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Was Courtney a Bad Influence On Winona?

Courtney Love | Martin Scorsese | Michael Caine | Mariah Carey

Was Courtney a Bad Influence On Winona?

All hell is breaking loose in Winona Ryder-land, and this time it has to do with controversial rocker Courtney Love.

A few days ago, an excellent source of mine commented that a lot of Winona's problems had to do with her friendship with Love. In fact, the source said, Winona had picked up some bad habits from Love.

Now, the California Medical Board has linked the two women through their mutual doctor, Dr. Jules Lusman . Last week, the board cited Lusman, 49, for numerous acts of unprofessional conduct — including the excessive prescription of narcotics.

According to the report, now published by Thesmokinggun.com , Lusman last year provided painkillers and other drugs to Love and Ryder with little examination — a practice the board termed an "extreme departure from the standard of care."

The Smoking Gun continues: "In Love's case, Lusman prescribed injectable Demerol, syringes and sedative hypnotics. Ryder received Percocet, Xanax and other drugs from Lusman."

(Love's lawyers, by the way, sent an angry letter to The Smoking Gun to pull down the report, but they refused based on the advice of their own attorneys.)

Nice, huh? Love was quoted in the Nov. 6 People magazine article about Ryder. She has staunchly defended Ryder in the press over her shoplifting charges.

Lusman, by the way, is a medical graduate of the University of Cape Town. In December 1986, South African regulators found him guilty of "disgraceful conduct" for making improper prescriptions, according to The Smoking Gun.

According to the report posted on the Web site, "Patient C.L." was first seen by Lusman in June 2001. She complained of a swollen hand from a bee sting. Lusman gave the mysterious patient a prescription for Vicodin.

"During the next five months, Respondent (Lusman) provided the patient with injectable Demerol, prescriptions for syringes and sedative hypnotics, including Ambien and Xanax, a benzodiazepine."

The report goes on to list dozens of at-home visits for "Patient C.L.," with Lusman dosing her fairly much to the nines and not recording most of the events.

"Patient C.L." is sometimes mentioned as "Patient C.L.-C." and as having once been married to a "Mr. C.," who had "passed away." As we all know, Love's husband, Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain, shot himself in 1994.

The medical board report also cites a "Patient E.T.," a 29-year-old "well-known entertainer," as being a patient of Lusman who was receiving a number of drugs and treatments for which there are either no records or improper ones.

Ryder is on record as often using the name "Emily Thompson" as an alias.

Like me, you probably watch reports of stars being pulled over in their cars, zooming around under the influence of something, or acting weird in public. Now I guess we get a little peek into what goes on in Hollywood but is never discussed.

What if these people had to go to work every day, huh? Sometimes I think that between gigs, celebrities should be on work release programs at soup kitchens, homeless shelters and pet-rescue operations.

Scorsese: I'd Do It Again

It's the question everyone forgot to ask: After all the Sturm und Drang of making Gangs of New York, would Martin Scorsese make another movie at Miramax?

The answer is: "Yes. Definitely. If the script were right and we worked on it in advance," he told me at Monday night's premiere, "I'd do it in a minute."

Scorsese, who doesn't have an Academy Award for Best Picture, despite having directed possibly four of the best pictures of all time — Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Mean Streets  — was happy and tired, but voluble, when I spoke to him at 2 a.m. at his grand premiere at the New York Public Library.

For one thing, don't expect a huge, longer, version of Gangs on DVD one day.

"What we cut was really little bits of scenes, not whole scenes," Scorsese said. "There are no whole scenes missing from the final cut. So on the DVD I may have little bits from here and there, but nothing like a whole new scene."

In fact, Scorsese was willing to take some of the credit himself for making the Gangs production so laborious and intense.

"If you notice, in the background there's lots of stuff going on in each scene. I had read over 100 books on the history of New York over many years, so I knew what would be going on in the street, for example, who would be selling what, etc.," he said.

"And I kept adding and adding. I thought I had to do it, too, because that gave me something to cut into and away from scenes," the director continued. "And no, frankly, once I got started I couldn't stop. I just kept adding and adding."

Indeed, if you watch the background of scenes in Gangs they're like Joseph Cornell dioramas with their own little dramas and storylines. The whole Five Points set of Gangs is like an incredible town square-cum-Roman Coliseum, where the area's economy is conducted and violence often erupts.

Even though it's New York in the 1850s it could be the main street in an Old West town. You keep waiting for the sheriff to clear the streets and gunplay to commence.

"I really knew from all that reading everything that had ever happened there or would happen there," Scorsese said. "After all that, how could I leave anything out?"

Was there ever a time he thought, "the hell with this, it's not going to work"?

"Oh, definitely. I was terrified when I started, and I still can't let it go," he answered. "I'm still thinking about it."

While we were talking, one of the film's production assistants came by to say hello to the director. When he introduced himself, Scorsese kind of jumped back a bit.

"I thought I knew you," he said, "and right away I got a feeling of anxiety, like where am I supposed to be now?"

His Name Is Michael Caine

So where does that leave the Best Actor race? Daniel Day-Lewis? Jack Nicholson? Sam Rockwell? Nicolas Cage?

How about the one and only Michael Caine? A two-time Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor, Caine is a lock for a nomination this year in The Quiet American.

Here is an unparalleled performance by a non-pareil star. Caine is beloved by the Motion Picture Academy and by the fans. He's been married to the same woman for 30 years, has no scandals and is never in the tabloids.

His performances of late have been getting better, sharper and smarter. In Little Voice, The Cider House Rules, Quills, Miss Congeniality, Mandela and de Klerk (for TV) and Austin Powers (for fun), Caine has shown that he's a man for all seasons.

Very often, you hear that "this is the year" for one actor or another. Well, this is Michael Caine's year. And I think once Academy voters see The Quiet American, they'll agree. Now that will be an Oscar show to get excited about!

Mariah's Charmed With a Strong No. 3

Mariah Carey is alive! Her new album, Charmbracelet, finished third in its chart debut this week, selling 238,000 copies — right behind country albums by Shania Twain and Tim McGraw.

Oddly enough, that makes Carey's release the top-selling pop or R&B album of the week, which is pretty wild considering everyone said her career was over a year ago.

Jennifer Lopez, however, is not doing so well. After debuting at No. 6 last week, she fell one notch to  No. 7 with her new This is Me Then album. More importantly, the album lost 54 percent of its sales from the first week, getting only 165,000 copies out the door.

When Lopez was in trouble last time, she remixed all the songs and re-released her album with the clown prince of rap, Ja Rule, taking over. She may be on the phone with him right now. Or maybe Ben Affleck is learning how to run a mixing station.