The Fix

What Kanye said about Bush before NBC pulled the plug. Sean Penn's boat rescue. Plus: Francis Bean Cobain speaks.

Published September 6, 2005 11:33AM (EDT)

Morning Briefing:
Kanye, unscripted: During NBC's live Friday airing of "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," rapper Kanye West went way off-script to castigate President Bush and the handling of disaster relief effort in New Orleans. Paired in a segment for the show with Mike Meyers, West spoke with obvious emotion about what was happening. Here's a transcript of his comments:

Myers: The landscape of the city has changed dramatically, tragically and perhaps irreversibly. There is now over 25 feet of water where there was once city streets and thriving neighborhoods.

West: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!

Myers: And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors' will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all.

West: George Bush doesn't care about black people!

Myers: Please call(The camera cuts away.)

You would have missed it on the West coast, as NBC censored his comments for that broadcast. In a statement after the show, NBC said "It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists and the generosity of millions of Americans are overshadowed by one person's opinion." Watch the video here. (MSNBC, L.A. Times, Crooks and Liars)

Penn to the rescue: Johnnie Brown, a retired custodian from New Orleans, was rescued from his flooded house on Monday and called his sister with the good news when he made it to dry land. "Guess who come and got me out of the house?" he asked. "Sean Penn the actor. Them boys were really nice." Penn spent the day in a boat with his photographer and a crew of helpers trying to rescue people still stranded in their homes (though it was reported elsewhere that not only would his boat's engine not start, but it sprung a leak seconds after launching). "There's a lot of people out there," Penn said. "There's bodies everywhere. We could only do so many houses." Also lending a hand, Macy Gray appeared at the Astrodome to help hand out clothes and toiletries. "It is very humbling, but I loved every second of it," Gray said. "It was really gratifying and I had a great time." (N.Y. Daily News, Page Six, AP)

Frances Bean speaks: In her first public interview -- given to Teen Vogue -- 13-year-old Frances Bean Cobain displays more poise than her mom has in a lifetime of court appearances. "I'm a different person," she says. "I don't want to be titled as Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's daughter. I want to be thought of as Frances Cobain." She's also got a cleaner fashion sense -- "I don't like to look sloppy. I'm a girly-girl" -- and an almost eerily distanced take on her mom's look: "I prefer when she's more 'classy starlet.' I don't really like her hard-metal stuff, or when she doesn't brush her hair." (N.Y. Daily News)

A new look for Jacko?: Michael Jackson may have finally decided that the emaciated recluse look isn't panning out. Jackson has been mostly in seclusion in the Middle East since his sex abuse trial ended, and now there's a rumor circulating that he's also in the middle of an image makeover. Talking to the New York Post, Michael C. Luckman says Jackson is trying to bulk up with weight lifting, and will be ditching the long wigs and pale makeup in an effort to look less "weird." The reason for the potential change? Jackson has been in talks to do a residency at a Las Vegas casino, and everyone knows that Vegas cannot stand weirdness. Also: we should note that Luckman is the author of a book about rock music and aliens as well as director of the New York Center for Extraterrestrial Research. (Monsters and Critics)

A spokesperson for Lance Armstrong confirmed the cyclist is engaged to Sheryl Crow. Lance popped the question last Wednesday in Sun Valley, Idaho, but there are no firm (or at least public) plans for when or where the wedding will be held. ... Singer Justin Jeffre is the latest to attempt the tricky crossover from pop music to politics. The members of 98 Degrees -- who hadn't appeared onstage since 2001-- performed together over the weekend to support Jeffre (an independent) in his bid to become mayor of Cincinnati. Nick Lachey even gave a stump speech for his bandmate. "It's a very important time for Cincinnati," said Lachey. "Don't take it lightly. This is a big deal -- and this guy knows what he's talking about."... With Labor Day past and summer unofficially over, the numbers for summer movies are in, and they aren't pretty: Attendance levels went back to circa-1997 numbers. Hollywood suffered more than one high-profile flop during blockbuster season, while the French documentary "March of the Penguins" was a huge hit. "In an ideal world, people would say 'OK, we have to think more creatively, we have to think outside the box and come up with new and different things,'" said Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for Warner Independent Pictures. "But I'm afraid what's going to happen is, we're all going to sit in a room and say 'We need more penguin movies.'" ... With President Robert Mugabe scheduled to appear before the U.N. next week, Zimbabwe's information minister Chen Chimutengwende is making the claim that "The Interpreter," a Sydney Pollack film released in April and starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, is part of a CIA plot to undermine the country. "The film talks about an African president going to the United Nations and our president is going to the UN next week so the connection is so obvious," he said. "It is part of a CIA-sponsored fight ... but we will defeat them and we will defeat neo-colonialism."

Money Quote:
Pierce Brosnan's response to the handling of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina: "This man called President Bush has a lot to answer for. I don't know if this man is really taking care of America. This government has been shameful." (AP via Drudge)

Director Steven Soderbergh on the lack of reality in reality TV: "(It's) as far from reality as you can imagine and more fictionalized than the movies you see ... They're forcing the issue onto characters. (The goal is to) force these people to be humiliated." (AP via Newsday)

Turn On:
Kevin Brownlow's newest documentary delves into the life of one of cinema's most iconic and reclusive stars with "Garbo" (TCM, 8 p.m. EDT). Also, the retro-reality show "'70s House" has its season finale (MTV, 10:30 p.m.).

-- Scott Lamb

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