- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bonjour, Bruce

Not all Republicans have it in for France, apparently.

Actor Bruce Willis, who has visited U.S. troops in Iraq, has accepted the Order of Arts and Letters, one of the French government’s top awards for cultural achievement.

“France pays homage to an actor who represents the force of American cinema and the power of emotions that he invites us to share on screens throughout the world,” Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres told Mr. Willis as he presented the award to the actor yesterday in Paris.

According to Associated Press, Mr. Willis, 50, thanked both France and the minister for what he called a “great, great honor.”

The actor, who does not speak French, read from a script during his brief speech and yet still managed to make some grammatical slip-ups.

“I’m nervous. Bonjour, Paris,” Mr. Willis said.

Bye-Bye, Johnny

The rock world lost a pioneer yesterday with the death of pianist Johnnie Johnson.

The longtime Chuck Berry collaborator — he played on hits including “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Maybellene” — died at his St. Louis home, according to AP. The cause of death was not immediately known, publicist Margo Lewis said. He had been hospitalized a month ago with pneumonia and was on dialysis for a kidney ailment, according to friend and fellow musician John May.

Although Mr. Johnson, who was born in 1924, was never a household name, his and Mr. Berry’s teamwork helped define early rock ‘n’ roll. One of Mr. Johnson’s most famous patrons, Keith Richards, went so far as to claim that Mr. Johnson was responsible for Mr. Berry’s classic sound.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 in the sideman category.

House’ of David

Former “X-Files” star David Duchovny heads back to his childhood haunts in Greenwich Village in “House of D,” his first try at writing and directing a feature film.

The movie, a coming-of-age story about a Manhattan teenager who befriends a woman in a female detention center, opens in area theaters April 29.

“My initial impetus to get into acting was to learn about writing for the stage or screen,” Mr. Duchovny, 44, told Reuters News Agency. “It’s almost like a coming back to what I started with.”

When delivering meat as a teenager, he said, he fantasized about being seduced by a woman. His “Mrs. Robinson”-esque fantasy made it into the movie.

“Unfortunately, that’s not autobiographical,” Mr. Duchovny said with a hint of disappointment.

Cross the line

Joaquin Phoenix has checked into a rehabilitation facility to deal with alcohol abuse problems, according to his publicist.

“He was uncomfortable with the way that he was living his life and found the courage to deal with his disease,” Susan Patricola said, according to AP.

Mr. Phoenix, 30, voluntarily entered an undisclosed rehab facility two weeks ago and hoped that coming forward would encourage others with the same problem to get help as well, Miss Patricola said.

Mr. Phoenix starred in 2004’s “The Village” and was nominated for a supporting-actor Oscar for his portrayal of Commodus in 2000’s “Gladiator.” He will portray Johnny Cash opposite Reese Witherspoon’s June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line,” due out later this year.

Mr. Phoenix’s brother, actor River Phoenix, died from drug-related causes in 1993.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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