- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Penn’s spin

Asked whether political corruption has worsened since Watergate, “Assassination of Richard Nixon” star Sean Penn replied: “No question about it.”

“I think you’d have a very difficult time ‘Watergate-ing’ George Bush,” Mr. Penn told Associated Press. “The spin and the manipulation of media, the distraction of planned emergencies, is on a whole new level.

“There’s a kind of general lack of diversity of principle within the Congress,” he added. “So I think when you can get something like the Patriot Act passed, it would be kind of like child’s play to pull off a Watergate.”

Flight of a ‘Phoenix’

At 50, actor Dennis Quaid is enjoying success even more than when he became famous.

“These past four years have been a big turnaround in my career,” Mr. Quaid — who’s about to star in two movies out simultaneously (“Flight of the Phoenix,” “In Good Company”) — told Reuters News Agency.

“It makes all the difference in the world when you have a hit movie and critical success back to back.”

The Texan and former hubby of Meg Ryan reclaimed a spot on Hollywood’s A-list with his acclaimed performance in 2002’s “Far From Heaven” and the box-office success of the “The Rookie” that same year.

“There was a time in my 30s when I was the new thing and things were easier for me. In my 40s, I felt like I was being laid off,” he said. “I had to really scramble and get out there and dig to get parts and hang in there.”

Although “The Alamo,” in which Mr. Quaid played Gen. Sam Houston, was a dud this year, he takes working as a fiftysomething in stride.

“The second time around is a lot sweeter. In my 30s, I didn’t really appreciate my success. Maybe I felt I didn’t deserve it. I had mixed feelings about it. I think it’s called growing up. You get rid of a lot of useless baggage.”

Dutiful heroism

“I wouldn’t take myself as a hero,” said Rwandan Paul Rusesabagina, the subject of the forthcoming movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

Mr. Rusesabagina was just a stand-in manager at the Mille Collines hotel when the Rwandan genocide began in 1994, but he used ingenuity and military contacts to provide a haven for 1,268 people, most of whom had fled their homes and arrived at the hotel as “guests.”

Actor Don Cheadle earned a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Rusesabagina in the film.

“I rather take myself as someone who did his duties and responsibilities… someone who remained until the end when others changed completely their professions, and most of them became killers and others were killed,” Mr. Rusesabagina told Reuters.

Shifting while Idle

Killer rabbits and a legless knight: Is this the stuff of a Broadway musical?

Absolutely, says Monty Python trouper Eric Idle, who wrote the book for “Spamalot,” the stage version of the 1975 comedy film classic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” now playing in Chicago.

“To me, the musical is best when it’s a musical comedy,” Mr. Idle told AP Radio. “So if you have a very, very funny show and very good, funny songs, that’s what the musical does best.”

Mr. Idle said the other Python members approved the show: “They’re very cautious about what they allow; they’ve never allowed this sort of thing before. [But] everyone was enthusiastic and on board because the songs made them laugh.”

“Spamalot,” directed by Mike Nichols and starring Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce and Tim Curry, will move to Broadway in February.

Love connection

Legally troubled rocker Courtney Love is determined not to repeat the “failure” of “America’s Sweetheart,” her 2004 solo bomb.

She told Rolling Stone magazine that for the past few months, she’s been writing with ex-Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. Also, she says she’s hoping to recruit Rick Rubin or Daniel Lanois to produce the set, which she plans to record — no joke — in a women’s prison.

Miss Love, who’s recovering from what she calls a “coke-nutbag breakdown,” said, “I miss competing.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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