The Fix

"ER" loses a breast, Michael and Janet miss an opening, and Paris and her monkey miss a flight. Plus: Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore explore Bush alternatives in NYC.

By Salon Staff
Published February 5, 2004 7:17PM (UTC)
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Afternoon Briefing:

It's the story that won't go away: The fallout from the Janet Jackson fallout continues. The latest brouhaha has affected the megahit series "ER." Because of the sensitivity over the Super Bowl halftime breast-baring incident, NBC decided to edit tonight's episode of "ER" to exclude a shot of an 80-year-old woman's breast that was in a resuscitation scene. The series' star, Noah Wiley, had the understatement of the day when he told Katie Couric this morning that he thought NBC overreacted. (TV Guide)


What would we do for "news" without the Jackson family? Today Michael and Janet are making headlines for being naughty in a whole new way -- seems they missed their father's restaurant opening in West Hollywood last night. Their brother, Jermaine, was a good son and showed up at the restaurant named for his mother, Katherine. But Michael and Janet probably won't get into too much trouble, since Katherine herself didn't show. She was in Vegas, "relaxing." (ABC News)

The left coast: Robert McNamara was on the University of California at Berkeley campus last night to talk about his life and the searing documentary about his time as secretary of defense, "The Fog of War," with filmmaker Errol Morris. Before the film-clip showing and discussion in front of a sellout crowd, there was a reception at the chancellor's home on-campus. The sushi flowed, Tom Waits rubbed elbows with Alice Waters, and McNamara was surrounded by people who protested his very existence 35 years ago and were now trying to get his attention. (Reuters)

Paris Hilton watch: Is the silly celebrity auditioning for the circus? She tried to take a goat, a ferret and a monkey onboard a flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. When the flight attendants said no way she was forced to take a limo. (Ananova)


Ooh la la: People have died over the Michelin restaurant ratings. (Bernard Loiseau was found dead in an apparent suicide last year when his Burgundian bistro lost status.) This year the results were released early and chef Marc Meneau regained a star after having gone from three to two in 1999. He explained why he fought so hard to win back the star, "Nobody forces you. It is a need -- to be a general, and not a colonel." Vive la France! (Reuters)

-- Karen Croft

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On Wednesday, America Coming Together and the Media Fund, two starry political organizations working to defeat George Bush and "elect progressive candidates" in 2004, brought their Victory Campaign 2004 to New York. Their Los Angeles debut in December made a big splash and got the groups tagged as "Bush bashers." A press release for the New York presentation promised a celebrity-outfitted gathering that would include Meryl Streep, John McEnroe, Al Franken and Michael Douglas.

Media was barred from the actual presentation but invited to a pre-party press conference at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. There, about a dozen decidedly unglamorous political reporters sat on mostly empty wooden benches and listened to introductory remarks from activist and Victory Campaign organizer Laurie David, America Coming Together president Ellen Malcolm, Media Fund president and former Bill Clinton aide Harold Ickes, and Wenner Media chairman Jann Wenner.


Malcolm, the president of EMILY's List, did most of the talking. Responding to a question from a reporter about the campaign's anti-Bush bent, she said, "We don't hate Bush. This is not about hating the person; this is about the impact on families." Larry David, the creator and star of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," husband of Laurie David, paced up and down the aisles of the auditorium. Not many of the political reporters seemed to recognize him.

Soon the press was shooed out of the building and directly into a small hailstorm of confusion. On the sidewalk, a handful of onlookers, protesters and news crews were gawking at what was coming toward them from all directions. As if summoned by some silent whistle, New York's entertainment power players were converging on the corner of 64th Street and Central Park West, walking right up -- without limousines or assistants or anything on loan from Harry Winston.

Susan Sarandon, bundled in a coat and scarf, hurried past, nodding at a young woman carrying fliers for AIDS Vote who touched her arm and urged her to raise the question of how candidates will deal with AIDS. When cornered on the steps of the building by a camera crew, Sarandon asked suspiciously, "Who are you?" Ten feet away, a man in a camel trench coat waving an illustration of a donkey being smashed rather violently by an elephant's foot shouted, "Go back to Hollywood!" Sarandon lives in New York, but whatever. He added, generously, "Save your money!" The actress squinted at him briefly before walking into the building.


Next came philanthropist and author George Soros. Then there was Tribeca Films co-founder Jane Rosenthal. There were gasps down the street, but with no red carpet to funnel the guests inside, who knew for whom? It was hard enough to keep track of a single stretch of pavement. Familiarly scruffy director Michael Moore was already at the top of the steps before anyone spied him. One of the AIDS Vote activists gaped and pointed at her friend. "What did that guy direct? I totally recognize him!" she said, impressed.

No sooner had Moore entered the building than Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein turned the corner. Coatless in a pin-striped suit and suspenders, Weinstein was walking alone, enjoying the balmy 40-degree evening air. He bumped into a friend, and introduced him to MTV chairman and CEO Tom Freston, who had just crossed the street. A stray shriek from further down the block, followed by whispers about Meryl Streep, suggested that the actress might have just entered from the other side.

A protester in a rubber Saddam Hussein mask, carrying a sign that read "Save Me. Vote Democratic," elbowed past Freston and Weinstein and headed for the door, where he was blocked. "Quick, get that Saddam guy," said one of the television producers to his cameraman.


And then suddenly the stars were gone. Entertainment's self-appointed king makers were tucked inside, away from flashing bulbs or prying eyes, for a new-style consciousness raising -- a modern, urgent meeting of the Hollywood underground.

Welcome to 2004.

-- Rebecca Traister

Morning Briefing:


More Janet fallout: Janet Jackson has reportedly been disinvited from the Grammys by CBS. She had been scheduled to introduce the award show's tribute to Luther Vandross. (Access Hollywood)

Justin time: Justin Timberlake, who has apparently not been banned from the Grammys, says he'd never rehearsed the Super Bowl "costume reveal," that his own family was offended by it and that he finds the whole incident frustrating and "completely, completely, completely, regrettable." (KCBS-TV)

Bond, Britney Bond? Britney Spears has reportedly met with the producers of the James Bond flicks, possibly with the intention of appearing in one of the films. (Extra via Associated Press)

Reality trumps Rod: Rod Stewart is said to have been extremely peeved to have found himself playing second fiddle to "The Apprentice" reject Sam Solovey on Leno the other night. (Page Six)


-- Amy Reiter

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