Maybe you've noticed already: McDonald's is featuring salads with Newman's Own dressing. The profits from the dressing made by Oscar-winner Paul Newman, like all his other products including his excellent spaghetti sauce, all go to charity. Newman told me on Friday night that he's very pleased with the new arrangement.
His wife, the equally gifted actor/director Joanne Woodward, agreed whole heartedly: "Not only is it good for charity, but it's good for you," she said of the dressing.
Newman, who's coming off an Oscar nomination for Road to Perdition, said he'll be racing cars this summer. A new movie is "sometime off," he said.
The Newmans were at the annual Riverkeeper Foundation dinner where their daughter Nell was one of the honorees for her work in environmental causes. Riverkeeper is the brainchild of Robert Kennedy Jr., who was there along with wife Mary, mother Ethel and sisters Rory and Kerry.
The other honorees were Seinfeld co-creator Larry David and wife Laurie (who's also a big environmentalist), and Jami and Klaus Heidegger, the generous former owners of Kielhl's products.
Robert Klein emceed. Actors Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco -- who fell in love during their Broadway run of Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune -- made a rare public appearance.
I did ask David -- whose Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the few high spots on TV -- what he thought of Jerry Seinfeld's remarks last week regarding Friends. Seinfeld as much as told Jay Leno that Friends ripped off their seminal show.
"He said that?" asked David. "He's right. We all knew it. Just look at it -- a group of friends in New York."
Did the Seinfeld gang used to talk about it? "What do you think?" asked David, who told me Curb will return to HBO's schedule in either September or January, depending on how the season goes.
David was happy to introduce his wife, Laurie, who is an enthusiastic proponent of people using hybrid cars, and to be ribbed by Kennedy on stage. Quipped Kennedy, who turned out to be an effective emcee: "Larry David has one interest -- himself. He told me once the Davids and the Kennedys are the total opposite of each other. He said the Kennedy's like to be outside, play sports, help people. The Davids...like to go shopping."
It seems like all is quiet on the front for eccentric record producer Phil Spector in the matter of Lana Clarkson's murder. But things aren't always what they seem.
Clarkson, 41, was found murdered in Spector's Alhambra, Calif. mansion back in February. Spector, known for waving guns around, was subsequently released on a million dollars bail. But since then, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has remained mum on the case. A planned arraignment for March 3 was skipped, and now August 1st has been set has the next date.
In the interim, Spector has journeyed to New York and dined with friends. He also issued an e-mail to friends declaring himself cleared by the police -- an utter hallucination. His side -- defense attorney Robert Shapiro and matrimonial lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, who are close friends as well -- maintains that Spector will be found innocent, that somehow Lana Clarkson died in his home of her own accord.
Stories circulated to the press have appeared to make Clarkson, a widely liked woman regarded as generous and plucky by her friends, as a call girl, a Hollywood floozy, and worse. None of them have panned out. One story, which claimed Clarkson shot herself, was also dismissed.
But wait: I am told that Clarkson's family is not amused by recent claims against Lana's character, and will be responding shortly. Like Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown's families nine years ago, the Clarkson await Los Angeles's peculiar form of justice which usually includes celebrity suspects doing talk shows while crimes against "civilians" go unsolved or unpunished.
And according to my sources, neither the police nor prosecutors have told the Clarksons anything about the case's status or progress. It sounds like we may be ready for a new version of the "Dancing Ito's."
According to Foxnews.com's Marla Lehner, the tourists in Battery Park, where the ferries take off for Ellis Island, got an unexpected treat on Saturday evening: Sightings, of CBS newman Mike Wallace, Olympic gold-medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton, singer Michael Bolton, comic Denis Leary and former New York Mayor David Dinkins, among others.
The celebs, as well as hundreds of men and women dressed to the nines, were on their way to the Ellis Island Medals of Honor Awards Gala. The medals, given out by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, honor people who've helped promote ethic diversity in the United States.
The ceremony included a song and dance number by three USO girls -- among them Miss USO 2003 -- dressed in skimpy, red, white and blue dresses made to look like military uniforms, and a performance of "Proud to Be an American" sung by the all-male 82nd Airborne Chorus.
At one point, singer/actor/dancer Ben Vereen, who'd just received his medal of honor and delighted the crowd with an a cappella version of "The Impossible Dream," got his picture snapped with the USO girls. Vereen, dressed in all black and donning a fedora, was grinning from ear to ear.
Vereen told Fox411 that next on his schedule is a two-week turn in The Exonerated, a play which has gotten rave reviews, about six wrongly convicted people on death row who are eventually freed when evidence of their innocence comes to light.
In the fall, Vereen said he'll start working on a project called Ben Vereen: The Musical. "We're working with a director called Joe Calarco, who also collaborated with me on the book," he said. "We'll take it out of town first, work on it, then come back to New York to our roots."
The awards gala, which started with Irish Tenor singer Roman Tynan singing "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears," dragged of for several hours -- in outdoor tent with no heat, no hors d'oeuvres and seemingly no end in sight.
Many of the audience members, especially the women dressed for a gala in sleeveless gowns and open-toed shoes, took refuge inside the museum or went to the snack bar to get steaming cups of coffee to keep warm.
By the time 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace got up to give speech about how his father, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States via Ellis Island in 1899, he couldn't help but joke about the frigid weather.
"Is it just my imagination, or is it a hell of a lot warmer across the river in God's country?" he asked referring to New York City. (Most of Ellis Island is geographically part of New Jersey.) "McGreevey, I know you're having trouble with your budget, but can't you heat the damn room," he joked to New Jersey governor James McGreevey, who was among the honorees.
By the time the ceremony wrapped up, many of the guests skipped the dinner in the Great Hall, which is part of the fantastic immigration museum on Ellis Island, and scrambled for the first boat back to Manhattan.
But at least one person didn't seem bothered by the cold. Ex-New York City Mayor David Dinkins was there to support his longtime friend Roscoe Brown, who was among the first group of black pilots to fly in the U.S. military.
"Dr. Brown was among the Tuskegee Airman who fought to become pilots in the first place," Dinkins said. "They said that blacks weren't smart enough to fly. Then when they taught them to fly, they said weren't smart enough to go into combat. They went into combat flying protection for bombers and never ever lost a single bomber, not one. Matter of fact, the other pilots would ask for them. ...So it's kind of special for me to be here with him."
And despite the cold, that spirit is what the evening was meant to honor -- men and women of every race and creed who represent the best of America.