BLOCK

LOVE SHACK

In the market for a 4,700-sq,-ft., four-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills? So was Paul McCartney, who recently paid $4 million for Courtney Love's French-country-style house, built in 1938—and once owned by Ellen DeGeneres—on nearly two wooded acres. McCartney, tired of hoteling it on the West Coast, had recently been renting from Love, who purchased the property in 1997. Love bought a $2.6 million Manhattan loft last November.

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