- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Crowe won’t play Irwin

Actor Russell Crowe called reports that he may play “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin in a film biography of Mr. Irwin’s life “appalling.”

“This is my friend,” the Oscar-winning actor said during an interview on CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight” to promote his new film, “A Good Year.”

“I’m not doing business over the grave of my friend. I find that appalling. But, you know, that’s not just in the tabloid. That’s in the Guardian, its in the New York Times. Understand? Absolutely disgusting.”

Reports that Mr. Crowe would portray Mr. Irwin apparently originated with a story in the magazine InTouch Weekly, which was picked up by the New Zealand Herald and made its way through the Internet. (CNN.com checked the Times’ search engine and could not find a record of the story there.)

Mr. Crowe made a short tribute film broadcast at Mr. Irwin’s memorial service Sept. 20.

“We have lost a friend, a champion,” he said in the tribute. “It will take some time to adjust to that.”

Brown’s wheel deal

Television producers thought Bobby Brown’s request for a car wasn’t a big deal. Then they found out he didn’t want a ride in town — he wanted a car to keep.

According to the New York Daily News, Mr. Brown, 37 — who reportedly has been staying in Los Angeles with video-star-turned-author Karinne Steffans (former flame of comedian Bill Maher) since separating from his wife, Whitney Houston — would appear on the Silver Spring-based TV One only in exchange for a car.

Producers of the cable network’s reality series “I Married a Baller” — an inside look at the marriages of sports figures — last week invited Mr. Brown to have an on-camera lunch with former Tennessee Titans player Eddie George and his wife, Mr. Brown’s old friend Tamara (Taj) George of the R&B; group SWV.

“When he asked for a car, we actually thought he meant for us to book him car service, and I told the producers to set it up,” said the show’s executive producer, Datari Turner, according to the Daily News. “But then I was told that he actually wanted us to buy him a car.”

Ray Pouncey, Mr. Brown’s longtime friend and occasional representative, told TV One that Mr. Brown was new to Los Angeles and didn’t have wheels, so a car would be the ideal payment instead of an appearance fee. Mr. Brown apparently wanted Miss George to present the vehicle to him on the show as a gift.

“I was open to it at first and wanted to know what price range he was looking for, because for the standard appearance fee we could have gotten him a 1997 Ford Expo or maybe a 1995 Pathfinder,” Mr. Datari said. “Maybe even a monthlong rental car. But we knew he wanted something new, so we had to pass on booking him.”

Looks like Mr. Brown overplayed his hand: Even though the standard appearance fee is less than $1,000, he might have used his celeb wattage to squeeze as much as $10,000 out of the show, according to a producer.

Phaedra Parks, Mr. Brown’s Atlanta-based attorney, and his manager-brother, Tommy Brown, initially denied that such a conversation took place, the Daily News reports. Miss Parks later acknowledged that Mr. Pouncey had indeed discussed a car for Mr. Brown — “but he was joking, and he says it’s been taken out of context,” she said. “Obviously Ray doesn’t represent Bobby, and he’s not part of his management team.”

Out and about

Mel Gibson has returned to the spotlight to promote his upcoming movie, “Apocalypto,” and to criticize the war in Iraq, the Denver Post reports, citing a story in the Hollywood Reporter.

Almost two months after he railed against Jews when he was arrested and charged with drunken driving in Malibu, Calif., the actor made a surprise appearance Friday at Fantastic Fest, an event in Austin, Texas, devoted to new science fiction, horror and fantasy films.

He presented a work-in-progress screening of his Mayan adventure tale, scheduled for a Dec. 8 release through Disney. In describing its portrait of a civilization in decline, Mr. Gibson said, “The precursors to a civilization that’s going under are the same, time and time again,” drawing parallels between the Mayan civilization on the brink of collapse and America’s present situation. “What’s human sacrifice,” he asked, “if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?”

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