Their Battle for Britain
Some U.K. vets say their war efforts go unnoticed by Spielberg's cameras

FOCUS

Steven Spielberg's work has been the target of some not-so-friendly British fire. U.K. audiences first charged that his 1998 film Saving Private Ryan gave the Yanks full credit for the invasion of Normandy (which, for the record, was launched from Britain). Now his latest World War II effort, the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (due in September), is causing royal annoyance among some British war vets. Their gripe? It's that the 10-part epic about the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division shows Americans conquering the Nazis—alone. Making matters worse is that the British Broadcasting Corporation is paying about $21 million for broadcast rights. "For the BBC to pay [that] is an insult," says British veteran Arthur Titherington, 80. Spielberg had no comment, but an HBO rep says, "This is the story of an elite group of guys. It's not a history of World War II." And London's Evening Standard defends the series, writing that the "whingeing reflects only irritation that we are no longer capable of funding or making our own nationalist celebrations on celluloid."

Poll Falter
After talking the talk—tirelessly stumping for Democratic candidates Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton last fall—Ben Affleck never walked the walk into the voting booth. The investigative Web site thesmokinggun.com reports that the actor failed to cast a ballot on Election Day, although he attended an Election Night party at Elaine's, the Manhattan hot spot. The reason? "A bureaucratic snafu at the polls" near Affleck's home, says publicist David Pollick. Er, okay, but what snafu was that? "It's not that I can't elaborate," says the rep, "it's that I won't elaborate."

Kim's Order of Protection
When it comes to leaving NYPD Blue, there's good-cop move (Judging Amy's Amy Brenneman) and bad-cop move (David Caruso). But Kim Delaney, departing May 8 to play a lawyer on ABC's drama Philly, slated for next fall, isn't worried. "They said if I fall on my face, they'll write me back on," says Delaney, 39. How does she leave the precinct she's served since 1995? "I don't go out in a pine box," she says "I go out standing."

A Ghost in the Machine?

Though his private Cessna Citation 5 jet skidded off the runway upon landing in Florence, Italy, April 30 and plowed through a security fence, Sting will live to see many a brand-new day. "Apart from a few bumps and bruises, the four people on board [Sting, a friend and two pilots] are fine," said an airport spokesman. The musician, following a performance in Austria, was en route to his 400-year-old Tuscany estate. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Meanwhile the Arab American Institute in Washington, D.C., said it would honor the former Policeman May 5 for his promotion of Arabian culture—including the use of Middle Eastern-style melodies on his recent hit "Desert Rose." "Sting is obviously one of those extraordinary individuals who uses his talent to raise awareness and bring people together," says AAI president Dr. James Zogby.

Tuning Out Backstreet Noise
Singer Willa Ford, 20, dated Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, 21, for two years before breaking up last October. Now with her debut album, Willa Was Here, due in July, she's facing the wrath of Carter's fans—including everything from Web sites dissing her to signs saying "Die Willa." Still, "I can't let them stop me from doing what I've wanted to do since I was a kid," she says. Even if they aren't kidding around.

Downey: Not Done in Ally Just Yet
Robert Downey Jr.—thanks to previously filmed scenes—will appear in the remaining two Ally McBeal episodes leading up to the season's last show on May 21, confirms FOX rep Chris Alexander. "The finale is the only question mark at this point," says Alexander. "That's top secret." The actor, currently in rehab, is due to answer two drug-related charges in separate court appearances on May 15 and May 24.

Recalling the Kettle Back
Into a world of domestic perfection a little government intervention must sometimes fall. On April 30 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of 24,000 Martha Stewart Everyday teapots after receiving complaints that the $30 kettles expelled hot water and scalded customers. Stewart "fully supports" the recall, says her rep. That's a good thing.

POP QUIZ

with Darrell Hammond

Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond, best known for his Bill Clinton and Al Gore impressions, charmed President Bush on April 28 as the featured speaker at the White House Correspondents' Dinner—possibly because he spent much of his 30 minutes making fun of just about anybody else. Hammond, 45, took the gig seriously, as he told Scoop this week.

Is it true that you shed tears when the President marched into the room?

My father [Max] was in the service [the Army]. When I see guys come out there with the color guard and the gun salute, it means a lot more to me. For some reason I started thinking about my dad, and I just got emotional.

You gave President Bush a baseball glove.

I was sitting in my hotel room, and all this anxiety was building. I was supposed to meet the President at 7. Around 5 I peeled out of my hotel room, just before the show, and bought the most beautiful baseball glove I could get. I wanted to present it to the President as an act of friendship, really. I would've given anything to spend my life in the major leagues, and I think he would've too.

So you were nervous?

I really was nervous. It was very important to me to do well. I'm not even sure I would do it again. I can tell you, if you're at a board meeting and someone says something and the big boss doesn't laugh, then no one else will either. That's where we were the other night, and this was the biggest of the bosses.

You didn't go for the jugular with the President like on SNL.

It would've been a mistake, a grave error. It's his room, it's his turf. It would've been a great mistake to assume this was a normal, natural comedy show.

What worked?

The best thing was me doing Gore for them. As I began to hear Bush and Cheney laugh on either side of me, then I segued into...things like how I came from the South, some family stuff. Toward the end I went with almost all nonpolitical material because I heard them laugh more when I did.

Going Through a Bad Spell
Shannen Doherty pleaded no contest in a Los Angeles court April 30 to drunk driving last Dec. 29, after tests showed her blood alcohol level had been .05 over the legal limit. The Charmed star, 30, a first-time offender, will be sentenced June 12, when she could receive a $1,500 fine and two days in jail or community service. She also may lose her license.

ON THE BLOCK

A TONI ADDRESS

Newlyweds Toni Braxton, 34, and Keri Lewis, 30, are looking to build a new love nest—which is why the Grammy winner is selling her five-bedroom, French country-style house in the Sandy Springs neighborhood of Atlanta for more than $2 million. The place has plenty to sing about, including a one-bedroom pool house. Added bonus: Braxton and producer-musician Lewis as possible neighbors. The couple are shopping for land in the area.

  • Contributors:
  • Ting Yu,
  • Liza Hamm,
  • Lorenzo Benet,
  • Mark Dagostino,
  • Sue Davis,
  • Johnny Dodd,
  • Brian Karem,
  • Alec Marr,
  • Liz McNeil,
  • Bob Meadows,
  • Jennifer O'Neill,
  • Frank Swertlow,
  • Linda Trischitta,
  • Ulrica Wihlborg.