- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bump in Chan’s plans

Action star Jackie Chan says his Segway dealership in Hong Kong is doing well, although costs are high because the manufacturer won’t let him assemble the battery-powered scooters in China for fear of piracy.

“They’re afraid of people stealing the technology,” the 54-year-old actor said Wednesday at a security fair in Hong Kong.

China is a leading source of knockoffs ranging from movies and music to sporting goods and medication. Beijing has toughened penalties and cracked down repeatedly, but manufacturers say violations are more prevalent than enforcement.

Mr. Chan says he is confident Segway executives will change their minds as Chinese sales grow. A basic Segway scooter costs about $10,000 in China - pricey in a country where the average worker makes less than $100 a month. The two-wheelers, which balance on their own and glide noiselessly down streets or sidewalks, cost about $5,000 in the United States.

A native of Hong Kong, Mr. Chan says he didn’t start the business to make money but to bring the clean technology to China. He also sells the scooters in Macau, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

“This is very little money to me. I don’t rely on this to make money,” he says.

Hard times for McMahon

Ed McMahon, who for decades appeared as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on “The Tonight Show,” is fighting to avoid foreclosure on his multimillion-dollar Beverly Hills home, Associated Press reports.

The former “Star Search” host was $644,000 behind on payments on $4.8 million in mortgage loans when a unit of Countrywide Financial Corp. filed a default notice Feb. 28 with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Mr. McMahon, 85, has been a pitchman for the American Family Publishers’ sweepstakes. However, he has been unable to work as a pitchman for various products since he broke his neck 18 months ago, says his spokesman, Howard Bragman.

A telephone message left for Countrywide early Wednesday was not immediately returned, AP says.

The six-bedroom, five-bath house is in a hilltop gated community overlooking Mulholland Drive called the Summit and is listed for sale at $6.25 million. It has been on the market two years, according to real estate agent Alex Davis, who has the listing.

The house is near that of pop star Britney Spears, which doesn’t always work in its favor.

“When we were trying to sell the house one time, there were about 100 paparazzi there,” Mr. Davis says.

Mrs. S. trashes Italy’s P.M.

France’s first lady, Carla Bruni, takes a swipe at Silvio Berlusconi, newly re-elected prime minister in her native Italy, in interviews for a frank new book published Thursday.

According to Agence France-Presse in “Carla and Nicolas: The True Story,” which was written by two French journalists, the 40-year-old supermodel-turned-singer is quoted as saying she was instantly won over by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s “intelligence.” She also insisted that the Italian and French leaders - who met Tuesday in Rome and have been compared for their political style, their admiration for the United States and their luxury tastes - have nothing in common.

“Berlusconi is a businessman who does politics. … Nicolas has a passion for his job. Nicolas is a real politician. Not Berlusconi,” Miss Bruni said. “Each to their own. I haven’t felt good since he was re-elected prime minister.”

Miss Bruni, a catwalk queen who veered into music in her mid-30s, married Mr. Sarkozy in February after a whirlwind three-month romance. She has said she will be his wife “until death.”

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

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