Hollywood's troupes continue to head north even as Toronto copes with a deadly virus
Fear of SARS—the deadly respiratory illness that has caused the deaths of more than 300 people worldwide—has grounded business travelers, waylaid tourists and financially hurt airlines. But when it comes to stars and the business of Hollywood, virus or no virus, the show must go on.
For celebs, the epicenter of SARS fears has been Toronto, where scores of movies are shot every year and where 21 deaths have been attributed to the disease, the largest fatal outbreak seen outside of Asia. So far, actors camped out in Canada have been holding their ground—and their breath. Colin Farrell and Robin Wright Penn, in Toronto to film the drama A Home at the End of the World, are sticking it out until the shoot wraps May 13. "No one has wanted to walk off the production," says Home producer Katie Roumel. "Our stars and the whole crew are just doing their jobs like any pro would." Kyle MacLachlan's That Touch of Pink will continue its Toronto shooting schedule through this month. And Ray Romano recently began work on the comedy Welcome to Mooseport with Gene Hackman. "It's like the entire cast and crew has [obsessive-compulsive disorder]," says a source on the Mooseport set, noting rampant use of antibacterial hand gel. "It speaks to so many levels of [Ray's] neuroses. The good thing is, he's less nervous about the movie."
Not all celebs have welcomed a dose of northern exposure. Elton John, Billy Joel, Lisa Marie Presley and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson all canceled concert and personal appearances in Toronto. Still, the city's film commissioner, Rhonda Silverstone, is upbeat: "No one is pulling out to shoot elsewhere."
Angelina Ink: Jolie's Holy Tattoo
Last week Angelina Jolie sat down on a floor mat in an incense-filled house outside of Bangkok while a flame-heated 15-in. silver needle was jabbed repeatedly into her back. A scene from her upcoming Tomb Raider sequel? Nope, just the actress's latest tattoo session, which resulted in five columns of ancient Thai Buddhist scripture being etched onto her left shoulder blade—one column to bring her luck, one to protect her from bad things, one to change any bad luck, one to protect her from accidents, and one to bring her work. "She was very patient and didn't cry out ever," Noo Kanpai, a former monk who inscribed what he calls "a holy power" onto her skin, tells People. When the 20-minute ordeal was finished, he recalls, Jolie, 27, began to shake and said, "I can feel the power." Noo Kanpai, for one, believes this ink job is here to stay. (In February the star apparently used makeup to cover an old "Billy Bob" Thornton tattoo.) "She was very happy and liked it very much," he says. "She said she's going to come back."
Actress Shelley Morrison, who plays the wisecracking maid Rosario on NBC's Will & Grace, was arrested April 23 on suspicion of shoplifting from an L.A. department store. Yet despite catching her "with merchandise valued at just over $400," says an L.A. police spokesman, officials have declined to file felony theft charges—even though $400 qualifies as a felony. Morrison, 66, who is free on $20,000 bail, will face a misdemeanor theft charge. "She had no record," says her lawyer Donald Etra. "She's led an impeccable life." That life includes playing Sister Sixto opposite star Sally Field in the '60s sitcom The Flying Nun and her 29-year-marriage to Walter Dominguez, 55, a spiritual healer.
Hey, kids! Want to be a rap star? Eminem doled out career advice to aspiring rappers at the April 26 Hip-Hop Summit in Detroit.
Forget the rules.
"There's no handbook on how to get a record hit. I sold CDs out of the trunk of my car."
Don't quit your day job.
"I worked as a cook."
Look out for No. 1.
"Promote yourself. I showcased wherever I could go to be heard."
"There's probably 10,000 me's here who have it in their hearts to break out."
JT's Country Road
On his hits "Carolina in My Mind" and "Copperline," James Taylor paid homage to his boyhood roots. On April 26, Chapel Hill, N.C., returned the favor, honoring the singer with the James Taylor Bridge, a 200-ft. span of U.S. highway 15-501 stretching over rust-hued Morgan Creek, alongside where the songwriter and his siblings once played as children. "I'm honored and moved to have an anchor here," said an emotional Taylor, 55, whose bridge joins a small pantheon of celebrity infrastructures, including:
•THE JAMES BROWN SOUL CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE BRIDGE, over the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
•THE RAYMOND BERRY OAKLEY III BRIDGE, named for the late Allman Brother, crossing I-75 in Macon, Ga.
•DAVE'S ALLEY, named for talk show host David Letterman, in Muncie, Ind.
•DOLLY PARTON PARKWAY, I-411, Sevierville, Tenn.
with Jennifer Beals
Twenty years ago America flipped for Flashdance, starring Jennifer Beals as a winsome welder who dreams of becoming a ballerina. Beals, 39, is still acting—she next appears onscreen with John Cusack in Runaway Jury—and currently lives in L.A. Scoop caught up with the woman who launched thousands of torn sweatshirts.
How did Flashdance change your life?
Before the movie came out, I had no money and traveled with a backpack. After Flashdance, people started flying me places. And I was able to pay for college. [Beals graduated from Yale in 1987.]
What did you get paid?
I got scale and residuals. I was a complete unknown.
Any idea the movie would be so big?
All I was thinking was how I could get through this and get back to my studies. We shot in the fall of '82, and I had to leave Yale to do the movie. Fame was not a goal for me.
You didn't follow up with a quick hit.
I didn't have the savviest agent. The agent wanted me to do cheesy roles, and I said no.
Do fans expect your Flashdance character every time you hit the dance floor?
You're presuming I go out. The funny part of it is, I can dance. I just can't sustain a 15-minute dance sequence, not like the dancers in the movie. I did jazz dancing in school, but I preferred field hockey and horseback riding.
What do you think of your standing in Hollywood today?
It's been perfect. I can still ride a subway and work with great people. I can't imagine being Julia Roberts. I don't have the fortitude to withstand that kind of attention.
The new Jennifer Lopez video for I'm Glad is an homage to Flashdance. Any comment?
What a feeling.
ON THE BLOCK
Heeeere's Johnny Carson's boyhood home in Norfolk, Neb., up for auction this week on eBay with a starting price of $150,000. The 83-year-old house, where the Carson family lived from 1933 to about 1943, recently underwent $20,000 in renovations, says a current owner, Jim Pruett. The four-bedroom home features refinished original woodwork, a fireplace installed by the talk show host's father, Homer, and a two-car garage. Carson, 77, has shown no interest in buying the property, says Pruett.