A squabble over Diana's image freezes contributions made in her name
Talk about a battle royal. In one corner is the Franklin Mint, makers of commemorative celebrity plates, dolls and other memorabilia. In the other is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, founded after her 1997 death to aid her favorite causes. At stake: $25 million in charitable donations.
The brouhaha began in 1998, when the Fund sued the Mint for violating what the Fund claimed were its exclusive rights to the name and image of the late princess. In 2000 a U.S. district court found the suit groundless and tossed it out. Then, in November 2002, Franklin turned around and sued the charitable organization for $25 million, saying the company's reputation had been sullied by the accusations and lawsuit.
Now the Fund's trustees have frozen $16 million in already-committed grants until the case is resolved. (The group's coffers are estimated to hold more than $70 million, of which about $52 million came from royalties from the Elton John tribute song "Candle in the Wind '97.") Consequently the flow of money has been interrupted to programs helping land-mine victims, children with disabilities, young people with Down syndrome and a hospice in Uganda. "It is very worrying because clearly the Diana fund has become a major supporter of charitable causes and, particularly, unpopular ones which don't find it easy to get funding from the usual trusts and foundations," said Derek Bodell, chief executive of Britain's National AIDS Trust. His charity had hoped to ask the Fund to sponsor AIDS awareness programs, he told Britain's Press Association, but he will now look at other options.
Peace may be at hand. On July 15 Franklin said in a statement it would not lay claim to money that the Fund has already allocated to charities. A spokesman for the Fund responded that it is waiting for their lawyers to review the offer "before we raise the hopes of our beneficiaries."
Rock, the Comeback Kid?
It might not be his style, but Kid Rock should consider adding the old swing tune "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?" to his repertoire. Just weeks after Pamela Anderson, 36, stopped wearing his engagement ring and declared herself "free," the two spent last weekend together at a benefit auction in Victoria, B.C. "They were really sweet," says attendee Shirley Hunter. Rock, 32, successfully bid $16,544 for a Jamaican vacation and told the crowd he'd like to take Anderson, her two boys and his own son there. So will wedding bells finally ring? Anderson's rep had no comment, but Rock, with aplomb, replied, "Does anybody really care at the end of the day?"
Farewell to Barry White
About 40 friends and relatives of the late Barry White gathered aboard the yacht Mojo in the waters off Santa Monica at noon on July 12 to express their love, unlimited, for the soul legend. White's former wife, Glodean James (front, second from right), sprinkled the ashes of the singer, who died of kidney failure at 58 on July 4, into the Pacific during the emotional ceremony. Among the notables who came to pay their respects: Michael Jackson (above, with a parasol).
Elvis Presley's tooth? John F. Kennedy's used boxers? Those are just two of the bizarre personal items being auctioned on eBay. More than 300 Kennedy pieces are being sold by Jackie O's former private secretary and former personal attendant, while Florida salon owner Flo Briggs offers a lot that includes Elvis's tooth, strands of his hair and a record.
A pair of Jackie O's shoes, her slip and the President's Navy-issue boxers (inscribed "Jack Kennedy") may fetch these prices.
...to Graceland: eBay has attracted a six-figure bid for the King's molar, hair and gold 45.
Did the Makeover Take?
On the new Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, five gay men clean up and style a slobby hetero guy. A worthy cause, certainly, but don't the Oscar Madisons revert to sweatpants and regrow their mullets the second the cameras stop rolling? To find out, Scoop checked in with Queer Eye subject Brian "Butch" Schepel, a painter from Manhattan who was transformed on the July 15 show. "I try to live better now, not so casual," says Schepel, 35, who says he attempts to keep in mind the lessons he learned from the Queer experts, although he admits old habits have been hard to break. "I'm getting away from the ratty T-shirt every once in a while."
He also got away from the ponytail he had spent nine years growing after the show treated him to a $250 haircut. "Before I didn't want to spend $40 on a cut," says Schepel, who has no plans to grow his hair out again. Ironically, he notes that although his coif is shorter now, it requires more maintenance. "You have to put this stuff in your hair—more shampoos, conditioners and products. The fact that I'm doing more things is funny."
$29.95 Celebrities on Call
Wouldn't it be cool if you could get Julia Roberts to phone you on your birthday?
Well, you can't.
How about Jennifer Aniston?
Nope. Not a chance.
J.Lo? Ben? Ashton Kutcher?
No, no and no way.
But you can get a personal telephoned greeting from Christopher Atkins (of Blue Lagoon fame); NYPD Blueactress-turned-newscaster Andrea Thompson; Diff'rent Strokes child-star-turned-grown-up Todd Bridges; Robert Hegyes (Welcome Back, Kotter's Epstein) or Star Trek: The Next Generation star John de Lancie, who played the enigmatic Q. All have signed on with www.hollywoodiscalling.com. For $19.95 for 15 seconds ($29.95 for 30), they'll dial your digits and wish you (or a friend) the best on that special day.
As a public service, Scoop ordered up 15 seconds of John de Lancie. Two days after placing our order, the actor called. (We were his first customers.) He read us a prepared message (we told him it was our birthday) that said, "I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous year." When our time ran out, he graciously chatted further—off the meter!—saying he expects to hear from Trek fans and admitting to "some trepidation" about making the scripted calls. Says de Lancie: "I actually feel more comfortable having a regular conversation."
with Mandy Moore
Singer Mandy Moore stars in the new teen romance How to Deal. Which got us wondering: How does Mandy deal? Moore, 19, spoke with Scoop from Prague, where she is filming an as-yet-untitled movie about a President's daughter.
You're not a Terminator, a pirate or big and green. How did you wind up in a summer movie?
I have no idea. I am actually glad to be in a normal film in the mix of all these huge summer blockbusters.
Admit it: When you get angry you Hulk out a little, right?
It takes something really significant to get me mad. I don't hold back. I usually say what I am feeling.
How to Deal is all about coping with teen angst. As a teen yourself, could you identify with those issues?
Some of them are a little extreme. Unfortunately, everyone has to deal with death, but pregnancy, parents going through a sticky divorce...I couldn't really relate.
You play the President's daughter in your next film. Are you modeling yourself after the Bush twins?
I haven't met them. Their lives are so guarded, and rightfully so.
You have sung at the White House. What kind of audience is the President?
He is very attentive. He really seems to enjoy music.
Did you catch him snapping his fingers to the beat?
Yes! I went on right after Stevie Wonder. The President was really getting into him. He was grooving to a little "Superstition."
How closely do you follow your boyfriend Andy Roddick and his tennis matches?
I watched [Wimbledon] on TV. I've been filming in Prague, but my mom was able to go. She was text messaging me [the results].
We hear you're quite boisterous at Andy's matches.
I am pretty loud, and I have a loud voice. Come on, I'm a singer.
ON THE BLOCK
Have a jones to live like Indiana in Manhattan? Harrison Ford is selling the spacious four-bedroom apartment overlooking Central Park he once shared with his soon-to-be ex-wife, screenwriter Melissa Mathison. The retreat offers a number of urban luxuries: a laundry room, two libraries, a wet bar, a living room with a fireplace, and a custom kitchen. Mathison has moved to L.A.; Ford has bought another place downtown. If you've got $16 million, Ford's aerie could be in your future.