Sly Stallone sues after a $10 million profit goes pfffft!
In a year marked by corporate scandal and financial ruin, Sylvester Stallone is waging his own battle. The Rocky star watched his more than 3.9 million shares of Planet Hollywood stock, which he received as payment for promotional work, dwindle in value from $20 a share to 10 cents each. Stallone blames his former business manager Kenneth Starr (no relation to the Lewinsky special prosecutor) for allegedly telling him that "it would send the wrong message to the market" if he sold, while counseling other investors to cash out. Stallone, 55, who teamed with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis to revive the franchise in 1995, claims he lost $10 million after the chain filed for bankruptcy in 1999. He's suing Starr for $17.3 million in damages. (Schwarzenegger got out two years ago; Willis is still "very much invested," says his rep.) Bert Fields, a rep for Starr, whose clients reportedly include Warren Beatty and Al Pacino, told Daily Variety that Stallone's claims were "utter hogwash." He adds, "I call him Stallone the Suer." Says Starr spokesman Dan Klores: "[He] has sued or been sued by everyone from his stepfather to his landscapers, architects, production companies, producers...and wives." Responds Sly's attorney: "My client will set the record straight." Stay tuned.
Barbara Helps Out Rosie
When exactly is it okay to out a celebrity? In the case of Barbara Walters, who on Feb. 14 told The View's audience that Rosie O'Donnell is gay, the answer is: only after a private call to the star. "We all love Rosie," said Walters, 70. So, after reading media reports that O'Donnell's upcoming autobiography would reveal the news anyway, Walters picked up the phone and received O'Donnell's permission to air the story. Did an interview that Diane Sawyer, 56, conducted Feb. 14 with O'Donnell, 39—set to air March 14 on Primetime Thursday—have anything to do with Walters's timing? Says her rep: "[Barbara] was not trying to upstage Diane."
Post 9/11, Hollywood Soldiers On
Since late last year, war and action movies, which had been few and far between since Sept. 11, have returned to the cineplex. Behind Enemy Lines led the charge; Black Hawk Down, Collateral Damage and Hart's War, which opened Feb. 15, followed. Randall Wallace, who directed Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers, due March 1, thinks audiences are ready: "September 11th reminded us that there is such a thing as evil in the world," says Wallace, "and that there are such qualities as duty, honor and country."
So what have audiences—who vote at the ticket booth—had to say? Behind Enemy Lines has taken in about $58 million. Black Hawk has grossed at least $95 million and remains a box office attraction after seven weeks. But Damage, an action-heavy revenge thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, brought in $15.1 million its first week, and Hart's War, featuring Bruce Willis, did approximately $9 million. Why the disparity? Wallace—speaking about why Gibson wanted to make Soldiers—suggests it's the same as it ever was: Audiences will judge war movies, like all movies, on their merits. "A movie without soul," he says, "is just pictures and noise."
Sea of Love
Ten sharks who've lost that lovin' feelin' at the National Sea Life Center in Birmingham, England, may get a little help from a Great White. Barry, that is. Inspired by a study done by the Rowland Institute for Science in Cambridge, Mass., that shows music induces mating in koi carp, the Center's curator Josie Sutherland has been trying to put the obstinately celibate sharks in the mood for romance by blasting White's satin-sheeted basso, including "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe," through the observation tunnel surrounding their 210,000-gallon tank. Thus far, Sutherland says she has noticed "increased movement and playfulness" in the sharks. And the maestro himself? White, 57, an aquarium enthusiast, is tickled by his triumph as a crossover artist. "We all need love in our life. If my low-frequency voice can help keep a beautiful species going, I'm for it," he says. "All I ask in return is that one of the babies be named after me."
Reunited and It Feels So Good
Pop singer Jessica Simpson and her 98° flame Nick Lachey just may beat Britney and Justin to the altar. On Feb. 10, Lachey, 28, presented Simpson, 21, with a pear-shaped-diamond engagement ring as the couple vacationed on a yacht off the coast of Hawaii. (No wedding date has been set.) After taking a break last year from their three-year relationship—"Nick was patiently waiting for me to grow up a little," says Simpson—the couple reunited after Sept. 11. Says the bride-to-be: "I knew that I never, ever wanted to be away from Nick for the rest of my life."
The Young and the Restless
Not every teen has to spend years asking, "Do you want fries with that?" before they can own their first automobile. Frankie Muniz, 16, star of FOX's Malcolm in the Middle, paid $100,000 for an extravagantly souped-up 1995 Volkswagen Jetta—the very car seen in The Fast and the Furious. He also recently pushed his dream car to 140 mph. "I don't drive like that normally," he admits. "I don't want to race or get in trouble." Tell that to mom Denise. She found out about Frankie's need for speed and benched him for a week. The result: "I'll never do it again," he insists.
Singer Aaron Carter, 14, brother of Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter, confines his racing—he owns three motorcycles and an off-road vehicle—to private property. "We run them around the yard," says Carter. And though decidedly less glam, the 1986 Ford Econoline van Zac Hanson (of the pop group Hanson) owns offers a different kind of liberation. "We just go cruising, and the cops don't bother us," says the singer, 16. "They don't think it can even do the speed limit."
with Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart returns as Grammy Awards host Feb. 27. "Anytime you're asked to do something twice, whether the Grammys or a date, it's a positive," says Stewart, who lives in Manhattan with his wife, Tracey, and hosts Comedy Central's The Daily Show. What will be different? "They're letting me play trumpet this year, which I'm excited about."
To keep it real, shouldn't rappers boycott the Grammys, an establishment show?
You know what? At 39 years old, I don't even think I'm qualified to comment on the phrase "Keep it real."
Your favorite band?
They're still together?
I hope so. I feel badly because I'm a little out of the loop. You know, I don't want to throw anything out there like Sha Na Na. I don't want to hit you with Tony! Toni! Toné! or the Thompson Twins. That's digging through the archive, baby!
Any old favorites that embarrass you today?
Kiss's Alive! is one of the first albums I ever got, but I feel no shame.
You're from New Jersey. So are Sinatra and Springsteen. Why not sing?
I did sing for a time. Perhaps you heard my performance of the Haftarah, Temple Beth-El, 1975, I believe. There's a lot of bootlegs of that.
What's the deal with "Stairway to Heaven"?
Most FM rock stations are programmed by cyborgs that were created by NASA in the 1970s, when "Stairway to Heaven" was big.
Pulling for any one artist?
I'm rooting for U2—not to win a Grammy, but to end Third World debt.
Are Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push a sure thing for best polka album, or will Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones kick their backsides?
Gomulka wins every year. But you know what you hear very little of in the polka category? "Boom Boom" Washington.
Trivia challenge: Who wrote the book of love?
Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl?
ON THE BLOCK
The Hamptons are alive with the sound of movers. Only four months after Julie Andrews, 66, and her husband, film director Blake Edwards, 79, settled into their one-acre country estate nestled in the tranquil town of Water Mill on Long Island, N.Y., the couple have put the residence on the market. The four-bedroom house, which overlooks a large field, boasts a wine cellar, a European farmhouse-style kitchen with marble countertops, a small barn and a heated pool. But with an asking price of $2.85 million, it'll cost you to make them your own favorite things.
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