Roses are red, violets blue, don't get Russell Crowe mad at you
Whoever said poetry is for sissies never met Russell Crowe. After winning Best Actor honors at the British Academy of Film Awards ceremony in London on Feb. 24, Crowe, 37, concluded his acceptance speech with a brief poem by Irish bard Patrick Kavanagh. He did not elaborate on its meaning. But upon hearing, during the postshow dinner, that his verse had been pruned from the tape-delayed BBC telecast, the actor decided to give Malcolm Gerrie, the show's director, a piece of his beautiful mind. Crowe's bodyguards reportedly escorted Gerrie, 51, to a storage room where the furious star backed him against the wall and, poking and prodding, employed traditional Anglo-Saxon terminology—but no poetry—to express his outrage. Adds awards chief Amanda Berry: "He obviously felt very passionately about what he said and was upset that it had been cut." Gerrie, whom Berry says was "shaken," did not press charges but stated, "Russell Crowe was very abusive and behaved very unreasonably." Universal Pictures chairwoman Stacey Snider defended her Beautiful Mind star. "If you know Russell, it is not coming from a place of disrespect or orneriness," she said. "This all matters to him."
by Patrick Kavanagh
To be a poet and not know the trade, To be a lover and repel all women, Twin ironies by which great saints are made, The agonising pincer jaws of heaven
Hail to the (Ersatz) chief
If only life were more like a television drama. Then Aaron Sorkin, creator of NBC's The West Wing, wouldn't have complained to The New Yorker this week that President George W. Bush was not as courageous as press reports have indicated. And Sorkin, 40, wouldn't moan that NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw presided over "a Valentine to Bush" on the Jan. 23 news special Inside the Real West Wing. NBC Entertainment chief Jeff Zucker said, "We respect Aaron's right to say whatever he thinks," and the network noted that Brokaw told viewers that Bush had beefed up his schedule for the NBC visit. "If you have a thought, that thought doesn't need to have an 80 percent approval rating," says Sorkin, who later apologized—to Brokaw.
Lance Lost 'N Space? Not Yet
At a reunion of the four surviving Mercury astronauts at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 24, John Glenn, 80, the first American to orbit the earth, declared himself "not in favor" of hawking space shuttle seats to wealthy, untrained tourists. "John," said fellow astronaut Wally Schirra, 78, "is not in sync." The joke, Glenn learned, referred to an attempt by boy-band idol Lance Bass, 22, to secure a seat on a Russian rocket ship through MirCorp, a Dutch space exploration company.
'N Sync's Bass, who attended an amateur space camp in Florida at age 12, will have to wait. The Russian space agency says it does not do business with MirCorp (they had a past contract dispute) but didn't shut the capsule door on the singer. "If he wants to fly with us," says an agency rep, "he should make an official request. If we think that he meets our criteria [good health and a ticket costing at least 20 million], then we can begin talks. But there's no guarantee."
Despite the preliminary nyet, the singer remains upbeat that his dream of piercing the stratosphere isn't that far, far away. "Being an astronaut is something I've wanted my whole life," says the singer. Any plans to bring his 'N Sync cohorts along for the ride? No, says Bass, "but they will definitely be in Russia to watch the liftoff!"
Time to Break Bread
In 1994 the Denny's restaurant chain agreed to pay $54.4 million to settle class-action charges that it treated black customers poorly—although it denied having a policy of racial discrimination. Times change. On Feb. 23, Denny's sponsored the glitzy post-NAACP Image Awards gala at L.A.'s Sunset Room and said it would donate $1 million to the National Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta. Partygoers, including Angela Bassett, Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx, seemed ready to forgive. "It's time to move forward," said Debbie Allen, 52. Not to mention eat up. "When I was broke I ate there," said Steve Harvey, 45, the bash's cohost, "and when I'm hungry late at night I eat there now."
An Encore Presentation in Print
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and TV commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin said on Feb. 22 that the borrowed passages in her 1987 book The Fitzgeralds and The Kennedys are more numerous than she had reported in January. Goodwin, 59, faults sloppy note-taking for the errors. Lynne McTaggart, who is the author of one of the copied texts, says, "There were dozens of passages that were identical or maybe a single word changed." (McTaggart settled a dispute with Goodwin for an undisclosed sum.) At Goodwin's request, Simon & Schuster will destroy the existing stock and publish a corrected edition. Said the author: "I could not bear to have this book out there the way it was."
Next Up: Top Gum
Sure, he's getting older, but Tom Cruise still has something that makes teenage girls scream: braces. When the star, 39, brought his children Isabella, 9, and Connor, 7, for a checkup two weeks ago, "the kids were okay," says Cruise's rep, Pat Kingsley, "but the orthodontist asked Tom, 'Do you have any trouble with your bite?'" Soon after, Cruise's famously dazzling, lady-killer whites were fitted with a single wire and clear mounts. No word on how Penélope Cruz, 27, is weathering her boyfriend's painfully retro pubescent pit stop, but the filmgoing public won't have to brace themselves: "When he makes his next movie," says Kingsley, "he'll take them off."
Presents in the Future
What good is sitting alone in your room, wondering what to get Liza Minnelli, 55, and her fiancé, producer David Gest, 48, for their March 16 wedding? The couple have taken the troublesome guesswork out of the process, registering wish lists at Tiffany & Co. and other swank Manhattan retailers. There may still be time to pick up a $4,000 silver tureen, $115 cheese knife or $2,275 champagne cooler. Songwriter Denise Rich, 58, who will host a bridal shower for Minnelli on March 4, already bought the couple an $840 pitcher from Lalique. Still undecided? Then life is a pastry tray, old chum—on the list at Bergdorf Goodman's for $950.
with Elton John
Elton John is back on tour, crisscrossing the country with Billy Joel. This may come as a surprise to those who heard John, 54, complain about the rigors of the road his last time out. What gives? Scoop inquired.
Weren't you going to quit?
I have this terrible habit sometimes, when things aren't going right onstage, your equipment's going wrong, you can't hear yourself. Sometimes I overreact. Last year I said, "That's it!"
And you were going to stop recording too?
I was having a frustrating time with the record company. Once you get to my age—I'll be 55 in a month—it's harder to get airplay. I mean, you can't compete with Britney Spears. But I still like my chart positions.
Enjoying it now with Billy?
I wouldn't do it if it weren't great fun. Billy's a funny guy.
Do you name your pianos? Like captains name boats?
The one I'm playing now is called "Diana."
Named after the Princess?
Uh...kind of. Yeah.
Keeping fit on tour?
I put on weight very easily. I play tennis maybe four or five times a week, and I take a tennis pro on the road because I get bored in a gym and I don't like the treadmill very much—but I'll do it under pressure.
How else do you spend road time?
I go to the mall or the cinema and see a movie or see two movies. To me, that's a luxury—to go to the cinema in America at 1 p.m.
So who are you picking for an Academy Award?
Moulin Rouge. I loved it so much. I loved A Beautiful Mind. I wasn't so keen on Lord of the Rings.
Many have recorded your songs. A favorite?
"Border Song" by Aretha Franklin. And The Who doing "Saturday Night's All Right for Fighting."
You're a knight. Do people call you "Sir"?
They try. Especially In Atlanta. The South is very polite. But I say, "Please call me Elton."
But "Sir" is prestigious.
It looks good on the credit card, and that's about it!
ON THE BLACK
ROSSELLINI'S ROOFTOP RETREAT
"I set high goals for myself," says Isabella Rossellini, 49, on the Web page touting Manifesto, her line of cosmetic products and fragrances. The evidence can be seen in her apartment, an Upper East Side penthouse with panoramic views of New York City. The actress and former face of Lancôme is asking $5.49 million for the 10-room residence, built in 1925 and featuring four bedrooms, four baths, an atrium, a fireplace, a formal dining room and a country-style kitchen spread. For outdoor types there's also a 3,200-sq.-ft. wraparound terrace.
On Newsstands Now
- Kim's Delivery Room Drama!
- Katie: A Year After Split
- Princess Kate: Palace's Baby Plan Revealed
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine