Julia's reviews roll in: Wednesday night was Julia Roberts' heavily star-attended Broadway debut in the revival of Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain." Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Tim Robbins to Dave Matthews to Cal Ripken Jr. was there, and while Roberts received a standing ovation, no one brought her roses onstage. This morning, the critics weighed in -- almost more on Roberts' looks than on anything else:
"What? How is she? How's who? Oh, her. O.K., if you must know, she's stiff with self-consciousness (especially in the first act), only glancingly acquainted with the two characters she plays and so deeply, disturbingly beautiful that you don't want to let her out of your sight ... The only emotion that this production generates arises not from any interaction onstage, but from the relationship between Ms. Roberts and her fans. And before we go any further, I feel a strong need to confess something: My name is Ben, and I am a Juliaholic."
-- Ben Brantley (New York Times)
"For the time being, all that is radiating off the stage is her, um, natural radiance. A woman seated down the row from me, overheard summing up the impact for a friend, expressed it best: 'You go out humming her looks.'"
-- Peter Marks (Washington Post)
"A major problem in this production is that there's no chemistry between Roberts and the men ... As mesmerizing as she is onscreen, she has surprisingly little stage presence."
-- Howard Kissel (N.Y. Daily News)
"In the first act, she looked long-faced, long-nosed and almost ordinary. How come? In her movies, do they use magic cameras on her or something?"
-- Clive Barnes (N.Y. Post)
"A gorgeous smile and perky demeanor can get you far in Hollywood. They can even get you onto the podium at the Oscars, where you make a fool of yourself in your acceptance speech ... Roberts, a cinematic ball of fire, wanders around the stage in the first act as if she's looking for the Prozac."
-- Ed Siegel (Boston Globe)
(Associated Press, Fox News)
Paparazzi gets beat-down from Pitt bodyguard: Last week, the bodyguard who heads security for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, a guy by the tough-sounding name of Mickey Brett, delivered this warning to paparazzi staking out the Namibian resort where the couple's currently staying: "If I find anyone getting a picture of Jolie, I will fucking smash someone to pieces. I'm not joking. I'll fucking put someone in the hospital. Tell your friends." Since then, one photog has been pepper-sprayed, and another -- who dug a ditch to make it into the compound -- was apparently worked over by another bodyguard for his efforts. "The bodyguard literally beat the crap out of this guy," a source told TMZ. "Brad and Maddox were right there watching." (TMZ)
Huge radio payola investigation launches: On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced it was beginning a formal inquiry into four of the biggest radio conglomerates in the country -- Clear Channel, CBS, Citadel and Entercom -- to look for violations of the rules prohibiting pay-for-play. The FCC is looking for proof of allegations that programmers at each company made various agreements to play certain songs in exchange for money or gifts. The four companies have apparently been in negotiations with the FCC for a few weeks to prevent an investigation by agreeing on certain fines and policy changes, but when those talks recently broke down, the FCC decided to press ahead with its case. (Los Angeles Times)
In case you're wondering: Yes, Katie Holmes had an epidural, and yes, she followed Scientology's rules about noise during birth (or at least that's People magazine's guess): "We think it was a silent birth," executive editor Peter Castro told "Today" on Wednesday. (E! Online) ... The Sun, Britain's biggest tabloid, apologized on Wednesday to Teri Hatcher for the story it ran about her having sex with men in a van outside her home, admitting the story was "totally incorrect." (People) ... Rocker Lenny Kravitz has been sued a third time for the toilet that overflowed in his SoHo condo and damaged the apartments of neighbors below him way back in 2004. The damages specified in the three suits so far total $800,000. (The Smoking Gun) ... Mick Jagger is in talks to have a bit role in an ABC sitcom about a group of guys trying to rob ... Mick Jagger. (Hollywood Reporter) ... Paris Hilton reportedly actually has a negative sales effect on magazines whose cover she adorns -- or at least she did for Vanity Fair. As Ted Casablanca writes: "After Paris, half dressed, graced the October 2005 issue, VF's subscription base went down considerably due to so many reader outrages and cancellations." (The Awful Truth)
Ludacris, who appeared on "Oprah" to promote "Crash" last fall, on Oprah Winfrey's rumored policy of not promoting rap (or rappers turned actors) on her show: "She edited out a lot of my comments while keeping her own in. Of course, it's her show, but we were doing a show on racial discrimination, and she gave me a hard time as a rapper when I came on there as an actor. I don't see why people like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, who I am huge fans of, it's OK for them to go on 'Oprah.' They speak the same language as I do, but they do it through comedy, so I guess that's acceptable." (GQ via Page Six)
-- Scott Lamb
The History Channel airs the first half of the two-part "Rome: Engineering an Empire" (8 p.m. EDT), and Sen. Ted Kennedy has his first appearance on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m. EDT).
-- Joe DiMento