- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

Too close for comfort

A photographer was charged with child endangerment and battery for supposedly striking a 5-year-old with his camera and shoving another out of the way to take pictures of actress Reese Witherspoon and her children.

Todd K. Wallace, 44, was charged Friday in Anaheim, Calif., and was due back in court Wednesday, Assistant City Attorney Patrick Ahle said.

The photographer also is charged with battering the 5-year-old’s mother, who is a friend of Miss Witherspoon’s, and two employees at a Disney theme park, Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez said.

Mr. Wallace became angry when the “Legally Blonde” star and her friends declined to be photographed Sept. 2 at Disney’s California Adventure and cursed them, Sgt. Martinez said. Mr. Wallace was initially cited for misdemeanor assault and battery of the two employees.

The incident left some of the children in tears.

Tabloids must realize that “battering and endangering a child to get a picture for their magazines is criminal and not business as usual,” said Miss Witherspoon’s attorney, Blair Berk.

Mr. Wallace has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment Saturday. He served more than four years in prison after a 1993 conviction for second-degree burglary and receiving goods by fraud, according to state corrections records.

In August, prosecutors decided not to charge photographers whom Miss Witherspoon said chased her from her gym and trapped her outside the West Los Angeles gated community where she lives with her husband, actor Ryan Phillippe, and their two children.

Moonwalker tumbles

Michael Jackson fell to the ground as he tried to make his way through a throng of hundreds of fans outside London’s Victoria Palace theater, where he watched the stage version of the movie “Billy Elliot.”

Security staff forced a path for Mr. Jackson, 47, through the admirers and photographers standing outside the theater Friday so he could reach the front door. But the singer fell in the commotion.

At the performance, Mr. Jackson mingled with other spectators, chatting and signing autographs.

“He talked to us, saying ‘hello,’ and there were a lot of people around him,” said Roxanne Wisenberg, 47, of San Diego. “He was very nice and his children were with him.”

Mr. Jackson was in London to work on recording a song to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. He was staying at the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane, where fans gathered outside in hopes of seeing him.

The visit to Britain was believed to be his first since his acquittal in June of child molestation charges. He has spent much of his time in Bahrain.

Royal opening

Spain’s Queen Sofia on Saturday inaugurated the city of Valencia’s dramatic new opera house — a graceful building named in her honor and intended to put Spain’s third-largest city on the architectural map.

Designed by the renowned Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava, it looks like a blend of seagoing vessel and spacecraft, coated with gleaming tiles that give its outer surface a daytime and nighttime luminosity similar to that of Sydney’s Opera House.

Valencia has lagged behind Barcelona and the capital, Madrid, in terms of arts and architecture. The new building, a 14-year, $300 million-plus project, was built to vie with Bilbao’s landmark Guggenheim Museum for architecturally attuned tourists.

The interior has four performance areas including a main, 1,700-seat, space that can act as symphony orchestra concert hall, ballet and theater stage as well as opera venue.

When fully operational, the building will be capable of seating 4,000 persons.

Compiled from wire reports by Kevin Chaffee

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