- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2005

Figure of speech

Comedian Rowan Atkinson is urging the British government to rethink a bill that would criminalize the incitement of religious hatred, a hot subject in U.K. politics recently, following the controversial banning of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play “Behzti.”

According to a BBC report, the “Mr. Bean” star fears the measure will be used against performers who make religious jokes or satirize religious figures.

Explaining his view, Mr. Atkinson said: “I understand what the intentions of the government are here. I know that they do not intend to militate against people like me or [novelist] Salman Rushdie or playwrights.

“But the only safety valve that they have put in the legislation is the fact that the attorney general will have the final say.”

That, he added, is “not good enough.”

Critical theory

Jennifer Lopez — do not even consider calling her J.Lo again — thinks she knows why she has gotten such a bad rap lately.

In short, it’s our fault.

She believes the public can’t distinguish between her and the characters she plays, according to Teen Hollywood.

“I think people get the wrong idea because of the roles I’ve played. I’ve played a couple of cops, a couple of killers, and that seems to have put some people off,” she said, referring to roles in movies such as “Angel Eyes” and “Out of Sight.”

Couldn’t be overexposure, bizarrely brief romances or anything like that, could it?

Nah. Too obvious.

Star search

Daytime talker Montel Williams is on the hunt for undiscovered comedic talent, and he has launched a talent management firm to find it.

The new firm, Letnom Management, will specialize in stand-up comedy and focus on developing clients for TV and film projects.

“I felt there’s a need for a full-blown management firm,” Mr. Williams told the Hollywood Reporter. “We need more laughter in this world, and I have met many talented people through my work and various activities.”

Mr. Williams said he hopes to start building a roster by signing about five performers in the coming weeks and possibly expand that to about 10 during the next six months.

Asked what he’s seeking in performers, Mr. Williams said: “I’m looking for talented people whether they are black, white or Asian, children or adults. There will be some complete unknowns and maybe some seasoned people who haven’t found a break in a while.”

Mama me

Patti LaBelle says “Mama” Morton, the tough prison matron she plays in the touring musical “Chicago,” is far from a stretch.

“‘Mama’ is who Patti LaBelle really is,” she told Associated Press.

“I’m that character behind closed doors. I kick everybody’s [posterior]… I have a lot of personalities. I can be the witch with a capital B. I can be the nice little girl, which I really am and quiet to myself. That’s who I really am, but then that other girl comes out — I can’t control her.”

Un-plain Jane

“Bride and Prejudice,” the new movie by “Bend It Like Beckham” director Gurinder Chadha, takes novelist Jane Austen’s 1813 classic “Pride and Prejudice” and sets it in contemporary small-town India.

Miss Chadha says the story is universal.

“What’s incredible about this is that even though Jane Austen was writing 200-odd years ago, she was writing at a time when women were not considered whole unless they were married,” the Kenyan-born, British-raised filmmaker told Reuters News Agency.

“That is still very relevant to many places around the world, and particularly small-town India,” she said.

The movie, which stars Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai, opens Friday in area theaters.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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