- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

Mutual admiration

Associated Press

Mel Gibson and Michael Moore have been used as shorthand for cultural and political divisions among Americans, but how do the filmmakers feel about each other? Cue the Hollywood ending — it’s hugs all around.

“I saw the film. I liked it,” Mr. Gibson told AP Radio Sunday at the 31st annual People’s Choice Awards, countering the contention that “Fahrenheit 9/11” fans and “The Passion of the Christ” enthusiasts are mutually exclusive groups.

Mr. Moore’s critique of President Bush’s policies since the September 11 attacks and Mr. Gibson’s film about Jesus Christ’s final hours were huge hits at the box office in 2004, and both won People’s Choice awards on Sunday. “Fahrenheit 9/11” was named favorite movie and “The Passion of the Christ” was the favorite drama.

“I feel a kind of strange kinship with Michael,” Mr. Gibson said. “I mean, they’re trying to pit us against each other in the press, but this is all just a hologram, you know. They’ve really got nothing to do with one another. They were used as some kind of divisive left-right thing.”

Mr. Moore said he saw Mr. Gibson’s film twice and even took his father to see it.

“I thought it was a powerful piece of filmmaking,” Mr. Moore said. “I’m a practicing Catholic, and you know, I think Mel and I may be from different wings of the Catholic Church. My film might have been called ‘The Compassion of the Christ.’”

Katie’s concern

The “Today” show’s normally unflappable Katie Couric is taking the Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt breakup pretty hard.

The perky co-anchor of NBC’s early morning program seemed downright desolate over the topic during yesterday’s broadcast.

Miss Couric yesterday told People magazine’s Deputy Managing Editor Larry Hackett, “I actually called our news desk on Saturday and said, ‘I know that we have this tsunami going on, and — and all these people, but is it true that they broke up?’”

Good thing she had access to NBC’s vast news resources to confirm her worst fears.

“I can’t believe I’m so invested in this, but I just feel bad,” she later confessed during the show.

Mr. Pitt and Miss Aniston made their split official Friday. The couple, a tabloid’s dream pairing of two celebrity beauties, lasted about 4 years.

The New York Post says the breakup came about in part because Mr. Pitt wanted to start a family while the “Friends” star preferred life as a movie star.

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News contends that Angelina Jolie, who stars with Mr. Pitt in the upcoming film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “got too close” to her co-star — a claim numerous sources have denied.

Duff, Martin pledge aid

Associated Press

Teen actress-singer Hilary Duff is donating a portion of all ticket sales from her sold-out “Most Wanted” tour to aid tsunami relief efforts.

Miss Duff, 17, will give the money to Kids With a Cause, which helps children who suffer from poverty, hunger, sickness, lack of education, abandonment, neglect and abuse.

The star, who has 15 dates remaining on her tour, will present the check to officials at the United Nations in March.

On a similar note, pop star Ricky Martin will visit tsunami-battered areas during a trip to Thailand this week.

Mr. Martin, chairman of the Ricky Martin Foundation, will focus on orphans and “families broken by the disaster,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak Phuangketkeow said yesterday.

The People for Children project, under the San Juan, Puerto Rico-based foundation, helps monitor and combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The tsunami has claimed more than 5,000 lives in Thailand, and thousands of people are missing.

Halle prevails

E! Online

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry’s divorce from Eric Benet has been finalized, with Miss Berry getting almost everything, the syndicated show “Celebrity Justice” reports.

The couple ended their nearly three-year marriage last year amid persistent rumors of Mr. Benet’s infidelity. (He eventually admitted to being a sex addict.)

Mr. Benet, 33, went to court in June seeking to challenge the couple’s prenuptial agreement, but last week a Los Angeles judge granted the divorce and upheld the terms of the couple’s prenup, which were not disclosed.

This is the second failed marriage for the actress, who split with baseball star David Justice in 1996.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and ChristianToto from Web and wire reports.

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