Phish wraps New York Times

Note to paper of record: That wasn't Tom Hanks onstage with Phish; Dr. Melfi loves dropping towel; Maximus returnus? Plus: Eminem pleads, Don't love me to death!

Published January 3, 2003 5:36PM (EST)

Tom Hanks, Phish-head?

I don't think so.

But everyone from the New York Times to the Associated Press to MTV seems to have fallen for a little gag Phish played on its audience the other night during its big New Year's Eve concert at Madison Square Garden.

Early in the evening, to introduce the song "Wilson," the ever-popular jam band played a clip from "Cast Away," in which Hanks was shown enjoying a meaningful relationship with his pet volleyball, Wilson. Then a Hanks look-alike, clad in a dark jacket and a dark baseball cap, was summoned to the stage and waved to the audience, before being rushed backstage.

The crowd roared, and a fog of gullibility -- or a thick cloud of something stronger -- must have rolled over the press section. Or maybe all the jumping up and down blurred their vision.

"A band known for its New Year's Eve showmanship didn't disappoint: Tom Hanks made a surprise stage appearance," gushed the AP.

MTV hailed the band for getting "actor Hanks himself to run onstage and blurt one of the key lyrics."

And even the Times, paper of record, reported that "Mr. Hanks himself made a brief, bizarre appearance onstage."

Certain audience members, however, suspected that something Phishy might have been going on.

"No way was that Tom Hanks," one attendee insisted.

Something the actor's people have confirmed.

"Tom Hanks was not at the Phish concert," Hanks spokeswoman Annie Jeeves told me.

Pity. I'm sure he would have enjoyed the dancers on stilts, white balloons and snow falling from the rafters, which, by the way, was fake, too.

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Maxing out Maximus?

"Maximus did die in the first 'Gladiator,' but the Romans had a great belief in the afterlife."

-- "Gladiator 2" producer Walter Parkes on how he hopes to engineer the return of Russell Crowe in the "Gladiator" sequel, in the Chicago Sun-Times.

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And how does that make you feel?

Don't tell Tony, but Dr. Melfi has no compunction about getting naked in public.

Lorraine Bracco, who plays a certain mob boss's shrink in "The Sopranos," says dropping her towel onstage as Mrs. Robinson in the Broadway production of "The Graduate" was no problem for her.

"Not being comfortable in your skin because you're worried about other people judging you -- I never gave a s--t," the actress reveals during an interview with the Hampton Sheet.

Plus, she says, "the nudity is just very much a part of who the character is."

And while you might not want to tell Melfi's patients, Bracco's parents are cool with her dud-doffing.

Bracco tells the magazine that her father had a few quibbles with her acting in that scene, "but he never said anything about my being nude. He was proud of me. What else do you need in life?"

Dunno. What do you think, Dr. Freud?

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Diva takes a dive

"Ha-ha-ha. Great."

-- Diana Ross, laughing at her inability to balance on one leg for longer than seven seconds (she couldn't recite the alphabet, count to 30, or recall the time and date, either) during her arrest on suspicion of drunken driving earlier this week, in the police report posted on the Smoking Gun.

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Eminempty success

Sick of Eminem? So, it seems, is Eminem.

"It's almost to the point where I truly believe I may be getting too big for my own good," the rapper tells the Detroit Free Press. "And I never really asked for that."

What's more, he says, he's worried that all his mainstream success may deprive him of his edge -- and his fan base.

"When everyone loves you, who's left to hate you?" he asks the paper. "The kids want something they can hold onto that their parents hate. I know I did growing up. I didn't want to listen to anything my parents listened to."

Then again, we all know how he feels about his parents.

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Miss something? Read yesterday's Nothing Personal.

By Amy Reiter

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