Plus, news about Angelina Jolie, Backstreet Boys, Tara Reid, Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Hudson, Dave Matthews, Shania Twain, and others

By Gary Susman
August 24, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Mariah Carey: Henry McGee/Globe Photos

RAINBOW CONNECTION Yesterday, Mariah Carey gave her first public statement since her recent breakdown and hospitalization. Carey has been laying low since she was discharged earlier this month from the Connecticut hospital where she was under psychiatric care after her ”emotional and physical breakdown,” having emerged from seclusion only to pay a two-hour visit last week to Camp Mariah, the Fishkill, N.Y., summer camp she runs for disadvantaged kids. (In that surprise appearance, she passed out to all the kids ice cream treats, portable CD players, and discs of her new single, ”Loverboy.”) Tuesday, she left an audio ”message for my fans” on her website: ”I just want to say thank you sooo much for all the letters, and everything that I got from you. I want you to know you definitely can’t believe everything you read. And, um, thank you, because I am taking care of myself, and as we speak — or as I speak to you — I’m looking at the most beautiful rainbow that is going across the entire sky, and I love you much! Thanks. Bye.” Way to work in a plug for that last album, Mariah.

GIRL, INTERNATIONAL Talk about method acting. Angelina Jolie will be named an official United Nations goodwill ambassador next week. Under the auspices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, who will formally appoint her on Monday in a ceremony in Geneva, Jolie has already toured refugee camps in Sierra Leone and Cambodia (where she had shot parts of ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”), and is currently in Pakistan. ”She has a genuine interest in refugee issues and she is fantastically popular,” said U.N. spokesman Kris Janowski. ”The kind of people who find the U.N. boring — young people and teenagers who are not interested in refugee issues — adore Angelina Jolie.” Of course, her duties also serve as useful research for her role in ”Beyond Borders,” a movie she’s slated to shoot in December, where she’ll play a refugee worker serving in various crisis areas around the globe.

LINER NOTES Howie Dorough is cruising for dollars. The Backstreet Boy is sponsoring a benefit cruise through the Caribbean to raise money for his Dorough Lupus Foundation. He’ll perform and host a celebrity auction during the week-long trek aboard a Carnival cruise ship, which leaves Miami on December 15. Dorough hosted a similar shipboard event last year, raising $36,000 to fight lupus, the disease that killed his sister, Caroline, in 1998. Tickets are available at CruisewithHowieD.com.

In other Backstreet news, Brian Littrell and wife Leighanne are starting their own company, called BriLeigh Productions, to release records by other artists and produce movies and TV shows. Their first project will be the October release of the soundtrack to ”Olive Juice,” a straight-to-video film that stars Leighanne and features music by the Backstreet Boys, Joe Pesci, and British singer-songwriter Judith Owen.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS Tara Reid has begun to explain what she meant when she blamed her breakup with fiancé Carson Daly on a ”breakdown of trust.” That is, both of them were too ready to believe what they read about the other in the tabloids. ”If Carson was an actor, he’d understand why I have to be away on sets and that if I have to kiss another guy in a movie, I do it,” the ”American Pie 2” star says. ”He’d read in the tabloids that I was with Ashton Kutcher, but that was a bunch of bull. Then I started reading he was with a stripper and that wasn’t true. You start tripping off each other for no reason. It makes you crazy.” She also says she and the MTV host aren’t even on friendly terms. ”I’ve been through a lot and I’m still a little hurt and a little confused. We’re not at the friends place yet.”

REEL DEALS Leonardo DiCaprio‘s long-awaited ”Catch Me If You Can” may finally have caught a director: Steven Spielberg. (Not too shabby, Leo!) Spielberg may be ready to shoot as soon as January. DiCaprio would star as real-life 1960s FBI fugitive and imposter extraordinaire Frank Abagnale Jr….

”Hey, Will Smith! You’ve just played Muhammad Ali in a recently wrapped biopic. What are you going to do next?” Follow up with an all-black remake of the 1980 feminist office comedy ”9 to 5,” of course. Smith will coproduce the film, with wife Jada Pinkett Smith potentially starring in either the Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, or Dolly Parton role. Then again, it could be made even more contemporary by putting her in Dabney Coleman‘s harassing boss role….

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