Monday, October 6, 2003

Haggard the peacemaker

Merle Haggard is no stranger to controversy, but lately the 66-year-old country music icon has found himself in an unlikely role: peacemaker.

At the Birchmere in Alexandria Sunday night, Mr. Haggard said he tried to repair the breach between his friend and fellow country singer Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, who have feuded publicly over the war in Iraq.

“I’m doing about as good as Jimmy Carter,” Mr. Haggard said of his peacemaking efforts.

Earlier Sunday night, we asked Mr. Haggard, who’s no pacifist, about his decision to put in a good word for the embattled Chicks.

“What’s new about women being against war?” Mr. Haggard asked while backstage. “They put their foot in their mouth … but it was a pretty foot.”

New Mexico blues

Associated Press

Actor Val Kilmer has been dishing about his home state of New Mexico, and one state lawmaker didn’t like what he heard.

Mr. Kilmer, who has a ranch in the mountains south of Pecos, was asked about living in rural New Mexico in an interview published in a recent edition of Rolling Stone.

Mr. Kilmer told the magazine he carries a gun in his car.

“I live in the homicide capital of the Southwest,” Mr. Kilmer said. “Eighty percent of the people in my county are drunk. So driving home on the highway, especially with kids, [carrying a gun is] just a precaution.”

Mr. Kilmer also was asked how he spends his time. After talking about feeding the animals and going to the watering hole, he put on a hick accent and said: “We shoot the automatic weapons at the trespassers and people a different color than us.”

State Sen. Phil Griego, whose district includes Mr. Kilmer’s ranch and who lives nearby, said Friday that if the actor doesn’t like San Miguel County, he’s welcome to leave.

“He’s shooting from the hip, and he’s espousing stuff he really doesn’t know anything about,” Mr. Griego said.

The lawmaker said the actor lives behind a gate and doesn’t know his community.

Movies headed downhill

Associated Press

The quality of films has deteriorated in the past 20 years, a panel of producers and directors said in Aspen, Colo., during a salute to American filmmaking in the ‘70s.

“It was a different time in the 1970s. Movies didn’t have to make as much money,” director and producer Sydney Pollack said.

He also said the American public is driven by short attention spans.

“If you don’t get the clothes off fast or the gun out quick, you’re in trouble. Audiences want to feel something intense, quickly, without wasting a lot of time,” he said.

Mr. Pollack was part of a panel discussion that included production and costume designer Polly Platt, cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs and director William Friedkin as part of a tribute Saturday to the 25th anniversary of the Aspen Filmfest.

Mr. Friedkin said the advent of digital film may lead to a revolution in filmmaking, allowing for cheaper budgets and fewer production worries.

“Anyone can go make a film,” he said.

The “Exorcist” director didn’t speculate, however, on whether the new technology would lead to better movies.

Lord of the tchotchkes

Internet Movie Database

“Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood is fuming after discovering he’s not the only cast member with the fabled gold band from the sci-fi trilogy.

Mr. Wood, who was given one of the bands used in the film, was furious when he discovered co-star Andy Serkis also had been presented a replica ring by director Peter Jackson after re-shooting some crucial scenes for the final film, “Return of the King,” this year.

Co-star Dominic Monaghan said, “They gave Elijah the ring at the end of the first film, and then they gave Andy Serkis the ring at the end of refilming this year, and Elijah was really, really annoyed.”

Mr. Wood, Mr. Monaghan and fellow Hobbits Sean Astin and Billy Boyd also got to keep their fake feet from the three films.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff, wire and Web reports.

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