Sizzling Debate

Sure, everyone does endorsements. But is Miss Piggy’s sausage deal a pitch too far?


Say it isn’t so. Miss Piggy, fab babe and beloved Muppet, has been hawking the sausage-and-bacon combo for Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast. Wouldn’t most people—except for, say, Hannibal Lecter—find the notion a bit unsettling? “We have received some phone calls from customers who were concerned to see Miss Piggy eating bacon and sausage,” says a Denny’s rep, “but most people understand that the commercials are meant to be humorous.” The account was managed by West-Wayne advertising, a Tampa, Fla., agency. (The two sides have since parted ways, but both say the split had nothing to do with the commercial, which will run until Labor Day.)

“If you understand the character and you look at a lot of the Muppets stuff, [Miss Piggy] and Kermit are always going back an forth about frog’s legs and bacon, so we didn’t think it was a problem,” says Peter Taylor, the agency’s account director. “I think people understand it’s the Muppets. If we had a real live pig in there eating bacon, then there’d be issues.”

The swine queen herself is hardly conflicted about plugging the other white meat. “Pork? What are vous talking about?” says Miss Piggy. “Moi is now 100 percent Botox! It’s a diva thing, sweetie.”

At Your Service?

Call it hope for the common man. Not long after breaking off her romance with Swiss circus master, renowned elephant trainer and married man Franco Knie, Princess Stephanie was back in Monaco, appearing to avoid potential Prince Charmings. According to European press reports, Stephanie, 37, has been keeping company with Richard Lucas, a palace butler or chef. The pair reportedly were seen together at a mountain resort in Auron, France. Shocked? Horrified? So far, there doesn’t seem to be an uproar. Perhaps because it would hardly be Stephanie’s first dalliance with an ordinary Joe, or Jacques. Throughout the years the Princess has been linked with two bodyguards, a nightclub owner, a ski instructor and a waiter. Palace gardeners, keep your dreams alive.

Whitney: A Shrill Trill?

Why write a letter to the editor when you can state your case in song? In her new single “Whatcha Lookin’ At,” Whitney Houston lambastes the press for what she sees as its excess enthusiasm in reporting about her marriage, marijuana-possession charge and missed or erratic performances. A
sample lyric: “You try so hard to show the whole world what I do/ Now I’m turning the cameras back on you/ Same spotlight that once gave me fame/ Trying to dirty up Whitney’s name…I don’t need you looking at me.” Next up: a duet with Eminem?

When Broadway Beckons

C’mon along and listen to…Joey Fatone on Broadway? “I’ve always wanted to do musical theater,” says the ‘N Syncer, who makes his New York stage debut in Rent August 5. And why not? Especially this summer, when the rialto is filled with names usually associated with TV shows and films: Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) and Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) in Chicago; John Stamos (Full House) in Cabaret; Edie Falco (The Sopranos) and Stanley Tucci (Winchell) in Frankie and Johnny; Anne Heche (Volcano, Donnie Brasco) in Proof; and Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue), Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock from the Sun), Christopher Lloyd (Taxi) and Julia Stiles (The Bourne Identity) in Twelfth Night. Fatone, who will play the part of Mark, a filmmaker, in Rent, does have a musical theater background—from his high school days. He sees only one obstacle to Broadway success—stamina. “I’ll have to do eight shows a week,” he says. “Sometimes we’d do five or six shows a week [for ‘N Sync], but now I’ll have to do matinees and everything. That’s going to be the hardest part.” Otherwise Fatone expects a smooth transition to the legitimate stage. “Hopefully,” says the 25-year-old teen idol, “my fans won’t be screaming and holding up signs the way they do at our concerts.”

Water Boy

Sweating like an NBA point guard in wool long johns during his 90-minute HBO special on July 14 (and yes, the place was air-conditioned), Robin Williams reached back every few minutes to take a swig from one of more than a dozen water bottles—each with its label peeled off—arranged neatly on the table behind him. So what happened to the brand name on the bottles? Williams “doesn’t do any commercial endorsements,” says his rep, explaining why the containers were stripped bare. Williams, it turns out, is also a neat freak. “In case you didn’t notice,” says the rep, “he always puts the caps back on” between sips.

Hey, Jude: @#!

Bucharest, Romania—There was nothing particularly politic in the 2:30 a.m. conversation between Jude Law, movie star, and Dinu Patriciu, member of the Romanian Parliament, outside the Bucharest Otopeni International Airport on July 11. The sanitized version: “Bleeping country, bleep you,” Patriciu recalls Law telling him. The Romanian’s response? “You small piece of bleep, do not bleep me, bleep yourself!”

What prompted the exchange? The parliamentarian, 51, says he saw Law loading luggage into what Patriciu believed to be his brother’s dark-gray Range Rover and concluded the actor was a car thief. So he tried to drive the car away. Law, 29, cursed. Patriciu swung at Law, only to be restrained by Law’s chauffeur.

Strange fact: The car did belong to Patriciu’s brother—until a few days earlier, when he had given it to a local car dealer to sell or rent. Law, who arrived in Romania to film the war drama Cold Mountain, had the proper rental papers. No matter. Patriciu is still mad. “He was acting like he was out of his mind,” says the politician. Law, however, is taking the high road. “It’s more sensationalized than what actually happened,” says the actor’s rep.


with Natalie Portman

Long ago, in a nation far, far away—6th century B.C. Persia, say many historians—somebody invented polo (most historians also agree it was probably not Ralph Lauren). It was still thriving July 13 in Bridgehampton, N.Y., where Natalie Portman presided over the opening of the local season. Her polo connection? Portman, 21, likes horses. Beyond that, she cheerfully admitted, zilch. Scoop pummeled her with questions anyway.

You grew up on Long Island, Hung out in the Hamptons before?

A little bit. I never had a house here or anything, but I came out for my prom and my date’s prom. It’s sort of the Long Island thing to do.

Any fond memories of those special nights?

The guy I went with to the prom messed up his plans. There were no reservations, and we ended up sleeping in a car. That’s what happens when you trust guys.

Is that your view of romance right now?

[Laughs] I guess so.

Going with anyone special at the moment?

I’m a single girl.

How will you be spending the rest of the summer?

I’m going to Scandinavia with my parents for 10 days.

Any chance of getting on a horse in today’s polo match?

No, no, no.

If you’re not playing, what brings you here?

The event’s charity [New Yorkers for Children, which provides foster kids with college counseling and cultural opportunities] is really wonderful. It’s sick that not every child has parents who love him and care for him.

Have your mother and father done well by you?

I didn’t earn my parents. I arbitrarily got amazing parents.

You’ll be a parent yourself in the next Star Wars, no?

That should be interesting. I’ll be bearing Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia next summer.



Kelly Ripa, 31—wife, mother, soap star and cohost of Live with Regis and Kelly—has found a way to make more time in her day: She and husband Mark Consuelos, 31 (an actor on All My Children), have sold their suburban Franklin Lakes, N.J., home and moved to a Manhattan condo. The approximately 4,500-sq.-ft. house, which has five bedrooms, a deck, sun room and even a swing set built for the couple’s kids Michael, 5, and Lola, 1, went for $915,000.

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