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GIVE PEACE A CHANCE The biggest surprise at last night’s two-hour John Lennon tribute, featuring a slate of mostly younger pop stars and non-musical actors: host Kevin Spacey, belting out a passionate version of Lennon’s ”Mind Games.” His unexpected musical turn was in keeping with the everyone-must-do-their-part spirit of the evening, which had been planned a year ago as a benefit against gun violence but was transformed into a tribute to New York’s heroic emergency workers and a fundraiser for the terror relief effort. Performing live at New York’s Radio City Music Hall were such Lennon-philes as Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, Shaggy, Stone Temple Pilots, Marc Anthony, Moby, Nelly Furtado, and Cyndi Lauper (who performed ”Strawberry Fields Forever” a mile away at the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park). Actors who presented the musicians included Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Leelee Sobieski, Benjamin Bratt, and Steve Buscemi, who used to be a New York firefighter. Sean Lennon was there (but curiously, not half-brother Julian Lennon), singing along on ”Across the Universe” and ”This Boy” and doing a solo performance of ”Julia,” a song that paid homage to his mother, Yoko Ono, and Julia Lennon, the grandmother he never met. The concert, broadcast live on TNT, ended with the obligatory group singalong, of ”Give Peace a Chance” and ”Power to the People,” whose lyrics no one seemed to know. Lennon, whom Spacey called ”a Liverpudlian by birth, and a New Yorker by choice,” would have been 61 next Tuesday.
FASHION PLATE Jennifer Lopez and Cris Judd are spending their honeymoon at Milan’s fashion week, where they showed up yesterday at Donatella Versace‘s show. Lopez’s notorious Grammy gown, of course, was a Versace. The newlyweds, married on Saturday, are also staying at the designer’s home. ”Donatella has been very generous to say we could come and stay with her, and we just couldn’t turn it down,” the singer/actress said backstage at the show. When it comes to honeymoon lodging, love don’t cost a thing.
FASHION VICTIMS In keeping with the newly somber tone of the Emmy ceremony, Joan and Melissa Rivers will be sitting out this Sunday’s event. The mother-daughter team traditionally cover the red carpet processions for E!, gushing over the stars’ fashion choices upon their arrival and gagging over them a few days later on a post-game analysis show. Instead, the channel’s news anchors, Steve Kmetko and Jules Asner, will preside over the Emmy pre-show coverage, while Melissa will host a one-hour post-Emmy wrap-up with <b<Todd Newton. Also, E! will cut its usual 10 hours of pre-show coverage to just seven hours — after all, one has to have a sense of proportion these days.
Whether Joan Rivers will ever return to E! remains to be seen. According to Variety, a colleague said she was so upset by E!’s cancellation of her Emmy coverage that she quit the network altogether. The colleague said Rivers felt E! was too quick to dismiss her show as fashion frivolity, when it’s really about ”truly connecting with the stars.” However, E! VP John Rieber insists that, when he spoke to Rivers yesterday, she did not resign, and he still expected her to be on hand for E!’s Golden Hanger awards in December and the Golden Globe red carpet coverage in January. He dismissed the report of her quitting, saying, ”It’s a great story. And ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is a great story, but it, too, is fiction.”