The Fix

Dr. Seuss' widow disses Austin Powers, "Big Brother" in Bahrain is a bust, and George Clooney wants to wash your car -- in a toga. Plus: Backstage Oscar quotes galore.

By Salon Staff
Published March 1, 2004 2:56PM (EST)

Afternoon Briefing:

Going out with a bang: The guard changes today at New York magazine, with Adam Moss stepping in as editor in chief and Caroline Miller stepping out. Miller is leaving on a loud note, with Naomi Wolf's "Sex and Silence at Yale" cover story (wherein she writes that Harold Bloom touched her thigh inappropriately in 1983). The piece was generating 150 e-mails a day last week, and wouldn't they make interesting reading... (MIN)

No more cats in the hat: Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) would have been 100 tomorrow, and his widow, Audrey, who oversees his estate, says she won't allow another live-action film like last year's "The Cat in the Hat" starring Mike Myers. She says, "I never saw 'Austin Powers,' but I knew 'Yeah, baby!' and I didn't want 'Yeah, baby!' at all." (CNN)

Toga, toga, toga! George Clooney's dad is running for Congress in Kentucky and the actor is having a fundraiser at his L.A. home March 6. The actor sent letters to potential donors saying: "My father, Nick, is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kentucky's fourth District. He's the Democratic candidate. If he wins, he'll be the only Democrat from Kentucky in Congress. There's a limit to what anyone can donate to a campaign. If I was allowed, I'd pay for the whole thing (and cover a few Father's Days), but I can't. So, I'm writing you in hopes of scaring up some cash for his Congressional bid. If you can't or don't want to, I understand. However, if you can ... I'm having a cocktail party at my house. It's a benefit so there will be entertainment, hors d'oeuvres and booze. And I'll wash your car every week till it's paid off and Armor All the tires ... in a toga. Hope to see you there, George." (IMDB)

"Big Brother" in Bahrain: The Arabic satellite TV channel MBC has canceled the Arab version of "Big Brother" amid protests that the show -- which features six women and six men living together in the kingdom of Bahrain -- is a threat to Islam. One of the protesters said: "Our religion has strong values which say boys and girls should not mix together ... This is entertainment for animals." (BBC)

-- Karen Croft

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So we all know what they said when they accepted their little gold statuettes. (Alas, not much. Though my favorite Oscar 2004 moment was before the ceremony, when Nicole Kidman accused Renée Zellweger of swearing on-camera, then took it back saying she was "hearing things.") But what did they say backstage? Here's a quick rundown of the best off-camera quotes of the evening:

Best actress Charlize Theron on best supporting actress Renée Zellweger: "I think Renée is incredible -- she's like pizza, you know, in that she's always good."

Zellweger on Theron and the golden rewards of deglamorization: "If it's a trend, I hope it means playing interesting women who are multifaceted and really rich in their journeys. It's what interests me most, how removed the character is from your own experiences. As a person who loves films, I love to watch that and I was mesmerized watching Charlize become this woman."

Theron on her perky -- yet damp -- proboscis, just before going back onstage with the other winners: "I think I need a tissue. I have a snotty nose."

Theron on kissing Christina Ricci: "We didn't have a lot of tongue action. I can't believe I'm talking about this; I'm holding an Oscar."

Susan Sarandon to best original screenplay winner Sofia Coppola, while tucking into her hand the envelope from which Coppola's winning name was read: "Sofia! Sofia! Keep this. You'll want to frame that."

Coppola on her reaction after her win: "I never thought my dad would watch me get an Oscar. I was really nervous, my heart was pounding but I just jumped around and screamed and did my thing."

Catherine Zeta-Jones, tugging on her shimmery red dress, to a startled Tim Robbins, to whom she had just presented the best supporting actor Oscar: "I need to get this thing off." (Turns out she was talking about the microphone on her back.)

Host and wise man Billy Crystal on pre-show commentator Billy Bush: "This is the most annoying man in show business."

Robbins on spontaneity and the five-second delay: "I'll never forget that streaker. I'm hoping for a little streaking tonight. Will Ferrell is in the house, so --"

Robbins on not being afraid to speak out anyway: "If you're going to live in a free society, you're going to have freedom of speech. Sometimes what other people say is going to make you uncomfortable on both sides of the coin, so you have to live with it."

Sean Penn on being afraid to speak out anyway: "I think it's a question of degree of embarrassment. Things going on in the world right now, I think I would have felt very embarrassed to have been perceived as taking some kind of a stand in a negative way here. And we also are aware that there is a fashion show outside and all of those things. But really it came down to social discomfort, too many people you know."

Penn on the standing ovation he was given as he accepted the award for best actor: "I did arguably feel I was there to debunk the notion that it was a popularity contest. But they took that away from me in the room."

Annie Lennox on working with Peter Jackson on "Return of the King" toward the end of the editing process: "His pallor went from pink to gray in a few months."

Peter Jackson on pinking up again: "Right now it feels like I can do it all over again. It was absolutely worth it although it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life."

"Harvie Krumpet" director and best animated short winner Adam Elliot on making history by thanking his boyfriend in his acceptance speech: "It just popped into my head. It was not something I planned to do ... I've only been going out with him two months."

Blake Edwards on Janet Jackson's breast and the five-second delay: "It's such hypocrisy. My wife [Julie Andrews] did it in a film for Christ's sake and nobody complained, at least not to me."

Jackson on what he's going to do with two of the six Oscars he and his wife, Fran Walsh, were taking home: "I'm going to put one next to my son's bed and one next to my daughter's."

Robbins on what he and his wife, Sarandon, planned to do with theirs: "We're going to get them together in a little room, turn out the lights, light some candles, see what happens. Little Oscars, wouldn't that be scary? My Oscar is pregnant."

Morning Briefing:

Chanel No. 2? New Chanel No. 5 face Nicole Kidman wore a slate blue Chanel that looked a lot like the pink Chanel Sarah Jessica Parker wore to last summer's Emmys.

Targeting the Times: The New York Times' ethics are under fire from gay groups after the paper dismissed a stringer named Jay Blotcher for once being a member of the AIDS-action group ACT UP, though Blotcher says his work for the paper has "never dealt with gay issues or AIDS issues." Metropolitan editor Susan Edgerley says her motivation for dumping Blotcher "to protect against any appearance of conflict of interest" was "expediency." (Gay City News)

Le Passion de Christ? Non!: Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has not yet been picked up by a distributor in France amid fears of charges of anti-Semitism. "We don't want to be on the side of those who support such anti-Semitism," commented one "veteran film industry figure." "There's enough anti-Semitic stuff circulating here already without us throwing oil on the fire." (Sunday Telegraph)

-- Amy Reiter

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