History Lesson

A new script creates a very royal pain

Jodie Foster’s next film is not fit for a king, authorities in Thailand say, and so production may move elsewhere. The monarch in question is Mongkut, a 19th-century ruler and Buddhist scholar credited with introducing old Siam to the West. Tales of his relationship with Englishwoman Anna Leonowens, hired to tutor his children, led to the movie Anna and the King of Siam in 1946 and in 1951 to the stage musical The King and I, which itself became a movie five years later—and angered Thais by showing the King using chopsticks instead of a fork or spoon. Foster hopes to tell the story again in Anna and the King, a drama costar-ring Hong Kong hunk Chow Yun-Fat. But Thailand’s Film Board has problems with the script. “We cannot accept the depiction of a Thai king who brought such great benefits to his people as a clown who learned everything from a foreign lady,” Board chairman Prasit Damrongchai told reporters. Producers, mindful that Thai law mandates a minimum three-year jail term for insulting the monarchy, may take the project to Malaysia. Meanwhile the Board approved Leo DiCaprio’s The Beach despite complaints from environmentalists that the crew would re-landscape Phi Island, a national park, to make it appear more tropical.


Who: Jamie Lee Curtis

Activity: Photography

Why: “I photograph my children and am the star photographer at my daughter’s school and for her yearbook. I’m very popular there because I’m good.”

The Ins and Outs of Fame

Sean “Puffy” Combs keeps the stars in line at his hip-hop happy birthday party


There are two schools of thought on what made rap impresario Sean “Puffy” Combs’s 29th-birthday party New York City’s pop-social event of the season. One cites the sheer star power of those mingling inside: Muhammad Ali, Mariah Carey, Kevin Costner and the Duchess of York. The other notes the celebrity wattage of those stranded outside: Minnie Driver, Jon Bon Jovi and, for a while, Christie Brinkley, Chris Rock and Donna Karan. The crush of an estimated 3,000 crashers and an overambitious guest list (1,200 printed invites for a room that holds 1,000) had prevented many celeb swells from getting past the doormen at Manhattan’s hot Cipriani hotel on Nov. 4. That just made the evening more special.

“My kids will be so proud to know we got in,” said Henry Winkler, the Fonz from television’s Happy Days. It wasn’t easy. Supermodel Veronica Webb had to abandon a girlfriend who couldn’t get inside. “But Veronicaaah, what will I doooo?” the lonely lass cried from behind police barricades, erected to keep the un-chosen out in the cold. Model Naomi Campbell got around the front-door problem by sneaking in the back door; others, including Driver, left rather than endure the humiliation of nonrecognition.

More than a thousand revelers attended the $600,000 party, which featured go-go girls and a $50,000 Lucite dance floor. The guests serenaded Combs, a hip-hop music producer who performs as Puff Daddy, when Penny Marshall demanded a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” And guests eventually realized the real reason for the evening’s success: the mix of people. As Combs’s party-planner David Watkins said, “Where else but at a Puffy party would [rapper] Busta Rhymes get to meet the Duchess of York?”

Members of the Board

Wave hello to the star-studded crowd now hitting the beach. Woody Harrelson, Gary Busey, Sean Penn, Tom Hanks and ER’s Anthony Edwards are among Hollywood’s surfing celebrities tubing, hanging 10 and getting stoked up and down the California coast. Throw singer Jewel, musician-actor Chris Isaak and pro volleyball player Gabrielle Reese into the mix, and it seems as though everybody’s gone surfing. Some claim it helps reduce their stress levels. “Surfing is such a peaceful, serene thing,” says Alyson Hannigan, who plays Willow on television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Adds Isaak, who likes to surf in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge at dawn: “There’s nothing like the feeling you get out on the water.”

Tom Hanks, however, hopes that more than his board gets afloat. His production company is developing a screenplay about surfing legend Mark Foo, who died in 1994 riding a 20-foot wave on California’s Half Moon Bay.

Magic’s Belly Ache

Claiming its glorification of drugs and violence could endanger audiences, basketball-star-turned-movie-theater-mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson benched the new urban drama Belly, banning it from his theaters in Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta. Although New York City police say the movie—about the rise and fall of two street thugs—incited a fatal shooting outside a Brooklyn theater on Nov. 5, Belly director Hype Williams bristled at Johnson’s move. “Censoring this film is akin to turning a blind eye to what’s happening in today’s cities,” Williams said in a statement. In the end, Magic’s power couldn’t make Belly disappear at the box office; the film earned $5 million its opening week (ending Nov. 8).



To avoid Her Majesty’s tax man, English rocker Rod Stewart can spend only 90 days a year in Britain. But that hasn’t stopped Stewart, married to model Rachel Hunter, from spending an estimated $4.15 million for Stargroves, a 15,000-square-foot mansion situated on 50 acres 60 miles outside London. The Victorian Gothic country home, once owned by Mick Jagger, was built in 1877 and has 15 bedrooms (six with their own bathrooms), a lake, clock tower and tennis and basketball courts.

Caught in a Vice of Woe

Philip Michael Thomas, once TV’s coolest detective on the 1980s hit Miami Vice, is in hot water. Earlier this year a bank foreclosed on the Mediterranean-style, six-bedroom Miami Beach home Thomas shared with his longtime girlfriend and their five children after he stopped paying the mortgage. Now the girlfriend, ex-aerobics instructor Kassandra Thomas, 34, has accused Thomas of abandoning her and the children—sons Sovereign, 11, Sacred, 7, Kharisma, 6, and Noble, 4, and daughter Imajhananda, 9. “He took off,” says Kassandra’s attorney David Nevel. According to court papers, while Thomas (who has seven children from other relationships) has been traveling and pursuing his acting career, Kassandra has been compelled to sell the home’s furniture and accept charity to buy food and pay rent on an apartment. She now sells used cars and lives in a Miami suburb, where her lawyer says Thomas’s only contact with the children has been an occasional postcard and a chance meeting on the beach. “We’re not passing judgment on him,” says Nevel. “We’re simply saying that if you father children, you have the responsibility to provide financial support for them.” Thomas, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

Cuff Love

The last time rolled-up jeans were hip, they were hep—with Marlon Brando, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe turning them into a ’50s fashion phenomenon. “The styling is all about ’40s and ’50s workwear,” says Niall Maher, manager of the Diesel store in Manhattan. In London, the look is already a has-jean. Mark Holgate of British Vogue dismisses it as “an underground look gone overground—it’s had its day.” As for other greaser styles, don’t hold your breath for the return of the DA, either.

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