- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Tiger purrs

Even though he’s the world’s most famous golfer, Tiger Woods thought he could keep his engagement to Swedish girlfriend Elin Nordegren a secret.

But the 27-year-old golf phenom says the owner of a South African game lodge went and spilled the beans.

“I was betrayed by Adrian Gardiner, founder of the Shamwari Game Reserve,” Mr. Woods said on his Web site.

“He promised to protect my privacy during a four-day stay with friends, but went back on his word, not only alerting the newspapers about my engagement … but inviting the mayor and local school children to the airport when we departed.”

Mr. Gardiner told Reuters News Agency he had gone to great lengths to safeguard Mr. Woods’ privacy.

“His privacy was protected 100 percent,” he said. “He had the lodge on his own with his party. We even moved guests that were in that lodge to give him total privacy.”

‘Sick of himself’

Tired of reading about Ben Affleck and seeing his mug on supermarket tabloids?

So is Ben Affleck.

Matt Damon claims the publicity Mr. Affleck attracted this year has made his best pal “sick of himself,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mr. Affleck sympathizes with movie fans across the world who are bored with reading about him, Mr. Damon said.

“Ben understands why some people are sick of seeing so much being written and photographed about him, and that’s really frustrating for him.”

Mr. Damon takes exception to accusations that Mr. Affleck used his romance with Jennifer Lopez to raise his profile.

“Ben didn’t go into the relationship saying, ‘This will get me a lot of coverage.’ Ben was already getting plenty of work as an actor. He didn’t need this kind of celebrity, and he certainly never courted it.”

Oscar, shmoscar

Phil Collins is blowing off Disney’s request that he campaign for an Oscar for his “Brother Bear” film score, according to an Internet Movie Database report.

The studio asked Mr. Collins to fly to Los Angeles from his Swiss home to whip up enthusiasm for the new film, but the singer says it would be a waste of time.

“I don’t live in L.A., and I’m not going to travel thousands of miles to try to talk people into voting for me or twist their arm. That’s not my style,” he said.

“The year I won, I was up against Randy Newman, and he campaigned really hard. But Randy had been nominated nine times before and never won, so I don’t think it’s the best approach — people like a bit of modest restraint.”

Charles in charge

You can’t keep a good man down.

R&B; legend Ray Charles is recovering in his Beverly Hills home after undergoing a hip replacement last week, according to the Associated Press.

The singer is upbeat and already has plans to hit the road again next year.

“I feel terrific and am so thankful to the good Lord that all is going well for me,” Mr. Charles said. “I can’t wait to get back on the road, which is my second home.”

Acute discomfort in his left hip forced the singer in August to cancel his remaining 2003 tour dates. It was the first time Mr. Charles had canceled a tour in 53 years, AP reports.

Meanwhile, a movie based on the 73-year-old’s life, “Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story,” starring Jamie Foxx, recently finished filming.

Tears of a Tolkien

It must tickle “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson that a scion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s thought “The Return of the King” was so good he wept “like a baby.”

Royd Tolkien, the “Rings” author’s great-grandson, said on New Zealand television that at the world premiere of the movie Monday, he lost all composure.

“I cried like a baby,” said Mr. Tolkien, who has a cameo appearance in the movie. “Literally, for the last half-hour of the film, I was just … gushing. Incredible.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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