The Fix

Help efforts from Travolta, Oprah and Penn. Celine Dion loses it on Larry King. Plus: Michael Jackson plans Katrina comeback.



Salon Staff
September 7, 2005 4:27PM (UTC)

Morning Briefing:
Star relief watch: John Travolta is the latest big name to get personally involved in the Katrina relief effort. He and wife Kelly Preston flew down to Baton Rouge in their private jet on Tuesday with five tons of food and 400 doses of tetanus vaccine for rescue workers. The couple went on to tour devastated New Orleans. "What we've seen in the shelters is wonderful, because people are being taken care of," Travolta said. "What we've seen in the city is disastrous." Travolta has further plans to work with Oprah Winfrey, who was at the Astrodome after visiting New Orleans, to coordinate relief efforts. And Sean Penn's boat didn't spring a leak during his own rescue efforts on Monday -- it was just too full. "There was never a leak," according to Douglas Brinkley, the Tulane University historian who accompanied Penn as part of a story he's working on for Rolling Stone. "The boat was overloaded with people. It got some water in it, as boats usually do. I witnessed him rescuing up to 40 people. He was up to his waist in toxic muck ... I'm not going to comment on Sean's trips to Iraq or Iran, but in this case, he was an American hero." (BBC, N.Y. Daily News)

I am still singing: Your heart has to go out to Celine. In a lengthy monologue on Larry King's "How You Can Help" special devoted to raising funds for survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Celine Dion went on an emotional roller coaster, slamming the U.S. response to the disaster while fighting back tears, and then ending her segment with a song. "There's people still there waiting to be rescued. To me that is not acceptable," she yelled. "I know they have reasons for it. But I don't want to hear those reasons. ... How can it be so easy to send planes in another country to kill everybody in a second and destroy lives. We need to serve our country." You can watch the clip on CNN (scroll down, link is on the right). (Canada.com, CNN)

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We are the world redux: Michael Jackson, still holed up somewhere in the Middle East, is planning to write a song for the victims of Katrina, à la the anthem he co-wrote with Lionel Richie in 1985 for African famine, "We Are the World." The new song, given a working title of "From the Bottom of My Heart," will follow the "We Are the World" model of collaborating with as many other artists as possible. In a statement released through a spokeswoman, Jackson said he would be "reaching out to others in the music industry to bring relief and hope. It pains me to watch the human suffering taking place in the Gulf region of my country." (BBC)

Also:
Suge Knight is out of the hospital. After getting shot in the leg during Kanye West's pre-party for the MTV Video Music Awards more than a week ago, Knight was finally released from the Florida hospital that removed the bullet and repaired his fractured bone. There have still been no arrests in the case, and police have been complaining about a curious lack of willingness for witnesses to come forward. ... Oddly, despite being an American band, Antony and the Johnsons have won the coveted British Mercury Prize. The award carries with it a $37,000 prize, and is open only to British citizens -- and frontman Antony Hegarty was born in England and then raised in the U.S. "I think they must have made a mistake," Hegarty said after winning. "I am completely overwhelmed. I think that's insane." ... The mother of the boy who was at the center of the Michael Jackson sex abuse trial has pleaded not guilty to charges of welfare fraud. She was charged a few weeks ago for continuing to collect welfare after winning a large sum of money in a lawsuit. ... Bob Denver, the actor known to most simply as Gilligan from "Gilligan's Island," died Friday at age 70. ... NBC News president Neal Shapiro is on his way out -- the N.Y. Daily News is reporting that Friday will be his last day at the network, and that NBC head Jeff Zucker has installed Steve Capus in the role until a permanent replacement can be found. Rumors about Shapiro's departure have been circulating since the spring.

Money Quote:
Britney Spears on her newfound thirst for all things Kabbalah: "I read the Kabbalah books and I meditate on them. They are all in Hebrew. I don't understand everything. But it's kind of OK that you don't."

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Turn On:
TCM is showing Morgan Spurlock's fast-food gross-out doc, "Supersize Me," at 8 p.m. EDT. In the run-up to the second season premiere in two weeks, ABC presents two more rebroadcast installments of "Lost," starting at 9 p.m. EDT. Also, the men's quarterfinals at the U.S. Open with soon-to-retire Andre Agassi battling comeback-kid James Blake starts at 7 p.m. EDT on USA.

-- Scott Lamb

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