- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Wild, wild West show

Two concert-hall ushers were shot during a Kanye West concert in Great Britain, Associated Press reports.

West Midlands Police said the men were wounded at the National Exhibition Center near Birmingham in central England on Tuesday as several people were being ejected from the venue for trying to get in without tickets.

“Firearms were discharged, and two stewards were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds,” police said in a statement. “Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.”

The concert was the last stop in Britain on Mr. West’s “Touch the Sky” tour. The Grammy-winning rap star, 27, was scheduled to perform today in Milan, Italy.

Celebrity perks

As if their multimillion-dollar salaries weren’t annoying enough, the pampered presenters at Sunday’s 78th annual Academy Awards — including Oscar winners Jamie Foxx and Clint Eastwood, actresses Jessica Alba and Jennifer Aniston and 2002 Oscar nominee Queen Latifah — will all receive gift baskets brimming with an estimated $100,000 worth of goodies, the New York Post reports.

Included among the freebies are a $25,000 luxury vacation package from the posh Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, pampering at the Cornelia Day Resort in Manhattan and a $600 Krups espresso machine, the newspaper said.

Cigar star

Joseph Fiennes, who co-starred with Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1998 film “Shakespeare in Love,” helped introduce a new Cuban cigar, tossing off a few lines from “Romeo and Juliet” in honor of the stogie’s maker.

Mr. Fiennes was the featured visitor as Cuba began its annual cigar festival on Monday night, presenting a cigar size called the “Short Churchill” by Cuba’s state-owned Romeo and Juliet brand at Havana’s Gran Teatro, AP reports.

According to legend, World War II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill smoked more than 200,000 Cuban cigars during trips to the island, Mr. Fiennes said.

“I cannot compete with Winston Churchill because, sadly, I am only here for three enchanting days,” he told the crowd.

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

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