- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mickey’s playground

Mickey Rooney returned to familiar turf late last year — atop the box-office charts.

The 86-year-old legend, the biggest movie draw stateside in the three years before World War II, helped make “Night at the Museum” a bona fide smash. The movie came out on DVD yesterday with deleted scenes, a gag reel and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Mr. Rooney plays a security guard at the museum in question. He, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs give tips to the incoming night-shift guard (Ben Stiller). Mr. Stiller’s character quickly learns the museum’s displays don’t stay still once the museum lights dim.

The film made $247 million, but its runaway success didn’t shock the showbiz veteran.

“A lot of thought had gone into making the picture,” Mr. Rooney says, noting that the shoot wasn’t laborious despite heavy special effects used to bring the various creatures to life.

He says the family-friendly “Museum” represents the kind of movie Hollywood doesn’t make often enough anymore.

“I don’t like violence on the screen. I don’t know who likes that, or the talk that children shouldn’t hear,” he says. “You don’t have to be dirty to make an entertaining movie.”

Mr. Rooney isn’t bitter, just resigned.

In fact, his conversation oozes Americana values, as if he still were playing Andy Hardy and the curtain were about to rise.

He’s unerringly polite, and he won’t speak an unkind thought.

What about his “Museum” co-star Mr. Van Dyke? “One of the best,” Mr. Rooney says.

Mr. Stiller? “He’s not only clever but nice, there’s a friendliness in him,” he says.

The World War II veteran’s tone sharpens when asked about current celebrities entertaining U.S. troops.

He lauds “Museum” co-star Robin Williams for his efforts but says too many others don’t bother.

“I don’t want to mention names. I really don’t,” he says, before adding, “They never go anywhere where there isn’t publicity.”

Mr. Rooney, who says he has visited presidents in Washington dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, hits the road again this year for his multimedia program “Let’s Put on a Show.”

The revue, which he performs along with his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin, features the duo singing, dancing and playing clips from Mr. Rooney’s sizable career.

Mr. Rooney gently laughs when asked if retirement is an option for him.

“Don’t retire; inspire,” he says.

Christian Toto

Rosie takes aim

Rosie O’Donnell has tossed off countless zingers in her career. On Monday, she said one line she never imagined she’d utter: “Please welcome Rupert Murdoch.”

Miss O’Donnell was hosting the New York Women in Communications annual awards luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan. Mr. Murdoch, the media mogul whose holdings include the New York Post and Fox News, was presenting an award to columnist Cindy Adams.

Miss O’Donnell’s shots at Mr. Murdoch started from her opening.

“This is a celebration of women who changed the world, and no one understands why Rupert Murdoch is on the dais,” she said, adding, “I mean that in the kind, loving Post-like way, sir; it’s delightful to see you in person.”

She turned to the audience and finished, “I was looking for numbers on his head. There aren’t any.”

Miss O’Donnell didn’t say what Mr. Murdoch might have done to provoke her ire.

When Mr. Murdoch’s turn came to speak, he just said, “Thank you, everyone, including Rosie.”

Among the other presenters at the luncheon was Barbara Walters, who appears with Miss O’Donnell on “The View.”

“Rosie’s view is not always mine,” she said. “I would like to say for the record that I am very fond of Rupert Murdoch.”

Named for her dad?

Melanie Brown has given her baby daughter the surname of ex-boyfriend Eddie Murphy, the former Spice Girl said yesterday.

Miss Brown, 31, known as Scary Spice when she was in the ‘90s megahit group, gave birth to Angel Iris Murphy Brown on April 3 in Santa Monica, Calif. She listed Mr. Murphy’s name on the birth certificate.

She said the name was inspired by a number of things.

“Angel, as she was my little angel through my pregnancy, Iris, as it’s my grandma’s name, Murphy because he’s the dad, and Brown because I’m the Mum,” the statement says.

Mr. Murphy, 46, who has five children from his marriage to Nicole Mitchell Murphy, says he’s not sure he’s the father.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from staff and wire reports.

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