Katharine Hepburn was the best female role model tinseltown has ever produced. She worked hard at her craft, fought like a lioness for what she wanted, made pants sexy, was devastatingly beautiful -- especially when she talked -- and had an honesty that cut through Hollywood's best hooey. Retrospectives will spring up now that the grand dame is gone, and they will probably feature such classics as "The Philadelphia Story," "Bringing Up Baby," "Woman of the Year" and "The African Queen" as well as later tear-jerkers like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "On Golden Pond." But in one of her more obscure gems she played against type and showed a vulnerable, shy side that was just as lovely as the strong persona. The movie was "Summertime" (1955) and in it Kate played a sheltered woman who goes to Venice for the first time and falls for a man, and into a canal, with emotional pirouettes not even imagined in today's Lifetime Television for Women world. (N.Y. Times via International Herald Tribune)
Comic Dennis Miller used to be known for his brains, but lately he's been acting like a guy who's been hit on the head with something large and blunt. Not only did he hang with George W. Bush during his recent fundraising tour of California, he opened for the prez with a stand-up routine in which he said of Sen. Robert Byrd, "I think he's burning the cross at both ends," which brought boos even from some of the gathered Republican loyals. What's next, Dennis -- are you going to start mispronouncing "nucular" too? (Yahoo News)
Speaking of questionable pronouncements, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said yesterday that he supports a constitutional amendment that would ban homosexual marriage in this country. He is quoted as saying, "I very much feel that marriage is a sacrament, and that sacrament should extend and can extend to that legal entity of a union between -- what is traditionally in our Western values has been defined -- as between a man and a woman. So I would support the amendment." Say that again? (USA Today)
It's legally blond -- real world! When ubiquitous heiress Paris Hilton met ubiquitous bombshell Pamela Anderson the other night she exclaimed "I've never felt so flat!" to which Pammy retorted "I've never felt so poor!" Give those gals a TV show! (N.Y. Post)
In other strange pair-bonding news: Seamus Heaney, former professor of poetry at Oxford University, spoke at the Prince of Wales' Education Summer School in England recently. When asked by reporters if there was anyone in popular culture who aroused interest in poetry and lyrics the way Bob Dylan or John Lennon had in the '60s, the respected poet said, "There is this guy Eminem. He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation." (Ananova)
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Mel Gibson hasn't called his upcoming movie about Jesus' final 12 hours "The Passion" for nothing. He says he was divinely inspired to co-write, direct and produce the film, for which he is currently seeking a distributor and which he previewed for a select group of evangelical Christians in Colorado Springs, Colo., this week. "I really feel my career was leading me to make this," Gibson told the group. "The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic." Though Gibson wants to release the film, which has dialogue all in Aramaic, without subtitles, in hopes that it will "transcend language barriers with visual story telling," members of the evangelical clergy are encouraging him to include the translations. (The Colorado Springs Gazette via Drudge)
The producers of "Sex and the City" might have taken a page from Mel Gibson in heading off religious controversy at the pass. The Conservative Jewish movement is up in arms over a recent episode of the HBO show in which Charlotte's Jewish boyfriend Harry Goldenblatt, who says he won't marry a non-Jew, orders pork tenderloin at a restaurant and then proclaims, "I'm not kosher; I'm Conservative." Bruce Greenfield, executive director of the Metropolitan New York Region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, told the Jewish Week that he's ticked at Harry's misleading assertion. "That is not correct," Greenfield gripes. "In fact, to be a good Conservative Jew one must keep kosher." Got that, Har? (The Jewish Week via The New York Times)
Recently rechristened CCO (chief creative officer) Martha Stewart may be changing more than her role at the company she founded; she may be changing her color. In an attempt to curry favor with the class-seeking masses, Stewart's new down-market magazine, Everyday Food, has traded in Martha's signature green for burgundy, orange and mustard yellow. And Stewart herself is apparently following suit. (It wasn't easy being green.) "Look, I have an orange watch today," she boasts to Business Week. "Look ... I'm wearing orange shoes today."
Reese Witherspoon likes living in England because people don't recognize her at the grocery store. But the pregnant actress is irritated by the lack of garb to suit her swelling midsection. "They don't have as many maternity clothes in London, so I just keep going back to the Gap and buying bigger sizes," she says. But lest you think life is just one big Gap ad for the "Legally Blonde" star, she'll have you know, "I have good, confident days, and then I have days when I feel like I'm smuggling beach balls." (USA Today)
Next time you see Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, ask 'em "What exit?" The New York Daily News reports that the Hollywood power couple is house hunting in Ridgewood, N.J. That's the town in which the actress birthed daughter Carys. Their spokesman says he doubts that the Douglas family is bound for the Jersey burb. After all, they don't have the hair for it.
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O'Rourke opined that the indie music goddess has "committed an embarrassing form of career suicide" by going pop with her self-titled third record. "She's junked her oddball, sui generis eccentricity for songs about thirtysomething traumas wrapped up in bubble-gum pop that plays off a cheap dissonance: underneath this sunny soundscape lies the darkness of life's hard-won lessons," O'Rourke wrote. "This is a superficial way of jolting us, and the result is that Ms. Phair often sounds desperate or clueless; the album has some of the same weird self-oblivion of a middle-aged man in a mid-life crisis and a new Corvette."
Phair apparently was not amused, so she amused herself by writing a note recasting O'Rourke as a latter-day Chicken Little: "One day, just as Chicken Little was about to have an idea, she heard something falling on her roof. 'The sky is falling! The sky is falling!' she shrieked, spilling green tea and vodka all over her work station."
The story ends with the prognosticating poultry being roundly ignored by "her three readers."
-- Amy Reiter