- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Extreme makeover

Whitney Houston, who recently announced her impending divorce from Bobby Brown after a tumultuous 14-year marriage, is stepping out as a new woman, Associated Press reports.

The singer, 43, was escorted to a benefit for juvenile diabetes research in Beverly Hills, Calif., by her longtime record producer, Clive Davis, People magazine reported yesterday on its Web site.

“I feel great,” Miss Houston was quoted as saying.

Wearing a black gown and diamond earrings, a blond Miss Houston sat at the main table for the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball with Halle Berry and Miss Berry’s boyfriend, model Gabriel Aubry, People said. “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee sang Miss Houston’s 1992 hit “I Have Nothing” at the event.

Miss Houston filed divorce papers two weeks ago, a month after filing for legal separation from Mr. Brown. The pop singer requested custody of the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and that Mr. Brown, 37, be allowed visitation rights. During their marriage, Mr. Brown was arrested for drugs and alcohol, and Miss Houston twice entered drug rehabilitation programs.

Reese, Ryan split

“Legally Blonde” star Reese Witherspoon and her husband of seven years, actor Ryan Phillippe, are legally separating. A representative for Mr. Phillippe confirmed the split to ABCNews.com.

Miss Witherspoon, 30, and Mr. Phillippe, 32, have two children together. Mr. Phillippe is appearing in the Clint Eastwood film “Flag of Our Fathers.” Earlier this year, Miss Witherspoon won the best-actress Oscar for her performance in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic, “Walk the Line.”

Lesh battling cancer

Former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh has revealed that he has prostate cancer, AP reports.

“Since we’ve caught it very early, and it’s small and slow-growing, I fully expect to have a rapid and complete recovery,” Mr. Lesh, 66, says on his Web site. He plans to have surgery in early December.

Mr. Lesh says he has been monitored by “a crack team of doctors” since his 1998 liver transplant. One doctor noticed recently that he had elevated levels of prostate specific antigens (PSA), proteins produced by cells of the prostate gland. High PSA levels can indicate prostate cancer. A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, Mr. Lesh says.

“I am feeling energetic as always, and all my scheduled appearances will occur as planned,” he says in a statement posted Thursday.

Music to their ears

The ‘vvv.70s disco group Chic, 1960s rockers the Dave Clark Five, pioneering rap artists Grandmaser Flash and the Furious Five, R&B; trio the Ronettes, singer-songwriter Patti Smith, soul singer Joe Tex and the rock groups R.E.M., Van Halen and the Stooges were nominated yesterday for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

The nine nominees’ names will be sent to more than 500 voters, and five will be inducted at the annual ceremony March 12. To be eligible for nomination, an act must have released its first single or album at least 25 years before the year of nomination — meaning this year’s crop of nominees had to release their first singles no later than 1981.

Cross to bare

“Desperate Housewives” co-star Marcia Cross is desperate to keep some nude photos snapped of her off the market.

According to the New York Daily News, Phoenix-based agent David Hans Schmidt has more than 200 personal photos of the red-haired actress. Mr. Schmidt is representing the owner of a carting firm hired to remove trash from Miss Cross’ home in Los Angeles, the Daily News reported in yesterday’s editions. Mr. Schmidt told the paper that one of the firm’s employees discovered the photos when he got to the dump.

Miss Cross is demanding their return. Her lawyers argue that they are the copyrighted property of Miss Cross and her husband, Tom Mahoney, who may have taken some of them. The TV star, 44, and Mr. Mahoney, 48, wed in June and are expecting their first child in April.

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

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