Now at an Internet site near you: the once-secret spots of the stars
No question, it's a deal that's hard to refuse—and famously few celebrities do. For years Hollywood's biggest names have happily signed on to pitch everything from cars to beer in Europe and Japan. In return, they get sumo-size paychecks—millions for a couple of days' work—and an understanding that the ads won't air in the U.S. Now, thanks to the Internet, there's a fly in the sake. Web sites with names like gaijina gogo.com, japander.com and kleindytham.com have begun serving up the commercials to curious surfers everywhere and anywhere. Viewers were amused; Hollywood lawyers, less so. Attorneys seeking to protect Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly threatened to take legal action to remove the ads from some of the sites. Soon you may no longer be able to see Ewan McGregor selling brew (Roots coffee); Harrison Ford pitching stronger brew (Kirin beer) or Demi Moore hawking Jog Mate Protein goo—an energy booster for athletes.
Stopped in the Name of Law
Almost eight months ago Diana Ross checked herself into a Malibu rehab clinic, citing "personal issues." In August the diva abruptly canceled her North American tour without saying why. Her latest public incident brought about only a cursory explanation from police. Ross, 58, was arrested in Tucson early on the morning of Dec. 30 on suspicion of drunk driving. Acting on a call that a car was swerving on the road, police pulled Ross over, administered a Breathalyzer test and cited her for a misdemeanor. "She was at a level we call 'extreme DUI,' " says Sgt Judy Altieri of the Tucson Police Department. The singer's blood-alcohol content was 0.20, more than twice Arizona's legal limit of 0.08. After the test, police drove Ross back to her lodgings. Her rep, Paul Bloch, declined comment.
Romeo & Julianne
Having made a career of portraying unhappy housewives, Julianne Moore's reluctance to get hitched was no wonder. So was it all J.Lo's talk of pink diamonds, or did the 42-year-old star of this year's The Hours and Far from Heaven feel like playing against type? Who knows? But after 6½ years of living in unwedded bliss with director Bart Freundlich, 32, and bearing him two children (Caleb, 5, and Liv, 9 months), Moore finally has a ring on her finger. Yep, "they are engaged," reports a source close to the couple. No official date has been set for the nuptials—but hey, there's no rule against wearing the same dress to the Academy Awards ceremony and your wedding.
The Herald Angels Sing for Sir Paul
It's official. Paul McCartney is just a lance and a trusty steed away from securing a seat at the round table. Already knighted by the Queen in 1997, the 60-year-old former Beatle has now been granted his own personal coat of arms. Created by a herald from the College of Arms, McCartney's family crest features a Liver Bird, guitar strings and a beetlelike emblem—symbols of his music career and Liverpool roots. "Sir Paul's design is clear and simple," notes a College of Arms spokesman. "It could be carried in battle. It would not be incomprehensible to someone living in 1500. They would say, 'Ah, this man is some kind of musician.' "
McGraw: I Like It, I Love It, Thanks!
To show their appreciation, some guys buy their buddies a round of brews. Not Tim McGraw. Having promised a special bonus to his band, the Dancehall Doctors, if their new album sold more than 500,000 copies its first week out, McGraw, 35, treated the boys to dinner at a Nashville restaurant when they met his goal. Then the country star asked the musicians' spouses to blindfold their dates and lead them outside—where he gave each one a gleaming new set of wheels. Three bandmates scored Harley-Davidson motorcycles; the rest got vintage cars, including a 1969 Corvette and a 1968 Ford Galaxie convertible. "I enjoy listening to this record," said McGraw, "because I am listening to my very best friends."
Shop or Scram
Careful what you wish for—particularly if it was an invite to Sean "P.Diddy" Combs's New Year's Eve bash at the Opium Garden nightclub in Miami Beach. Billing his fete "The Biggest Party of the Year," the ever-flashy Combs (left) promised to pull out all the stops—dancers, fireworks, stilt walkers in electric suits, 10,000 balloons, that sort—to ensure his A-list guests rang in 2003 in style. "Style" being the operative word. The invitation demanded "proper semi-formal attire" from attendees. To be blunt: "Go out and buy something new," it instructed. "If you act like it's a regular night, you will be turned away at the door and sent to a regular party." One invitee whom the bouncer will surely rate as a knockout? Heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis.
Stars Play the Sands
The Middle East: Diplomatic hot spot or Hollywood destination? Both, actually. David Letterman arrived in Kandahar on Christmas Eve bearing "Late Show Afghanistan" T-shirts for 2,500 service-members stationed there and received, a Top 10 list of Afghanistan problems (No. 10: It takes 28½ nonalcoholic beers to get a buzz) from the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Drew Carey, not to be outdone, played to troops in Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait. Jane Fonda, on a personal tour not booked by the USO, visited Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters (he wasn't in), a refugee camp and a hospital on the West Bank—and found time for a quick belly-dancing lesson.
with John Travolta
Who better to help kick off a yearlong centennial celebration of the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk than John Travolta, one of Hollywood's biggest aviation buffs? The 48-year-old actor piloted his own Boeing 707 from Clearwater, Fla., to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 17 to honor the founding fathers of flight at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Scoop asked Travolta about his passion.
So when did you first fall in love with flying?
Five, maybe 4. I lived in Englewood, N.J., in the flight path for LaGuardia Airport. Planes would fly over my house at about 2,000 feet every 5, 10 minutes. I was fascinated. I loved how they looked. I loved how they sounded. I loved the design.
When did you take your first flight?
I was 8. My sister bought me a ticket to Philadelphia to have lunch with her. It was a 20-minute flight in a DC-6, National Airlines. I was completely captivated. I flew back on a jet. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
How often do you fly now?
I fly 300 hours a year. I have eight jet licenses.
What's the most beautiful part of the world to fly over?
Iceland and Ireland. And New Zealand. Those three places are gorgeous to me. The geography, the open, vast spaces are just beautiful.
If you owned an airline, what would you do to make the passengers happy?
I'm pretty much into passenger comfort, so I would survey them and find out what they want.
Isn't it more fun flying a little plane, like Wilbur and Orville's, than a big 747?
They're both fun. I like the extremes.
ON THE BLOCK
Melissa Etheridge doesn't stray far from her roots. When her almost 10-year relationship with Julie Cypher ended in 2000, Etheridge moved out of the Brentwood, Calif., residence they shared to a place almost as convenient for their two children—the house next door. Now the singer, 41, has put that second residence on the market and purchased a $3.75 million nest just a few miles away. The old three-bedroom abode is selling for $1,295,000—a little less than the amount she originally paid for it.