The Fix

Rather says barbs hurt. Boy George lashes out at Madonna. Martha says freedom tastes "very, very good."

By Salon Staff
Published March 7, 2005 3:22PM (EST)

Turn On:
Monday is a big night for TV watching: Mark Burnett's new reality TV series "The Contender," about boxers, premieres at 9:30 p.m. EST on NBC. And Kirstie Alley's brave new comedy-reality series "Fat Actress" premieres on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST.

Morning Briefing:
Rather tough, but not impervious: Dan Rather, who will vacate his "CBS Evening News" anchor chair on Wednesday, has admitted that some of the attacks against him over the years have hurt him. "No rhinoceros has a hide so thick that some well-placed, hard-thrown, pointed spear can't get under it," the newsman, whose style and reputation was recently impugned in comments to the New Yorker by his CBS News colleagues Mike Wallace and Don Hewitt, told the New York Daily News. "It's also true, it's not very often. And when it does, when I feel it, it's not for very long." Rather, who will continue to report for "60 Minutes," says he's willing to take the heat as he pursues tough stories: "You can look at me; after 43 years, I've got a lot of scars. They're all from the front. I didn't get it in the back because I didn't run. And now would not be a time to start." (N.Y. Daily News)

The case against Jackson, shaky? Fox News gossip Roger Friedman is poking holes in the child-molestation case against Michael Jackson, saying that the accuser's sister's on-the-stand admission last week that she had lied "about certain things" in her testimony was the "beginning of the end for the prosecution." Friedman contends, too, that the accuser's mother sold her story to a British tabloid for $4,000 before the alleged abuse and kidnapping were said to have taken place; that there was likely no script for the rebuttal video in which the family praised Jackson; that the mother's boyfriend was present during part of the video shoot, but left of his own volition partway through the taped proceedings, allegedly because he grew bored, casting doubt on contentions that the family was being held against its will and coerced; and that the family signed model releases for the use of their words and images on the video written, a source tells Friedman, by the mother herself. In other Jackson news, Friedman notes that the mother of two of Jackson's children has offered her Jackson-bestowed wedding ring for sale on eBay. Bidding is now at $61,700 and has not yet met the reserve. (Fox News Online, eBay)

Does she really want to hurt him? Boy George has labeled Madonna a "hypocrite" for her enthusiasm for the Kabbalah. "I have a problem with Madonna's devotion to Kabbalah, because I watched a documentary that said that Kabbalah believes that gay people are diseased and can be cured," Boy George recently told the press. "She's such a hypocrite. This is the woman who has embraced homosexuality and used it to her advantage." (Irish Examiner)

Also: Former CBS president Howard Stringer has been named chairman of Sony Corp., the Tokyo-based company's first non-Japanese leader. (Associated Press) ... George H.W. Bush says that while he was traveling tsunami-ravaged Southeast Asia with Bill Clinton, the younger former president slept on the floor in order to give the elder ex-POTUS use of the sole bedroom on the government plane on which they traveled. (Newsweek via Associated Press) ... California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced a campaign to ban all junk food from California schools and to replace it with fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in an effort to fight childhood obesity. (Associated Press) ... Vogue editor Anna Wintour, long a target of the ire of anti-fur protestors, got a pie in the face the other day from an animal-rights zealot at the Chanel show at Paris' Fashion Week. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... In the wake of the recent scuffle between followers of rappers 50 Cent and The Game, the Rev. Al Sharpton has called for radio and TV stations and the FCC to ban from the air for 90 days any performer who has used violence to promote his or her work, saying urban violence should not be romanticized. (N.Y. Daily News) ... "Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead has left her spot hosting a show on Air America Radio, a move the station claims has been long in the works. (Rush and Molloy) ... Vin Diesel's "The Pacifier" beat John Travolta's "Be Cool" to take the top spot at the box office this weekend, pulling in $30.2 million. (Associated Press) ... Christo and Jeanne-Claude have reportedly turned down an offer of $50 million for the saffron sheets they used in "The Gates," insisting that all materials will be recycled and not used for profit. (Page Six) ... A homeless man convicted of stalking Mel Gibson faces 16 months to three years in jail. (Reuters) ... Elton John has canceled two U.S. appearances, saying he is ill, but not specifying what's ailing him. (Hindustan Times)

Money Quotes:
U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on speculation that Bono might be on the short list of candidates to lead the World Bank: "Most people know him as a rock star. He's in a way a rock star of the development world, too. He understands the give-and-take of development. He's a very pragmatic, effective and idealistic person." (USA Today)

Martha Stewart to fans awaiting a glimpse of her as she strolled the grounds of her estate yesterday before going under house arrest today: "It's very, very good to be out." (N.Y. Post)

James Brown having a "bigger than Jesus" moment: "I'm like Moses in the music business!" (N.Y. Post)

-- Amy Reiter

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