With Tina Fey at SNL
's helm, a former player sees improvement
In 1995, the year she quit after only one season on Saturday Night Live
, Janeane Garofalo claimed that her creative voice as a cast member had been stifled by the show's chauvinistic climate. The boys got the best roles, and the girls got the leftovers.
Apparently those words still ring loudly in the ears of the show's patriarch, Lorne Michaels, 57. In a Nov. 25 New York Times
article about comic Tina Fey, 31, becoming the first female head writer in the sketch-comedy show's 26-year history, Michaels took the opportunity—albeit seven years late—to jab back at Garofalo, 37. "If anyone thinks or ever thought that a sketch wasn't chosen because a woman wrote it," said Michaels, "well, comedy is so much more ruthless than that."
Since dissing the show, though, Garofalo has changed her mind. "SNL
has risen from the ashes again to be a very good show—in no small part thanks to Tina Fey," she says. "It's like night and day." Fellow SNL
alum Victoria Jackson, 42, disagrees with Garofalo's original assessment. "Mike Myers," says Jackson, "didn't get on the air more because he was a boy but because he was more prolific." Still, she adds, "I have never seen a female ex-cast member asked back to host. Anytime Lorne wants me, I'm available."
, Master Blaster
It was, perhaps, inevitable. First came the perplexing clipped accent. Next, a certifiably English hubby, Guy Ritchie, 33, and a residence in London. Now Madonna
, 43, is taking the logical next step in what appears to be her personal Britification process: blasting away at birds in the countryside. "When you're shooting," she told BBC Radio One in a Nov. 24 interview, describing a recent pheasant hunting jaunt, "you end up looking at the leaves and the sky and the trees, and you have a lot of time to meditate." And what better way to work up an appetite for Pheasant McNuggets? "I eat the birds," said Madonna
. "You have more of a respect for the things you eat when you go through or see the process of killing them."
Whose Python Is It Anyway?
At the MTV Video Music Awards, Britney Spears
got a lot of attention during one number for wearing not much except a 7-ft. albino python draped suggestively across her shoulders. So risqué! So sexy! And so much like a scene from a Siegfried and Roy Las Vegas show! At least, so say the tiger-taming pair's cast members, who alerted the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Spears's publicist hotly denies that the teen queen filched the snake stunt. Still, Siegfried and Roy's rep Frank Lieberman said that Spears's parents visited the duo backstage last month and told him, "Britney had seen the show last year and loved it. She thought it would be great to incorporate elements into her act." The Vegas vets bear no ill will. Says Lieberman: "They're honored. She's bringing a part of their act to the teen audience."
Rush to Regain His Hearing
After a failed round of drug therapy, conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, now totally deaf, has elected to have a cochlear implant in hopes of restoring his hearing. A tiny electronic receiver will be implanted behind his left ear "sometime over the upcoming holidays" to stimulate the auditory nerve directly. "I don't even have a sense of my own voice," said Limbaugh, 50, whose rapid hearing loss—brought on by an autoimmune disorder—began in May. Patients, says Dr. Fred Telischi of the University of Miami Ear Institute, have a good prognosis for regaining part of their hearing after the implant. And yes, he says, they can use radio headsets.
Coughing Up the Dough?
There's tighter security these days on the British version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but it has nothing to do with terrorism. Producers installed hidden cameras and assigned staffers to monitor the audience after past contestants Charles Ingram, 38, and his wife, Diana, 36—who won nearly $1.5 million between them—were arrested for fraud on Nov. 22. Producers believe the husband was cued to correct answers by the coded coughing of an accomplice in the gallery. (A third suspect was arrested in Wales.) The couple deny the charge. Says Charles Ingram: "I didn't notice any coughing."
It Won't Be a Blockbuster Night
Shaken by the postponement of this year's Emmys, which happened twice following the terrorist attacks, organizers of the 2002 Blockbuster Awards have decided to can their show, citing concerns over "what consumer response would be" after Sept. 11, says a spokeswoman. (The show's fate in 2003 is up in the air.) But hold those carefully scripted tears. With the glut of awards shows—Variety reported that last year alone 4,025 trophies were handed out at 564 ceremonies (that's 1.5 televised and non-televised shows a day, with an award handed out every two hours)—maybe nixing a few self-congratulatory pats on the entertainment industry's back isn't a bad idea. "Everybody says that," says Blockbuster Awards producer Ken Ehrlich, "but everybody watches."
Gayheart's Judgment Day
On Nov. 27 actress Rebecca Gayheart sat in an L.A. courtroom as the details of her settlement were announced. Gayheart, 29, was charged in September with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. The charge stemmed from a June 13 traffic accident in which the actress, driving down a residential Hollywood street, struck and killed 9-year-old Jorge Cruz Jr. as he crossed in the middle of the road. Among other penalties, Gayheart must pay $3,800 in fines, perform 750 hours of community service and pay for grief counseling for the child's parents. Still, says her attorney, "she realizes that she'll never get the accident out of her mind."
Rob Zombie? Say It Ain't So
Mick Jagger's latest disc, Goddess in the Doorway, sold 954 copies in Britain on its first day of release. Paul McCartney's Driving Rain did not crack Billboard's Top 20 (it debuted at No. 26) its first week out, when new releases from Garth Brooks, Shakira
, Rob Zombie and Jewel all made the Top 10. Have Jagger, 58, and McCartney, 59, lost their touch? "These guys just aren't as marketable anymore" in the teen-driven music world, says music producer Bob Clearmountain. Any remedies? "Sting sold 3 million records," says one industry expert, "because he was in a Jaguar commercial."
with Liza Minnelli and David Gest
To the surprise of friends and fans alike, Liza Minnelli and producer David Gest have announced they will marry on either March 2 or 3. It will be her fourth walk down the aisle and his first. The couple met just three months ago when Minnelli, 55, appeared on a Michael Jackson special that Gest, 48, produced. How did love bloom? Scoop inquired.
What do you remember about your first meeting?
Liza: I remember what a gentleman he was and how attractive I thought he was.
David: It was definitely her eyes.
How did he propose?
Liza: He says we have to stop by my apartment just for a minute. We get in the elevator. He takes me out on the roof. Then he was on his knees. He said, 'I love you. I want you to be my wife.' I said, 'Yes.' Then he gave me the most beautiful ring I have ever seen.
So it was a surprise?
Liza: I hadn't a clue, because we both discussed how we were never going to get married.
And it will work?
David: You know when it is right.
Liza: I have never had anyone take care of me before. I must say, it is an amazing feeling.
Do you want to have kids?
Liza: We want to adopt.
David: I will spoil them all. She will be strict.
And the wedding?
David: The ceremony is going to be very romantic. Whitney Houston is going to sing "The Greatest Love of All" as Liza walks up the aisle.
How is Liza's health following hip replacement surgeries and a bout with encephalitis?
Liza: I am wonderful. I dance 3 hours a day.
David: She lost 49 lbs. She is skinny, chic, beautiful and she has a ring!
Liza: I have a man who loves me. I thrive on it. I am alive. I nearly died, but I'm dancing my buns off.
ON THE BLOCK
HOUSE OF HEATON
Patricia Heaton, 43, won two Emmys playing Debra Barone, the harried mom on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. She did a lot of unintentional rehearsing at home with her actor-producer husband, David Hunt, 48, and four sons, ages 2 to 8, piling on the couch to watch TV together. The couple are selling their 4,035-sq.-ft.-house in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles so that the family can move to larger quarters. Their four-bedroom residence, built in the 1920s, includes a gourmet kitchen, two fireplaces, a pool and a new guesthouse. The asking price: $1.5 million.