Plus: Post-op Clinton emerges, Prince Albert in charge, and more

By Stephen M. Silverman
April 01, 2005 09:00 AM

PUNK’D: Star Jones Reynolds, 43, is keeping a sense of humor about a new ad campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which features a 6′-tall drag queen named Flotilla DeBarge who’s dressed to look like the View cohost. The “Fur is a Drag” ad will feature DeBarge wearing a fur-accented bridal gown splattered with blood. “As long as no laws are broken, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Jones Reynolds said in a statement to the Associated Press. “I hope his hair and makeup look fabulous and he remembers to shave.”

APPEARED: Former president Bill Clinton on Thursday made his first public appearance since his March 10 operation to remove side effects from his quadruple bypass six months ago. Clinton accepted an award for his work to promote AIDS treatment and prevention in the developing world, reports The Washington Post, calling the North Virginia gathering a low-key affair. The paper also describes the 42nd president, 58, as looking fit and well rested. Making no reference to his health issues, Clinton did say it was “unconscionable” how little wealthy countries are doing about the worldwide HIV crisis.

ASSUMED: Prince Albert, 47, took over all royal powers but the throne in Monaco Thursday after the tiny principality’s royal commission decided his critically ill father, Prince Rainier III, is too sick to perform his duties. It is the first time since 1949 that Rainer, 81, has not been in power. He was hospitalized March 7 and has been in intensive care for 10 days with breathing, kidney and heart problems. Albert is his only son. Albert’s mother was the late actress Grace Kelly.

REGRETTED: Jane Fonda, 67, tells CBS’s 60 Minutes in an interview to air Sunday in support of her memoir Jane Fonda: My Life So Far that her visit to a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun site in 1972 was “the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine.” The incident earned her the traitorous nickname “Hanoi Jane.” Fonda also says she does not regret meeting with American P.O.W.’s in North Vietnam or making broadcasts on Radio Hanoi, because “Our government was lying to us, and men were dying because of it, and I felt I had to do anything that I could to expose the lies and help end the war.”

HONORED: Alicia Keys, 24, will receive the Starlight Award, which honors gifted songwriters in the early years of their careers, at the 2005 Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards gala on June 9 at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel. The National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame, founded in 1969, will also induct Steve Cropper, John Fogerty, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Bill Withers and “Mary Poppins” and “It’s a Small World” composers Richard and Robert Sherman.

REDUCED: Billy Joel has lowered the price of his last remaining parcel of Hamptons property, a home in Sag Harbor, from $5.4 million down to $4.2 million, reports the Wall Street Journal. The “Piano Man,” 55, still has a home in Oyster Bay (on the other side of Long Island) and in Manhattan’s Tribeca, says his publicist. The Sag Harbor home is 4,000-sq. ft., with four fireplaces and docks for two boats, according to the Journal. Despite a strong real-state market, the publicist says the sale price proves the Joel is ready to unload the house.

WARNED: If you’re thinking of buying Oscar show tickets, don’t. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing several companies and 50 anonymous parties for selling passes to the Hollywood gala, reports Reuters. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks to prohibit agencies and individuals from selling tickets to future Oscar shows and asks for damages that include a return of profits. David Quinto, a partner at the academy’s law firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, said he had heard of tickets going for as much as $40,000 a pair. “When you show up, you better have an I.D., or you’re escorted off the red carpet,” Quinto said.

DIED: Famed chicken man Frank Perdue, who starred in his own folksy TV commercials for his poultry products, died Thursday after a brief illness, according to a release from his Maryland-based company. He was 84. At the time of his death, Perdue was chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of Perdue Farms Inc., which was founded in 1920. His commercials ran from 1971-94, when his son, James Perdue, replaced him.