- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

School’s in for Cooper

For all the envelope-pushing Alice Cooper has done as a shock rocker, he also knows the value of boundaries, especially for children.

“Kids love boundaries. We used to fight against them. But in all reality, what we really did want was to know where we could go. Of course, you always step over the line just a little bit to see what’s going to happen,” says the 58-year-old rocker, known for his ghoulish makeup and hits such as 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare.”

He says his Christian, nonprofit Solid Rock Foundation has begun fundraising efforts for a 20,000-square-foot teen activity center to be called the Rock and be built at Grand Canyon University in West Phoenix, Ariz. The $3 million center will feature a recording studio, indoor basketball courts, rock-climbing walls, a coffeehouse, game room and concert hall. Construction is expected to begin next year, Associated Press reports.

Officials for Grand Canyon University, a private college with a Christian focus, came to Mr. Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) with the offer to build the youth center on the campus. The rock star has given scholarships to the school for more than five years.

“We’re not going to beat them over the head with a Bible,” said Mr. Cooper, who spends about seven months of the year at home in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley. “But we’re certainly going to be available to tell them that that’s available to them.

“I watched all of my best friends — Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon — every one of them, die trying to live their image,” he said. “The one thing that my generation learned was ‘be a rock star when it’s time to be a rock star.’”

Holding out for more

Paul McCartney offered his estranged wife, Heather Mills McCartney, $56 million for a quickie divorce, the Denver Post reports, citing a story in London’s Sunday Mirror. Mrs. Mills McCartney refused the offer, the newspaper said, and their divorce appears headed for a messy courtroom battle. The Mirror reports that Mrs. Mills McCartney wants a settlement close to $375 million. The couple split in May.

Special request

Vadim Perelman, who faces charges of groping two women and punching another at a South Norwalk, Conn. nightclub, has sought a special type of probation, AP reports.

Mr. Perelman, director of the 2003 film “House of Sand and Fog,” appeared Monday in state Superior Court seeking accelerated rehabilitation. He would have no criminal record if he successfully completes his probation, court officials said.

The 42-year-old filmmaker, who lives in Venice, Calif., faces a third-degree assault charge and two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, or sexual contact without consent. The incidents reportedly took place on July 22.

The case was continued to Oct. 16.

Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo were nominated for Oscars for their roles in “House of Sand and Fog.”

Roman holiday

Billy Joel and Bryan Adams took the stage in the Eternal City, with the Colosseum as the backdrop, and performed classic hits for hundreds of thousands of fans.

Mr. Joel performed favorites such as “New York State of Mind,” “Honesty” and “Just the Way You Are” during Monday night’s free concert. While introducing one song, the 57-year-old singer joked in shaky Italian, “This song is as old as the Colosseum.” Mr. Adams, 46, opened the show, performing classics including “Run to You.”

Organizers estimated 500,000 people turned out for the show. A concert in front of the Colosseum has become a fixture in Rome in recent years. Previous performers include Paul McCartney and Simon & Garfunkel.

From blokes to jokes

Heath Ledger will play the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” the sequel to last year’s “Batman Begins,” AP reports. Christian Bale will star again as the Caped Crusader, and Christopher Nolan will return as director, Warner Bros. studio announced Monday. Production is slated to begin next year.

Mr. Ledger, 27, was nominated for a best-actor Oscar for his role in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain.”

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

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