January 17, 2000 12:00 PM

Knight Time

The British Empire finally honors Sean Connery, scotching past differences

Focus

Soon the man who turned the phrase “Bond—James Bond” so well (and PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1989) can cease answering to Mr. Connery. After kneeling before Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace, he will arise as Sir Sean Connery. His knighthood, announced Dec. 31, ends an embarrassing situation for Britain’s Labor government: Two years ago, reports that Connery was snubbed for the honor because of his support for the Scottish National Party, which advocates independence for his homeland, caused an uproar in Scotland. Connery, already a member of France’s Legion of Honor and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, took the belated recognition in stride. “I accept with pleasure,” he said, “because I consider it as much an honor for Scotland as it is for me.”

Also garnering titles in Great Britain’s New Year’s Honors List: Liz Taylor, born in London; Surrey-born Julie Andrews; and Wales’s own Shirley Bassey, best known for singing the theme to Bond’s Goldfinger. All were named Dames of the British Empire. Jane Seymour and Northern Ireland’s Liam Neeson become OBEs (Officers of the Order of the British Empire). And now for something completely different: Monty Python member Michael Palin becomes a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).

And what, other than the honor of it, do Dame Liz et al get with their titles? Not much, really. For all but the knights, use of a chapel at St. Paul’s Cathedral for weddings and christenings. And perhaps the no-doubt-welcome expense of printing new business cards.

On the Record for Zappa

Back in the mid-’80s, musician Frank Zappa did not take kindly to Tipper Gore’s attempts to put warning labels on music with violent or overtly sexual lyrics. “Cultural terrorist,” he later called her, branding Gore’s efforts an “ill-conceived housewife hobby project.” He also wrote “Porn Wars,” a 1985 song condemning her work, which used samples of her voice on the record. No hard feelings remain between the families, however. Diva Zappa, 20, Frank’s youngest daughter, released a new single to radio stations just before New Year’s featuring the drumming talents of none other than Tipper Gore, with backup vocals by Gore’s daughter Kristin, 22. “I asked them if they wanted to be on my album, and they said yeah,” says Zappa. “All of this stuff is done on the spur of the moment.”

Not that Gore, 51, came unprepared. She has been drumming since she was 14 (and formed a teen band called the Wildcats). She still practices at home. “Sometimes, when it sounds good, [my children] are surprised to find out it’s me,” Gore says.

The vice president’s wife and Frank Zappa reconnected shortly before he died of cancer in 1993. “I sent a note over when Frank was sick,” Gore says. Today the Zappa family considers her a friend. They have also contributed to her husband’s presidential campaign.

The new Diva Zappa song “When the Ball Drops” was recorded at the Zappas’ home studios in Los Angeles. “It’s a teenage-angst song about the millennium,” says Gore. And what would Frank Zappa think of adding Tipper to the mix? “Genius!” says Diva.

Back in Our Arms Again

Thirty years after their breakup, Diana Ross and the Supremes may be ready to harmonize once more. Founding member Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong (who replaced the late Florence Ballard of the original group) and Ross are negotiating, says Wilson’s manager Richard Duryea, and he hopes to make an announcement soon. Ross and Birdsong had no comment. But the reunion makes sense: “Someday, We’ll Be Together” was their last official single as a group.

POP QUIZ

with Susan Sarandon

The serious side of Susan Sarandon rarely takes a breather, making it almost as likely to see her face on a protest line as on a movie screen. So it seemed only natural last month for the actress, known for such films as Thelma & Louise, Atlantic City and the recent Cradle Will Rock and Anywhere but Here, to take on a new role as a special representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund, a position once held by Audrey Hepburn and Roger Moore. Sarandon, 53 and the mother of three (Eva, 14, Jack, 10, and Miles, 7), spent a few moments with Scoop, disclosing that, while politics matter, family comes first.

Why take this job?

Having children, I just identify so strongly with mothers who have to deal with all of life’s threatening situations. The thought of a child who doesn’t have water, doesn’t have food, doesn’t have an education—I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to try to make a difference.

How?

I was looking forward most to going into the field and really accomplishing something very specific, like vaccination programs or something you can really get your hands on.

Any restrictions on your travels?

In fairness to my children, I requested that it not be some really dangerous place. I promised my family I wouldn’t go anywhere really life threatening. We’re trying to figure that out now.

Who do you think you can help?

Children, obviously, but especially young girls. In a lot of these countries, I think women and young girls are at the bottom of the food chain, and they’re just completely disposable. The child-labor thing is really disturbing to me as well.

Does the organization really need another celebrity spokesperson?

I’m certainly not the first celebrity that’s been of value to UNICEF. With your media connection, you’re able to get information to more people. They were telling me that when celebrities—movie stars or whomever—go to some of these countries, in a way it’s telling them how important they are to have someone significant, however silly that sounds, visit them.

What are your views on the U.N.’s debt problems?

I’d rather not get into that. I’d like to just stick to UNICEF, thanks.

So have you ever trick-or-treated for UNICEF?

Absolutely!

Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Live Together?

The fun, fun, fun is clearly over for Mike Love and Al Jardine, two original Beach Boys battling in a California court over rights to the group’s name. On Jan. 3, U.S. District Court Judge Harry Hupp stopped Jardine, 57, from using the words Beach Boys with his new band, Beach Boys Family and Friends. Brother Records, owned in part by Love, 58, who appears with a reconstituted Beach Boys, complained that Jardine’s poor reviews damaged the group’s name. Brother Records has also sued Jardine for trademark infringement; he has countersued for $5 million-suggesting the bad, bad, bad vibrations are far from over.

Felicity’s Receding Hairline

Coincidence or…the Samson effect? You be the judge: Last August, actress Keri Russell, star of The WB’s Felicity, dramatically trimmed her famous curly locks. Inspired by a short wig Russell once wore as a practical joke, the producers asked the actress to lose the long hair and worked the transformation into the Oct. 10 story line. After a brief ratings uptick—generated, most likely, by publicity about the new do—Felicity’s Nielsen numbers, already slipping, continued their slide. On fan Web sites, however, viewers speculate that the fault lies not with follicular folly but with the series’ switch last fall from Tuesday nights to Sunday nights, where it airs against Touched by an Angel, The Simpsons and The Wonderful World of Disney. J.J. Abrams, Felicity’s executive producer, has his own culprits: the show’s weak plots. “The stories we were telling weren’t as exciting,” he says. And the haircut? Not related, although he notes, “It’s growing back.”

Mug Shot Not Always a Photo Op

Why, when celebrities get arrested, are some mug shots released and others held back? Policies vary from department to department—and sometimes, it seems, from case to case. In New York City, where music bigwig Sean “Puffy” Combs was arrested Dec. 27 on a weapons charge, no booking photo was made public—and not, police say, because he received special treatment. Det. Robert Samuels, a spokesman, says mug shots are distributed only when a suspect can’t be found: “If he was missing…we would release his photo.”

ON THE BLOCK

TWAIN STATION

Country songbird Shania Twain hopes someone will come on over and purchase her plush Adirondack estate, on the market for $7.5 million. The 3,000-acre spread near Lake Placid, N.Y., has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and a three-story recording studio. And if, as the song goes, that don’t impress you much, maybe the heated nine-stall stable, tennis court, private lake or breathtaking views of Cat Mountain will do the trick. Shania and her husband, music producer Mutt Lange (who bought the place for $1.2 million in 1993), still own retreats in Florida and Switzerland where, of course, the twain shall meet.

You May Like

EDIT POST