September 23, 2002 12:00 PM

Where the Heart Is

Hollywood’s brightest rally to aid Calcutta’s lost children

FOCUS

Melanie Griffith, Ricky Martin, Sting and Bono came together in Cannes on Sept. 3 to raise funds for Hollywood’s latest cause celeb: girls living on the streets of Calcutta. Griffith’s interest was piqued by Penélope Cruz, a supporter of the Sabera Foundation, which shelters and feeds the poor children of Calcutta. An honorary copresident of the organization, Griffith, 45, visited the city in July. “I wanted to give everything I owned away except for what I need to survive,” Griffith said after the trip. She was so moved that she agreed to pay for the care and education of Suparna Das, a 2-year-old girl she met, insuring her financial needs through high school.

Griffith is helping put together a charity CD featuring Martin, Sting, Cruz, Bob Dylan, Alanis Morissette and Griffith’s husband, Antonio Banderas, among others, with proceeds going to Sabera. She’ll also hold a benefit at her 20,000-sq.-ft. Tuscan-style Los Angeles villa on Oct. 10. (Guests will meet 15 of the girls living in Calcutta, who will stay the week with Griffith and perform on the CD.) Her motivation? It’s important, says Griffith, “that we all do what we can to reach across cultural differences to help those in the greatest need.”

S.A.T. Scores of the Stars!

It’s that time again. As high school students across America prepare to sharpen their No. 2 pencils and confront the Scholastic Aptitude Test (“Rind is to lemon as shell is to egg”?), Scoop asked stars to come clean with their scores. The numbers, please.

Samuel L. Jackson, Star Wars: 1375

Shannon Elizabeth, Scary Movie: 1300

David Alan Grier, comic: 1300

Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly: 1260

Sean Patrick Thomas, The District: 1250

Jason Biggs, American Pie: 1200

JC Chasez, ‘N Sync singer: “about” 1200

Melissa Joan Hart, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: 1060

Dulé Hill, The West Wing: 1060

Ashanti, singer: “at least” 1000

When Celebs Rock the Vote

In politics—as in Hollywood—who you know can strongly augment what you know. Which is why Massachusetts state representative hopeful Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge city council member running in the Democratic primary Sept. 17, asked a couple of old schoolmates to help her campaign. Decker, 30, attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. “The three of us grew up in the same neighborhood,” says Decker, who also played Little League baseball with Affleck. Damon, 31, recorded a get-out-the-vote phone message for Decker; Affleck, 30, candidly noted her baseball skills in a flyer (“She was a better hitter than I was”). Decker’s opponent, incumbent Paul Demakis, says he prefers his noncelebrity endorsers—like the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, in Florida, former Attorney General Janet Reno learned that celeb endorsements only take you so far: Despite the backing of Rosie O’Donnell, Martin Sheen and Elton John, Reno was losing a close race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with 88 percent of the vote cast Sept. 10.

Wanted: Bridge Burner

Author Robert James Waller is offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person who set fire to Cedar Bridge, the red-painted span made famous by his bestselling novel The Bridges of Madison County and the 1995 film of the book starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. The 119-year-old bridge, which had become a major tourist attraction for nearby Winterset, Iowa, burned to ash on Sept. 3. Authorities vowed to rebuild it, at an estimated cost of $1 million.

Close Encounter

During WWII, a British punch line joked that American troops were overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here. Now a British theatrical union, Equity, is saying the same thing about American actors—well, the “over here” part, anyway. Miffed that Madonna, Woody Harrelson and Gwyneth Paltrow had stage roles in London in the last few months—while many Equity members are out of work—Equity protested the recent casting of Glenn Close in A Streetcar Named Desire at the National Theatre. The National didn’t buckle. “If you took that argument to its extreme,” a rep noted, “you might say, ‘Why are we doing foreign playwrights?’ ”

Know When to Hold ‘Em

Finally, after years of academic debate, of brilliant hopes, failed business plans and the antics of the Pets.com sock hound, comes the justification for the Internet: http://www.menwholooklikekennyrogers.com. Jaimie Muehlhausen, an art director for a catalog company in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., created the site last year after he began noticing a lot of menwholooklikekennyrogers. “I didn’t expect it to be this popular,” says Muehlhausen, 41, whose site earns about $500 a month from T-shirt sales and gets up to 2,000 hits daily (even though a couple of faux Kennys look like they belong on menwholooklikethelatewhobassistjohnentwistle.com). One regular visitor? The star himself. “I think it’s hilarious,” says Rogers, 64, who favors a look-alike known as Hot Tub Kenny. “I realized years ago there seem to be a lot of people who look like me. Whenever I looked down into the audience, there’d be four or five guys.”

POP QUIZ

with Wayne Brady

Comic Wayne Brady hit the boardwalk in Atlantic City Sept. 21 as host of the 82nd annual Miss America competition. Though his improvisational skills may come in handy—”Miss Iowa might fall into the orchestra pit, and I’ll have to cover”—Brady, 30, who stars in Whose Line Is It Anyway? and daytime’s new The Wayne Brady Show, says he knows “it isn’t all about me.”

What kind of message is the competition sending out by having you as the host?

They’re trying to update it by having this young, 30-year-old black guy host it. Miss America has been a lily-white affair sometimes.

Do you usually watch the show?

I liked it as a kid, but I really don’t think it’s something adult guys do. Most guys don’t sit around and throw Miss America parties. You don’t get a couple of buddies and say, “Hey, Steve! What are you doing?” “Watching Miss Florida. I hope she wins.”

If a contestant can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t play the ukulele but looks great in a bathing suit, can she win?

I’d say no. It’s about who’s the most well-rounded.

You’ll be in Atlantic City. Will you help keep the contestants safe from the roving eyes of casino moguls like Donald Trump?

I am planning to protect them every single step. I’ll be functioning as host and bodyguard.

Will you channel the spirit of the late host Bert Parks when singing “There she is, Miss America?”

As a child, I was the only Bert Parks impersonator in my neighborhood. But I used to get beaten up a lot, so I stopped.

Will any of your Whose Line Is It Anyway? colleagues join you in Atlantic City?

I think Colin Mochrie is representing Nebraska this year. At first I was angry with him for horning in on my gig, but he looks really good in an evening gown. He is a beautiful man.

ON THE BLOCK

A SHEPHERD’S GROUNDS

Cybill Shepherd’s flock is a little smaller since married daughter Clementine, 23, moved out of the house. So Shepherd, 52, who also has twins Ariel and Zachariah, 14, is selling her San Fernando Valley mountaintop estate for $3,499,500 and opting for a more modest home in the L.A. area. (The actress-singer-author, currently working on proposals for a reality TV series and a stage musical, also keeps a home in her native Memphis, Tenn.) The 7,000-sq.-ft. renovated Mediterranean-style mansion features five bedrooms, a tennis court, guest house, wine cellar, pool and spa with a view.

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