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People: Aug. 13, 2001

4 minute read
Ellin Martens


Hard to feel sympathy for MADONNA–not that she’d want you to. Last week she was hit by concert-canceling laryngitis, reviews of her Drowned World tour haven’t been great, and some fans are complaining that she’s been too heavily influenced by British director-husband GUY RITCHIE. Now comes word that Ritchie is remaking Swept Away, the 1974 Lina Wertmuller film, in which Mrs. Ritchie will play the rich, spoiled woman marooned on an island with her grunt-for-hire, who turns the tables by deeply humiliating her. In one scene, he forces her to wash his underpants for food–and they fall in love! So let’s review: in Madonna’s video What It Feels Like for a Girl, directed by Guy, she engages in odd, debasing behavior and is killed at the end. In Star, her minimovie for BMW, also directed by Ritchie, she is terrorized and humiliated, soiling her pants. And being married to a director was supposed to be fun.

Ben Takes a Bad Bounce

He played an alcoholic on the road to recovery in the movie Bounce. Maybe it wasn’t all acting? Last week square-jawed Pearl Harbor star BEN AFFLECK revealed he had entered rehab for an alcohol problem. Said publicist David Pollick: “Ben is a self-aware and smart man who has decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol. He has chosen to seek out professional assistance and is committed to traveling a healthier road with the support of his family, friends and fans.” And food, folks and fun, along with additional alliterative assurances at the Malibu drying-out center of choice, Promises. That’s the same sumptuous, Spanish-style stuccoed villa where Paula Poundstone is convalescing and Robert Downey Jr. recently rehabbed. The Promises website boasts of “awe-inspiring sunrises,” plus a gourmet chef–who presumably will whip up a tasty cake for Affleck’s 29th birthday next week.


Something old (Huey Lewis), something new (Aaliyah), something borrowed (N.Y.P.D. cops) and, unfortunately, something blew: MTV’s 20th-birthday bash. Hours of interviews, swooping cameras over the badly dressed crowd, ads for ladies’ shaving gel grudgingly interrupted by musical performances…come to think of it, kind of like watching the music-TV network itself these days. Even TOMMY LEE slurping host CARSON DALY’s stubbled puss wasn’t a shock–Lee did Puffy Combs at the MTV Movie Awards in June. The five original VJs– from left, ALAN HUNTER, MARTHA QUINN, J.J. JACKSON, MARK GOODMAN and NINA BLACKWOOD–tried to get into the spirit, with only partial success. Said Blackwood, a radio host in Denver, of MTV now: “It doesn’t hold my attention. I’m thinking, ‘Who in the world is watching this stuff?'”


The Gray Lady blew his cover. That must be why AL GORE’s staff, according to sources, called the New York Times to complain about a photo the paper ran of the elusive former Veep in Valencia, Spain, sporting–surprise!–a patchy beard. Word is, the beard will come off before the former presidential candidate ends his self-imposed exile and returns from Europe. Apparently he intends to become a freedom fighter for the Democratic Party beginning next week. At an “academy” in Nashville, Tenn., he’ll train 25 fresh college graduates to be political operatives, the Times reports. Then it’s on to Jersey and Virginia to train more troops on getting out the vote for gubernatorial races. Gore’s spokespeople are keeping mum on all this, perhaps still reeling from the sight of their boss looking more like an accountant on the lam from the IRS than a White House-compatible action figure. Or maybe that’s just what happens after you teach at Columbia.

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