Sean "Puffy" Combs may have been able to dodge bullets in a nightclub, and might escape jail time on firearms charges, but will he be able to avoid the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? The animal rights group claims that Combs' crew tricked them into calling off a protest outside his Sean Jean fashion show Saturday by pretending that the rapper/designer had promised a fur-free line of clothing.
"We were assured that, yes indeed, Puffy had matured and so had his clothing line," says PETA spokeswoman Dawn Carr. "Of course, when the models came down the runway, they were covered in dead animals."
It could be especially difficult for Combs to de-fur his fashion line. He had been credited with infusing men's fashion with his own brand of "hip-hop" style -- bright colors, big accessories and, yes, fur. His models wore the full range of the animal kingdom, from ostrich leather and crocodile skin slacks, to Persian lamb overcoats, to fox, mink and lynx tail scarves. "It looked like a herd of bison barreling down the runway," Carr says. PETA rescinded a press release congratulating Combs on his reversible fur policy, and pins the deception on Puffy's publicist, Hampton Carney. Carney was not available for comment, but his public relations agency, Paul Wilmot Communications, has warned PETA that Puffy's attorneys will respond to any attack -- animal, vegetable or mineral -- with appropriate legal force.
A chance for the lawyers to show some muscle may be coming soon. PETA protesters will be waiting for Combs on Wednesday outside the Manhattan courthouse where he is facing gun and bribery charges. Carr suspects Combs' current legal problems might be at the root of the fur flip-flop. "Clearly, there's chaos in the Combs camp," Carr says. "At best, they're disorganized; At worst, they're dishonest."
Bottoms up for "That's My Bush!"
Martin Sheen gets to play an idealized Clinton in NBC's "The West Wing." Now Timothy Bottoms will play current POTUS George W. Bush for Comedy Central. "That's My Bush!", the upcoming live action comedy created by "South Park" auteurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone, will debut on April 4 with Bottoms in the lead role.
"Bottoms is a great get," says Tony Fox, spokesman for Comedy Central. The actor co-starred in director Peter Bogdanovich's classic film "The Last Picture Show," and the legal drama "The Paper Chase." He hasn't been on Hollywood's hot list much since the 70s, and his most recent credits include the 1999 release, "The Prince and the Surfer." He also has a recurring role on ABC's medical drama "Gideon's Crossing."
The show has already had its share of controversy. When reports surfaced in January that Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, would be depicted as lesbian lovers in the program, Comedy Central was reportedly warned by corporate parent Viacom to back off. Though the Bush twins won't be part of the show after all, Fox claimed that the decision to drop them was a creative choice -- not a political one -- that Parker and Stone had made before any pressure was applied. "They had sort of moved off the girls in any event," Fox says.
-- Alicia Montgomery [12:15 p.m. PST, Feb. 13, 2001]
Once upon a time, Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan could do no wrong. Now, as he heads to Capitol Hill to give his semiannual address to the Senate Banking Committee, the economic prosperity that the nation used to thank him for has faded.
And Greenspan has something new to deal with: criticism. He's getting blamed by some for contributing to the current economic slowdown by repeatedly raising interest rates last year, and congressional Democrats are questioning his recent conversion to the gospel of tax cutting. Two weeks ago, when Greenspan last appeared before Congress, his implied support -- at least in principle -- of President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut plan surprised Democrats. Market watchers hope that Greenspan will surprise everyone with an interest rate cut, but they're not holding their breath.
Some congressional Republicans are holding on to hopes of one last investigation of Bill Clinton. A spokesman for the House Government Reform Committee says that subpoenas will be issued for records relating to Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. The primary target is Rich's former wife, Denise Rich, who has contributed more than $1 million to Democratic causes and $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that he's considering whether to support a grant of immunity to Rich, which would effectively force her to testify about her part in the pardon.
The former president is dodging more post-office criticism by abandoning his plans to lease expensive space in a midtown Manhattan office building. Instead of continuing negotiations on that space, which could have cost taxpayers more than $800,000 annually, Clinton is reportedly looking into an office in Harlem. Though nothing has been decided, the Harlem space is going for the bargain rate of about $200,000 per year (a bargain for New York, anyway).
-- Alicia Montgomery [5:45 a.m. PST, Feb. 13, 2001]