- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Sobering lessons

New York Post

Recent celebrity rehab patients Pat O’Brien, Billy Joel and Whitney Houston should get a copy of “The Harder They Fall” (Hazelden), the new book in which celebrities tell their real-life stories of addiction and recovery.

Among the hair-raising tales of alcohol- and chemical-induced insanity:

m Alice Cooper reveals that before he quit drinking in 1983, his daily routine had “gotten to a point that when I got up in the morning, I’d sneak out of bed because [his wife] Sheryl was there. I’d have two or three drinks, go into the bathroom and throw up blood and then get back into bed, have a couple of beers and I’d be OK.”

m Gary Stromberg, the movie producer and publicist who co-authored the book with Jane Merrill, says he persuaded “legendary cokehead” Richard Pryor to appear in the 1976 film “Carwash” by promising him there would be “a nice surprise waiting for him in his dressing room.” Mr. Pryor agreed to do an extra day’s work for no fee. “Maybe it was all that good coke floating around the set,” speculates Mr. Stromberg. The comic actor later said he quit drugs and booze because “I got tired of waking up in my car driving 90.”

m When Richard Harris tended bar at Malachy McCourt’s New York saloon, he frequently failed to charge customers for drinks and gave away bottles of champagne. When he tired of keeping bar, Mr. Harris left an envelope for Mr. McCourt. “Inside is a check to cover everything he had given away during those weeks,” Mr. McCourt said.

Joint venture

Zach Braff, the director of the critically acclaimed independent film “Garden State” and star of NBC’s “Scrubs,” has signed on to direct the music video for Gavin DeGraw’s new single “Chariot,” for the singer’s 2003 album of the same name.

Shooting is scheduled to begin tomorrow in Los Angeles.

“I have been a fan of Gavin’s music for a while, and I think he is an amazing talent. I am excited to work with him,” Mr. Braff says.

The feeling, apparently, is mutual.

“Zach and I met at one of my shows and I was so flattered to hear he was a fan of my music,” says the Grammy-winning Mr. DeGraw, who will perform at Wolf Trap June 29.

“He has a great vision for the ‘Chariot’ video, and I’m really excited to work with him,” Mr. DeGraw says.

Viva la France

Acclaimed French pianist Philippe Entremont returned to the National Gallery of Art last night, more than half a century after his debut there as a young prodigy.

Mr. Entremont, now 70, performed a program of works by composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy in conjunction with the NGA’s “Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre” exhibit, which has drawn more than 9,000 visitors since its March 20 opening.

“We heard he [Entremont] was [a] tourist with a repertoire of the great works of Ravel and Debussy and dug deep,” says Stephen Ackert, who heads the gallery’s music department and coordinated last night’s presentation.

The Parisian theme continues this coming Sunday with another musical program celebrating the Lautrec exhibit. Soprano Rosa Lamoreauxand pianist Betty Bullock will perform a French cabaret concert at 6:30 p.m. Following that, the gallery’s free Sunday evening concerts will reflect a more sober time with an early American-themed series (April 10, April 17, April 14 and May 1) to honor an exhibit by Gilbert Stuart.

Ann Geracimos

O lei

Associated Press

First came TV. Then films and even an eponymous magazine.

Now Oprah Winfrey may be getting into the vacation rental business.

The Maui County Council has given preliminary approval to a bill granting O.W. Ranch LLC a five-year conditional permit to operate a 12-bedroom vacation rental in Kula, Associated Press reported yesterday.

Tom Welch, attorney for O.W. Ranch, would not confirm the celebrity’s involvement in the venture, saying Miss Winfrey likes to keep her personal life private.

Gideon Kaufman, an Aspen, Colo.-based legal representative for the queen of all media and an officer of O.W. Ranch, simply said: “I’ll let the initials stand for themselves.”

O.W. Ranch lists an address in care of Bob Greene, Miss Winfrey’s friend and personal trainer, according to Maui property tax records.

Miss Winfrey and Mr. Greene bought 102 acres on Maui’s Hana Coast in 2002 with plans to build separate homes. A year later, O.W. Ranch bought the land in Kula.

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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