The Fix

Clooney to Huffington: "Screw you!" Simpson disses president. Plus: Nipplegate fallout still falling out.

By Salon Staff
March 16, 2006 7:30PM (UTC)
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Morning Briefing:
Clooney's blog spat with Huffington: After a post signed by George Clooney appeared on Arianna Huffington's blog on Monday, Clooney has been trying to make it clear he didn't actually write the post himself -- and things have gotten heated between the two. The post was a compilation of Clooney quotes from the Guardian and "Larry King Live" put together by the Huffington Post, and while Huffington says she had explicit permission to run it, Clooney claims his words were taken out of context without his approval. "Arianna asked for permission to use the quotes and he gave it to her. What he didn't give permission for was the use of his quotes without source attributions to make it appear that he wrote a blog for her site," says Stan Rosenfield, Clooney's rep. Huffington is calling the whole thing an "honest misunderstanding," but Clooney's not entirely comforted. Huffington "said some things that I won't share," Clooney told Lowdown, "but she did tell me that this could be bad for me -- bad for my career. Well, screw you! I'm not going to be threatened by Arianna Huffington!" (Styles & Scenes, Huffington Post, Lowdown)

Simpson snubs the Shrub? Jessica Simpson is in Washington to lobby on behalf of the charity Operation Smile, which provides free plastic surgery for children abroad born with facial deformities. She will not, however, be saying howdy to President Bush, of whom she has been a supporter. As Roll Call reports: "After first accepting an invitation -- and demanding one-on-one face time with President Bush, a picture with the POTUS and formal recognition at tonight's big GOP fundraising dinner -- tabloid heartthrob Jessica Simpson has bailed out." The reason, according to people close to Simpson, is that she didn't want people to conflate her work for the nonpartisan charity with a visit to a GOP fundraiser. "It just feels wrong," an insider told Reuters. "She would love to meet the president and talk about Operation Smile ... but she can't do it at a fund-raiser for the Republican Party." (Reuters, Roll Call)


The FCC cracks the whip: Clearing out its pesky backlog of 300,000 indecency complaints, the Federal Communications Commission has ruled that CBS will indeed have to pay that $550,000 fine over Nipplegate, as well as a record $3.6 million fine for an episode of "Without a Trace" that kinda sorta depicted a teenage orgy (the previous record holder was Fox, fined $1.8 million for "Married by America"). The episode aired as a rerun on Dec. 31, 2004, outside of its usual late-night time slot, and the FCC received a number of complaints. The $3.6 million fine is actually made up of 111 separate fines: $32,500 (the maximum allowed) against every CBS affiliate. Other fines: $27,500 against the WB for an episode of "The Surreal Life 2," $27,500 against Fox for "The Search for D.B. Cooper" -- which featured repeated utterances of "shit," "bullshit," "horseshit" and "shit-eating grin" -- and $15,000 against PBS for the Martin Scorsese documentary "The Blues: Godfathers and Sons." "NYPD Blue," meanwhile, avoided fines because, as the commission ruled, the "terms 'dick' and 'dickhead,' in this context, while understandably offensive to some viewers, are not sufficiently vulgar, explicit or graphic descriptions of sexual organs or activities to support a finding of patent offensiveness." (Hollywood Reporter)

Back in October, long before it hit the Internet and spurred Colin Farrell to launch a lawsuit, former Playboy Playmate Nicole Narain signed a deal for $3 million to release her sex tape with Farrell to an Internet group. (The Smoking Gun) ... Vin Diesel's big dream: To make a trilogy adventure biopic about the life of Hannibal -- and all in Punic, the language Hannibal spoke that has been dead for 2,000 years. (Details via the Scoop) ... Michael Jackson has finally agreed to pay his workers the reported $306,000 they're owed: Employees at Neverland Ranch, who were last paid in December, will get paychecks on Thursday. (E! Online) ... Nicole Kidman is the latest star to be questioned in the ongoing wiretapping investigation against private eye Anthony Pellicano. She has been questioned by the FBI about a taped conversation between her and Tom Cruise sometime after they announced their divorce in 2001. Cruise's lawyer at the time reportedly often used Pellicano's services. (Page Six) ... Phil Collins and his third wife, Orianne, have announced they're splitting up. The pair were married in 1999 and have two kids. (Associated Press)

Money Quote:
Sharon Stone on her current press tour to promote "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction," talking about the movie's many sex scenes: "I felt the nude scenes should have a disturbing quality that is provocative but also bizarrely threatening and weird." (FemaleFirst)


-- Scott Lamb

Turn On:
Thursday: March Madness tips off on CBS (check local listings for games), while ABC premieres the series "American Inventor," in which would-be inventors unveil their best brainstorms in hope of winning a $1 million jackpot (8 p.m. EST). Elsewhere, Ryan decides whether to invite Marissa to his birthday party on "The OC" (Fox, 9 p.m. EST), and Amanda Peet and Bradley Cooper appear on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 12:37 a.m. EST).

-- Joe DiMento


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