Are Russell and Nicole in Fiji together?
Plus, turmoil on the ''West Wing'' set, a lofty premiere for ''Rush Hour 2,'' and more
FIJI FROLIC Maybe it really is a coincidence that Russell Crowe allegedly showed up at the same exclusive Fiji resort where Nicole Kidman was vacationing. Fiji Visitors Bureau marketing director Bill Whiting, who first tipped off the press that both Aussie stars had flown in their private planes on separate days to the Wakaya Club, now says Crowe may have come with a woman. His arrival just seemed awfully convenient, since Kidman had recently been quoted as saying she’s looking for a new Mr. Right and would like to move back to Australia. The resort denies that either star is staying there, but that’s standard policy for the luxury hideaway, which likes to protect its jet-set guests’ privacy.
WILD, WILD ‘WEST’ How come Emmy nominators singled out Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe as lead actors on ”The West Wing” and relegated everyone else to supporting status? Maybe they looked at the actors’ paychecks. Variety reports that movie-turned-TV stars Sheen and Lowe each make at least $100,000 per episode, while Allison Janney, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Schiff earn only about $30,000 per episode.
Not coincidentally, those four costars, all nominated for supporting Emmys, have been staging a walkout all week. Like the casts of ”Friends” and ”The Simpsons,” they hope to collectively bargain their way to bigger paychecks, though if they don’t show up for work by Monday, they could be in violation of their contracts. The show’s writers have also protested publicly over wages and status. Creator Aaron Sorkin defends his decision not to give the writers their expected raises and promotions because, he says, they function more as a research staff while he writes all the scripts himself. Writers counter that Sorkin grabs more credit than he deserves.
PROP CORN Here’s one movie premiere no one will be able to walk out of. Thanks to a joint promotional deal involving New Line, United Airlines, and the Hong Kong Tourism Board, ”Rush Hour 2” will premiere on a Los Angeles-to-Hong Kong flight on July 26, eight days before the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker sequel hits theaters. The last time industry figures can recall a premiere being held on a plane was MGM’s 1964 comedy ”Quick Before It Melts.” Of course, you’d think if any Hong Kong star were to stage an in-flight premiere, it’d be Jet Li.
HEARTBREAK HOTEL Lisa Marie Presley has a opened up a home in Memphis with wrought-iron gates. It’s not Graceland — it’s a 12-unit, rent-free apartment complex for homeless people easing back into the workplace. The Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, which runs apartments that house 65 other homeless families, paid for construction of the new building with a $1.3 million donation from the King’s daughter. ”The one thing that helps keep me sane and happy is to help others,” she said as she cut the ribbon to open the building, called Presley Place. Accompanying her was Nicolas Cage, who’s been seen with her a lot lately, and who wore an Elvis costume when he jumped out of a plane in ”Honeymoon in Vegas.”
LEGAL BRIEFS You can’t spell ”sushi” without ”su.” A woman is suing Don Johnson for allegedly groping her in a San Francisco sushi bar in January. A self-proclaimed ”Miami Vice” fan, the woman (who remains unidentified in court papers) claims she introduced herself to the actor, who then allegedly grabbed her genitals and said, ”You like that, don’t you?” before leaving for his table. Later, she says, as she passed his table on the way to the restroom, he grabbed her arm and propositioned her. The actor denied the claims, and prosecutors declined to press charges. Johnson faced a sexual harassment suit in 1997 by two ”Nash Bridges” staffers who said he fired them after they rebuffed his advances. He had anticipated their suit with one of his own, filed three weeks earlier, charging the women with conspiring to commit extortion and spreading rumors that the recovering alcoholic actor had fallen off the wagon. Those suits were settled out of court….
In a similar situation is Dennis Rodman, now that a U.S. District judge has ruled that a Las Vegas cocktail waitress’s sexual harassment suit against him can go to trial. Gloria Chapa filed suit against Rodman and the Las Vegas Hilton hotel over a 1998 incident in which Rodman allegedly grabbed her breasts when she served him a drink. After she alerted Hilton management, she was fired when the hotel-casino said it couldn’t verify her complaint. She won her job back through union arbitration, and the judge ruled that a jury should be allowed to hear her claim that Rodman groped two other women as well, and that the hotel was aware of at least one of those incidents….
In March, rapper DMX finally got around to serving 13 days in jail in Erie County, New York, for driving without a license. Now he’s being indicted for the delay, since he was supposed to serve the sentence last year. He also faces felony assault charges for scuffling with the guards….
A day after a U.S. District judge ordered Napster offline until it can prove its song-screening system is 100 percent effective at blocking the swapping of copyright-protected tunes, the company announced it has reached an agreement with longtime foes Metallica and Dr. Dre. Details of the settlement weren’t revealed, but attorney Howard King, who represents both acts, said, ”There was a payment made…and it certainly covers my clients’ costs.” Metallica and Dre also agreed to allow their songs back on Napster if it ever figures out how to pay artists for distributing their music. Of course, that’s assuming that mass customer defections and legal and technical woes haven’t already fatally wounded the online service.
STAR TURNS Now that the East Coast section of the joint board of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists has echoed the West Coast section in approving the new actors’ contract with producers, ending fears of a Hollywood strike, it’s up to the members at large to vote on the deal. But SAG still faces a struggle at the top, with two ’70s TV icons battling for supremacy. Current SAG president William Daniels confirmed yesterday that he won’t run again when his term expires in November, and he endorsed candidate Valerie Harper. She’ll face a challenge from Melissa Gilbert, who announced her candidacy earlier this week.
SCREEN SAVER Kirk Douglas, who starred in such wide-screen spectacles as ”Spartacus,” is petitioning to save the Indian Hills Theater in Omaha, whose curved, 70-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling screen makes it one of only three moviehouses left in the country capable of showing wide-angle Cinerama films. Methodist Health Systems recently bought the theater, which closed last September, and plans to raze it to make way for a parking lot. Douglas wrote the company a letter, saying, ”The world does not need another parking lot. Instead, please allow this theater to remain and continue to bring the magic of movies to our lives.” The company says, however, that renovating the theater is too expensive. Maybe they could compromise and turn it into a drive-in.