- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2004

Crowe eats crow

Real-life “Gladiator” Russell Crowe took the blame for his latest battle — a fight with his own bodyguard — saying it was sparked by a misunderstanding at a drinks party for the cast and crew of “The Cinderella Man,” an upcoming film he was shooting in Toronto.

The Oscar-winning actor made headlines recently by scuffling with Mark “Spud” Carroll, a former rugby league star who is now his bodyguard.

Reports claimed Mr. Crowe, who had his share of public brawls before marrying last year, pulled a Mike Tyson during the fight, at one point chomping on Mr. Carroll’s ear.

In a letter to an Australian tabloid, Mr. Crowe said he and Mr. Carroll made up the next day.

Mr. Crowe explained he had been talking to a young woman, who was an extra on the film (and also a friend of both men), as the cast and crew gathered for a round of drinks after the shoot. Mr. Carroll approached Mr. Crowe and told him what he thought people might be speculating on the nature of the conversation between the superstar and the young woman.

“I thought he was accusing me specifically of something and I took offense to it,” Mr. Crowe said.

Hot shot

Newcomer Gretchen Wilson landed five high-profile Country Music Award nominations, including one for best album for “Here for the Party,” a tribute to rednecks everywhere.

Miss Wilson’s first single, the No. 1 hit “Redneck Woman,” was nominated for three awards — single, song and music video of the year. She also was nominated for the Horizon award, which honors the top new act in country music.

The nominees were announced yesterday on CBS’ “Early Show,” and the network will air the awards show Nov. 9.

Still ‘Clerk’-ing

Lick your chops, movie geeks.

Come January, filmmaker Kevin Smith will start work on “The Passion of the Clerks,” a sequel to his first film, the 1994 cult hit “Clerks.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Smith wrote the sequel for the stars of the original film, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). It catches up with the Quik Stop convenience store employees of the original “Clerks” 10 years later.

“After working on the ‘Clerks’ 10th-anniversary DVD for the better part of the last year, I fell in love with the characters all over again,” Mr. Smith said. “The whole process reminded me why I got into the film business in the first place: to make talky, low-budget comedies.

“So I wrote this script about the older and not-so wiser Dante and Randal, as they try to deal with a decade of further disillusionment, even less sex and eroding pop culture.”

‘Program girl’

Embattled rocker Courtney Love has vowed to stay away from drugs for good, in the hopes of regaining custody of her daughter Frances Bean and reviving her career.

The widow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain admits her string of legal drug-related problems, which have made her a fixture in New York and Los Angeles courthouses, has her “scared” — and she’s determined to shape up.

Using a metaphor Washingtonians would appreciate, Miss Love told the Los Angeles Times, “The court cases are like a lagging indicator in economics. They show where I was, not where I am.”

“I’m doing OK,” she continued. “I’m doing well, as a matter of fact. It’s so stupid, but I even enjoyed the martyrdom. I’m program girl now.”

Great uncle

The Olympic Games in Athens may be over, but don’t tell that to George Brunstad.

The 70-year-old uncle of actor Matt Damon became the oldest person to swim the English Channel on Sunday, arriving on the French coast in the early hours after a grueling 21-mile swim.

“I am tired, but this is it. I’ve got the world record and I feel wonderful,” Mr. Brunstad told Reuters News Agency from the British port of Dover, after returning by boat and taking a well-deserved nap.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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