The Fix

Bullock, DiCaprio dig deep; Vince Neil drops F-bomb on Leno; and what does Al Gore have to do with Paris Hilton?

By Salon Staff

Published January 4, 2005 2:50PM (EST)

Turn On:
Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET, NBC premieres its quirky new sitcom "Committed," starring Josh Cooke and Jennifer Finnegan as two vastly different neurotic people in love. Or if you're in a completely different mood, PBS offers an "Independent Lens" documentary, hosted by Susan Sarandon, about ex-cons trying to get their lives together on parole, "A Hard Straight" (check local listings).

Morning Briefing:
Wave of Hollywood cash headed to tsunami victims: Sandra Bullock, who donated big in the wake of 9/11, has again dug deep and pledged $1 million to support Red Cross efforts to provide relief to victims of the tsunami in South Asia. And Leonardo DiCaprio says he'll donate a "sizable" sum to UNICEF to aid areas in Thailand where he filmed "The Beach." NBC, meanwhile, is planning an hour-long benefit special, featuring celebs and musicians yet to be named, to be broadcast on the network -- and on USA, Bravo, Trio, Sci-Fi, MSNBC and CNBC -- on Jan. 15. And on the other coast, Rupert Murdoch has pledged $1 million of support to the victims on behalf of his News Corp. empire -- and has pledged to match employee donations, as well. What's more, David Beckham is planning to make a personal visit to Thailand to boost morale, and Cliff Richard, Boy George, Olivia Newton John and others are recording a charity song to raise money for the victims. (Reuters, Sky News, The Scotsman)

A stroke of luck for Michael? The Web site Celebrity Justice reports that the mother of the boy who has accused Michael Jackson of molesting him once turned to a community newspaper to help raise money for her ill son -- and left editors there with the distinct impression that she was a greedy "shark." According to Connie Keenan, editor of the El Monte, Calif., paper Mid Valley News, the boy's mother approached her paper claiming that "her son needed all sorts of medical care and they had no financial means to provide it," so the paper ran a story asking readers to donate money and quoting the mother as saying heart-wrenching things like, "Our car has been repossessed" and "One chemotherapy injection costs more than $12,000." But it turns out that the boy's father's insurance covered the entire cost of his medical care -- and the $965 raised may have been used for other purposes. What's more, the paper soured on the mother's story after she requested the money be sent directly to her, rather than to a separate fund in the boy's name, and quibbled with the amount of money raised. "My gut level: she's a shark. She was after money," Keenan told the Web site. "My readers were used. My staff was used. It's sickening." The paper has contacted Jackson's lawyers. (Celebrity Justice)

One person's tragedy is another person's photo op: David Gest has taken the occasion of his estranged wife Liza Minnelli's tumble out of bed and subsequent hospitalization to promote his recent holiday concerts in Memphis. "It's so hard to see someone you once loved fall to pieces like this," Gest, who is in the midst of suing Minnelli for $10 million, told Lloyd Grove's Lowdown, adding that he was thrilled with the results of his recent concerts, which featured few of the stars originally promoted but did include performances by oldsters like Jane Russell, Gale Storm, Tippi Hedren and Dionne Warwick. "I'm really excited that I'm able to work again. It was a real rough year and a half ... I was getting 80 shots every four weeks," says Gest, who claims that Minnelli beat him with something approaching superhuman strength when she was soused. "I didn't know if I would ever be able to stand up for a few years. I was in the hospital on and off, and taking so much morphine and Oxycontin, and the pain was devastating." Poor man. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)

Vince Neil pulls a Bono: Here's what Motley Crue's Vince Neil said to his bandmate Tommy Lee shortly after midnight during a live broadcast of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on New Year's Eve: "Happy f---ing New Year, Tommy!" Though the F-word utterance was edited out for West Coast viewers, East Coasters heard it loud and clear. But according to an NBC official, "The network has not received any calls regarding the incident." (Associated Press)

Gore TV: Details are leaking out about Al Gore's forthcoming Gen-Y-targeted cable news network, to be called INdTV. And? It will include shows like "That's F*ed Up," in which contributors rant about weird stuff that's going on around them, and "INdTV Paparazzi," in which contributors "get someone famous to opine on something substantive. ('Hey Paris -- what did you think of Rumsfeld's quote on the armored Humvee shortage in Iraq?') Or, ask a serious figure about something not-so-substantive." Of that last one, an internal memo warns contributors, "Don't be a stalker." (Reliable Source)

Also: Cameron Diaz is reported to have spent a meal chucking ice chips at the back of the head of 20-year-old Victoria's Secret model Deanna Miller after Miller appeared in a frisky photo shoot with Diaz's boyfriend, Justin Timberlake. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Heidi Klum and Seal are reportedly engaged. (Rush and Molloy) ... Unlike her sister, Paris, Nicky Hilton has been revealed to be a wearer of underwear. (Rush and Molloy) ... Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe is said to be planning to sell the 2.13-carat diamond engagement ring Jackson gave her in 1996 on eBay, now that her $1 million-a-year alimony has been discontinued after she allegedly broke a confidentiality agreement by appearing on "Entertainment Tonight" sometime back. (Rush and Molloy) ... Charles Barkley is writing a book, to be published by Penguin in May, called "Why Do White People Hate Me?" (Page Six) ... Jonathan Baker, who yelled at and shoved his wife when the couple were competing on "The Amazing Race," now claims that he was just acting. (N.Y. Post) ... Work has kicked off on the whopping Christo and Jean-Claude project "The Gates" in New York's Central Park. The $20 million installation, which will span 23 miles, will run from Feb. 12-27. (N.Y. Times)

-- Amy Reiter

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