On Monday night, PBS focuses on the first family of country music, the Carters, in "American Experience: The Carter Family: Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (check local listings), and NBC offers a special "Fear Factor" pitting New Yorkers against denizens of Los Angeles (8 p.m. EDT).
Kutcher, all quickie all the time? Is fashion designer Cynthia Rowley revealing the sex secrets of the rich, famous and curiously matched? Rowley claims that Demi Moore recently told her that "the sex [with Ashton Kutcher] was kind of, like, fast." What's more, Rowley says she thinks those rumors about Moore being pregnant could be true. "I think so, yeah," Rowley speculated. "I just had a baby, like three months ago, so we women know those things. It's all about the boobs." Moore's rep says the actress does not recall having had such a conversation with Rowley, but neither he nor Kutcher's rep would comment on the pregnancy rumors. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)
Also rumored to be pregnant ... Jennifer Garner, with Ben Affleck's child. Neither Garner's nor Affleck's reps will comment on recent reports that the couple, said to be recently engaged, are expecting a bouncing baby bundle in November. (E! Online via N.Y. Post and N.Y. Daily News)
The stars come out to say ... Arianna Huffington's new celeb-studded blog has just launched. And? On Day 1 you can find out what Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall think of gay marriage, what Hunter S. Thompson wrote on a T-shirt he sent to John Cusack before his death, and why Ellen DeGeneres is all worked up about the fate of wild horses. Also, Laurie David reveals that her husband, Larry, is a big "American Idol" fan. (The Huffington Post)
Jackson trial update: The mothers of two young men who repeatedly shared a bed with Michael Jackson during their youth testified on Friday that they trusted Jackson implicitly and believed that he had never acted in any inappropriate way with their sons. "I feel like he's a member of the family. I trust him. I trust him with my children," said Joy Robson, whose son Wade, now a 22-year-old choreographer for the likes of Britney Spears, got his start in entertainment from Jackson, adding, "He's a very special person. He's not the boy next door. He's Michael Jackson. He's very unique. He has a very pure personality. To know him is to love him and to trust him." Marie Lisbeth Barnes, who allowed her son Brett, now 23, to sleep with Jackson an estimated 365 times over a two-year period when the boy was 10 or 11 years old, said of the pop star, "He's a very nice person. You just know when you can trust someone." Meanwhile, a bailiff reportedly had to break up a scuffle between the district attorney trying the case and a member of Jackson's defense team who the D.A. believed came too close to his table in the courtroom. The heated argument happened during a break, outside the jury's earshot. (N.Y. Post, Associated Press, Washington Post)
Media maelstrom: Media critic Michael Wolff sure knows how to rile people up. In the current issue of Vanity Fair, Wolff opines (as others have before him) that conservatives are funnier than liberals, taking aim in particular at his colleagues at Slate, New York magazine (a publication he once tried to buy) and the New York Times. Slate media critic Jack Shafer, whom Wolff calls a "school monitor type," responded to Wolff's column, "No Jokes, Please, We're Liberal," noting that Wolff has ties to -- or beefs to settle with -- both the Times and New York magazine, and possibly with Shafer himself, who gave Wolff's book "Burn Rate" a far less than glowing review, back in the day. "Like many Wolff pieces, this one bends in on itself to give a better gander of the writer than the subject he's ostensibly writing about ... This isn't media criticism. It's public masturbation," writes Shafer. Wolff responded with a snippy letter to Romenesko. And now Wolff's fellow Vanity Fair-ite James Wolcott is getting in on the slap-fight, delivering this veiled smack to his colleague's central theory. "Let's face it, when Ann Coulter mocked Max Cleland and made her infamous Timothy McVeigh wisecrack, that was comedy gold. Jonah Goldberg, he fills the hole left by the late Chris Farley, and I think we can all agree, it's quite a hole. If there's a funnier columnist than David Brooks, I'll eat my sombrero, and when Tony Blankley does the Danny Thomas spit trick, it is to die," Wolcott writes on his blog. "And be honest, no one makes a heartier homo joke like Michael Savage, author of the new bestseller 'Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder.'"
Cruise, lost in translation: Here in the U.S. we clucked our tongues and marveled at reports that Tom Cruise had set up tents on the set of his latest film, Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," for members of the cast and crew to get information about Scientology. But in Germany, where Scientology is considered a cult, or as an interviewer for Der Spiegel just put it during a somewhat combative -- and highly entertaining -- chat with Cruise and Spielberg, "an exploitative cult with totalitarian tendencies." The religion -- or cult -- has been under surveillance by the German government for several years, points out Der Spiegel. Responds Cruise: "The surveillance is nothing like as strict anymore. Any you know why? Because the intelligence authorities never found anything. Because there was nothing to find. We've won over 50 court cases in Germany. And it's not true that everyone in Germany supports that line against us. Whenever I go to Germany, I have incredible experiences. I always meet very generous and extraordinary people. A minority wants to hate -- okay."
And what of those on-set tents? Well, here's the key exchange between Cruise and his questioner:
Cruise: The volunteer Scientology ministers were there to help the sick and injured. People on the set appreciated that. I have absolutely nothing against talking about my beliefs. But I do so much more. We live in a world where people are on drugs forever. Where even children get drugged. Where crimes against humanity are so extreme that most people turn away in horror and dismay. Those are the things that I care about. I don't care what someone believes. I don't care what nationality they are. But if someone wants to get off drugs, I can help them. If someone wants to learn how to read, I can help them. If someone doesn't want to be a criminal anymore, I can give them tools that can better their life. You have no idea how many people want to know what Scientology is.
SPIEGEL: Do you see it as your job to recruit new followers for Scientology?
Cruise: I'm a helper. For instance, I myself have helped hundreds of people get off drugs. In Scientology, we have the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. It's called Narconon.
SPIEGEL: That's not correct. Yours is never mentioned among the recognized detox programs. Independent experts warn against it because it is rooted in pseudo science.
Cruise: You don't understand what I am saying. It's a statistically proven fact that there is only one successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. Period.
Also: Drudge reports that ABC is planning to add to its fall lineup a show starring Geena Davis as the first female U.S. president, "Commander-in-Chief." (Drudge) ... Drudge is also reporting that Paula Abdul may actually feel that she got off easy in that "Primetime Live" special in which Corey Clark alleged that she engaged in certain improprieties with him. An ABC News source says Abdul's lawyer sent the network a letter denying drug abuse on Paula's part, something the source says ABC had never even considered. (Drudge) ... Meanwhile, Abdul's damage-control-by-self-ridicule attempt on "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend was overshadowed by a new scandal: NBC censors reportedly neglected to bleep an exclamation -- "F--- yeah!" -- uttered by a member of the show's featured band, System of a Down, during the group's performance of their song "B.Y.O.B." (N.Y. Daily News) ... Katie Couric is reported to be enlisting the help of her boyfriend, sitcom guru Tom Werner, to stave off the onslaught of negative press she's been receiving lately. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... The special guest of honor at Naomi Campbell's 35th birthday party in Cannes on May 19 is, of all people, Nelson Mandela. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... An FBI inquiry into the lyrics of the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie"? Apparently so -- back in the '60s. And you thought the government's obsession with obscenity was unique to our time. (The Smoking Gun) ... Maria Shriver's brother Bobby got hitched to artist Malissa Feruzzi in Los Angeles on Saturday, and Shriver and hubby Arnold Schwarzenegger were there to celebrate, as were Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and Russell Simmons. (N.Y. Post) ... Martha Stewart reportedly got not one vote in an online poll conducted by Child magazine in which readers were asked "Who is your No. 1 female hero?" (Page Six) ... Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven" took No. 1 at the box office over the weekend, edging out "House of Wax" by nearly $8 million, but the epic's take, $20 million, was still considered something of a disappointment. (USA Today) ... Foxy Brown has rejected a plea deal in connection with charges that she punched and kicked two NYC nail salon employees when they refused her a manicure. (AllHipHop.com) ... Stephen King's advice to graduates of the University of Maine? Read a lot, donate as much as possible to charity, and stay in Maine forever. (Boston Herald)
Steven Spielberg on the new "Star Wars" flick: "I saw it about a week ago, and it's absolutely amazing. It's the best of the last three episodes. It's the best way you could possibly imagine for George [Lucas] to finish it off, it has a tremendous ending and it's very dark. You'll cry at the end. It's wonderful." (Contact Music)
Jerry Lewis on the chronic pain that got him hooked on Percodan and nearly drove him to suicide, and how he rid himself of it: "I now have a battery under my skin ... This is the programmer. So I press this on button here. Did you hear that? Little ping, and I'm stimulating, and I don't have any pain. It also opens my garage door! God Bless America!" (ABC News)
-- Amy Reiter