Plus: Lance keeps lead, Kirstie Alley sells big show, and more

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 23, 2004 09:00 AM
Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

STUNNED: A sockless and shirtless Kiefer Sutherland rattled a group of small-town New Zealand women thanks to an impromptu strip routine (to the Tom Jones hit “You Can Leave Your Hat On”) at a club in the North Island community of Raetihi, reports the New Zealand Herald. The women were watching a male revue act as the 24 star (Down Under to shoot the movie River Queen) decided to join in, said the paper. “Kiefer had a hell of a night,” a club rep tells the Associated Press. “He’s coming back in August, mate, and as far as we’re concerned we want him back in here.”

RETAINED: Lance Armstrong, 32, kept his lead in the Tour de France Thursday, and looks to have a lock on his record sixth consecutive victory come the race’s finish in Paris Sunday. Armstrong finished first by passing Germany’s Andreas Kloeden in the final 100 feet of the 127-mile 17th stage. “This is the greatest bike race in the world,” Armstrong told reporters, “and I want to win.”

PITCHED: Emmy-winning former Cheers and Veronica’s Closet star Kirstie Alley, 53, whose weight has mushroomed of late, has sold Fat Actress, a largely improvised sitcom to be based on her current situation, to Showtime, say reports. On the series, to debut next year, Alley will play a fictional version of herself, like Larry David on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, as she deals with Hollywood types who are hypersensitive to issues of size. The actress reportedly showed up to the network pitch meeting with a box of Krispy Kremes.

DIVORCED: A judge on Thursday granted veteran movie producer Robert Evans, 74, a divorce from his sixth wife, former Versace model Leslie Ann Woodward, 35, AP reports. The couple were married for seven months before separating in June 2003. Woodward filed for divorce two months later, citing irreconcilable differences. Evans, who served as the subject and narrator of the 2002 documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, was previously married to Love Story star Ali MacGraw, former Miss America Phyllis George and Dynasty costar Catherine Oxenberg, among others.

DIED: Tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet, 81, who defined the jazz style called screeching and played with jazz legends including Lionel Hampton, Count Basie and Cab Calloway during a career spanning eight decades, died of a heart attack in his Queens, N.Y., home Thursday, AP reports. Jacquet, born Jean-Baptiste Jacquet in Broussard, La. (his mother was a Sioux Indian and his father, Gilbert Jacquet, was a French-Creole railroad worker and part-time musician), played with nearly every jazz and blues legend of his time, including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

RESTED: Jeopardy! phenom Ken Jennings, 30, whose record earnings so far have topped the $1.2 million mark in an unprecedented 38 appearances, gets the summer off as the syndicated show’s season comes to an end on Friday. The Salt Lake City software engineer is due back in the game on Aug. 9, to film the next round, though that episode will not air until the next season premiere, Sept. 6.

SEMI-RETIRED: The Matrix makers Larry and Andy Wachowski, whose movie trilogy with Keanu Reeves generated more than $1 billion in U.S. ticket sales, are “taking a little breather,” a rep for the brothers tells the Wall Street Journal. One possible project when the team eventually gets back to work could be V for Vendetta, from Alan Moore’s futuristic graphic novel.

CONCLUDED: Producers of the now-defunct Rosie O’Donnell Show have settled, for an undisclosed figure, a $3 million lawsuit brought by Lucille DeBellis, 72, who claims she was injured by a flying Koosh Ball tossed by the show’s host, reports the New York Post. The incident with the Koosh Ball occurred in November 2001, and allegedly caused DeBellis, who claimed she was hit in the face, discomfort for “several months,” her suit stated.