Somehow actress Tara Reid has become Public Enemy No. 1.
On Thursday night, Reid suffered the indignity of having a breast pop out of her dress as she walked down the red carpet at Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' birthday-party bash.
Judging from the response, you would have thought the world had stopped rotating or that we hadn't had a presidential election two nights earlier. The picture became instant Internet fodder and Reid was held up to ridicule at every turn.
Strangely enough, I spoke to Reid later that night at Combs' party. She didn't seem fazed by it and would never have guessed that this wardrobe malfunction would be used against her so viciously. We did talk about her constant appearances in the tabloids.
"I'm just going out and having fun," she said. "I don't know why everyone is obsessed with it."
She said she hoped she could get the message out that she wanted to be taken a little more seriously and didn't realize that as we spoke, pictures of her revealed mammary were circulating around the globe. Chivalry is quite dead.
But Reid is no Paris Hilton; she's more like a modern version of Connie Stevens.
Reid works constantly at a legitimate career. She's appeared as a plucky comedienne in B-movies, the "American Pie" series, National Lampoon's "Van Wilder" and has a recurring role on NBC's hit TV series "Scrubs."
I think Reid's biggest problem is bad publicity from hanging out with the wrong crowd. My guess is Reid will graduate from using party-circuit PR gals to having an image makeover by one of the top dogs in the field like Cindi Berger or Kelly Bush.
It was only two seasons ago that Oscar history was made when two black actors — Denzel Washington and Halle Berry — swept the leading actor and actress categories.
I predict that Oscar history is about to be made again. It's likely that two black men will be nominated for top honors at this year's awards show.
We already know that Jamie Foxx is a shoo-in for his portrayal of singer Ray Charles in "Ray." Now, after seeing Don Cheadle's masterful work in "Hotel Rwanda" this past Friday, I am happy to report that this popular, talented actor is destined to join Foxx in the Best Actor category.
That puts the two men in probable contention with Johnny Depp ("Finding Neverland"), Javier Bardem ("To the Sea"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Aviator") and Jeff Bridges ("Door in the Floor").
"Hotel Rwanda," which is directed by Terry George and will be released soon, throws a nice curveball into the Oscars in all categories. Sophie Okonedo, for example, immediately throws her name in the ring along with previously discussed possible contenders Annette Bening, Imelda Staunton, Laura Linney and Nicole Kidman.
The movie and its director will no doubt be vying for positions with Marc Forster's "Finding Neverland," Bill Condon's "Kinsey," Alexander Payne's "Sideways," Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," Mike Nichols' "Closer" and possibly James L. Brooks' "Spanglish."
"Hotel Rwanda," which brought the house down at the Toronto Film Festival, was shown on Friday night to a crowd that included Katie Couric, Tina Brown and Harry Evans and a smattering of media types. The official premiere is set for this Sunday at the United Nations.
On Friday night, the most important guest at the post-premiere dinner at Osteria del Circo was the real man Cheadle plays in the movie: Paul Rusesabagina.
Mass slaughter and genocide threatened to destroy Rwanda in 1994 as up to one million people were killed and three million displaced over the course of 100 days. There was little to no help from the U.N., the U.S. or anyone else. The conflict developed when one group of extremist Hutus set out to ethnically cleanse the country of the Tutsis and all moderate Hutus who stood in their way.
Rusesabagina was the manager of the Hotel Milles Collines, a luxury resort in the capital city of Kigali. Rusesabagina, who is a Hutu and married to a Tutsi, managed to save the lives of 1,268 people by moving refugees of all kinds into the hotel and protecting them until the world paid notice to the country's crisis. The story is a horrifying reminder of a barely acknowledged massacre told through the eyes of a real-life hero.
Before I saw "Hotel Rwanda," I had all but given up any idea of Don Cheadle, who is one of my favorite actors, ever getting an Oscar nomination.
Cheadle turned in excellent performances in feature films such as "Traffic," "Family Man," "Out of Sight," "Bulworth" and "Boogie Nights." He was also featured memorably in two great HBO movies: "A Lesson Before Dying" and "The Rat Pack."
In "Hotel Rwanda," Cheadle almost disappears into his part. He is so utterly convincing that I forgot I was watching an actor for a few minutes. He's that good.
I only hope Hotel Rwanda is taken seriously by the Academy and embraced by the audience when it opens in December. There used to be a time when important political films had a serious impact on the Oscars. I'm thinking of "Missing," "The Killing Fields," "In the Name of the Father" and "The China Syndrome."
In recent years, whimsy and epic have usurped the Oscars, leaving politics to HBO and cable in general. The masterful "Hotel Rwanda" should surely reverse that trend.
Over the weekend celeb spottings: On Sunday morning, Daniel Day-Lewis jogged through Greenwich Village in a navy-blue spandex outfit, possibly in sympathy with the New York marathoners. On Saturday morning, quite the opposite for Harvey Keitel, who dug into lox and eggs with his brother at the famous Barney Greengrass.
On Sunday night, Ethan Hawke had sushi at Matsuri in the Maritime Hotel at one table while at the next, rocker Butch Walker, author/rocker/celebrity mom Bebe Buell and legendary photographer Bob Gruen celebrated in advance of Walker's show tonight at the Meadowlands, where he is opening for Avril Lavigne.