- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

True to character

Associated Press

John Travolta is almost unrecognizable when he’s first on the screen in the drama “A Love Song for Bobby Long.”

His hair is white, and his face is drawn and beaten.

Mr. Travolta said he worried that if he didn’t look that way, he wouldn’t be believable, “and that’s more frightening to an actor than looking good. And that’s the truth.”

In “A Love Song for Bobby Long,” opening Jan. 21 at local movie theaters, Mr. Travolta plays a former literature professor whose life has taken an alcohol-fueled nose dive. He sits on the front porch of a dilapidated house outside New Orleans, drunk all day on cheap vodka. Scarlett Johansson also stars in the film.

Mr. Travolta, an Oscar-nominee for “Pulp Fiction” and “Saturday Night Fever,” said he doesn’t have to live the experiences of his characters to be credible on the screen.

“I was never a heroin addict or a hit man, either, do you know what I mean,” the 50-year-old actor recently told reporters, according to Associated Press Radio. “In ‘Pulp Fiction,’ I had my obligation there to portray that character; if you’re a mirror of humanity, that’s your job, and I’m doing it.”

Costner fights back

Ireland Online.com

Kevin Costner has won a restraining order against a woman who claims she’s the mother of his daughter, Anne.

Romana Medina, 42, insists she’s the mother of the 20-year-old — one of Mr. Costner’s three daughters by ex-wife Cindy.

The Oscar-winning director claims Miss Medina is a complete stranger to him, and has harassed his family and upset his daughter with her bogus claims.

Pachyderm express

Associated Press

Tennis stars Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova rode elephants before playing an exhibition match in Chiang Mai Thailand as part of preparations for the Australian Open.

Miss Williams visited an elephant training center on Saturday.

“I would never imagine that I would ride an elephant in Thailand,” she said. “I’ve never had this kind of experience because we don’t have things like this back home in California.”

Miss Sharapova trained in the morning and then also hopped on the back of one of the giant animals in the afternoon.

Chiang Mai is a town in the hills of northern Thailand, hundreds of miles from the devastation and death wreaked on the nation’s southern beaches by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

The Australian Open begins Jan. 17.

New role for Fleming

Reuters News Agency

Soprano Renee Fleming, star of opera and concert stages, recording artist and single mother, has added the role of author to her off-stage repertoire.

“The book is not the story of my life, but the autobiography of my voice,” Miss Fleming, 45, says of her new book “The Inner Voice: The Making of a Singer,” released in November.

“The Inner Voice” lacks the gossipy edge often adopted by opera world luminaries when they turn literary. Acknowledging her pronounced “good girl” persona, Miss Fleming says she wouldn’t be interested in writing “that kind of book.”

Relief concert planned

Agence France-Presse

Plans are under way to organize a huge charity concert in Wales’ 70,000-capacity Millennium Stadium in the city of Cardiff, with all profits going to the victims of the Asian tsunami disaster.

Paul Sergeant, general manager of the stadium, said the event will take place Jan. 22 and estimates $1.9 million will be raised.

“We have already been in touch with a number of A-list celebrities and of course they are the vital ingredient in this,” said Mr. Sergeant, who declined to say who would be performing.

However, British rock stars Cliff Richard, Boy George and opera singer Russell Watson announced Saturday they would release a charity single to raise money for the victims of the Dec. 26 quake-driven tidal waves.

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

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