By People Staff
September 28, 1998 12:00 PM

Merchants of Venice

Hollywood hawks its latest fare at Italy’s glitziest film festival


Ah Venice—canals, gondoliers and cell phones. Last week the streets were flooded with them. “Americans were obsessed by the Starr report,” joked Italian television host Serena Dandini, “while we are obsessed with American stars.” The 55th Venice International Film Festival delivered: Saving Private Ryan’s Tom Hanks was “really nice and still astonished at his success,” says Dandini; Ronin star Robert De Niro was “bored and…disappointing. The sometimes paparazzi-shy George Clooney, who brought longtime girlfriend Céline Balitran, smiled for the cameras as he promoted Out of Sight and was in such a good mood he even drew a couple of caricatures for the waiters at the restaurant Do Forni. “Clooney,” says photographer Graziano Arid, “said he felt like he was in Disneyland.”

Tourist Trap

When a character in the Angela Bassett film How Stella Got Her Groove Back worries that Jamaica is AIDS-ridden, another responds, “No, that’s Haiti.” Haitians were not amused, especially Fugees singer Wyclef Jean, a contributor to the film’s soundtrack, who said he was “saddened and offended.” Now the line will be cut from the film’s video version, director Kevin Sullivan told PEOPLE. That may not be enough for some Haitians, who are demanding an apology.

The Dude with No ‘Do

Onscreen, Keanu Reeves may not have played the most brilliant characters, but in real life these days he’s an egghead. Yes, that’s the Speed star, his noggin denuded for the sci-fi thriller Matrix, which filmed in Australia. Film spokeswoman Fiona Searson says actors are willing to be shorn “if it’s a role they believe in.” Hey, it grows back.

Ready or Not, Here’s Roseanne

The Roseanne Show hit the airwaves on Sept. 14, but judging by early audience feedback on the set of the L.A.-based syndicated daytime chat show, there is, for now, still only one Rosie (last name: O’Donnell).

During an early taping, a svelte Roseanne—”I’ll bet that skirt’s a size 6,” ventured one audience member—interviewed Judge Judy and actor Chris Tucker. Early on, Roseanne noted the roses that O’Donnell had sent, which inspired some thinking about the competition. “I still like Rosie the best,” one audience member whispered. “Wasn’t that nice of her?” said another. “My husband was so excited,” said a tourist from New York. “He thought it was going to be Rosie O’Donnell.” Still, the temperamental star did manage to get through her first tapings without incident. “When she seems like a real person, she’s likeable,” said audience member Stefanie Martin, 36. TV Guide critic Matt Roush dubbed the show “a celebration of white trash without apology, but it’s not stooping quite as low as Jerry Springer.”

Mel B, Scary Spouse

Scary Spice got spliced. Spice Girl Melanie Brown, 23, aka Mel B, tied the knot Sept. 13 with Jimmy Gulzar, 31, a Spice Girls backup dancer and father of her unborn child, at an 800-year-old church 30 minutes outside London. The event brought out about 500 fans, plus a security force 50 strong. At an altar surrounded by lilies, gypsophila and baby chrysanthemums, Brown, regnant, and Gulzar, who became engaged May 14, exchanged vows before 150 guests—all dressed in white to match Brown’s silk gown. She invited no celebs except for the Girls: Emma (Baby Spice) Bunton, Mel (Sporty Spice) Chisholm and Victoria (Posh Spice) Adams, who’s also pregnant and engaged to soccer player David Beckham. (Ex-Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell, who sparked a global crisis when she quit in May, was absent but reportedly invited.) “It was the most wonderful service,” said church usher Amy Meaden.

Things turned glamorous at the outdoor reception—100 yards from the church—at Mel B’s new home, a $4 million, 8-bedroom manor. She paid a reported $800,000 for such wedding-day touches as an artificial pond (with artificial rainfall) and fireworks. For some locals, the less Spice, the better. “If this is what ifs going to be like,” said Christine Martin, a clerk in a village produce shop, “I hope she moves out soon.”

A Dapper Chap and His Chapeaux…

John Kennedy helped KO the men’s hatmaking industry by going bareheaded to his 1961 inauguration. Nowadays, JFK Jr. seems inclined to stand family tradition on its head—or, rather, on his head, with a gamut that runs from a swim cap (Hyannis Port) to a snappy beret (New York City).

Riven Romance?

Is there something to the rumors that There’s Something About Mary’s Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillon, an item for more than two years, are now an uncouple? Amid reports the stubbornly bicoastal pair (he clings to New York, she to L.A.) may be history, their respective PR people declined to talk. Ditto Diaz: Asked at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 10 about the rumors, she offered only a “no comment.” A source says Dillon, 34, spent the Labor Day weekend in the Hamptons lamenting the breakup. Meanwhile, Diaz, 26, is working on the film Being John Malkovich.



Mike Tyson is looking for a few good heavyweights to take on some of his old real estate. The ex-champ is trying to sell three huge properties, including a 12,000-square-foot Las Vegas home ($7 million, marked down from $10 million) and this 61-room Farmington, Conn., mansion (asking price: $22 million). The spread has more luxury features than most hotels, including a dance studio, 1,500-square-foot workout room, racquetball court, shooting range, five Jacuzzis, seven kitchens and more than 100 phone lines. It also comes with a feature brokers don’t brag about: a lien of $6.3 million in unpaid taxes.