Jane Fonda told me yesterday she's scrapped plans for an anti-war bus trip next March.
Fonda will also be making only two appearances this month on another tour with controversial British politician George Galloway, not eight appearances as was widely misreported in the press yesterday.
Why the change of plans? Certainly, Fonda is still very much against the war in Iraq and in favor of helping our troops there. But she said that she didn't want to distract people from Cindy Sheehan's bus trip, which is already under way and gathering support.
Sheehan, who camped out in front of President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch last month, is now on her way to scheduled appearances around the country.
Her journey began when she lost her son, U.S. Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Sheehan's tour is called Gold Star Families for Peace.
Fonda will appear with Galloway — who is vehemently anti-George Bush — in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 18 and in Chicago, Ill., on Sept 19. She told me that "what the right wing has done to Sheehan is despicable."
Her own decision not to stage a bus tour came because she wants Sheehan to succeed without messages being mixed.
"I would be a distraction," she said, "and the vacuum has been filled. That said, I plan to speak out and write some op-ed pieces, but no bus tour."
Sheehan, who's now fielding offers from book publishers to write her story, is traveling with three buses filled with members of Gold Star families, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War and other groups.
Fans of Fonda the actress may be wondering how she'll follow up her "Monster-in-Law" box-office success. She says that her agents at CAA are looking for material, but nothing's been set yet. Her schedule is already full with foreign publication of her bestselling autobiography, unfolding all over Europe.
Oprah Winfrey gets props and snaps for her special yesterday on Hurricane Katrina. Part 2 airs today.
The show was worth it just to see Mayor Ray Nagin tell Oprah he would let her enter the Superdome only if she waived liability on camera.
"I'm a strong woman," Winfrey tells him. But nothing prepares her for what she sees when she gets inside.
Elsewhere in the show, Oprah deployed her "troops," including Lisa Ling, who found a stunned and homeless family wandering the ghost-town-like streets of Metairie.
She also used Nate Berkus, formerly a style-makeover guy but now a survivor of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Berkus' new gravitas led to him the discovery, in the street, of a dead body propped up at a corner.
Some of Oprah's celebrity addiction seeps through in the show; I do dread seeing John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley in tomorrow's episode.
But I liked Faith Hill today — she says that she and Tim McGraw leased three semis, filled them with food and brought them to Gulfport.
Faith also sang "Amazing Grace" spontaneously for some of the survivors, which was pretty sweet considering what a terrific voice she has. (She was equally impressive on that weird telethon last week.)
In the end, though, Oprah's regular guest, Dr. Mehmet Oz, made the most impact. His segments — finding dead bodies and the near-dead — were shockingly graphic, but did a lot more good than Matthew McConaughey driving around town and sweet talking anyone with whom he came in contact.
Dr. Oz's reports (partly thanks to whoever produced and shot them) were mesmerizing. What happened in the Gulf states is a travesty of a proportion too monumental to understand right now.
When the shock wears off, there is going to be a lot of anger. No one will want to be on the receiving end of that.
News from the world of Michael Jackson. He's in Dubai, and planning to record a charity single for the Hurricane Katrina victims called "From the Bottom of My Heart."
The song will be issued on a record label called 2 Seas, owned by Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
That's because no American record company will go near Jackson with a 20-foot pole.
In other words: At last, there's a payoff for Jackson for his prolonged stay in Bahrain. He's gotten the prince to underwrite a venture.
Jackson, according to my sources, thinks this will be his "We Are the World" for 2005.
Of course, back in 2001, he thought "What More Can I Give" was going to be the same thing, but it turned out to be a big nothing.
"What More Can I Give" was also redundant. It was merely a rewrite of a Jackson hit called "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." He doesn't seem to mind — or maybe he doesn't know —that Stevie Wonder already has a song out called "From the Bottom of My Heart." Oh well.
Jackson is hoping to enlist "other superstars" for this recording. Good luck, Michael!
Certainly, Jackson should have an interest in New Orleans and its environs. He's failed to show up twice now for court appearances in a case where a Louisiana man is claiming to have a recovered memory of Jackson molesting him.
MJ was recently fined $10,000 by a court there for missing an appearance.
My guess is that the all-star recording will not be taking place anywhere near New Orleans.