- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Abe versus Mel

With a week to go before the opening of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” Anti-Defamation League President Abraham Foxman jetted to Rome for an 11th-hour appeal to the Vatican to publicly restate church teaching that Jews aren’t responsible for killing Jesus.

“His film is an attack on Christian teaching. It is a revision, if you will, of ‘Nostra Aetate,’” Mr. Foxman said, referring to a 1965 document in which the Vatican repudiated the “deicide” charge blaming Jews collectively for Christ’s crucifixion. “I believe the church has a responsibility to stand up to defend its own teaching.”

A top Vatican official who met with Mr. Foxman said yesterday that no such statement was planned, and U.S. Archbishop John P. Foley, who heads the Vatican’s social-communications office, again praised the film and said he found nothing anti-Semitic in it, according to the Associated Press reports.

Glory days ahead

Diane Keaton’s Academy Award nomination for “Something’s Gotta Give” has actress Andie MacDowell, 45, encouraged that Hollywood’s glorification of youth may be on the wane.

“I think it’s changing a little bit,” she said while visiting Vienna, Austria, the Associated Press reported. “The baby boomers are now mature, and they’re gonna want something they can relate to — I hope.”

Asked what she thinks about the obsession in Hollywood with Botox and other wrinkle-fighting treatments, Miss MacDowell, a former model who lives in North Carolina, said: “I think it’s sad.”

Norah scores

Any worries Norah Jones had about the dreaded sophomore slump can be put to rest. The singer-pianist scored the largest opening week in more than two years to top the U.S. albums chart yesterday, according to Billboard magazine.

Her “Feels Like Home” sold more than 1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the best debut week since ‘N Sync’s “Celebrity” in 2001. “Home” also registered the second-best week ever totaled by a female artist.

Gunning for Geffen

Guns N’ Roses — aka Axl Rose, the band’s last original member — is considering suing Geffen Records to block the March 23 release of a “Greatest Hits” package that compiles 14 of the hard-rock band’s best-known songs.

“Hits” would be the third archival Guns release since fall, when Geffen issued DVDs of the home videos “Welcome to the Videos” and the two-volume “Use Your Illusion.” However, according to sources for Billboard magazine, the band did not give its consent for a compilation album; hence the potential lawsuit.

The combustible Mr. Rose and his band, meanwhile, are set for a May 30 appearance at the Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival in Lisbon, Portugal. It will be GNR’s first live appearance since the disastrous 2002 comeback tour, which was canceled with 13 dates remaining, including one at the District’s MCI Center.

As for the long-delayed “Chinese Democracy,” it’s unknown when the album will be released. Bassist Tommy Stinson (formerly of the Replacements) told Billboard.com last year that finishing touches were being applied to the set before it would be sent off for mixing.

Contra ‘the Friedmans’

“If this film does win an Oscar, it will be won at the expense of silencing the plaintive voices of abused children once again, just [as] our own voices were silenced 16 years ago by the threats and intimidation of our tormentors, Arnold and Jesse Friedman.”

So wrote two men whom Jesse Friedman pleaded guilty to sexually abusing, speaking out in a letter to Academy voters against the Oscar-nominated documentary “Capturing the Friedmans,” from director Andrew Jarecki.

Because of the movie, the victims, now in their 20s, say Jesse Friedman is “being paraded like a celebrity.” (Arnold Friedman, Jesse’s father, died in prison in 1995.)

Mr. Jarecki told the Associated Press that his film is balanced. “I didn’t set out to make an advocacy film for the Friedmans, and I didn’t make one.”

Friedman, 34, is seeking a new trial to overturn his conviction based on information revealed in the documentary.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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