- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Penn the pundit

Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in an impassioned speech Monday night in New York.

According to a story by Roger Friedman on FoxNews.com, the remarks came as Mr. Penn accepted the first annual Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award from the Creative Coalition, a nonpartisan advocacy and lobbying group founded by New York actors such as the late Mr. Reeve, Ron Silver and Susan Sarandon more than a decade ago.

Mr. Penn was one name on a long list of honorees that included jazzman Branford Marsalis and actors Harvey Keitel and Marcia Gay Harden. Wearing slicked-back hair, suit and tie, he came to the stage at Duvet, a party space on West 21st St., with serious intentions. Unfortunately, his cell phone rang a couple of times during his pointed remarks, and finally he had to answer it.

Such are the consequences of public speaking in the modern era.

Mr. Penn is no stranger to controversy, politics or their intersection. But Monday night’s speech was a little different — even for him — amping him up to the next level in the war between liberals and conservatives over the war in Iraq. He spoke in measured tones but was actually quite inflammatory. The combination worked. Mr. Penn also threw a verbal grenade into the crowd when he said: “So look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a [sex act], yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a [human] stain on the flag we wave.”

The deleted word registered the level of shock it was supposed to, even for the fairly hip, A-list crowd that included Heather Graham, Laurence Fishburne, Kerry Washington, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Giancarlo Esposito, Tony Goldwyn, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Belzer and Tamara Tunie.

Yoko’s driver jailed

The chauffeur accused of trying to extort $2 million from Yoko Ono was indicted yesterday on a charge of first-degree attempted grand larceny and jailed without bail because the judge said he is a potential flight risk, Associated Press reports.

Koral Karsan, 50, pleaded not guilty before New York state Supreme Court Justice Michael Ambrecht. The judge ordered Mr. Karsan held even though his friends posted $250,000 cash bail earlier this week. Judge Ambrecht said Mr. Karsan, a native of Turkey, is a flight risk because he has ties abroad and there are unresolved questions about his immigration status. Assistant District Attorney Anne Schwartz told Judge Ambrecht that Mr. Karsan is in the country illegally. Immigration officials issued a warrant Monday to detain Mr. Karsan while they decide his status.

Mr. Karsan, of Amityville, N.Y., was arrested Dec. 13. He was accused of threatening to release embarrassing tape recordings and candid photographs of Miss Ono, the widow of former Beatle John Lennon, and possibly have her killed unless she gave him $2 million.

Patti pulls the plug

Lady Marmalade didn’t want to get in a jam.

Patti LaBellepulled the plug on her sold-out “Gospel According to Patti” megachurch tour, citing inconsistencies, breach of contract and failed obligations of the promoter, reports TMZ.com.

“I really had hoped to continue to reach the gospel audience … but I have an obligation to my staff to make sure they can keep their plans without last-minute changes and to make sure they are paid for the work they do,” AP quotes Miss LaBelle saying.

The tour, which began in October, had been scheduled to continue in Philadelphia, Cleveland and St. Louis, among other cities, AP said. Locally, the show was performed Dec. 2 at the Jericho City of Praise in Landover. Miss LaBelle is hoping to find another promoter to handle the tour. Her CD, “The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle,” is No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel chart.

Attempts to reach the show’s District-based promoter, Impact Strategies, were unsuccessful, TMZ.com reports.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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