The Fix

Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush have their say, and the "Wicked" witches have their day. Plus: Dillon and Tomei bring Bukowski to the big screen.

By Salon Staff

Published May 10, 2004 9:40AM (EDT)

Afternoon Briefing:
Nancy steps up for stem cells: Former first lady Nancy Reagan has come out in favor of stem cell research, saying the country has already lost time debating the issue. In a statement made during a Hollywood fundraiser that goes against the stand of the Bush administration, Reagan said she believed stem cell research "may provide our scientists with many answers that for so long have been beyond our grasp." She spoke about her husband's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, saying, "Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him." (AFP)

Another first lady heard from: Laura Bush has commented on the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, saying, "It is really, really sad, I mean, it is sad. I think we -- we agonize as each of those pictures come out and as we see them. It is a picture we don't want the rest of the world to have of us." She added that it "makes our troops more vulnerable," but said that "people will be prosecuted." (AFP)

On a lighter note: The Tony nominations were announced today and "Wicked" -- a musical backstory to "The Wizard of Oz" told from the witches' point of view -- got 10. Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins" got seven, and even "Taboo," the Rosie O'Donnell/Boy George fiasco that closed after 100 performances, got four. Hugh Jackman was nominated for "The Boy From Oz" and Kevin Kline for "Henry IV." The winners will be announced June 6. (Reuters)

Not happy: Britt Ekland is reportedly upset that she will be portrayed by Charlize Theron in a biopic of Peter Sellers. Ekland says that having 27-year-old, 6-foot-tall Theron playing her -- a 5-foot-5 20-year-old -- is all wrong and she's threatening legal action. Ekland was married to Sellers from 1964-68. (IMBD)

Bukowski hits the big screen: Matt Dillon and Marisa Tomei are set to star in a film version of "Factotum," a semi-autobiographical story by Charles Bukowski about a writer who avoids the draft in World War II and drifts around "boozing it up, having sex with women and avoiding the police." (E! Online)

Debbie's disclosure: Debbie Harry said she has had sex with women but that she prefers men. Said the 58-year-old singer, "I am probably more heterosexual than I am homosexual." (Sky News)

-- Karen Croft

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Turn On:
While Rocco is away visiting his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, Jeffrey continues his quest for total control of "The Restaurant" (10 p.m. ET; NBC). If you just can't get enough of Tim Russert of "Meet the Press," see him talking up his new book about his dad on both "The Charlie Rose Show" (PBS; check local listings) and "Larry King Live" (9 p.m. ET; CNN).

-- Scott Lamb

Morning Briefing:
It's not over: In the latest issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh has described more photos documenting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, including several showing a naked Iraqi being attacked by dogs. In one photo, the prisoner is shown with his hands clasped behind his head, "leaning against the door to a cell, contorted with terror, as the dogs bark a few feet away," Hersh writes. Another photo, taken a few minutes later, shows the Iraqi "lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmates leg." (New Yorker via Drudge) Sen. John McCain, who says he was tortured, but "never humiliated" as a prisoner of war, on the images from Abu Ghraib: "I've seen a lot of terrible things in my life. But to see it done by Americans to human beings is what's so appalling. It's so outrageous, I can't describe it." (N.Y. Times) Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, calling for the release of all images of torture at Abu Ghraib: "It's best that this be seen for what it is. Judgments then can be made by people. Any effort to hide this kind of material is just not going to work." (N.Y. Times)

In lighter New Yorker news: has chronicled the unchanging nature of editor David Remnick's hair. (Gawker)

Big easy reunion: Ellen Barkin and Ron Perelman are calling off their separation and giving their marriage another try. "They are back together," says a spokeswoman for the actress and the Revlon billionaire, who have been married for just shy of four years. "They love each other very much and are 100% committed to their life together." You can all breathe a sigh of relief now. (Rush and Molloy)

J.Lo-down: 1) She may be engaged again, this time to singer Marc Anthony. "She is wearing a huge diamond ring on the middle finger of her left hand," a friend says. "It is a diamond band with a huge square clear diamond in the middle and the square diamond is surrounded by more tiny diamonds. It is an engagement ring." 2) The film she made with Richard Gere, "Shall We Dance," originally scheduled for release in July, has been postponed until Oct. 15. It's being recut either because "test audiences said they wanted to see more J.Lo" or because audiences simply didn't like it, depending on whom you believe. 3) Her other upcoming film, "An Unfinished Life," with Robert Redford, is also under the knife. According to an insider, "A lot of Jennifer's scenes for 'An Unfinished Life' are ending up on the cutting room floor -- she just wasn't up to par, or at least up to Robert Redford's level." (Page Six and Rush and Molloy)

Macaulay Culkin, novelist? It would seem so. The all-growed-up "Home Alone" star, now 23, has sold an "autobiographical first novel" to Miramax Books for a five-figure sum. The novel, "Junior," is being described as "part memoir, part rant, part comedic tour-de-force," focusing on Culkin's "quest to come to terms with the awesome pressures of childhood megastardom and family dysfunction." It's due out in March. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)

She has her limits: Madonna has reportedly disappointed dance music master Aphex Twin by refusing to squeal like a pig on his upcoming album. "I wanted Madonna to just do stupid noises. There wasn't going to be any singing on the track. Just grunts, moans and pig impersonations. I really wanted to hear Madonna doing a pig." (London Daily Record via Page Six)

True rumor: Scarlett Johansson has confirmed that she and Benicio Del Toro were involved in a clinch in an elevator at the Chateau Marmont hotel after the Oscars. "We were making out or having sex or something, which I think is very unsanitary. He's a fabulous guy." (Elle magazine via Page Six)

-- Amy Reiter

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