- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

Cuba’s revelation

Someone, apparently, spoke truth to Cuba Gooding Jr.

The actor, who won an Oscar for his “Show me the money” turn in 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” has struggled for the past 10 years to find his footing after a string of lackluster movies.

“This brother pulled me aside the other day and said, ‘Cuba, I don’t want to embarrass you, but you’ve been seen as a sell-out for doing movies like “Snow Dogs” and “Boat Trip,” ‘ ” Mr. Gooding told the New York Times Syndicate.

But that’s OK with Cuba.

“I had an epiphany,” the 38-year-old actor said. “Films are made for a specific audience and not for everybody — there are kids who love ‘Snow Dogs.’ So I no longer pray for everyone to see my films: I pray for the right audience to find my movies.”

Mr. Gooding’s latest vehicle is a supporting role in the forthcoming Eddie Murphy comedy “Norbit.”

Madge off the hook

Prosecutors in Amsterdam said yesterday they would not take action against Madonna over charges of supposed blasphemy during a concert tour in which she underwent a mock crucifixion.

The SGP, a small conservative Protestant party, called for prosecution after Madonna performed a pair of concerts in September in Amsterdam that included a controversial set piece in which the singer knelt and took off a crown of thorns while a crucifix was projected behind her.

“The pop singer Madonna will not be prosecuted for blasphemy and insulting faith,” the Amsterdam prosecutor’s office told AFP.

The so-called crucifixion scene “can lend itself to different interpretations,” the office said.

Borat’s power trip

Sacha Baron Cohen, creator of the hit comic character Borat, has been named one of Britain’s most powerful men on a list that puts him one place behind Prince William, Reuters news agency reports.

The 35-year-old comedian debuted in 19th place on GQ magazine’s annual list, announced yesterday. The publication said the ranking showed men “shaping the fabric and direction of the nation” over the next 12 months and beyond.

Mr. Baron Cohen won a Golden Globe for his performance as a boorish Kazakh journalist in the surprise box-office hit “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” The film incensed Kazakh authorities, who said it portrayed Kazakhs as bigoted, oafish and primitive.

Mr. Baron Cohen argued that he used his Borat figure to highlight prejudice and bigotry in the United States.

He placed ahead of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and father of Prince William.

“Not since John Lennon has an English entertainer had such an effect on the world: George Bush was briefed on him, the Kazakh government briefed against him, and the film Borat … hit the No. 1 spot in America last autumn,” the magazine said.

Church of Bono

For Anglicans who still haven’t found what they’re looking for, the Church of England is staging its first “U2-charist” communion service — replacing hymns with hit songs by the Irish supergroup, according to Reuters.

“Rock music can be a vehicle of immense spirituality,” said Bishop of Grantham Timothy Ellis, announcing plans for the unique service in the central English town of Lincoln in May.

A live band will play U2 songs such as “Beautiful Day” and “Mysterious Ways” with singalong lyrics displayed on a giant screen. Seating for the 500-strong congregation will be rearranged to accommodate dancing bodies and waving hands. The service is to focus on causes favored by U2 singer Bono, including alleviating poverty in the developing world.

Compiled from Web and wire reports by Scott Galupo.

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