- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Aide suing Liza’s ex

Liza Minnelli’s estranged hubby sexually harassed his male assistant, making crude comments about the assistant’s manhood and grabbing his rear end, a federal lawsuit claims.

Charles Beyer said he went to work for David Gest at his Tennessee home on July 25, 2005, and the oddball producer made “sexual gestures from the beginning,” the New York Post reports.

Mr. Beyer, 35, also claims Mr. Gest yelled at him when he stuck up for Miss Minnelli, whom Mr. Gest is suing for reportedly beating him up.

“All the allegations are false,” Mr. Gest’s lawyer, Eddie Bearman, told the newspaper. He called Mr. Beyer’s $300,000 suit “a bogus attempt to get money from a celebrity” and noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Mr. Beyer’s complaint against Mr. Gest.

Mr. Beyer did not return a call seeking comment, the New York Post reported in yesterday’s edition.

Inspirational gift

The recipient of a handwritten letter from C.S. Lewis in which the author explained the meaning of “The Chronicles of Narnia” has donated it to a university in the author’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Associated Press reports.

Anne Jenkins was 10 when she wrote to Lewis with questions about a paragraph in one of the Narnia books, “The Silver Chair.” Mr. Lewis failed to answer her questions exactly, but his 1961 reply provided insights into the magical Narnia story, which has enchanted generations of children. Some Christians consider “The Chronicles of Narnia” to be a Christian allegory, with Aslan the lion representing Christ.

The letter will be displayed in the C.S. Lewis Reading Room at Queen’s University’s new $80 million library when it opens in 2009.

“My feeling about this letter is that, so far I have kept it safe, as a low, steadily burning flame, if you like, but now I need to hand it over so that it can be seen by many,” Miss Jenkins said yesterday.

The letter was the inspiration for a sculpture of Mr. Lewis unveiled outside Holywood Arches Library in Belfast in 1998 to mark the centenary of his birth.

It’s all about Dylan

“Modern Times,” the upcoming Bob Dylan album due Aug, 29, will feature 10 original songs recorded by the singer-songwriter and his touring band, AP reports.

Song titles include “Thunder on the Mountain,” “Spirit on the Water,” “Workingman’s Blues” and “When the Deal Goes Down.” Mr. Dylan plays keyboard, guitar and harmonica on the album and sings the vocals.

Columbia Records Chairman Steve Barnett characterized “Modern Times” as the third in a trilogy that includes 1997’s “Time Out of Mind” and 2001’s “Love and Theft.” Both albums were Grammy winners.

Mr. Dylan, 65, is the host of a weekly show, “Theme Time Radio Hour,” on XM Satellite Radio that debuted last month. “Modern Times” is his 44th album.

Also, in celebration of his career, Genesis Publications is releasing “Thin Wild Mercury,” a book of photographs of Mr. Dylan taken by photographer and film director Jerry Schatzberg.

Lending a hand

Five-time Grammy-winning R&B; artist Usher pulled on some work gloves, grabbed a pair of trimmers and chopped away at a patch of vines that had overtaken a fence at a New Orleans school shuttered by Hurricane Katrina.

According to AP, Usher — whose full name is Usher Raymond IV — joined dozens of volunteers Tuesday to clear the overgrown lawn of the International School of Louisiana, the state’s first foreign-language-based charter school, which has been closed since Katrina hit Aug. 29. He got his first glimpse of Katrina’s destruction Monday, when he visited storm-damaged neighborhoods in New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard Parish.

“I’m here to physically do something and hopefully motivate other people to do the same,” said Usher, the latest in a growing list of celebrities to visit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast since Katrina.

Last month, actresses Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner and Cicely Tyson joined a group of women brought here by the Children’s Defense Fund to bring attention to the needs of storm victims, particularly traumatized children. Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, a New Orleans native, also visited last month and taped portions of her show there.

Shortly after Katrina, Usher began Project Restart to help families in the Gulf Coast region find housing.

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

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