- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Do-right Lucinda

Tip O’Neill, who coined the saw “All politics is local,” would have smiled at Lucinda Williams, the celebrated singer-songwriter and political lefty.

Miss Williams told the Las Vegas Sun that she and her boyfriend put a homeless woman up in a Los Angeles hotel last year for a month after discovering her sleeping outside a restaurant in their neighborhood.

“A lot of people think politics are just about elections, or an antiwar movement,” she explained, “but it’s also about being active. It’s about everyday life and helping everyday people to make ends meet.”

Tough crowd

When Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian made a surprise appearance at a peace protest against China last weekend, the country’s first lady wasn’t impressed: She had thought 007 was coming.

Said Wu Shu-chen, “Oh, I thought there was going to be a surprise guest like Sean Connery. Then I see it’s just the president, and I’m a bit disappointed.”

Mrs. Wu said yesterday, according to Associated Press, that she idolized Mr. Connery and has been watching James Bond movies since she was a young girl.

Organizers of the peace protest — a human-chain demonstration that’s supposed to stretch the length of Taiwan (190 miles) — said last week that the Scottish actor planned to attend Saturday’s event, but Mr. Connery’s agent later said that was never the case.

For the children

Whoopi Goldberg will soon join the authorial ranks of Madonna, Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld as a children’s story writer.

“If I can give kids and their parents something that’ll make them smile and maybe teaches them a little something about living with one another on our planet, it makes me a happy granny,” Miss Goldberg said yesterday in a statement.

The first of several expected books is scheduled for 2005, according to the Associated Press.

Morrissey returns

It’s about time, his fans will say.

Morrissey, ex-frontman of the influential band the Smiths, will release his first solo album in seven years, “You Are the Quarry,” on May 18.

“This is the album that I’ve wanted to make for quite a while,” he said in a statement. “I didn’t want to do the same thing over again. That’s so boring.”

The reclusive singer says the album is nothing like anything he has done before. He says (gasp) it’s a happy record: “There are no links to the past. This is a much brighter-sounding album than much of my previous work.

“We’ve turned the page with ‘Quarry.’ It’s a dynamic album, and I couldn’t be any happier.”

The Oscar Bowl

Don’t expect to see Cedric the Entertainer getting a bikini wax or the Levitra-pushing Mike Ditka on commercials set to air during ABC’s Sunday evening telecast of the Academy Awards.

“We want the show to reflect not a stuffiness, but a dignity appropriate for film’s highest honor,” said Ric Robertson, executive administrator for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which annually hosts the event.

“We want it to be a family affair that can be appreciated by the widest possible audience,” he said.

Praise for a Coppola

Bill Murray, never the effusive type, has nothing but praise for Sofia Coppola, the 32-year-old director of “Lost in Translation” and the first American woman to be nominated for a best-director Academy Award.

“Don’t let Sofia’s littleness and quietness confuse you,” Mr. Murray, a first-time Oscar nominee himself, told the New York Times Magazine. “Sofia is made of steel. She’s tough, but she doesn’t pretend to be a man.

“She has a way of getting her way. She’s very polite about it. She nods her head and says, ‘You’re right, you’re right, but this is what I want to do.’ And it works. When you see her movies, you forget that she is Francis’ daughter. She has been able to reinvent what her last name represents.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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