There's all kinds of pronouncements being made today. First off, the Vatican says Mel Gibson's movie "Passion" is fine by them. Drudge is reporting that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (who "speaks for the Vatican on issues of faith") has declared the movie is "faithful to the meaning of the Gospels." Wonder what the screening room at the Vatican is like ...
And the FCC has declared the Howard Stern radio show to be a "news interview program" and therefore exempt from the equal-time requirements when it comes to having candidates on the air. So look for a one-on-one with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hey, they can talk about what they usually do on that show -- women's bodies -- now that we know Arn is an expert in that area of study. (Yahoo News)
Poor Britney Spears says she's not getting enough these days, so she's singing about it instead. The little tease says (probably with a toss of her golden locks): "I think this record is where I'm at right now in my life. It's sensual, it's sexual. I'm probably writing about that subconsciously because I don't have that right now." She must have had to fight all the marketing people on that one. (Ananova)
Speaking of perky blondes, Meg Ryan is being talked about because of her sexy role in Jane Campion's "In the Cut" -- which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this week. But it seems Meg wasn't the nervous one on the set. Her costar Mark Ruffalo kept thinking of Ryan's real-life romantic history and it got him all shook up. "All I could think of," he says, "is 'what am I going to be like compared to Russell Crowe?'" Don't go there, Mark. (Entertainment Weekly)
In a review of California native Joan Didion's new book "Where I Was From," the Observer's Adam Begley writes: "I'm trying to imagine Joan Didion's campaign for governor of California: a long silence punctuated by a sigh." Seems just right. (NY Observer)
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One vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger can't count on: his buddy George Clooney's. Clooney, who says he's "a Democrat. I'm an old liberal," shares that much as he likes Schwarzenegger personally, he disagrees with him politically. "He's a really nice guy and I believe he has nothing but the best intentions," Clooney tells Liz Smith. "On the other hand I could not disagree more with most of what he wants to do and I am also worried about the idea that everyone who comes in and tells you they're a moderate Republican, and has gotten in, has of course, by whatever virtue, ended up becoming much further to the right once they get in. I certainly couldn't vote for him and that's not a particularly nice thing to say ... and I'm his friend, you know?"
Also not voting for Arnold: his buddy Barbra Streisand. But again, it's not personal. "I have dinner with him," she told a class at the New School in New York. "We have a great time together. We enjoy each other enormously. We get into our political differences, and then we just laugh." (Rush and Molloy)
And too bad for Arnie that New York Times critic Frank Rich doesn't live in California. He's apparently a fan. Matt Drudge reports that, in this Sunday's paper, Rich contends that Schwarzenegger is a much better actor than President Bush and is also superior in other ways. Notes Rich: "Schwarzenegger never would have allowed himself to look as scared as the abandoned kid in 'Home Alone' while begging the nation for cash and patience last Sunday night." He also says, "Only in America could a guy who struts in an action-hero's Hollywood costume and barks macho lines from a script pass for a plausible political leader. But if George W. Bush can get away with it, why should Arnold Schwarzenegger be pilloried for the same antics?" And as for all those irritating Schwarzeneggerisms, Rich says they're at least better than the horrifying Bushisms: "As genre dialogue goes, 'Hasta la vista, baby!' and 'I'll be back!' are far snappier than 'Dead or alive' and 'Bring 'em on.'"
Meanwhile, the big fella with the gubernatorial dreams might not have kissed the gay vote goodbye thanks to his use of the f-word - the three-letter one that ends in g and has an a in the middle - in an interview for Oui magazine in 1977. Writing in Canada's National Post, Reason magazine editor Matt Welch notes the widespread use of the word at the time and the then-bodybuilder's outspoken defense of gay people in an era when Hollywood was as closeted as the sports world is today. "So for Schwarzenegger -- his sport's top athlete -- to defend gays against unjust stereotyping 26 years ago, is far more remarkable than the fact he used a word that was not, at the time, widely considered to be 'a vulgar epithet.'"
In fact, in the Oui magazine interview, Schwarzenegger acknowledged that "Recently I posed for a gay magazine, which caused much comment. But it doesn't bother me." He might have been referring to a gay (though it never labeled itself such) theater magazine called After Dark, which a few Salon staffers recently dug up for The Fix. In its February 1977 issue, the long-defunct magazine declares that while "Pumping Iron" writer Charles Gaines "ignorantly refers to homosexuals as 'faggots,'" Schwarzenegger himself "has a healthy, secure attitude. 'You have to face it if you have a good body, and it is somehow a compliment. Sometimes girls are attracted to your body; sometimes homosexuals. I don't have anything against that."
In other news ... Jayson Blair has successfully capitalized on his misdeeds, reportedly selling his memoir, "Burning Down My Master's House: My Life and the New York Times," for a sum "in the six-figure range," to a Los Angeles-based publisher called New Millennium Press, the same people who published the Bill Maher bestselller "When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden." (N.Y. Post)
And in case you were curious ... Autograph Collector magazine has named Colin Farrell as "best signer" of the year. The worst sport about signing autographs? Cameron Diaz. Says the magazine's contributing editor Jeffrey Woolf, ""She might be an Angel for Charlie, but Cameron is nothing short of a witch ... when it comes to signing autographs." Ouch. (Associated Press)
Best of the Rest
Page Six: CNN anchor Frederika Whitfield apparently confused as to gender of Hitler's fave filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, kept calling her a "he" yesterday while announcing her death at age 101; Nicolas Cage did not walk out on $400 bill and not leave a tip at a bar recently as previously reported -- his pal picked up the tab; Bill O'Reilly's wife births baby boy;
Rush and Molloy: Meryl Streep says it was "shockingly easy" to play a man in the upcoming HBO production of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America"; Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck said to be marrying Sunday at Sotto Il Monte, an estate in Montecito, where they'll take their first dance on a transparent dance floor built atop a swimming pool; Ali Wentworh in Cosmo about the effects of motherhood: "I had run topless through Saint-Tropez and worn a sheer camisole to a movie premiere. My perky little breasts that once pointed toward the sun now resemble deflated condoms tossed on the side of the highway."
Boldface Names: Norah Jones buys packet of M&M's from those kids who sell them on the street; Lillian Ross jokes about making a Tina Brown video game; Tina Brown says, "All women over 40 are interested in shoes. It takes away the humiliation of a dressing room."