Short attention span

Relieved of talk show host responsibilities, Martin Short disses his boring guests; Robert Downey Jr. reenters society; David Hasselhoff discovers what's been missing. Plus: Was Helen Hunt's hubby horsing around with hussies?

By Amy Reiter
Published August 7, 2000 7:30PM (EDT)

The world may never know what Jay Leno and David Letterman are really thinking when they interview a particularly boring guest, but Martin Short is prepared to share.

Short tells the upcoming issue of TV Guide that he played games with himself during the most painful portions of his recently canceled syndicated talk show -- just to make it through.

"I imagined it was like being at a dinner party: You're sitting there talking to an old friend, and then I turn and, by God, it's David James Elliott from 'JAG'! Now, you can't tell me that I can't figure out how to talk to him for five minutes," says Short. "So that's what you try to capture -- an impersonation of yourself interested."

Then again, there were some guests he just couldn't get it up for -- no matter how hard he tried. "There were times when the only reason they're there is to talk about some TV movie that I'd rather die than see. So I'd have to find some way to be interested without faking it," he says.

"Sure, there are times when you want to say, 'Would you just leave, please,'" the comedian confesses. "But we didn't have that luxury."

Unfortunately for him, the TV stations did.

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Come on, sugar, let him know

"Do you think I'm sexy?"

-- Newly single Oasis front man Liam Gallagher, picking up Rod Stewart's ex-wife Rachel Hunter at a party last week.

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Out of the frying pan, and into rehab

Robert Downey Jr.'s out of prison ... and back in rehab.

After his release on Wednesday, the drug-lovin' actor checked himself right in to L.A.'s Walden House for a "self-imposed recovery program" to help him readjust to life on the outside.

"He plans to maintain a life of sobriety," Downey Jr.'s lawyer, Robert Waters, explained.

And those of you who think there's less than zero chance of that are just mean.

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From one son to another

"The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job. He's probably the least qualified person ever to be nominated by a major party ... What is his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"

-- President Reagan's son Ron on President Bush's son W, in the Washington Post.

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Nowhere to Hyde?

Call for a lifeguard. David Hasselhoff has abandoned white sand beaches for the Great White Way.

Yep, it's official. The former "Baywatch" star is Speedoing his way to the Broadway stage to take over the lead role in the musical "Jekyll & Hyde."

"I'm finally hanging up my trunks to do what I want to do," Hasselhoff tells Variety. "I'm not just a replacement. I'm doing it to prove a point."

Specifically -- that something's going thumpa-thumpa-thump beneath those tanned, toned pecs.

"I am doing it for my heart," he says. "I never wanted to be a star. I'll be perfectly happy in my little Broadway dressing room."

What's more, Hasselhoff says he plans to "do certain things" to make the role his own. "I want to make it more interactive with the audience," he says.

No, I don't think he's talking about lap dances ...

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Till sugar coma do us part?

"[I promise] to make his favorite banana milkshake."

-- Jennifer Aniston, pledging her undying love, devotion and blender skills to Brad Pitt at their recent wedding.

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Juicy bits

Is Helen Hunt still mad about hubby Hank Azaria -- or is she simply mad at him? If the New York Daily News and the National Enquirer are to be believed, it's the latter. According to the Daily News, Hunt has moved out of the house she shared with her husband and into a rented apartment near her father's house in Van Nuys, Calif. The filing of divorce papers, the paper says, is imminent. The Enquirer, meanwhile, claims the rift occurred after Hunt discovered that Azaria had skinny-dipped with a bunch of Playboy Bunnies during a visit to the mansion, a scenario the actor's publicist denies ever happened. Who knew Bunnies could swim?

Blame the baby? Sharon Stone has abruptly pulled out of starring in a TV remake of Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons," reports. Madeline Stowe will reportedly star instead. Maybe Stone should star in a remake of "Citizen Kane" instead. She could bring a whole new meaning to the term "Rosebud."

Burning down the house: Hot 'n' heavy lovebirds Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie are nesting. The newlywed couple has just plunked down $4 million on an eight-bedroom, seven-bathroom Beverly Hills home, formerly owned by Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. And, according to Entertainment Weekly, it was the first and only house they looked at. "We're kind of spontaneous people," Thornton told the magazine. "We saw this house and it was like, 'OK, we'll take that one.'"

How much would you pay for an X-ray of Muhummad Ali's broken jaw (taken after his 1973 bout with Ken Norton and autographed by both boxers)? If you named any price at all, you'll be happy to know said bit of medical and pugilistic history is going on the block later this month in an auction to benefit Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation. Going once ... going twice ....

Amy Reiter

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Celebrity George W. Bush Jennifer Aniston