One Friend’s Class Act

Lisa Kudrow goes back to first grade to help bring attention to public schools


Trading her sitcom set for tougher turf in neighboring Compton, Calif., Lisa Kudrow took her place beside a stuffed pink swine named Mr. Pig and recited her lines before a new cast of friends. Her costars: 19 first graders at Laurel Street Elementary School, who listened, rapt, as Kudrow read aloud from the children’s book The Rainbow Fish. Afterward, she led a discussion about sharing. With her Oct. 16 guest appearance in the classroom, the Friends star added her name to the list of entertainment luminaries—among them Matthew McConaughey, Jada Pinkett Smith, Peter Jennings and Noah Wyle—who participate in Teach for America Week, a program that brings high-profile citizens into underprivileged neighborhood schools to inspire the kids and encourage others to teach there.

“I was nervous,” says Kudrow, 37, who admits that jitters caused her to blank on parts of her hour-long lesson plan. “I really don’t know where first graders are, intellectually or emotionally. It really became clear to me how much training goes into teaching.” A quick study, Kudrow, who has a 2-year-old son, Julian, was soon rattling off the kids’ names without a glance at their name tags. “Lisa did a great job,” says the class’s full-time teacher, Sara Steinberg. “They warmed up to her so quickly, and it sends a powerful message to my students that she took time out to come. It shows them that they’re important and that their education is important.” Kudrow echoes the positive sentiment: “This was the most informative hour of my life.”

For their part, the kids—some of whom are fans of Friends dubbed in Spanish—learned a thing or two about the actress. Her favorite color? Blue. Favorite book? Stuart Little. Six-year-old William Chavez had clearly picked up on the daily lesson: “You share things with friends,” he said. And how did the kids rate their A-list substitute? “I’ve never seen a real star person before,” said Danielle Cathcart, 6. “She was okay.”

The Franco Family All-Stars

“Of all things to win in life,” muses Kurt Russell, “No. 1 is the World Series.” Russell himself may have to settle for killer seats behind home plate at the games, compliments of his nephew, 31-year-old N.Y. Mets pinch-hitter Matt Franco. “I’ve been a Mets fan ever since Matt joined them,” says the actor, who caught Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Shea Stadium with eternal flame Goldie Hawn, daughter Kate Hudson and her Black Crowes beau, Chris Robinson. “I quietly root for him, along with 56,000 other fans.”

Franco—whose father, Larry, is a Hollywood producer (Sleepy Hollow)—isn’t fazed by Russell’s fame. “I don’t think of him as a movie star, except when everyone’s staring at him,” he says. “Hopefully, I’ll have that problem one day.” For now the loud cheers of Uncle Kurt will suffice. Says Franco: “He wears Mets hats, and he’s been known to don the Matt Franco jersey.”

  • Way, Way Inside Russell Crowe
  • It started with David Letterman, right there on national TV, graciously thanking the surgeon who performed his heart bypass. Next, Rosie O’Donnell, after slicing her tendon, thanked her physical therapist. Now Russell Crowe has taken things a step further: On his Web site, russell, the colorful Aussie iconoclast, who recently underwent shoulder surgery, not only thanks his doctor but has posted pictures from the operation, with commentary (“torn tissue, being scraped”; “request by four hospital staff to strip naked and put on paper pants—impolitely declined”; “surgeon sweating…like James Woods in a minor role”). A thoughtful plus: With just one click, the pix can be sent as e-cards to friends.


with Howie Dorough

Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough’s older sister Caroline Dorougb-Cochran, 37, died in 1998 of complications from lupus. Since then the teen idol has helped raise funds to research the disease, which causes the immune system to attack the body’s cells and tissues. Scoop caught up with Dorough, 27, following a Lupus Foundation benefit in Los Angeles last week.

Did you know much about lupus before your sister’s illness?

I really didn’t know anything at all. It’s such a hush-hush disease. It’s weird, though, because it is more prevalent than leukemia, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis combined. Data has shown that 1.4 million people have been diagnosed with lupus.

Tell us about Caroline.

Caroline was always high-spirited. She never let the disease take away her time. She was a social butterfly; she could party with the best of us. She never wanted anyone to feel sorry for her.

She attended a Backstreet Boys concert just days before she died.

I was so happy to have her be there. A week later we were receiving the best group video award at the MTV Video Awards. It was a high point of our career. The next day my brother called me and said, “She’s really not doing well. She’s taking a turn for the worse.”

And her death led to the Caroline Dorough-Cochran Lupus Memorial Foundation.

My sister was going through a lot of tests at Duke University. I got to know her doctor really well. He asked me to use my status as an artist to bring more awareness to the disease. I know Elton John has done a lot of work with AIDS education, and Sting has done a lot for raising awareness of the rain forest, so I realized it was my turn.

What have you learned?

I have learned that I am so grateful and so thankful for what I have with the Backstreet Boys. But I’m more thankful for my health and that my family is so important to me. You don’t realize all this sometimes—you can get caught up in all of it, and you don’t realize how good you have it until you lose someone close to you.

Kangaroo’s Outta the Bag

It’s no longer a mystery. Reporters Down Under have cracked the secret of Survivor’s next locale: Aussie papers are citing a rain forest gorge on the Herbert River in northern Australia. (CBS will not comment.) The remote area is home to crocs, spiders and snakes, but the greatest danger may come from residents of the nearest town, Mt. Garnet, who are bitter that TV crews had supplies shipped in from Cairns, 186 miles away. “We’ve gotten zilch,” complains pub owner Mick Dunne. Environmental laws may also pose problems. As a government source told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, “The last thing we want on U.S. television is someone killing a wallaby and eating it.”

  • For Sale: Red Carpeting
  • Ever wanted to stroll the red carpet with celebs and guests at a movie premiere? To test the public’s appetite, Charlie’s Angels producers provided that opportunity to Yahoo! online bidders. The results: 114 people made offers, with two winners each forking out $1,000 to attend one of the film’s two premieres in New York City and L.A. with a guest. (Part of the money will go to charity.) Next up: a Web auction of costar Cameron Diaz‘s gold Angels bikini.

The Devil Made Her Do It

Has Elizabeth Hurley been seeking counsel from Dr. Laura? On the heels of the latter’s conveniently timed apology to the gay community (just as her TV talk show is gasping for breath), model-actress Hurley has issued an apology of her own. Mere days before her new comedy Bedazzled hit theaters on Oct. 20, Hurley made amends with the striking Screen Actors Guild, which had bedeviled her with criticism since she shot a nonunion perfume ad. Hurley says she was unaware of the strike when she made the commercial and is “really embarrassed” by the incident, her lawyer told Variety. Perhaps accelerating her quest for closure: posters for Bedazzled—in which she plays a sultry Satan—some of which, in L.A., have been sporting the word “scab.”

Brandy, Halloween’s UNICEF Dandy

“I really don’t celebrate holidays,” says Moesha’s Brandy, 21. “They’re beautiful, but I’m not really into them.” Which is a little odd, considering she is an ambassador for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, the annual Halloween fund-raiser. So don’t expect to see her in a witch’s cape this Oct. 31, but do expect her to raise her voice for the project. “Look, this is a worthwhile cause, and we need to support it,” she says. “I feel that it’s good karma. I’m helping children to save other children.”

Years ago, though, the holiday meant more. She watched scary movies (Halloween was a favorite: “I screamed out loud!”), and costumes were obligatory. “I remember dressing up as Janet Jackson,” she says. “I had the one big earring and the small earring in the other ear. I was Rhythm Nationed out!”



“She loved to entertain,” says Nelda Linsk, a longtime friend of the late Oscar-winning actress Loretta Young. “I’d say, ‘Let’s go out for dinner,’ and she’d say, ‘No, let’s stay in. Come to my house.’ ” And a glamorous stream of visitors—Hubert de Givenchy, Lauren Bacall, James Galanos—acquiesced, enjoying the mountain view at the actress’s ethereal Palm Springs abode. Young died in August at the age of 87, and her three-bedroom desert retreat was recently sold to the grandchildren of late L.A. architect William Pereira (he designed the expansion for the L.A. International Airport) for $530,000. It features a crescent-shaped kitchen, round living room, oval fireplace and lit gardens.

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