Published November 20, 2007
Yes, she said it. Rosie O'Donnell, hosting the 10th annual fundraiser for her very charitable For All Kids Foundation, was riffing and having fun from the dais during an auction of pricey gifts such as spending a day on the set of "Nip/Tuck" or taking a 14-day cruise in the Mediterranean on a luxury liner.
"George Bush is a war criminal," she blurted out. Earlier she’d told the audience in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was her candidate.
"I re-registered as an Independent because of him," she said. It was part of a very funny series of monologues and adlibs Rosie offered as she cajoled a couple million bucks more out of well-heeled types for her charities. And, by the way, she looked very smart in a black pants suit.
But that was about as political as things got, what with Paul Simon performing and guests such as Joan Rivers, Caroline Rhea and "Laugh-In" star Jo Anne Worley dining in the audience.
The night was really to celebrate the astonishing $67 million Rosie has raised in the last 10 years and the more than $30 million she’s given away.
Her charity has built 27 child-care centers across the country, for example. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Rosie turned her organization into a disaster relief group and swooped into Baton Rouge with money and supplies.
It’s the part of O’Donnell’s life that’s overshadowed by the pronouncements, the squabbles and the courage to speak her mind even when others are begging her not to. Now her Rosie’s Broadway Kids has built the Maravel Center in the Broadway theater district for school kids who are interested in theater.
I told you about this extraordinary group last summer. Monday night, the two dozen or so kids — ages 8 to 14 — performed again, opening the evening with a half-dozen numbers aided by an orchestra of Broadway musicians. They also performed "Diamonds on the Soles of Their Shoes" with Simon to close the show.
Some stars already have been born from Rosie’s Kids. The first generation is champing at the bit to audition for real shows, and many of them will get jobs.
Simon, meanwhile, came at Rosie’s request after they crossed paths doing Katrina relief work. (This is the work that Michael Jackson always talks about but never does.) Monday night, Simon and his band performed meticulous, heartfelt versions of "Graceland," "The Boxer," "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," "Slip Sliding Away," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and "How Can You Live in the Northeast," the latter from his excellent recent album "Surprise."
That’s right: We’ve seen Stevie Wonder and Simon in the space of three days. It makes the head spin. Tonight we’ll try to catch Sly and the Family Stone at BB King’s, just to make a trifecta of legends.
Will Smith conquered space aliens in "Independence Day," and now he apparently believes they are real.
Smith admits in the issue of Men’s Vogue on sale Tuesday that he has studied Scientology with Tom Cruise and doesn’t disagree with its basic tenets.
In doing so, he finally "comes out," joining Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and a handful of other Hollywood types in their devotion to this controversial religion.
For a long time, Smith has denied joining the Church of Scientology with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, explaining that it would go against the beliefs of his late grandmother. But for some time, insiders in Hollywood have insisted the Smiths were, indeed, brought in by Cruise.
Smith concedes that his kids are being home-schooled, just as are those of Cruise, Travolta and other Scientologists.
In the article, Smith refers to "Thetans," who are space aliens in the vernacular of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
"... in all of the experiences I’ve had with Tom and Scientology, like 98 percent of the principles are identical to the principles of the Bible," Smith tells Men’s Vogue writer Hudson Morgan.
"The Bible says, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' And you know, there’s a Scientology principle: 'Do not create experiences for others that they cannot comfortably perceive.'"
He continues: "The Bible talks about your spirit being immortal, that you were created for existence beyond your physical body. Well, that’s no different from Scientology. I don’t think that because the word someone uses for 'spirit' is 'thetan' that the definition becomes any different."
I have a feeling that clergy and practitioners of both the New and Old Testament might take umbrage with that idea. Scientology is considered a dangerous cult in some countries, including Germany.
Stephen King’s latest film adaptation, written and directed by Frank Darabont, has a shocking, upsetting ending that I cannot explain in detail.
All I can say is that it’s a mindblower, and even when it gets out, it’s still something you have to see to believe. The psychological shock of it is like a mental earthquake. Rod Serling, who made all those amazing "Twilight Zone" twist endings, would have to be sedated if he were alive to see this.
Who could get Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden, estimable Frances Sternhagen, respected British actor Toby Jones, Andre Braugher, Jeffrey DeMunn, William Sadler and Thomas Jane into a really gross monster-horror movie?
Darabont, of course, and King, who made "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile" together.
"The Mist" is probably the best-made B-movie in some time. It’s not the production quality, but Darabont’s intelligent filmmaking. And guess what? Harden gives an award-worthy performance as a zealous born-again Christian. That’s not something you see in the usual horror film, but if there’s a fifth slot this year, it should go to her for the chilling speech she gives a group of small-town citizens trapped in a supermarket by tendril-snapping monsters who live in the mist.
(It’s unlikely most Academy voters will have the stomach to sit through the movie, however.)
At first I thought maybe Harden did it for the money, but that doesn’t make sense. She works all the time, so that’s not an issue. Frankly, "The Mist" is pretty low-budget, even though it’s from Dimension/Weinstein.
No, she has something else up her sleeve. Harden saw a chance to make lemonade out of lemons. She turned her role — it reminded me of something Robert Altman might have cooked up for "Nashville"— it into a smoothie.
"The Mist" is very creepy, very scary and not for the faint of heart. There are extremely convincing nightmare-producing giant bugs, as well as pterodactyls and other unsavory, grotesque creatures — appropriately disgusting — who come to kill, not maim. King says this is his scariest story, and he’s right.
The album chart is almost all counted for this week, and Alicia Keys is the winner, as expected.
Alicia’s "As I Am" album, a sensational collection, appears to have sold roughly 700,000 copies in its first week. This is a big deal, but even bigger because the CD has "legs." It should cross the million mark next week and head for 2 million. Amazing in this time of downloading and nothing else selling.
If only things were so good for Britney Spears. Her "Blackout" is dead as a doornail. It sold about 60,000 copies last week, bringing the total to not quite 450,000 in three weeks. "Blackout" needs a quick adrenaline rush of sales, but it’s unlikely to happen. With Spears unavailable for publicity or marketing and TV shows off the air, Spears has played into a "perfect storm."
And what of Celine Dion? She’ll sell a respectable 250,000 copies of her "Taking Chances" and even has a modest hit in the title-track single. Dion will get most of her sales over the long haul, depending on her tour. At least it’s a graceful comeback. Ironically, she’ll outsell Spears when all is said and done.