Sorry, ladies, but there's some bad breaking news on the Denzel Washington front. He told Matt Lauer this morning that, after his next flick, he's giving up acting for a while. Lauer pressed for a time frame, but Denzel says he's burned out on acting and wants to take an open-ended break. That may be a good idea, since the next film he'll be starring in is a remake of "The Manchurian Candidate," directed by Jonathan Demme. If anyone can do a great job, it's Demme, but why remake a masterpiece so eerie and iconic that any redo will pale in comparison?
Speaking of eerie, during a debate about the PATRIOT Act this morning, Katie Couric was playing referee between a rep from the ACLU and former Attorney General Ed Meese. When it got to the question of the American Library Association's concerns about privacy, Meese suddenly lost his cool and blurted out, "Librarians are more interested in pushing pornography on kids than fighting terrorism!" Can't they do both, Ed?
Speaking of icons, Elvis Costello is releasing his new album, "North," so he did a cable special to promote it ("Live by Request" now in rotation on A&E). The guy still has his voice and his passion and thank god. Not even his recent love affair with singer Diana Krall has quenched that fire in the belly. When he sings "Nonsense prevails, modesty fails, grace and virtue turn into stupidity ... What shall we do, what shall we do, with all this useless beauty?" you realize he's the only songwriter living who could have come up with such a perfect tune for our time. (CNN)
The perfect tune meister for the younger set might be Jack Black, who is getting rave previews for "School of Rock." An MTV interviewer asked him if there are any rock stars today and he said "Yeah, of course -- you've got your White Stripes, your Strokes. You got your, uh [pauses] -- OK, that's it." But he said that as far as he's concerned, anyone can rock, cause "it's in here -- the rock is in the heart." Go Jack. (MTV)
For James Bond film fans there is only one gold standard. But Pierce Brosnan has been top notch. Now the rumor is that PB is moving on after the next installment and has recommended Clive Owen as his successor. Clive was cute in a "Croupier" coat and sexy in a servant's outfit in "Gosford Park" but the real test is how he turns out in a tux. (IMDB)
-- Karen Croft
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Will they call it "Hand-Holding and the City"? The TBS Superstation has landed a deal to air a "cleaned-up version" of HBO's "Sex and the City," starting in June. "Because they knew some scenes would be too racy for regular cable, producers originally shot the same scenes from a different angle so that the show could be reworked for a mainstream audience," notes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Who knew?
Is Madonna passing off the work of late French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin as her own? Bourdin's son, Samuel, says she is and is suing her over the Bourdin-esque images that pepper her "Hollywood" video. "This is more than inspiration," Bourdin's lawsuit contends. "An overwhelming number of all of the scenes in the 'Hollywood' video are overtly and substantially derived from the Bourdin works." Tableaux in question include Madonna straddling a TV set. (N.Y. Daily News)
New Yorker Denise Fuhrer on Madonna, who was in New York Monday to sign copies of her new children's book, "The English Roses": "Maybe she has a normal streak. But I wouldn't let any granddaughter of mine read that book." (N.Y. Times)
Best of the Rest
Page Six: Jennifer Aniston said to have been extremely reluctant to return to "Friends" for one last season, distressed at putting family and film career on hold; David Letterman's flack continues to refuse to confirm or deny rumors that Letterman and his pregnant girlfriend, Regina Lasko, have secretly wed; "Summer of Sam" screenwriter Victor Colicchio gripes that Spike Lee "gave himself a writing credit" on the movie when he wasn't looking; George Plimpton would have been in Cuba and then at the Playboy Mansion in L.A. if he weren't dead; Norman Clark throws $2,000-a-head fundraiser for Gen. Wesley Clark; Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger split up; Al Pacino and Beverly D'Angelo seem to have settled case over custody of their 2-year-old twins; Woody Allen puts his $17 million townhouse on the market not because the mortgage is more than he can handle, but because, according to a friend, "It's huge. He doesn't need that much space."
Rush and Molloy: Nicole Kidman and Lenny Kravitz said to be "kissing and holding hands" at a recent wine-tasting gathering the other night, despite denials of couplehood; Jennifer Lopez said to be wearing her pink diamond engagement ring again, still hanging in Georgia with Ben Affleck, who recently bought a $37,000 Dodge Ram 4x4 pickup and a $2,199 single-barrel shotgun; Catherine Zeta-Jones rejects 20-carat platinum, pear-shaped diamond drop necklace from Harry Winston sent over for photo shoot; Sean "Puffy/P. Diddy" Combs said to be fixing to run the New York Marathon to raise money for educational charities; real estate gapers can take a virtual tour of Katharine Hepburn's Turtle Bay townhouse on Halstead.com (listing No. 905159).
Boldface Names: Stephen Sondheim introduces British singer Maria Friedman at her New York debut at the Café Carlyle, packs house with famous theater types like Marty Richards, Donna McKechnie, James Lapine and Elaine May; Plimpton toasted at Elaine's by son Taylor as well as Lewis Lapham, John J. Mortimer, Ben Metcalf, Bobby Zarem, Robert Altman and Carl Bernstein.
-- Amy Reiter