- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2005

Style with substance

Associated Press

Revelers in leather, lace and body paint strutted down a red carpet and into the Gothic-style city hall in Vienna, Austria, for the city’s Life Ball, a charity gala headlined by Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Heidi Klum and Donatella Versace.

Miss Versace entered Saturday’s campy costume party differently than most of the guests — driving down the red carpet in a Mini decorated in her company’s trademark gold-leaf design.

To kick off the evening, dedicated to fighting AIDS, the designer organized a fashion show displaying, for the first time, designs by her brother, Gianni, who was gunned down in Miami Beach in 1997.

“It’s very emotional for me,” she said. “I can’t think of a more appropriate place for these to be shown than the Life Ball.”

Organizers hope the 13th annual event will raise as much as $1.3 million.

The gala is known for the extravagant costumes worn by the thousands of guests, who came in such garb as Carmen Miranda headdresses and Las Vegas showgirl feathers — and often little else. The celebrities and organizers hope to draw attention to combating AIDS. “We’re all here because we want to make some noise,” Miss Minnelli said. “We have to make noise. When it gets quiet, it gets ignored.”

Vintage Vince

Associated Press

Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil is getting into a new kind of spirit — he’s joined a winemaking venture called Vince Vineyards.

“I have enjoyed great wine for most of my life and wanted to create something other wine lovers could experience and appreciate,” Mr. Neil said in a statement.

He plans to start with 500 cases of 2003 Napa cabernet sauvignon and 250 cases of 2003 Sonoma chardonnay.

The heavy metal singer will have little to do with the actual winemaking. Harry Parducci at Adler Fels Winery in Santa Rosa will produce the wine. It will initially be sold for about $20 a bottle in Las Vegas, where Mr. Neil lives, as well as in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York.

Mr. Neil, 44, joins the ranks of a growing number of celebrity winemakers including NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, racing legend Mario Andretti and director Francis Ford Coppola.

Winemaking adds a new angle to his image as a rock bad boy. The singer has had numerous brushes with the law, including drunken-driving and vehicular manslaughter convictions in 1984. Motley Crue, whose albums include “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Dr. Feelgood,” was known for drug and alcohol excesses during the 1980s.

Out and about

Associated Press

Harper Lee, who has been dodging publicity for decades since she published her only book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” made a rare step into the limelight to be honored by the Los Angeles Public Library.

Miss Lee, 79, stopped giving interviews a few years after she won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1960 coming-of-age book exploring racial prejudice in the South. She has turned down most requests for appearances.

But she didn’t refuse an invitation from Veronique Peck, the widow of actor Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his starring role as lawyer Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of the book and became a lifelong friend of Miss Lee.

“Mockingbird” co-star Brock Peters, who played the black man falsely accused of rape in the film, presented the award to Miss Lee.

Miss Lee, Mrs. Peck said, is “like a national treasure.”

“She’s someone who has made a difference with this book,” Mrs. Peck continued. “All the kids in the United States read this book and see the film in the seventh and eighth grades and write papers and essays. My husband used to get thousands and thousands of letters from teachers who would send them to him.”

She said Atticus Finch was her husband’s “favorite role, and he felt that in his professional life, it was probably the best performance he ever gave.”

Take 2 for Depp

Internet Movie Database

Oscar nominee Johnny Depp will reprise his acclaimed role as journalist Hunter S. Thompson in the sequel to his 1998 film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The follow-up, called “The Rum Diary,” is based on Mr. Thompson’s first novel, which draws on his career and personal escapades in 1950s Puerto Rico. Mr. Depp is also acting as executive producer for the film.

Mr. Thompson fatally shot himself at his compound in Woody Creek, Colo., on Feb. 20.

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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