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Shakira Star-Struck at American Music Awards
Will Smith & Shakira
Mariah Carey
Eurythmics Dave Stewart & Annie Lennox
Missy Elliott
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
Jenny McCarthy

Los Angeles, November 22, 2005 – While this year’s American Music Awards didn’t have Anna Nicole Smith gloriously slurring her words on live television, we still managed to uncover some charming moments.

Simultaneously entering the backstage press room from opposite sides, winners Will Smith and Shakira did an awkward little etiquette ballet. Clearly star-struck, Shakira gulped, “Oh, you’re Will Smith.” Then, she gestured toward the podium, “You go first”. “Ladies first”, Smith gallantly demurred. A bit more back and forth resulted in a compromise: they went together.

We were told Missy Elliott wouldn’t stop backstage because of an unspecified injury, but then she rode in on a motorized scooter, grasped a crutch and triumphantly stood up.

Mariah Carey, who seems to have stopped taking Vogue maven Andre Leon Talley’s style advice and slipped back to barely-there costumes, didn’t have her advance team come backstage to adjust the lighting before posing for photos. For once.

Despite her librarian-style black-framed eyeglasses, Jenny McCarthy was still blonde. She told her people she wanted to go into the press area reserved for reporters, which, when she got there, she found was, er, filled with reporters, who asked her questions. Jenny then told her reps that she didn’t want to talk to people, so they left, and headed over to the apparently less-threatening photography area, where she posed.

Fan Frenzy at Golden Girls Signing
Golden Girls Betty White, Bea Arthur & Rue McClanahan
Bea Arthur needed a tissue
Hordes of fans outside the store

New York, November 22, 2005 – We’ve told you before how cultured New Yorkers are, regularly packing readings and signings by today’s leading authors, artists and thinkers. But even we were surprised at the crowd that turned out to get Betty White, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan to sign the newly released DVD of season 3 of The Golden Girls, their iconic 1980s sitcom.

The lines in the Barnes & Noble bookstore in (where else?) Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood wound through the entire store and out the other end. Security was forced to lock the doors, so unlucky throngs of fans gathered on the sidewalks. Cheers, whistles and applause broke out as the ladies made their way through the crowd, arriving about 30 minutes late.

As things got underway, we all waited breathlessly when Betty White announced, “Now I’m going to do something really shocking”. Then, she put on her glasses.

At first we thought Bea Arthur was overcome with emotion at the outpouring of love, when she rummaged in her purse, pulled out a tissue, and put it to her face, but it seems she just had to blow her nose.

And you thought culture was dead.

Orange County Choppers Hits NYC
Mikey Teutul innocently mugs with toy bear

Yo Paul, this croissant. is heavenly! Paul Teutul, Sr. to Paul Teutul Jr.

Paul Sr. The shopping in NYC is simply faaaaabulous

New York, November 22, 2005 – America’s first family of choppers, the Teutuls, roared into New York City to kick off the holiday season at legendary toy emporium FAO Schwarz. Combining fun, charity and profit, Paul Teutul, Sr., Paul, Jr. and Mikey showed off a life-sized, signed chopper, made of K’Nex parts, that is up for auction on eBay, proceeds to benefit USO charities.

The American Chopper stars also bought toys for charity, and when golden-haired Mikey posed with a large stuffed toy bear of similar color, he told us not to make him look like some kind of kiddy pervert. Store officials offered them ice cream refreshments, but Paul, Sr. asked for croissants instead, which they munched happily. When the shopping bag-laden trio finally went outside, they completed their New York tourist experience by jumping to avoid being splashed by a passing taxicab.

Oprah Winfrey Achieves International Recognition
Helen Mirren with bodice
Oprah Winfrey with award, & Hillary Clinton
Bebe Neuwirth without pants

New York, November 21, 2005 – Apparently we weren’t alone in appreciating the brilliance of Oprah Winfrey’s dramatic performance outside a Paris Hermes boutique last summer. The American talk-show icon received an award at the International Emmy Awards gala on Monday, which honor excellence in television programming produced outside the United States. Brava, Oprah!

Hosted by British television personality Graham Norton, guests included Vivica A. Fox, Danny Glover, Soprano Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who apparently hasn’t spent one night at home since splitting with her husband, and Morgan Spurlock, who showed the world why Americans are so fat in his documentary Super Size Me. British actress Helen Mirren was all tied up in a romance novel-worthy bodice-ripper of a dress. Not to be outdone, Yank Bebe Neuwirth trotted around in a dress so tiny, she needed some pants.

Clooney & Damon Slick at Syriana
Terrence Howard, left, & Matt Damon
George Clooney
Amanda Peet with fiance David Benioff

New York, November 20, 2005 – George Clooney gained a lot of weight for his role in the new movie, Syriana, and apparently, everyone wanted to see how much he’s taken off, since Terrence Howard, Josh Lucas, Rosie Perez and Edie Falco all showed at the premiere on Sunday. (Not that looking at George is ever difficult, mind you.) Matt Damon and Amanda Peet play a married couple in the oil-industry thriller, but each brought along their real-life betrothed, Luciana Barroso and David Benioff, respectively. From the gigantic cast, Jeffrey Wright, Tim Blake Nelson and William Hurt made the debut.

Russell Crowe's Courthouse Chaos
Danielle Spencer & Russell Crowe fight their way into courthouse
Surrounded by security, Crowe wades through sea of journalists
Crowe leaving courthouse accompanied by shocked officer

New York, November 18, 2005 – Hot-tempered actor Russell Crowe appeared in a Manhattan court today and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from his phone-throwing tantrum last June.

The Oscar winner’s scheduled 9:30 A.M. appearance was delayed until Crowe’s lawyer finished with rapper Irv Gotti’s case over in Brooklyn. Crowe’s black Escalade, complete with tinted windows, pulled up shortly after 2 P.M.; he received no special privileges, and was forced to make his way through the media throng, surrounded by security guards.

The situation outside the courthouse became downright dangerous for the approximately 75 members of the press awaiting Crowe’s arrival. Security guards pushed and shoved through the crowd, and Crowe and his wife, Danielle Spencer, were stoic, expressionless, and spoke to no one.

As the entourage made its way up the courthouse steps, photographers and TV crews were pushed back, with some falling and being stepped on. At one point, court officers physically held off photographers. Once they’d finally gotten Crowe into the building, court officers threatened to arrest people if they came onto the steps.

Reducing the charges from felony assault to misdemeanor should allow Crowe to work again in the U.S., and we can’t wait.

Rent, 2005
Taye Diggs & Idina Menzel
Wilson Jermaine Heredia & Rosario Dawson
Anthony Rapp
Photos: Joy E. Scheller/LFI

New York, November 17, 2005 – The movie version of Rent premiered Thursday night, and you can see it in theaters next week, so we won’t spoil the plot. Let’s just say that in our opinion, the story should be updated. No doubt the transsexual heroin addicted artistes who spent their lives in the East Village trying to come up with the rent while (not) working to be the next Madonna is quaintly dated. We’d bring the story to today, with Anthony Rapp playing the gay stockbroker who is nervous about passing the coop board for the one-room, roach-infested fifth floor walkup on which he’s just bid $750,000. Real-life marrieds Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel would be the expectant parents frantic to get their future child into the “right” pre-school while trying to sell said dump so that they can move into the two-room fleabag on Avenue D that they just bought for $1.3 million. They need to start renovations before junior comes along, and they’re up half the night at the kitchen table, poring over Harvard applications. Rosario Dawson would be perfect as Mimi, the Corcoran Group agent pitting buyers against sellers, barking into her cell in Thompson Square Park that $1,800 per month maintenance is certainly not high! Maybe we’ll just write our own play.

Douglas & Zeta-Jones Honored at Chris Reeve Gala
Meryl Streep
Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones
Dana Reeve & Robin Williams

New York, November 17, 2005 – With country music stars taking over New York this week, Welsh-born glamazon Catherine Zeta-Jones slipped quietly into town with hubby Michael Douglas to accept an award from the Christopher Reeve Foundation at a Thursday night gala. The couple shared some hilarious memories of times they spent with the late Superman star and his wife, Dana, and regaled us with tales of parties where Robin Williams’ antics kept them all in stitches. Despite her bout with lung cancer, Dana Reeve looked great at the dinner, where Williams and his wife Marsha, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Uma Thurman and Diane Sawyer all helped to raise funds.

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