- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back and better

On the eve of the resumption of the Rolling Stones’ European tour, Keith Richards said he has recovered completely from a head injury suffered in a fall — and shrugged off a question about whether he had worried about dying.

“I feel great. I can’t wait to get back on the stage again. Basically, everything is cool,” Mr. Richards told Associated Press. The 62-year-old guitarist fell from a tree April 27 while vacationing in Fiji, forcing the Stones to postpone their European tour. He later had surgery in New Zealand to relieve pressure on his brain.

“Of course they put me out like a light. I was surprised myself. … I had total comfort. When you got to do it, you got to do it,” Mr. Richards said Monday.

The Stones were to resume their Bigger Bang tour last night at San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. The 21-date tour wraps up Sept. 3 in Denmark.

Asked what he’s been doing since the fall, Mr. Richards responded, “I recovered. … Six weeks, I mean not bad for a brain job.”

Did he ever worry about dying? “Good one,” he said, good-naturedly.

The Stones were in a jovial mood, and when the inevitable question came — what was Mr. Richards doing in a coconut tree, and did he find what he wanted? — everyone was ready to set the record straight.

“If you saw the tree, you’d realize the joke. Fiji is not just made of coconut trees. It was a little tree,” Mr. Richards said.

Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood were eager to illustrate the point, indicating a height less than half of Mr. Richards.

Mr. Richards also confirmed his cameo role as the father of the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow — played by Johnny Depp — in the third installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. Filming will begin in September and will last a week or so, he said.

“Now I know why [Mr. Depp] paid for all those lunches,” Mr. Richards deadpanned.

Baring it all

Natalie Portman will do “the full monty” and appear naked in her new film, “Goya’s Ghosts,” a biopic on Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Miss Portman will play the artist’s muse, who is accused of atheism and then stripped in a torture scene, the New York Post reports.

The actress, 24, appeared nude for her role as a stripper in “Closer,” but she begged director Mike Nichols to edit out the scene and ended up dancing in a thong. Miss Portman denied at the time that she was doffing her duds to shed her childlike Princess Amidala persona from “Star Wars.”

“I don’t do it in order to prove something,” she said. “I just go on with my life and do what feels right.”

A stitch in Rimes

LeAnn Rimes canceled tree concerts this week because of surgery for a leg infection, her publicist said Monday.

The 23-year-old country singer underwent outpatient surgery yesterday in Los Angeles. She suffered a “tear in the tissue” of one of her legs, according to a statement from publicist Diana Baron. “It’s a minor surgery, but because of the infection, it was urgent that she take care of it right away,” Miss Baron said.

Miss Rimes canceled tomorrow’s scheduled performance in Hampton Beach, N.H., and Friday and Saturday concerts in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She was expected to play the remaining dates of her This Woman tour after a three- to four-day recovery, Miss Baron said.

Rowdy Chan heckled

Jackie Chan disrupted a concert by Taiwanese singer-songwriter Jonathan Lee and exchanged insults with the Hong Kong audience, AP reports.

Ming Pao Daily News quoted the 52-year-old action star as saying onstage that he was drunk.

According to published reports, Mr. Chan suddenly jumped on the stage Monday night and demanded a duet with Mr. Lee. He then tried to conduct the band but stopped and restarted the music several times, the newspaper reported. As the awkward interruption dragged on, audience members started to heckle Mr. Chan, who replied with an insult, the newspaper said.

Solon Sokesman for Mr. Chan, said he had not seen the star since the reported incident and had no immediate comment. He said he did not attend the concert.

Mr. Chan, whose Hollywood credits include the “Rush Hour” franchise and “The Tuxedo,” was an invited performing guest at Mr. Lee’s show SundayJuly 9 night.

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

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