- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Life after retirement

Producer Ismail Merchant tipped the news to us last summer while promoting “Le Divorce” but requested that we not blab about it.

It just went public in the Times of India: Retired diva Tina Turner will star in the next Merchant Ivory production, “The Goddess.”

“I think Ismail chose me because of my shakti [strength] within,” Miss Turner, 64 and a Buddhist, says. “I’m special in that I’ve had a long run and I’m still here.”

In preparation for her role as a Hindu goddess, Miss Turner reportedly has spent two weeks in India practicing classical music with Zakir Hussain, India’s maestro of the tabla.

“She’ll have to sing in Latin and Sanskrit for the film,” Mr. Merchant said.

Cash family afire

Thank God for small mercies. The late Johnny Cash’s family has put the kibosh on a plan to pitch hemorrhoid-relief products with a commercial featuring his classic song “Ring of Fire.”

“We would never allow the song to be demeaned like that,” Mr. Cash’s daughter, Rosanne, told the Tennessean of Nashville.

TV producer Sula Miller of Big Grin Productions in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told Associated Press she thought of the idea when she heard the song on the radio while struggling with the uncomfortable condition.

Merle Kilgore, who co-wrote the song with Mr. Cash’s wife, the late June Carter Cash, said at first he thought the idea was funny and that he often joked about hemorrhoids onstage whenever he introduced the song.

Mr. Cash’s family was in no laughing mood.

“[Mr. Kilgore] started talking about this moronic tie-in without talking to any of us,” Miss Cash told the Tennessean. “The song is about the transformative power of love, and that’s what it has always meant to me, and that’s what it will always mean to the Cash children.”

Hearts afire

Teenage celebrities these days. So impetuous.

Lindsay Lohan has called a truce between herself and fellow teen actress Hilary Duff.

Miss Lohan, star of the forthcoming movie “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” and Miss Duff both dated pop-singer hunk Aaron Carter and had a falling out that reportedly resulted in Miss Duff’s asking Miss Lohan to leave the premiere of “Cheaper by the Dozen,” in which the former co-starred.

Miss Lohan says their spat was “silly” and “unnecessary.”

“I mean, she’s doing great. I’m a fan of hers. My sister loves her,” the 17-year-old Miss Lohan said yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I just wanted to let her know I have no problems and neither should she. We were friends.”

When Diane Sawyer asked whether her fight with Miss Duff, 16, was “a high school thing,” Miss Lohan said, “Yeah.”

“It is the reason why I wanted to finish high school early because it is what you have to deal with in high school,” she said.

Saved by reality

As embarrassing as it is for some, reality TV has been a godsend for Tammy Faye Messner, ex-wife of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker.

“I am getting thousands of e-mails from people who say they didn’t like me, but now they do,” she told Scripps Howard News Service. “Because of a show like ‘Surreal Life,’ they have come to care about me.”

Miss Messner says the WB network’s “Life” has allowed the public to see her in a whole new light, as a woman of faith who has overcome trials.

“They didn’t know me as a person before,” she says. “They just knew me as a cartoon character that the news media has made up.”

Something’s fishy

Dwight Yoakam, country singer, actor and frozen-food king, is introducing a new line of moderately spicy breaded shrimp under his Bakersfield Biscuits product line.

He’s calling them Boom Boom Shrimp. Look for them next to Mr. Yoakam’s Chicken Fries and Lanky Links in a frozen-food case near you.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff, wire and Web reports.

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