Russell Crowe Controversy Up in Smoke
That Russell Crowe just can’t seem to keep out of trouble. After playing real-life tobacco-industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand in 1999’s “The Insider” — which brought the actor his first Oscar nomination — Crowe, 38, gave Big Tobacco a boost when he chain-smoked on the air during an appearance on the Australian version of the classic CBS newsmagazine program “60 Minutes,” reports TIME. (TIME, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.) The star’s appearance was ironic, because much of “The Insider” had to do with Wigand’s interviews by Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes,” which CBS refused to air because of fears of legal retaliation by the tobacco industry. But that wasn’t the problem with the Down Under brouhaha, reports TIME. It is illegal to advertise tobacco on TV in Australia, says the magazine, and when the Aussie “60 Minutes” re-ran footage of Crowe smoking in a “Mailbag” segment of the show (in which viewers wrote in to complain about Crowe’s lighting up), up went the flares. Last week, says TIME, a judge ruled that while the first broadcast of Crowe smoking was acceptable, the second airing was gratuitous — and the network was found to be in violation of its license. Perhaps Crowe ought to carry a health warning.