Originally created 05/05/04

People in the News



NEW YORK -- To play the Greek hero Achilles in "Troy," the most physically demanding film of his career, Brad Pitt gave up something he loved: smoking.

"This guy's supposed to be the greatest warrior of all time; I had to get my (butt) in shape," Pitt tells Vanity Fair magazine for its June issue. "I changed my life completely. I quit smoking - and let me tell you, I was a professional smoker and I still miss it. ...

"But I wanted to see how far I could go with my body," he adds. "By the time the movie was over, I'd been on this diet and workout plan for a year."

Something the 40-year-old actor hopes to add to his life: children with his wife, Jennifer Aniston, which has become a topic of rampant media speculation.

"It will happen when it happens," Pitt says.

"I've got friends with kids, and I've got nieces and nephews, and they just bring out a joy I've gotten from few things. I am selfish, so I worry about having to give up my time, but I gotta go see what it's about," he says. "I think I've got a lot of stuff to tell them, and the idea of being responsible and setting someone loose in the world sounds really fulfilling."

"Troy," directed by Wolfgang Petersen and co-starring Orlando Bloom and Peter O'Toole, opens May 14.

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NEW YORK -- No worries: No Doubt isn't breaking up.

"I thought it would be a good publicity stunt to say we were breaking up, but really we're not," the group's lead singer, Gwen Stefani, tells Cosmopolitan magazine for its June issue.

"We decided after our album 'Rock Steady' that we were going to take some time apart to pursue independent projects," she says. "And I really wanted to do a movie."

That movie is "The Aviator," the Howard Hughes biography starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.

"It's very small," the 34-year-old says of her role as Jean Harlow. "I was only shooting for four or five days so I'll barely be on screen for two minutes, which is so hilarious, because they're making it sound like I'm the star of the movie."

Stefani's new solo CD, which comes out in August, is "going to be a fun '80s-inspired retro dance album."

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NEW YORK -- Michael Chiklis is hitting the streets again - FX has picked up "The Shield" for a fourth season.

The renewal marks the first time the cable channel has brought back any of its original series for a fourth season. Fifteen new episodes of the graphic police drama are scheduled to begin airing in early 2005.

"This year's arc of episodes is not only the strongest yet, but as good a season of television as I've seen during my entire career," FX entertainment president John Landgraf said Monday. "We can't wait to see what they come up with next year."

Chiklis was a surprise best-actor Emmy winner in 2002 for playing rule-breaking Los Angeles police detective Vic Mackey. "The Shield" has been a critical favorite and has developed a strong fan following, even though it airs on basic cable because of its violence and strong language.

The show's 40-year-old star made his directing debut with the episode airing Tuesday night. Writer-director David Mamet ("Glengarry Glen Ross") directed the May 18 episode, his first time directing series television.

On the Net:

http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/originals/the-shield/

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ATLANTA -- Andre 3000 of the rap duo OutKast says that when it comes to voting, he's been negligent, but things will be different this November.

"Stuff came up," the 28-year-old, whose real name is Andre Benjamin, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

"I was out of town, I couldn't see how my vote would matter. It just wasn't that important to me," he said.

But Benjamin, one of dozens of entertainers taking part in a voting promotion, said he has "realized just how important it is."

"I'm really excited about voting for the first time," the Atlanta native said for an article published Tuesday.

Benjamin recently hosted an event for "Declare Yourself," a national nonprofit group that has raised $27 million to try to reverse the trend of a declining youth vote.

In 2000, only 36 percent of Americans ages 18-24 voted in the presidential election, census figures show. That compares with 50 percent in 1972, the year voter eligibility dropped from age 21 to 18.

"Sometimes entertainers - movie stars and rappers - have even more power than politicians. Sometimes all it takes is one or two people in the public eye to get people to vote," said Benjamin.

He and OutKast partner Antoine Patton have been involved since 2000 with Rock the Vote, a national group founded in 1990 that partners with MTV's Choose or Lose campaign.

On the Net:

http://www.rockthevote.com

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NEW YORK -- As she prepares to become a mother for the first time, Gwyneth Paltrow is taking inspiration from her own mother, Blythe Danner, who put her acting career on hold to raise Paltrow and her brother, Jake.

"My mother turned down every fantastic movie there was," Paltrow tells W magazine for its June issue. "She turned down these amazing things that would have made her a huge movie star."

Paltrow played poet Sylvia Plath opposite Danner last year in the film "Sylvia," which she says is "the thing I've done that I'm most proud of."

Now that the 31-year-old actress is expecting a child - though she won't say when she's due - with her husband, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, she proclaims, "I might not work for ages."

"There are certain women in this business who have children, and I just think, 'You must never, literally never, see them,"' Paltrow says. "You can't do movies back to back to back and see your child if they go to school."

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PHOENIX -- School's in for Alice Cooper.

The rock star, whose hits include "School's Out," is being awarded an honorary doctorate by a Christian liberal arts college. The 56-year-old will receive the honorary degree at Grand Canyon University's commencement ceremony Saturday.

Cooper, whose classic albums include "Killer," and "Welcome to my Nightmare," has been a financial supporter of the school, university officials said.

He was known for shocking audiences with gruesome concert performances featuring simulated hangings and infant dolls gushing blood. More recently, he's been knon in the Phoenix area as a family man who sometimes coaches Little League.

"Alice Cooper is a guy who made it big in a very tough business and has made his faith a priority," said Michael K. Clifford, vice chairman for the university, in a written statement. "He can become a real mentor for our students, sharing his knowledge, valuable contacts and real-life experiences in the performing arts."

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MANILA, Philippines -- Hollywood action star Steven Seagal made headlines here Tuesday by supporting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in an upcoming election.

The actor visited the presidential palace to discuss shooting a movie in the Philippines, but ended up rooting for Arroyo - giving her campaign a bit of the star appeal that thus far has been the advantage of her political opponents.

Arroyo was away on the campaign trail, but Seagal described himself as "a big fan of the president."

"I've never met her, but my impression of her is that she's very straight, sincere, honest, really talented president, and I hope she gets re-elected," newspapers quoted Seagal as saying on Monday.

The statement drew criticism from the opposition, ABS-CBN TV reported.

Arroyo's rival, Fernando Poe Jr., is a local movie legend, and so is Arroyo's predecessor, former President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in "people power" protests in January 2001.

Seagal, 53, said actors can make good political leaders, citing former President Ronald Reagan as his example.

"Reagan was a pretty good one, but I think it really depends on the situation," he said.

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NEW YORK -- Donald Trump has more advice on how to get rich.

To coincide with the debut this fall of the second season of his hit reality TV series "The Apprentice," Random House is releasing "Think Like a Billionaire," an advice book Trump describes as a fast path to the good life.

"I'm an ambitious guy," he said in a statement Monday. "I want to give readers everything they need to be successful in life in fewer than 300 pages."

Trump's current book, "How to Get Rich," came out just as the first "Apprentice" was wrapping up and has more than 500,000 copies in print. He said "Think Like a Billionaire," co-written with "How To Get Rich" collaborator Meredith McIver, offers detailed advice on the real estate market.

"I've written a lot about my real estate deals, but people keep asking me for advice about how to invest in real estate," Trump said in his statement.

"This is the first time I've written at length about it, and I hope it will help more readers become billionaires. I welcome the company."

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NEW YORK -- Michele Tafoya will replace Lisa Guerrero as the sideline reporter for ABC's "Monday Night Football."

Guerrero lasted just one season after taking over for Melissa Stark. In discussing the switch, "Monday Night Football" producer Fred Gaudelli said he didn't think Guerrero was a good fit for the job.

"The sideline reporter role is in an incredibly hectic environment, nothing is predictable," Gaudelli said Monday. "It was our hope that we would work like gangbusters to expedite that curve as quickly as we could, but in the end the talent and role weren't as compatible."

Tafoya brings much more experience than Guerrero, a former cheerleader and actress. Tafoya spent last football season as ESPN's onsite reporter at "Monday Night Football" games, and joined ABC Sports in 2002 as a courtside reporter on NBA telecasts.

This June, she'll work her second NBA Finals for ABC. Tafoya joined ESPN in 2000 and serves as an NBA sideline reporter for the network. Other ESPN roles include men's and women's NCAA basketball play-by-play and studio host, and college football and basketball sideline reporter.

Her first assignment in her new role is the Hall of Fame game Aug. 9 from Canton, Ohio, when the Denver Broncos play the Washington Redskins. She was the only person interviewed for the job.

"Every single sideline reporter is different and brings something different to the table," Tafoya said. "I'm excited we're going to do this and make it work in the telecast the best we can."