- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

Lost in translation

Associated Press

Actress Scarlett Johansson came to the Venice Film Festival to promote her latest picture but found herself fending off romantic advances.

During a packed press conference Thursday for her film “A Love Song for Bobby Long,” the 19-year-old was ambushed by an unusual question by a young journalist from Chile.

“This is kind of a confession: I can’t sleep at night thinking about you. Sorry, I have to tell you. I’m a journalist, but I’m an actor, too,” the young man said. “Please, could you choose one of your favorites (movies) to make with me. Come on Scarlett, please.”

“Oh God. … Uhm. ‘Single White Female,’ maybe,” Miss Johansson quipped, referring to the 1992 film about a woman whose roommate becomes dangerously obsessed with her.

“I’ve never seen it,” the reporter said. “What is it about? It is a love one?”

“Of sorts,” Miss Johansson replied.

According to Associated Press, the same journalist has made unusual comments at other press conferences, suggesting Steven Spielberg make a sequel to “Saving Private Ryan” called “Saving Private Bush” but “at the end of the film, no one saves him.” He also advised Denzel Washington to run for president. Neither star responded to his remarks.

Back and intact

Reuters News Agency

It started with an itch. It ended with Anita Baker’s first studio album in 10 years.

“My Everything,” out today from Blue Note Records, shattered Miss Baker’s creative block.

“There are times when that creative door is just closed,” the eight-time Grammy winner says. During her recording hiatus, the Detroit native raised her two sons (now ages 10 and 11) and cared for her ill parents.

“My parents passed away a couple of years ago,” Miss Baker continues. “Then I looked up and found my boys doing their own things. And the itch started. I put my hand on that door; it cracked open a bit. Then I stuck my toe through and said, ‘It’s time to go.’”

“My Everything” is the latest in a series of new releases by veteran female R&B; singers. That list includes such icons as Teena Marie, Patti LaBelle, Stephanie Mills and Regina Belle, all of whose recent albums have been well-received.

“We’ve got a roll going with these kinds of artists,” says Jheryl Busby, president of Def Soul Classics.

“I’m energized,” the 46-year-old Miss Baker says. “Blue Note’s focus is creativity, which is ideal. I get to do what I do. And I’m grateful that my fans have always gotten me.”

Kinder, gentler Kong

Associated Press

Peter Jackson first tried to film “King Kong” at 13, using a cardboard model of the Empire State Building, a bedsheet painted with a New York backdrop and his super-8 camera.

Now 42 and with three Academy Awards to his credit, the director of the celebrated “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is ready to shoot a star-studded, multimillion-dollar remake.

The Universal Pictures movie is due for release in December 2005.

Among the major changes Mr. Jackson promises from the 1933 original — which was remade the first time in 1976 — will be greater character development, particularly for Kong.

“He’s a very old gorilla, and he’s never felt a single bit of empathy for another living creature,” Mr. Jackson said.

Close call

Associated Press

A vehicle driven by James Gandolfini, who plays mob boss Tony Soprano on the HBO series “The Sopranos,” was hit by a suspected drunken driver over the weekend. The actor was not injured, police said.

Mr. Gandolfini was in town for Saturday’s Rutgers-Michigan State football game when his sport utility vehicle was hit broadside by a driver who police said had run a red light. Mr. Gandolfini is a Rutgers alumnus.

Charles Collins, 72, of New Brunswick, was issued a summons for drunken driving and was released, police said. He was not hurt.

Mr. Gandolfini and three friends stopped for dinner at a local restaurant after the crash. He then returned to his home in New York City, police said.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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