The Fix

An eye on the Times. Spears' short-term lover talks. Plus: Wolff on Wolff.

Published February 12, 2007 2:30PM (EST)

First Word

That other awards show: Two more heavy statues for both of the leading Oscar acting contenders -- Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker continued their dominance in this year's awards season by winning best actress and best actor, respectively, at the Baftas in London on Sunday night. Mirren's film, "The Queen," also won the best-movie award, and Paul Greengrass took home the prize for best director for "United 93." See a full list of the winners here. (BBC News)

At the Grammys: It was the Dixie Chicks' night at the Grammys on Sunday -- the country trio took home five awards, winning song of the year, record of the year, album of the year, best country album and best country performance (read David Marchese's wrap-up of the show here). The event marks the first time either an all-female group or a country album has won the top record prize. Singer Natalie Maines had this to say to the group's many detractors when accepting the best-country-album prize: "To quote the great Simpsons -- 'heh, heh.'" The Red Hot Chili Peppers took home four awards, and Mary J. Blige -- who'd been nominated for eight awards -- scored three, for best R&B album, best R&B song and best female R&B vocal performance. For a full list of winners, go here. (Variety,

Anna Nicole update: After Friday's autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith failed to turn up a clear cause of death, investigators in Florida now say it may take up to five weeks to determine what killed the former model/stripper/reality TV star. Over the weekend, Rita Cosby on MSNBC reported that Smith had had two different breast surgeries since giving birth five months ago and was taking at least 10 prescription drugs when she died. Also, a picture of Smith's fridge in her home in the Bahamas showed bottles of methadone stacked up next to SlimFast and TrimSpa containers. And narrowly topping Friday's bizarre news that Prince Frederick von Anhalt -- Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband -- claims he's the father of Smith's baby, Dannielynn, is the allegation from her half-sister, Donna Hogan, that Smith used the frozen sperm of her ex-husband, J. Howard Marshall, to get pregnant. And finally, CNN anchor Jack Cafferty's on-air comment last week about Smith was picked up on all the video sites over the weekend -- watch as he asks Wolf Blitzer, "Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead?" (International Herald Tribune, CNN, Post Chronicle, New York Daily News, TMZ, the Superficial, YouTube)

White noise ... Britney Spears' newest ex-boyfriend, Isaac Cohen, spills the beans to the U.K.'s News of the World about their short-lived love life: "She loves sex and is incredibly adventurous. She was totally happy when we were locked in each other's arms. But once the sex stopped Britney was like a little girl lost, unable to cope." (News of the World) ... Scarlett Johansson (right) denies there's anything stronger than friendship between her and Justin Timberlake. "We have a lot of friends in common, and Justin's a sweetheart, and it's always good to see him," she said yesterday at the Grammys. "There's a lot of speculation and I try not to read that stuff." (People) ... Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake is catching flak for not showing up for Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammys gala, saying he had "the flu." (Fox 411) ... Daniel Baldwin's no longer on the lam -- authorities in Orange County, Calif., issued an APB for the actor last week after he failed to show up for a court appearance for "stealing" a friend's car, but he has now popped up in Detroit, where he's filming a horror pic called "Little Red Devil." Baldwin left a message with a local newspaper, trying to clear his name by saying the charge against him "is erroneous and a mistake ... it isn't true. I'm sober today, and I'm working real hard on my career and becoming a productive member of society." (E News) ... On Friday afternoon, Jim Samples, the head of the Cartoon Network, resigned over the bomb scare in Boston that was a part of a marketing campaign for his network's show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." In a letter announcing the move, Samples wrote, "As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch." (Drudge Report)

Bad Times

Fifteen-year-old brides: New York Times public editor Byron Calame spanked and debunked a super-buzzy front-page article from last month, which claimed that for "probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one." Others have already complained that the article by reporter Sam Roberts relied only on statistics of females older than 15 -- still pretty young to be factored into marriage figures. That's sketchy enough. But after prodding from Calame, Roberts explained that 15-year-olds -- not even allowed to marry in many states -- were included in the Times' statistical study as well. But when an outside group crunched the same numbers for Calame, sans 15-year-olds, it found the percentage of females "not living with a spouse" was, statistically, not clearly greater than those living without a spouse. Calame also points out that "simply subtracting the numbers for ... [the] 15-to-17 [age] category from the total provides the data for females 18 and older ... [which] shows that 48 percent of them were living without husbands -- short of the 51 percent reached when the high-school-age females were included." Yes, but that's not as good a story.

True, it's a much less controversial oversight, but we were still a little embarrassed for the Times on Sunday when reporter Tatiana Boncompagni, in a puff pastry of a feature on Cat Cora of "Iron Chef," identified Tom Colicchio as "a judge on 'Top Chef.'" Ouch! So much for the small empire of restaurants that have made Colicchio one of the nation's most celebrated chefs. Reality TV sometimes trumps reality.


What rhymes with "corporate salami"? The New Yorker considers what the $200 million left to Poetry magazine by Ruth Lilly could end up doing for the magazine -- and the art itself. Writer Dana Goodyear focuses on new Poetry Foundation president John Barr, a former Wall Street exec, who controversially gave a speech that claimed that poetry is largely written only for other poets, that MFA programs have merely helped create "a poetry that is neither robust, resonant, nor ... entertaining," and that poets need to get out and engage the world more, à la Hemingway. Among other efforts, the foundation has funded a $1 million a year Web site, and helped fund a direct-mail program that has boosted circulation from 10,000 to 30,000 for the magazine, which now pays $10 a word for selected poems, instead of just $2. But Barr's critics think he's a capitalist blowhard; the Baffler likens him to "Karl Rove's battle-tested blend of unapologetic economic elitism and reactionary cultural populism." The New Yorker also treats us to a selection of Barr's hilarious poetry from his latest book, "Grace: An Epic Poem," in which a Caribbean gardener describes how his boss lady found her husband in bed with another woman:

De gentleman, he produce his produce
like a corporate salami, and she hers,
like a surgery scar still angry red wid healing.
Den he settle his equipment in de lady's outback
an' he spud de well

Now that's entertainment! (New Yorker, print only)


The Wolff who cried "Wolff!" The cover of the March issue of Vanity Fair promises to answer "What really went down between Judith Regan and Rupert Murdoch?" But Michael Wolff's story is generally a rehash of what we already know, notable only for what Wolff tells us about his favored subject: Michael Wolff. Some selections:

"Judith (she used to be Judy but grander later) and I went to college together. We were great friends for 25 years before -- as with so many other people in her life -- having a falling-out."

"Judith's college boyfriend was my best friend ... My friend's father -- Jewish and a lawyer -- didn't like Judith very much, and she didn't like him. There were a lot of class issues and nuances here, which came out in running commentary -- profane angry scurrilous -- about the rich, the Jews, and lawyers, delivered to me from pay phones around the city. I confess I found it entertaining."

"On several occasions, we almost got involved. Aside from her being with my best friend, I sensed, even then, that it was not a good idea to be on the descriptive end of her running commentary."

"Years later, she told The Washington Post that I was gay, that I had a thing for her college boyfriend."

"HarperCollins is my book publisher; for years, I've been sharing Judith stories with people there."

"Once she had the very unlikely idea that I should ghostwrite Howard Stern's book. 'You'll sit next to Howard by his pool on Long Island and write while he talks,' she instructed, which is when I begged off."

"'What's my secret?' she once snarled at me. 'I'll tell you my secret. I never let them come!'"

Incidentally, Regan told the Post in 2001 that she hadn't had a personal conversation with Wolff in 30 years. ("The Trouble With Judith," Vanity Fair)

Buzz Index

; )

"Nation's Joggers Sick of Finding Dead Bodies" (The Onion)


A new Fire: The band's new album, "Neon Bible," won't come out until March, but the New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones weighs in this week on the Montreal indie rock group Arcade Fire, saying "there is little about the Montreal band Arcade Fire that is not big." With seven core members and the 300,000 copies their first album sold, the band manages to be big and little at the same time: "Arcade Fire songs aim, without apology or irony, for grandeur, and, more often than not, they achieve it. But the voices at the heart of the band sound as though they were coming from the congregation, not the pulpit." The new record is filled with "visions of dropping bombs and being chased," but somehow that doesn't make the band "sound any less optimistic." Frere-Jones notes, too, how the group has shrewdly applied the indie business model: "The band's members own a studio outside Montreal -- a deconsecrated church, appropriately -- and hold the rights to their master recordings; they release their music by making licensing deals with labels." ("Big Time," the New Yorker)

"It's impossible not to identify to some small degree with the protagonist, so the book is going to be offensive to a lot of Jews."

-- Norman Mailer on his new novel, "The Castle in the Forest," in which Hitler is the main character. (London Observer via Page Six)


The weekend box office:

Movie: Weekend total: Per-theater average:
1. "Norbit" $33.7 million $10,800
2. "Hannibal Rising" $13.3 million $4,400
3. "Because I Said So" $9 million $3,600
4. "The Messengers" $7.2 million $3,300
5. "Night at the Museum" $5.7 million $2,100

(Rotten Tomatoes)

Turn On

Get your fill of Jack Bauer with a special two-hour installment of "24" (Fox, 8 p.m. EST) on Monday night, while USA presents "The Westminster Kennel Dog Club Show" (8 p.m. EST) and a new "American Experience" (PBS, check local listings) looks at New Orleans.


The View (ABC, 11 a.m. EST) Eva Longoria, Mario Cantone
Ellen (Syndicated, check local listings) Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado
Oprah (Syndicated, check local listings) Amazing kids
Larry King (CNN, 9 p.m. EST) Judge Judy
Jon Stewart (Comedy Central, 11 p.m. EST) Jeffrey Rosen
Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. EST) Michael Oppenheimer
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30 p.m. EST) Drew Barrymore, Rickie Lee Jones, Kevin Johnson with Clyde & Matilda
Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EST) Nicolas Cage, D.J. Sampson & Sam Ballerini, the Fray
Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, 12:05 a.m. EST) Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom O'Dell, Matisyahu (repeat)
Conan O'Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m. EST) Martin Lawrence, Hayden Panettiere, Hinder
Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m. EST) Peter O'Toole, Dierks Bentley & the Grascals

Almost Famous

Larissa writes: "Everyone has told me (and my brother -- in the white shirt) for ages that he looks just like Leonardo DiCaprio. Actually, it's really uncanny." (From her Flickr photostream)

Got a friend who looks like a tall Woody Allen? People always saying you look like a chubby Cillian Murphy? We want to see it! Just make sure you have permission -- then send your Almost Famous moment to the Fix.

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By Scott Lamb

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