- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Close shave

Tom Cruise has always prided himself on performing many of his own action stunts. On the set of “The Last Samurai,” that pride proved nearly fatal.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Mr. Cruise, while atop a mechanical horse, was filming a sword-fight scene opposite co-star Hiroyuki Sanada and almost lost his head.

The machine broke down and failed to move Mr. Cruise out of slashing range. Mr. Sanada said: “I swung my sword at Tom’s neck to behead him, and the horse didn’t work. I stopped the blade just one inch from his neck.”

Closer shave

Though Mr. Cruise was spared a slashing, Christian Slater wasn’t so lucky.

Mr. Slater received 20 stitches for a cut on his head courtesy of his wife, Ryan Haddon, who reportedly hit the actor with a drinking glass during a fight in their Las Vegas hotel room, according to Associated Press.

Miss Haddon, a television producer, was arrested Monday morning at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on a misdemeanor battery domestic violence charge, Las Vegas police Lt. Juanita Goode said.

Good vibrations

Al Jardine is one step closer to being a Beach Boy again.

A founding member of the legendary band, Mr. Jardine won an appeal in a California court in his legal battle with ex-band mate Mike Love. “This is the first step in a long journey,” Mr. Jardine told Billboard magazine.

Since the 1998 death of Carl Wilson, according to the music-industry magazine, Mr. Love has been the only one licensed to perform as a Beach Boy. In 2001, he sued Mr. Jardine for touring under names such as Beach Boys Family & Friends and “Al Jardine of the Beach Boys.”

A lower court ruled in Mr. Love’s favor, and Mr. Jardine subsequently appealed the decision. According to Billboard, Mr. Jardine is seeking damages “in the tens of millions of dollars,” but he insists it’s not just about money.

“I want to be able to tour again,” he said, “and to be able to identify myself as a Beach Boy again.”

Atkins? Never.

It’s not enough to be beautiful and thin. Catherine Zeta-Jones wants the world to know that she is not, nor has she ever been, on the low-carb Atkins diet.

The sleuths at the Smoking Gun Web site published a letter that lawyers for Miss Zeta-Jones sent to news organizations, saying she has been wrongly linked in some reports to the diet, which “has been derided by nutritionists and other health-care officials for decades.”

The attorneys say they are investigating the stories, “and we intend to pursue claims on her behalf against each and every publication responsible for the creation and initial growth of these false and damaging stories.”

Arts medalists

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush yesterday honored this year’s winners of the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest award for artistic excellence.

Taking home the gold this year were Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, blues legend Buddy Guy, National Symphony Orchestra conductor Leonard Slatkin, country singer George Strait, children’s book author Beverly Cleary, arts educator Rafe Esquith, dance company director Suzanne Farrell, choreographer Tommy Tune, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the PBS music series “Austin City Limits.”

The recipients, chosen by the president in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, were awarded their medals in a closed ceremony yesterday in the Oval Office.

“Whether they embodied the grace and drama of great choreography, fired the imaginations, created unforgettable movies or moved us with the passion of many voices, these inspiring people and institutions have made special contributions to the richness of our nation’s cultural life,” NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said in a statement.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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