Daily dose of celebrity

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NEW YORK (AP) – In a contest among Liza Minnelli, Cher and Barbra Streisand to determine who’s the No. 1 gay icon, Cher would win – or so Minnelli says.

“I think probably Barbra and maybe even Cher and myself in school felt like outcasts because we didn’t have standard looks,” Minnelli told Newsweek for its issue on newsstands Monday.

“Maybe what a gay icon is, is a person who is rooted for – in other words, cheered on – by people who feel different,” the 60-year-old Minnelli said as her 1972 concert “Liza With a Z” aired on Showtime and comes out this week on DVD.

But being a gay icon doesn’t necessarily mean “gaydar” comes with the turf. She says she didn’t find out until two weeks after she married her first husband, Peter Allen, that he was gay.

“Honey, I was 17 when I met him,” Minnelli told Newsweek. “But I was the last one to see him before he died because we stayed friends, and that was tough.”

She may be a legend, but Minnelli said she mingles with all the classes.

“One of my best friends is a taxi driver; another is a maintenance man,” she said. “I go everywhere. People are wonderful. They say hi and I say hi, and we keep going. That’s New York.”

NEW YORK (AP) – Jerry Lewis’ next acting gig is no laughing matter.

This fall, the 80-year-old comedian will play the homeless uncle of Richard Belzer’s police Detective John Munch in a guest spot on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” an NBC spokeswoman said Monday.

In the episode titled, “Uncle,” detectives find Lewis’ character living on the street and arrest him as a suspect in a murder case.

Lewis took a dramatic detour in 1983 as a talk-show host kidnapped by an aspiring comic, played by Robert De Niro, in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy.”

Belzer will lead a Friars Club celebrity roast of Lewis in New York on June 9.

BERLIN (AP) – Tom Cruise has told Germany’s leading tabloid that he and Katie Holmes want to tie the knot this summer, after the birth of their baby and the release of his new movie, “Mission: Impossible III.”

Cruise was in the country to promote the film on the popular “Wetten Dass … (I’ll Bet …)” TV show. He said on the show Saturday that two pilots were at the ready to fly him home should Holmes go into labor.

“If Katie calls, I’m gone,” the 43-year-old actor said.

Holmes, 27, is in the final stages of her pregnancy with the couple’s first child.

Cruise confirmed to Bild in Monday’s editions that he and Holmes plan to wed in the coming months. They have been engaged since June.

“First the baby, then the film,” he was quoted as saying. “Then, in summer, we want to get married. I won’t let this woman get away.”

“Mission: Impossible III” will be released May 5.

NEW YORK (AP) – The Material Girl/Mom will embark on a world tour this summer.

Madonna will open the “Confessions Tour” in Los Angeles on May 21, work eastward through North America and jump to Europe on July 30 in Cardiff, Wales, it was announced Monday.

“I’m going to turn the world into one big dance floor,” the 47-year-old singer said in a statement.

It is Madonna’s first tour since the 2004 “Re-Invention Tour.” She will be supporting her 2005 album, “Confessions on a Dance Floor.”

Other stops include Las Vegas, Phoenix, Chicago, Montreal, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and Atlantic City, N.J.

European destinations include London, Rome and Paris. The tour will also extend to Japan, featuring concerts in Tokyo and Osaka. More dates are expected to be added.

As previously announced, Madonna will make her first festival performance at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., on April 30.

BEIJING (AP) – Mike Tyson said he felt insignificant standing near the preserved body of Mao Zedong during a visit to the deceased leader’s mausoleum.

Tyson, 39, is a longtime admirer of Mao, who founded China’s communist government in 1949. He has Mao’s likeness tattooed on his right arm.

“Standing in front of Chairman Mao’s remains, I felt really insignificant,” the heavyweight boxer told reporters Saturday during a 15-minute visit, the Beijing Times reported. “To have the chance to visit the memorial hall is a great honor for me.”

Mao died in 1976. His preserved body has been on display in a glass case on Tiananmen Square, allowing visitors to pay their respects.

During the brief visit, Tyson bought three books on Mao, the newspaper said. He rolled down the window and yelled out “I love you” to Chinese crowds on the square as he drove away.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Russell Crowe is under a cloud of suspicion in his country of birth for allegedly smoking while performing with his new band.

Crowe allegedly lit up during concerts in New Zealand – a move that would have breached the country’s Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act, which bans smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos and all other indoor public venues.

The 41-year-old actor and his new band, The Ordinary Fear of God, had been on a three-concert tour of the country.

He did smoke during his first concert at Leigh on North Island, his New Zealand promoter, Brett Eccles, said Monday.

“I saw him smoking at Leigh, but it was very discreet,” Eccles told The Associated Press. He added that he was unaware of whether Crowe had been told smoking onstage was illegal in New Zealand.

Crowe will not face any legal action for the breach since prosecutions are directed against venue proprietors, who each could face fines of several thousand dollars.

As for his music, the Oscar winner wasn’t completely welcomed back with open arms. Dominion Post reviewer Simon Sweetman wrote that he found Crowe “an OK singer” but a “stunningly average” performer who should stick to his more successful day job, acting.

NEW YORK (AP) – Rebecca Romijn is settling down with her fiance Jerry O’Connell in an old brothel.

“It’s called Wagon Wheel Ranch,” the star of the WB’s “Pepper Dennis” told Time for its issue on newsstands Monday. “Jerry was quite a bachelor when we met. There was nowhere to put your cocktail down in his place. Just the pingpong table.”

O’Connell, who stars on NBC’s “Crossing Jordan,” and Romijn share a 1930s home north of Los Angeles. He put in 800 grapevines last year, and the couple plan to produce their own cabernet, Romijn told the magazine.

The 33-year-old actress, who plays a news reporter on “Pepper Dennis,” offered little news on their wedding plans, other than to say it’s “definitely” going to be this year.

Romijn, who split from John Stamos in 2004, also stars in the upcoming film “X-Men: The Last Stand.”

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