BC-People, 1st Ld-Writethru,2276

People in the News

Eds: Updates with items on Burt Reynolds, Hunter S. Thompson, Alex Rodriguez, David Schwimmer and Shaquille O’Neal, which moved as separates. Also contains items on Dave Navarro, Gucci Mane, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, and Chad Lowe. Version of Mane story moved on the Southern regional wire. Versions of Rodriguez and O’Neal items moved on the sports wire.

AP Photo of May 19: NYET166 of Schwimmer, NYAR102 of Reynolds, NYET165 of Thompson, NYET170 of Rodriguez, NYET167 of O’Neal, NY107 of Navarro, NY108 of Swank and Lowe, NY109 of Brown, AP Photo of May 24: NY107 of Mane

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Burt Reynolds apparently slapped a CBS-TV assistant producer in the face at a New York screening of his new film, “The Longest Yard.”

The producer, who works for CBS News PATH, approached Reynolds on the red carpet outside a Chelsea theater Tuesday night. When he asked Reynolds to tell him about the film, the actor seemed annoyed.

“You don’t know anything about the movie?” Reynolds replied.

The producer acknowledged he hadn’t seen the movie or the original 1974 film. Reynolds then seemed to slap the producer. “What … kinda of guy are you?” he asked.

CBS aired footage of the incident on “The Early Show” Wednesday morning.

Jeff Lane, a spokesman for Reynolds, said in a statement that Reynolds “playfully tapped (the producer) on the cheek, as if to say, “Well, that’s not very nice.’ He was kidding.”

CBS News PATH provides video footage to affiliate stations.

On the Net:


Thompson ceremony canceled

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – Plans for a public ceremony celebrating the life of Hunter S. Thompson have been canceled in favor of a private memorial service.

The Aug. 20 ceremony, which will include the scattering of the author’s ashes on his Aspen-area ranch, will coincide with the six-month anniversary of Thompson’s death, said Doug Brinkley, one of the planners of the memorial.

Thompson shot himself in the head on Feb. 20 after a long and flamboyant career that produced new journalism classics such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and cast his image as a hard-charging, drug-crazed daredevil.

“It got too tricky to morph symposium and ashes, so instead there is just the private service,” Brinkley said Tuesday.

He said a public symposium will be organized within the next 18 months that will include experts and a scholarly look at Thompson’s works, life and legacy.

George Stranahan, another member of the memorial committee, said details of how Thompson’s ashes will be scattered were being worked out.

Among the suggestions: firing the ashes out of a cannon from a 100-foot pillar topped by a 53-foot statue of the journalist’s “gonzo fist” emblem.

Flying Dog Brewery, which is creating a new beer in Thompson’s honor, said sales of Gonzo Imperial Porter will help fund construction of the “gonzo fist” tower.

At 9.5 percent, the Gonzo beer has nearly double the alcohol content of average brews.

“We tried to make everything about this beer Gonzo,” brewery President Eric Warner said in a statement.

NEW YORK (AP) – Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is proud to be in therapy, calling it “an incredible thing” that helped him discover a different life.

Rodriguez told the TV show “Extra” in an interview taped to air Wednesday that he was reluctant to go to therapy because “in many ways therapy is synonymous with a bad thing and why let the train wreck come before you fix it.” But he credits his wife, Cynthia, for persuading him to go.

“I think it’s a different life that I’ve discovered and I thank Cynthia for that … because therapy is an incredible thing and you might get to know someone who you didn’t even know was in there,” he said.

Because it is rare for an athlete to say he is seeking help, Rodriguez’s comments made the front page of Wednesday’s edition of the Daily News.

On Tuesday, he donated $200,000 to the Children’s Aid Society to benefit mental health programs that work with young students in Manhattan. He has said that he was deeply affected when his father left his family when he was 9.

When he first started seeking help, Rodriguez saw three therapists. Now he goes to two, and believes all children would be helped by therapy.

“For those kids, if they can have that advantage at this point in their lives, I think it would behoove them,” he said.

Rodriguez and his wife became parents of their first child, Natasha Alexander, on Nov. 18.

LONDON (AP) – London theater reviewers blew hot and cold over David Schwimmer’s West End debut in Neil LaBute’s “Some Girls.”

Several praised Schwimmer’s turn as a soon-to-be-married womanizer visiting four former girlfriends. But others doubted he was the right actor to tackle a writer famed – in plays such as “In the Company of Men” and “Your Friends and Neighbors” – for unblinking examinations of male misogyny.

The Independent’s Paul Taylor found LaBute and Schwimmer “an incongruous pairing.” “Throughout, Schwimmer remains bland, competent and boyish … This love rat would much rather be stroked than bite,” he wrote in Wednesday’s edition.

For The Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts, Schwimmer’s performance couldn’t erase the image of his unlucky-in-love sitcom character, Ross Geller, on NBC’s “Friends.”

“It’s all perfectly likable but the role probably has greater possibilities,” Letts wrote. “A more sinister edge might have been interesting to see, but I’m not sure Mr. Schwimmer does sinister. He’s just Ross.”

But The Times’ Benedict Nightingale was impressed by Schwimmer’s “earnest, anxious figure who sometimes seems less like a man than a dog eager to be told he’s a good boy.”

The show, “while never bland, could sometimes be tenser,” he wrote.

“Yet there’s plenty of subtle, telling funny writing in a play which is far more than an excuse for a TV star to parade his skills in London.”

And Daily Telegraph critic Charles Spencer found Schwimmer “inspired casting.”

Most critics found something to like in LaBute’s play and in David Gridley’s world-premiere production at the Gielgud Theatre. Many praised Catherine Tate, Lesley Manville, Sara Powell and Saffron Burrows as the variously wronged women.

“Some Girls” is scheduled to run until Aug. 13.

MIAMI (AP) – He’s Shaquille O’Neal, basketball star and undercover officer.

The 7-foot-1, 325-pound Miami Heat center, who has a fascination with law enforcement, was recently sworn in as a U.S. deputy marshal. He spent six hours on a Saturday afternoon with Miami Beach police investigators helping with cases.

O’Neal has joined a Department of Justice task force that tracks down sexual predators who target children on the Internet.

He is becoming familiar with the techniques and software that officers use to track down the predators, said Miami Beach Police Chief Don De Lucca. And he spends countless hours on his home computer, logging into the police network and learning the ropes.

“I put a lot into it, and when I am done playing, I plan on going undercover and then being the sheriff or chief of police somewhere, either Miami or Orlando, I don’t know yet,” O’Neal said recently.

After being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to Miami, O’Neal contacted Miami Beach police about becoming a reserve officer. He drops by the department regularly for one-on-one instruction, speaks to De Lucca at least once a week, and is a few training hours shy of being certified to make arrests, conduct search warrants and carry a .40-caliber pistol.

“Everyone knows the love I have for the people who defend the streets and the people who defend our country, the armed forces, the Army, Navy, Marines. I want to do something like that, help the community,” O’Neal said. “I want to really learn the business.”

“Shaq’s interest in police work is very real,” De Lucca said. “He’d be a great undercover guy.

“Obviously, we’re not going to send him out to buy dope, but he can do surveillance, he can do Internet crimes. He has an incredible thirst for information, he’s street-smart, and he’s a communicator and leader. I just hope it’s not my job he comes after, or I’m in trouble.”

NEW YORK (AP) – Reality show contestants have shown they can survive South Pacific jungles and Donald Trump’s boardroom – but can they make it in rock ‘n’ roll?

Dave Navarro, former guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction, and TV personality Brooke Burke will host CBS’ “Rock Star: INXS,” produced by Mark Burnett.

The show will premiere July 11, the network said Tuesday. It will begin with 15 contestants living together in a Hollywood Hills home. The winner will become the lead singer of INXS and will go on a world tour with the band, known for their hits “What You Need” and “Need You Tonight.”

The band has used guest vocalists since Michael Hutchence died in 1997.

CBS said “Rock Star” will air three times a week. Monday will focus on contestants’ relationships and activities, while Tuesday and Wednesday will feature the competition and who goes home.

Navarro’s not new to reality TV. His wedding to Carmen Electra was documented on MTV’s “‘Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave.” Brooke, a mainstay in men’s magazines, hosted “Wild On” and “Rank” on the E! network.

On the Net:


DECATUR, Ga. (AP) – On the same day his debut album, “Trap House,” hit stores, rapper Gucci Mane posted a $100,000 bond on a murder charge and was released from jail.

Mane, whose real name is Radric Davis, was arrested Thursday in the May 10 shooting death of Henry Clark, whose body was found in the woods near a middle school.

The 25-year-old rapper was released from jail Tuesday.

His lawyer, Dennis Scheib, said Mane acted in self-defense.

Scheib said a witness saw five men enter a DeKalb condominium that Mane was visiting and gunfire was exchanged before the men fled. He said Mane didn’t know anyone was injured.

Scheib said Mane believed the men were associated with rival rapper Young Jeezy.

Jacob York, president of Atlanta-based Big Cat Records, Mane’s record label, said a dispute between Mane and Jeezy had been simmering for several months after they worked together on Mane’s song “So Icy.”

In early May, the two had a falling out and Jeezy released a song called “Stay Strapped or Die,” which was reportedly aimed at Mane.

Jeezy’s lawyer, Janice Singer, said the song was in response to songs that Mane had created against Jeezy and the lyrics don’t have a literal meaning.

“It’s all lyrics. It’s just a song,” she said. “It took a long time for Jeezy to respond to the fairly hostile CDs that were done by Gucci Mane.”

“Jeezy would like his fans in the community to know that he adamantly denies any knowledge or involvement in the events which led to the shooting for which Gucci Mane had been charged,” Singer said.

NEW YORK (AP) – Bobby Brown says he believes that his wife, Whitney Houston, has successfully completed a second stint in rehab.

“I’m very confident,” Brown told “Access Hollywood” in an interview Tuesday night. “She’s my lady and she’s doing wonderful. Everything about her spirit right now is just great … we’re enjoying life again.”

In March, Houston checked herself into a rehabilitation center for the second time in a year. Houston, who had said she was using the power of prayer to get over drugs, married Brown in 1992.

Brown, who has a history of drug and alcohol arrests, told “Access Hollywood” that it’s been difficult for both of them.

“It’s a team effort whenever somebody is ill,” he said. “It takes two to make things work, so I have to be there for her just like she was there for me when I went through my rehab stint.”

The 41-year-old Houston has been working on a comeback album.

“She’s going to start recording,” Brown said. “Hopefully, I will get to work with her on this album.”

Brown, 36, is the subject of a new eight-episode reality TV show, “Being Bobby Brown,” set to debut June 30 on Bravo. The show will also feature Houston.

On the Net:


LOS ANGELES (AP) – When their acting schedules keep them apart, Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe rely on the phone to keep their seven-year marriage intact.

Lowe recently visited Swank in Bulgaria, where she’s filming “The Black Dahlia” with Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett. Then Lowe accompanied the two-time Oscar winner to Japan for the premiere of “Million Dollar Baby.”

“When one of us travels, we talk on the phone three to four times a day, no matter the time difference,” he said. “We never go more than two weeks without seeing each other. My heart can’t stand being away from her for too long.”

They don’t have any children yet, but Lowe found himself playing a father in “Fielder’s Choice,” a Hallmark Channel movie that airs June 18.

Lowe’s character is a workaholic bachelor who becomes guardian of his 8-year-old nephew after the sudden death of his sister.

“It’s about making and keeping a commitment,” Lowe said. “He realizes at the end, making family a priority is what we value most in this life.”

AP-ES-05-25-05 1522EDT

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