The Wanderers

Angelina Jolie and Bono do a world of good

Focus
Most Hollywood starlets wind down from movie shoots with seaweed wraps and pedicures. Angelina Jolie, 26, who is filming Beyond Borders in Thailand, opted to fly by chopper on May 19 to visit with 9,000 refugees at a camp in Tham Hin, west of Bangkok. "She doesn't mind getting her feet in the mud," says Panos Moumtzis, a United Nations spokesperson. "Her coming has made a tremendous difference." On top of giving $100,000 to the camp, Jolie, who serves as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N., also brought soccer balls, volleyball nets and 4,000 sarongs, one for each of the refugee women.

A continent away another celebrity do-gooder, Bono, kicked off a 10-day tour of Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. The U2 front man, 42, hopes to show O'Neill, a vocal critic of past funding for Africa, "effective aid in action and the need for more of it, urgently," says the singer.

Thus far the pair has seen a sleek high-tech center in Ghana's capital, Accra, and are scheduled to visit AIDS clinics, schools and projects sponsored by the World Bank and other development agencies. Despite their differences, the Secretary promised reporters last week that he would try to see Bono's side. "I'm going to get a set of blue wraparound glasses [for myself]," said the 66-year-old O'Neill, "and give him a gray wig."

Twenty-six Parking Spots? It's a Steel!
With five ex-husbands and a 55-room Pacific Heights mansion nicknamed the Parthenon of the West, Danielle Steel isn't exactly a poster girl for moderation. Still, neighbors were upset to learn that the romance novelist holds 26 residential parking permits—the most of anyone in San Francisco, where drivers can circle for hours in search of a spot. The $27-a-year certificates allow Steel, 54, to park her cars—among them three Mercedes, two Land Rovers and two vintage 1940 Fords—on city streets. Though the author, who has three garages, insists "there are never more than three cars on the street," the city is now considering limiting the number of permits issued to individuals. "Just because you can afford 26 cars," says Daniella Kirshenbaum of the Pacific Heights Residents Association, "doesn't mean the rest of us have to put up with them."

For Tyra, the Song Lingers On
Courtside at the NBA play-offs, Tyra Banks, 28, has been devotedly cheering on her go-to guy, Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber, 29. But two years ago the supermodel was singing a very different tune—she recorded a backup vocal for a rap album by Webber's hoop rival, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, 23. Sample lyrics: "K-O-B-E, I L-O-V-E you/I believe you are very fine/If you give me one chance, I promise to love you/ And be with you forever-more." Kobe later ditched his musical aspirations for now, and the album was never released. And of course it would be wrong and unsportsmanlike to play the tune over the loudspeakers when Sacramento plays the Lakers in L.A. Very, very wrong.

Crowe Unraveled
The dark side of Russell Crowe has long been debated. Pub brawler? Perhaps. Frustrated poet? Maybe. Needle-wielding scarf-maker? Not a chance. "He does not knit," says Crowe's publicist, despite a popular Web site photo of the actor looking as if he's about to create a lovely sweater. So what gives? Barbara Breiter, yarn Yoda of about.com's Internet knitting page (http://knitting.about.com), came across shots of Crowe goofing around with needles at a photo session and posted the pictures. The images have been viewed about 9,000 times, though Breiter believes fans weren't admiring his knitting skills. "It was more, 'Oh boy, Russell Crowe!'" she says. Breiter still has hopes for the actor. "He's stabbing the yarn," she says. "That doesn't mean he doesn't know how to knit. It's just not like any knitting I've ever seen."

Studious George
A class about...nothing? Starting Aug. 26, Jason Alexander, the actor formerly known as George Costanza—and to a lesser extent Bob Patterson—will begin molding the impressionable minds of nearly eight dozen drama students at the University of Southern California. Alexander, 42, begins a four-month fellowship as the university's first George Burns visiting professor, a position funded by a $1 million grant from the late comedian. "We wanted somebody who would get really involved," says Robert Scales, dean of USC's School of Theatre, "somebody smart and quick and insightful." And without the work habits of Seinfeld's Costanza, who often hid under his desk while on the Yankees' payroll.

A Little Traveling Music
Strange but true: Tena Clark, the woman who programs the in-flight music on Air Force One, cowrote the McDonald's jingle "Have You Had Your Break Today?" Although that ditty is not on the current playlist, she does provide President George W. Bush with country standards like George Strait's "All My Ex's Live in Texas" and Tanya Tucker's "San Antonio Stroll," as well as a dash of Broadway tunes and ZZ Top rockers. Clark, 48, whose company, Disc Marketing Inc., also supplies music to United Airlines, relies on Air Force One's staff for clues to Bush's musical tastes. "I heard that Bush just loves Kinky Friedman," says Ronny Schiff, a Disc vice president in charge of programming. "So Kinky made the rotation." Still, she admits, the true musical tastes of the First Flier remain something of a mystery. Says Schiff: "We haven't gotten any specific requests or feedback."

POP QUIZ

with Cynthia Nixon

Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon wound up in handcuffs this month, and, remarkably, it had nothing to do with a kinky plot twist. The actress, 36, was arrested outside New York's City Hall while protesting proposed budget cuts for public schools (her daughter Samantha, 5, attends a public kindergarten). Nixon, who was given a summons and released, spoke with Scoop about the incident.

Why this cause?

I grew up in New York City and went to public school. I think they are the lifeblood of the city.

What's wrong with your daughter's school?

We have a lunchtime recess of 618 children supervised by three adults. It looks like a prison riot—no joke, it really does. The schools are wildly overcrowded. There's no room for her in the school building. She's being taught in trailers out back.

Why not send your daughter to a private school?

I think a big part of education is socialization, and I don't want my child to only be with people whose parents make $200,000 and more. I want her to feel free to move with all kinds of people.

You planned to get arrested, didn't you?

Twelve of us volunteered. We sat down and linked arms. We were singing and chanting. The police very respectfully said if we did not disperse they would arrest us, and we said, "We understand."

So it was quite cordial?

The police were wonderful. I have no idea if they knew who I was.

Is this something Miranda, your Sex and the City character, would have done?

I'm not sure this is Miranda's issue, but yes, I definitely could see her doing this kind of thing.

Does your daughter watch your show?

I must admit, my daughter watched it more when she was a baby. She hasn't seen it in a couple of years.

Bottom line: Where will the schools find the money? Raise taxes.

ON THE BLOCK

A GOLD MEDAL HOME

Olympic decathlon champ Bruce Jenner, 52, is such a golf nut that he installed two greens, with sand traps, in the backyard of his 9,000-sq.-ft. home in Hidden Hills, Calif. Now he's selling the six-bedroom, English-country-style mansion and moving to a house on a golf course in nearby Thousand Oaks. "He's obsessed," his wife, Kris, says with a laugh. For $3.6 million the buyer gets 7½ bathrooms, four fireplaces, a library, a pool and a rubber-matted sports court decorated with Olympic rings. Jenner gets to keep his four-handicap.

  • Contributors:
  • Ting Yu,
  • Liza Hamm,
  • Lorenzo Benet,
  • Jen Chaney,
  • Champ Clark,
  • Sharon Cotliar,
  • Cecilia de la Paz,
  • Rachel Felder,
  • Eileen Finan,
  • Dana Meltzer,
  • Melissa Schorr.