- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Money talks

Associated Press

Can Russell Simmons make debt consolidation hot?

The music and fashion mogul is teaming with exuberant TV money guru Suze Orman for the latest incarnation of his Hip-Hop Summit with Get Your Money Right, a six-city tour designed to teach young people how to manage their cash.

The tour opens May 14 in Detroit and will stop in the District June 7.

The idea is to use star power — rapper Eminem and “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino have signed on — to teach money lessons that Mr. Simmons and Miss Orman say aren’t being taught at home or in schools.

The “summits” will focus on basic banking, understanding and fixing credit scores, managing assets, homeownership and car financing, Mr. Simmons said.

In 2003, Mr. Simmons introduced a prepaid Visa debit card in hopes of reaching the millions of Americans who don’t have a bank account because they have bad credit or little money.

Close call

Associated Press

Police have charged a man with threatening actor Mykelti Williamson with a gun while both were driving in Gardena, Calif., a community about 15 miles south-southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Mr. Williamson said the man followed him on Tuesday, yelling racial slurs and pointing a gun at him before running him off the road and approaching his vehicle on foot.

Best known for playing Tom Hanks’ buddy Bubba in 1994’s “Forrest Gump,” Mr. Williamson said he got the license-plate number of the man’s sport utility vehicle and then called police, who tracked down the suspect and arrested him.

The man, 24-year-old Ernesto Diaz of Los Angeles, was arrested and booked on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and hate crimes, police Sgt. Mike Bartlebaugh said. Mr. Diaz was being held on $50,000 bail and was expected to appear in Superior Court today, Sgt. Bartlebaugh said.

Frank linked to mob

Reuters News Agency

Frank Sinatra once served as a Mafia courier and narrowly escaped arrest with a briefcase containing $3.5 million in cash, famed entertainer Jerry Lewis told authors of a new book excerpted Tuesday in Vanity Fair magazine.

The anecdote attributed to Mr. Lewis is one of several accounts linking Ol’ Blue Eyes to organized crime in the unauthorized biography “Sinatra: The Life,” by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. The book, published by Alfred A. Knopf, is set for a May 16 release.

Mr. Lewis said the incident occurred shortly after mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano was deported from the United States to Italy in 1946.

Mr. Sinatra always denied any connection to the Mafia, though FBI files released in December 1998, seven months after his death, portrayed the singer-actor as a close friend of reputed Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana.

Munchkin memoir

E! Online

Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner who pronounced the Wicked Witch of the East dead in “The Wizard of Oz,” is publishing a memoir about his experiences on the set.

The book, “Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road,” describes what it was like to be part of the classic 1939 movie, which he says helped eliminate derogatory terms for little people.

Now 89, the 4-foot-7 Mr. Raabe walks with a cane and has a hearing aid, Associated Press reports. He still readily repeats his famous lines from “Oz” — “As coroner, I must aver/I thoroughly examined her/And she’s not only merely dead/She’s really, most sincerely dead” — a task he says he is asked to do “every place I go.”

Rivals again

Reuters News Agency

The teen comedy “Mean Girls” received four of the MTV Movie Award nominations announced yesterday, but star Lindsay Lohan was topped by her on-screen rival, Rachel McAdams, who earned five bids.

Miss Lohan — last year’s breakthrough-performance winner — was nominated for best female performance for “Mean Girls,” while Miss McAdams was nominated in the same category for “The Notebook,” MTV said on its Web site.

Former “Saturday Night Live” co-star Jimmy Fallon will return as host of the 14th annual awards ceremony. The event will be taped June 4 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and will air June 9.

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

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