After a merry chase, London cops cuff Woody Harrelson
Moments after he picked up actor Woody Harrelson outside a nightclub at 2 a.m. on June 6, London cabbie Les Dartnell knew he was in for a memorable ride. First "I heard a crack," says Dartnell, who looked back to see Harrelson, 40, kicking frantically at the cab's glass partition and shouting "Lemme out of the cab!" As the shocked cabbie slowed down to about 5 mph, Harrelson broke the door handle and bolted from the moving car. "He was running around like a headless chicken, kicking down trash cans before jumping into another taxi," says Dartnell, who alerted cops via his cell phone and then gave chase.
When a police car cut off the actor's second cab at an intersection, Harrelson took off sprinting down a side street, only to meet another police car. He doubled back, met a third police car, then led law enforcement on a wild foot chase that ended with cops wrestling him to the ground, cuffing him and carting him off to spend the rest of the night in jail. What set him off? Police did not test for drugs or alcohol since he was not driving, and the actor's rep released a statement saying only, "It was an unfortunate situation that got blown up out of proportion. He's very apologetic and regrets what happened."
Although Harrelson offered to pay for damages and tried to apologize, the cabbie remains decidedly un-starstruck by the actor, whose upcoming film is titled—honest—Anger Management. "I don't want to meet the guy," Dartnell says. "My first experience of him was more than enough."
Senator vs. Backstreet
Vexed by the parade of cause celebs—from Julia Roberts (Rett syndrome research) to Christie Brinkley (nuclear energy)—on Capitol Hill recently, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, 65, boycotted the June 6 congressional appearance of Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson, 30, who testified about the environmental impact of coal mining. "It's just a joke," says Voinovich, "to think that this witness can provide members of the U.S. Senate with information on important geological and water-quality issues."
Richardson, who grew up in Kentucky's heavily mined Appalachian Mountains and heads his own environmental foundation, Just Within Reach, begs to differ. "Senator Voinovich doesn't know where I'm from, what experiences I've had," says the singer. "I'm here today not as a celebrity; I'm here as a concerned citizen. To prejudge someone is unfair. It's unfortunate he wasn't here. I might have taught him something."
The Life of Riley
Unlike most VIPs (Very Important Pooches), Janet Jackson rottweiler Riley "was an easy guest," says an employee a Miami's Waldorf Towers hotel. The singer booked five nights at $279 each for the canine and his sitter while Janet's Fisher Island home was being renovated. (Jackson, 36, is said to have stayed a few blocks away, in a $2,000-a-night suite at the posh Shore Club.) Riley arrived with his own doggie biscuits and never growled about not getting an ocean view. "He's a sweet, sweet dog," says the staffer. "He gives lots of kisses." And he got as good as he gave. Riley was reportedly walked three times a day and slept on the hotel bed, not a dog bed. "He's just like a human," says the staffer.
R. Kelly: Facing the Music
While R&B singer R. Kelly awaits his June 26 arraignment on 21 felony counts of child pornography in connection with a videotape allegedly showing himself having sex with an underage girl, authorities are probing a new angle: Did the child's parents give the girl permission to spend time with Kelly? "We're investigating whether or not the parents let her go with him," said a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Meanwhile Kelly, 35, who previously settled lawsuits by two women who accused him of having sex with them when they were minors, maintains his innocence. "When all the facts come out," he said in a statement, "people will see that I'm no criminal."
Arrested on June 5 at his home in Davenport, Fla., Kelly spent the night in jail before flying to Chicago, where he posted a $75,000 cash bond on June 7. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in jail.
Here Comes the Knight
With the news that Mick Jagger, 58, is set to be knighted by the Queen of England comes the burning question, What the heck for? Jagger was arrested for drug possession in 1967, moved to France in 1971 to avoid paying taxes and has fathered seven children by four different women. Still, his fans include Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair, who as a student played Rolling Stones tunes with his band Ugly Rumors. Jagger is expected to receive a gold medallion and join the lowest order of knighthood (the same one bestowed on Paul McCartney and Elton John), though perhaps the most fitting: knight bachelor.
with Chris Tucker
Comic actor Chris Tucker took a serious turn recently, joining rocker Bono and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on a tour of foreign aid projects in Africa. Tucker, 30, found hope and sorrow in Ethiopia and Uganda. "For all the poverty, the kids are beautiful," says the Rush Hour star. He spoke with Scoop about the trip.
What were your initial impressions of Uganda?
It was beautiful, lush and green. A lot of hills. But about 25 minutes outside the city, in a little village outside of Kampala, there was no running water in any of the homes. We went to the well and saw people drinking the water. It was dirty and carried disease.
Any positive signs?
We also saw a new well. Water, especially clean water, is a big solution to keeping people alive and healthy.
It hit me hard. The stuff we take for granted in America is precious in the rest of the world. They were getting sick from not having something that we just turn on the tap to get.
AIDS is the leading killer of adults in Uganda. Did you visit any clinics?
On the second day. People were dying at that clinic every day. They were short of drugs, medicine, everything.
What got to you the most?
The strength of those women with HIV. No medicine and no hope, yet they're still pushing on. They're thinking about their kids.
What were your thoughts on the plane ride back?
In eight years there's going to be, like, more than 20 million orphans there. Then we're going to have an even bigger problem, so we might as well start dealing with it.
So it's not hopeless?
I know something can be done. The spirit of those people was incredible. They had joy. That's what I remember.
ON THE BLOCK
Singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey (of 98°) are selling their respective apartments as they prepare for marriage. The couple, engaged since Feb. 10, bought separate 2,000-sq.-ft. condos in the same Westwood, Calif., building last year. Lachey, 28, held court on the 18th floor, where his bachelor digs (right) included a 20-ft. bar and two outdoor terraces. Simpson, 21, preferred the "Zen feel" on the 16th floor (left), with a stone fireplace and ocean views. Asking prices, says listing agent Heidi Lake of Sotheby's International Realty, are $1 million for his and $925,000 for hers.