Electric Avenue

Leo DiCaprio and other stars get amped about their hybrid cars

  • Focus
  • What gets Leonardo DiCaprio‘s motor running? Among other things: A nickel-metal hydride battery, like the one powering his 2001 Toyota Prius. DiCaprio, 27, dropped $20,000 for his eco-friendly ride, which runs on an electric motor and a gasoline engine that work in tandem, reducing emissions by 75 percent and getting up to 52 miles per gallon in the city. A vocal environmentist, DiCaprio bought three more of the hybrid vehicles for his mom, dad and step-mom. “It’s his primary car,” says the actor’s rep Ken Sunshine. “He drives it all the time. People always ask him about it.”

Toyota has sold about 30,000 Priuses in the U.S.; Honda has sold about 10,000 of its Insight and Civic hybrids. Other electrified celebs include Ted Danson, Billy Joel, Bill Cosby, Carole King, Ed Begley Jr., Alicia Silverstone and Cameron Diaz. And the car aren’t merely therapeutic for the environment. Says Seinfeld creator Larry David, 54: “It alleviates some of the guilt from flying a private jet.” As for Diaz, 29, whose Mercedes and Porsche have languished in her garage ever since she got her Prius, her motive is simple. “It’s just like a golf cart,” she told Jay Leno earlier this year. “And you know how guys love golf carts.”

Searching for a Lost Voice

Despite a 1997 operation to remove nodules in her throat that left Julie Andrews unable to sing, the actress still hopes to regain the sound of music. To that end Andrews, 66, has helped organize an October symposium at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, where an elite group of physicians and scientists will team with professional singers to study the mysteries of vocal cords in the hope of helping millions. “Her idea was, ‘Let’s bring a lot of people together that wouldn’t necessarily come together,’ ” says Dr. Steven Zeitels, Andrews’s physician and a Harvard Medical School surgeon. Andrews, talking to the press June 13, said she has gained from her loss: “I’ve learned so much about the human voice and what a magical thing it is.”

Britney’s Goodies

Make no mistake. Guests attending the June 27 opening of Britney Spears‘s fancy new Manhattan restaurant Nyla—named for two of the singer’s favorite places, New York and her home state of Louisiana—aren’t just going for the southern-influenced food (the menu, says one source, features grilled salmon with Mississippi caviar and lobster salad with fried green tomatoes). Five hundred VIP invitees, as varied as Donald Trump and David Copperfield, can score goody bags stuffed with nearly $800 worth of BCBG perfume, a Mignon Faget necklace, cosmetics, Spears’s latest CD and a Lucien Piccard watch—with red wrist strap, hearts and the words “Time for Love”—among other favors.

Despite telling IN STYLE that her breakup with ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake, 21, is going to “hurt sometimes,” Spears, 20, invited her ex to the bash. Will he show? At press time Britney still awaited an RSVP.

  • The Duchess of Daytime?
  • With Rosie retiring and Oprah counting the minutes, who’ll next take a shot at the talk-queen throne? Royalty, naturally. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, taped a pilot June 15 and 16 before a live audience at the ABC studios in Times Square. Details were kept hush-hush, but the large ticker on the front of the building flashed the title “Fergie…Fergie…Fergie” to the world outside. Signed by Universal Television Enterprises, the duchess plans to host an hour-long talk-variety show slated to debut next year. “I’ll feel in my element,” said Ferguson, 42, who will jet between New York City and England and juggle raising her two daughters “with a daily talk show…that celebrates life and the human spirit.” And—just a guess—weight loss, maybe?

Durst: Let’s Play It Safer

Shedding his irreverent stage persona on June 17, Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst testified from L.A. (via video link) at a Sydney coroner’s inquest into the death of Jessica Michalik, a teen who suffered a heart attack while being crushed in a crowd at the group’s Sydney concert in January 2001. “It’s so overwhelming to know that a young girl came to see her favorite band,” said Durst, 31, “and left in a coma and died.” The singer says he believes such tragedies can be prevented with proper safety procedures—for example, training security to use flags to get the attention of performers during crowd emergencies. Said Durst: “We have to make sure this never happens again.”

Toby or Not Toby?

Country singer Toby Keith, 40, claims he was dropped from ABC’s Fourth of July TV special after host Peter Jennings objected to the lyrics of his exuberantly patriotic “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” (Sample lyrics: “You’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A./’Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass/ It’s the American way.”) He’ll be replaced by Hank Williams Jr. Although an ABC rep insists the cancellation simply “came down to logistics,” Keith still holds a grudge. “I find it interesting that he’s not from the U.S.,” he said when told that Jennings was born in Canada. “I bet Dan Rather’d let me do it on his special.”

For Celebs, Global Learning

The key ingredients of a recent United Nations two-day summit in New York City? Ginger Spice and everyone nice. On June 18 and 19, 43 celebrity Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors from around the globe received a crash course in world issues from poverty eradication to peacekeeping to politics. Among the attendees: Geri Halliwell, Danny Glover, Angelina Jolie, Roger Moore, Linda Gray and basketball player Dikembe Mutombo—each of whom has a specific area of focus.

Whether it was fighting AIDS (Glover), saving the environment (Gray), improving diets for children with iodine pills (Moore) or helping refugees (Jolie), “They are very earnest,” says Kevin Kennedy, a member of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s staff. “They’re eager to be taken seriously in the issues they address.”

We’re not talking Hollywood face time either. “Peter Ustinov has been doing this since 1968, Harry Belafonte since 1987,” says Kennedy. “Many have put in 10 years or more on the beat.” The benefit? “If Roger Moore does an appearance, the word gets out about iodine supplements. It becomes a public service announcement.”


with the Olsen Twins

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turned 16 on June 13, celebrating in true L.A. teen style: a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles for driver’s license tests (they passed) and a surprise party at Mortons. Following their run on TV’s Full House, the pair have kept busy making television guest spots and selling books, video games, clothing and dolls based on their personalities. So how’s life at Sweet 16? Scoop inquired.

The best part of being 16?

Ashley: The driving.

Mary-Kate: Being able to work on your own schedule, without waiting for someone to take you somewhere.

What happened when you woke up on your birthday?

Ashley: My family and boyfriend came in my room at 7:45 a.m. and woke me up with food. There were, like, three people videotaping.

Mary-Kate: I was tired. I didn’t go to sleep until 3 a.m. because of anxiety about the driver’s test.

Dating Anyone?

Ashley: Um-hmmm [yes].

Mary-Kate: Yes [neither named names].

What do you look for in date?

Ashley: I would never want to date an actor type. That just causes drama.

Mary-Kate: I don’t really have a “type.” I like funny people.

Choose: Justin Timberlake or Ozzy’s son Jack Osbourne.

Ashley: Justin for his looks and Jack for his humor.

Mary-Kate: Oh my gosh! Justin. I’ve seen the Osbourne show and I don’t think I’m quite on Jack’s level, you know?

Any hobbies?

Ashley: I play golf.

Mary-Kate: I horseback ride and do yoga.

Favorite school subject?

Ashley: Math or science. Definitely not history.

Mary-Kate: It really depends on the teacher.

Ever think of doing a Doublemint commercial?

Ashley: Actually, no.

Mary-Kate: We’d have to see when it came up.



Reba McEntire could be your horse’s neighbor. The singer, who lately has been spending a lot of her time in L.A. working on Reba, her WB sitcom, is selling one of two barns and 48 of the 80 acres that make up her Lebanon, Tenn., farm. McEntire, 47, is keeping the main house across the street, however. The stable “is an absolutely exquisite stone-and-stucco barn,” says Realtor Fiona Hayes. Te 15-stall structure, complete with inground scales, an indoor wash area and a viewing deck sports a $1.8 million price tag.

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