For well-meaning celebrities, the rules of proper behavior in the wake of September 11 have been difficult to define. Drew Barrymore received kudos from Saturday Night Live producers for hosting during an anthrax scare and jeers from Howard Stern for leaving town the next day. James Gandolfini among others skipped the Emmys after critics carped that the ceremony was irrelevant in today’s world, while Edie Falco attended, accepted her best actress award on behalf of New York City and was complimented on her grace.
Perhaps the biggest tempest, though, revolves around Bill O’Reilly, the fractious host of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, who has been railing against celebrities for not ensuring that all the money raised in charity concerts and telethons has reached grieving families in a timely fashion. “If you’re going to ask Americans to send money to a cause, you have a responsibility to follow up,” says the host, who claims that only 77 percent of the telethon donations are going directly to the victims’ families, with the rest going to other relief efforts. Although names like Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks brought in millions, O’Reilly, 52, told his viewers, “The majority of these people are phonies more interested in their own images than solving any social problems.”
Some of the stars involved, including Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, visited O’Reilly’s show to say that there was nothing wrong with questioning where the money went. (They did not accuse anyone of misusing funds.) Others are furious at the host. George Clooney, in a letter written to O’Reilly and released to the media, denied that the September 11 Fund was mishandled. Some $36 million had been paid out already, he said, and the United Way was in the process of carefully meting out the remainder. “If you were a journalist,” Clooney wrote to O’Reilly, “you would have known that.” Tom Hanks also punched back, accusing O’Reilly of ulterior motives, namely seeking higher ratings during sweeps week. Hanks, O’Reilly told Today host Matt Lauer last week, was “stunningly misinformed.”
Robert De Niro is a good fella after all. When the Oscar-winning actor encouraged 550 friends (including Denis Leary, Tom Brokaw and some of New York’s Bravest) to dine out at one of 26 restaurants in Little Italy, Chinatown and Wall Street Nov. 7—New York City neighborhoods badly hurt by a post-Sept. 11 tourism slump—the operative word was mangia. “If we can help save one job, it’s a victory for us,” says De Niro’s producing partner Jane Rosenthal, 45. During the evening, De Niro, 58, who lives in Tribeca and has invested in a few restaurants in the area, shook hands and posed for snapshots. At Buona Notte Ristorante, “He asked, ‘So how’d I do?’ ” says owner Rocky Olivera, 63, who served about 100 people that night. “I told him, ‘Very good. Tonight, Little Italy is back.’ ”
A Comic’s Sad Setback
On Nov. 13 comedian Paula Poundstone spent nearly three hours in a Santa Monica jail on charges of violating probation after her rehab center told a judge that she had taken prescription medication. The specific substance was not disclosed. Judge Bernard Kamins, reports the AP, said that Poundstone’s psychiatrist had recently decided to take her off all medication, including antidepressants. Poundstone, 41, has lived at Malibu’s Promises treatment center since June and pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in September. (Her three adopted children are in other homes.) She blamed drinking for some of her initial problems. Says her attorney Steven Cron: “The road to recovery isn’t always a straight road.”
Their Jaden Voyage
What do Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, and Christian Slater and Ryan Haddon have in common? All three couples have sons they named Jaden. In spite of the rising trendiness quotient of the moniker, which means “God has heard” in Hebrew, some have reservations. A survey posted on the maternity Web site e-pregnancy.com raises flags about naming boys Jaden. Although one respondent said she likes Jaden “in a world full of Jeffs and Jeremys,” many others felt the name was “made-up and cutesy” or, even worse, “better for girls.”
Divorce Case Closed
Stick a fork in it. After nine months of legal bickering, public relations wrangling and carrying on what was, at times, a very public split for such a private couple, Tom Cruise, 39, and Nicole Kidman, 34, are officially done. “The parties have come to an amicable, full resolution of all issues,” read a joint statement released to PEOPLE by Cruise’s attorney Dennis Wasser on Nov. 13, “to ensure that the best interests of their children were protected.” No word on the custody of the kids (Connor, 6, and Isabella, 8) or on how the couple’s estates—totaling an estimated $300 million in property and assets—will be divvied up. (The court papers remain sealed.) For now both sides call their battle water under the bridge. “Tom and Nicole,” says the statement, “will remain close friends.”
George Gets Back to writing
On Oct. 1 ex-Beatle George Harrison, 58, recorded his first new single as a solo artist in more than a decade. However, the rights to “Horse to the Water,” a song released on a compilation disc by British musician Jools Holland, are not credited to Harrison’s usual publishing company, Harrisongs. Instead they go to R.I.P. Limited, 2001. A morbid prediction from the singer, who has battled lung, throat and reportedly brain cancer? (This month Harrison was treated as an outpatient at New York City’s Staten Island University Hospital, receiving cutting-edge radiosurgery.) On the contrary, “it’s a very good sign,” says Beatles expert Ray Connolly. “He is laughing in the face of doom and gloom and saying, ‘Don’t write me off yet.’ ”
Reality Bites the Dust?
Don’t be surprised if the bikinis get skimpier. FOX’s Temptation Island 2, whose Nov. 7 season premiere drew only 55 percent of the viewers who tuned in to last season’s first episode, is the latest reality show to suffer a ratings dive. The problem, says FOX exec Mike Darnell, is “there are at least six shows [like ours]. There’s saturation.” But with CBS’s Survivor: Africa down 22 percent in viewer-ship and ABC’s The Mole shelved indefinitely, one wonders: Is reality TV dead? “No,” says an ABC rep, “but it may have taken a little turn.”
with Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve helped raise more than $3 million for his paralysis foundation at a New York City gala Nov. 13. On the eve of that event the paralyzed actor talked about his efforts to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and other conditions. And for the first time Reeve, 49, talked to Scoop about alopecia areata, an incurable disease affecting 4 million people that results in varying degrees of hair loss, which he has been dealing with for three decades.
People have been talking about your health.
People have been asking for the last year or so if I’m okay, because they noticed that I’m missing a lot of hair. But I’ve had a condition called alopecia for many years.
When did you notice it?
I first had it when I was 16. All my life it’s come and gone. It started with a bald spot right at the crown of my head.
Did it get worse?
In all that time some hair [on my head] would fall out and then grow back. But in the last year it has been more apparent than usual. [For the first time] it’s affected my eyebrows, but they are growing back.
Is there an explanation?
There’s no real explanation for it. It’s kind of like allergies. Sometimes people have a good season and a bad season. So in the last six months in particular I’ve lost more hair than usual.
So how are you?
The fact is I’m in the best health I’ve been in since the [horseback-riding] accident in ’95. I’m stronger and I’m progressing with physical therapy. That’s why it’s so ironic that because my hair fell out, people have been concerned about my health.
Okay, back to business. How’s the fund-raiser going?
With any luck we’re going to come close to $4 million tonight. Stem cell research will lead to cures for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, ALS and MS, as well as spinal cord injury. There’s new reason to hope.
ON THE BLOCK
JUST BUY ME
David Spade is ready to say buh-bye to his Beverly Hills residence of the past two years. The former Saturday Night Live comedian and current star of Just Shoot Me has put this 5,000-sq.-ft. house on the market for $3.85 million. The place holds at least one painful memory: It’s where Spade’s former personal assistant David “Skippy” Malloy attacked him with a stun gun last year. (Malloy pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to community service and probation.) The residence, in a gated community, features six bedrooms, four fireplaces and a pool. What’s next for the actor? Spade, 37, plans to move to a $4 million property nearby.