- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2009

Brooke irked at tabloid

A furious Brooke Shields is accusing a reporter and photographer of taking her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, out of a New Jersey nursing home in search of a story, the New York Daily News reports.

The actress, who claimed the tabloid tandem was working for the National Enquirer, vowed to take legal action in an interview posted Friday night on People.com.

The Enquirer painted a different picture of events Saturday saying the reporter and Teri Shields, 75, have known each other since the late ‘90s and did nothing criminally or ethically wrong.

“Teri has long considered this reporter a friend,” the National Enquirer said in a story posted on its Web site. “At no point did the facility, which had given its permission for the outing, contend that there had been any wrongdoing in a situation where two people who had known each for more than a decade.”

The Enquirer says the reporter was not on assignment at the time but has often worked for them as a freelancer.

The reporter met Teri Shields at the Old Tappan facility Thursday, took her to the bank, past her old home and then for lunch. She was found unharmed, chatting with the reporter, at a restaurant next to the nursing home.

Police are investigating the incident. No one has been arrested, the Daily News reported Sunday.

States of denial

After two months of speculation regarding her supposed hookup with Sean Penn, Natalie Portman wants to set the record straight. — She is not, repeat not dating the newly single Academy Award-winning actor whom she greatly admires, Denverpost.com reports.

Responding to published reports of “cavorting” by the New York Post (among others), Miss Portman, 27, told UsMagazine.com, “Sean Penn is a friend and colleague — the reports that we are romantically involved are completely untrue.

“I normally do not respond to rumors about my private life,” she added, “however, this repeatedly fabricated story has forced me to do so.”

Miss Portman was responding to published reports that Mr. Penn’s marriage to Robin Wright Penn reportedly ended because he had started seeing Miss Portman. The Penns filed for divorce in April citing irreconcilable differences.

Star magazine reported Mr. Penn, 48, and Miss Portman, 27, had been together since at least March 17, when sources say they were spotted kissing for over 45 minutes at the Tower Bar in L.A.’s Sunset Tower Hotel.

The pair first got to know each other when they teamed up in May 2008 as jury members at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper (“He’s Just Not That Into You”) has the approval of his family for his rumored romance with Jennifer Aniston. There’s just one problem: He and Miss Aniston aren’t dating, People.com reports.

Despite reports linking him to the “Friends” star, 40, the rumors are far from true, says Mr. Cooper, 34.

“I met her 3 times in my life,” Mr. Cooper told People in Las Vegas on Friday at a charity poker tournament at Caesars Palace. “I’m very flattered.”

“My mom loves it, but unfortunately it’s not true,” says Mr. Cooper, who split from actress Jennifer Esposito after four months of marriage in 2007.

Happy homecoming

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor-musician Harry Connick Jr. returned Saturday to their hometown of New Orleans to cheer on Tulane University’s graduating “Katrina Class” — the students displaced by Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago.

The ceremony included a short film with images of Katrina’s destruction and interviews with students. Clarinetist Michael White and his jazz band performed “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” and jazz singer Wanda Rouzan performed “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”

In 2006, however, it was Miss DeGeneres who stole the show. Back then, when former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were delivering Tulane’s commencement address, Miss DeGeneres walked onstage wearing a white terry-cloth bathrobe because, she deadpanned, she was told everyone would be wearing a robe.

Mr. Connick addressed the audience only briefly after he was given an honorary degree for his work in the city’s recovery.

“You are my heroes,” he told the graduates.

Sinatra search

Hollywood’s hottest male stars are scrambling to play the title role in the film Martin Scorsese is going to do about the life of Frank Sinatra, Denverpost.com reports.

Scorsese favorite Leonardo DiCaprio is keen to play Ol’ Blue Eyes, as is Sinatra-esque crooner Harry Connick Jr. — as well as Justin Timberlake, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

News that Mr. Scorsese would direct and produce the film brought together the bickering factions of the music and acting legend’s family: his widow Barbara Sinatra and children Frank Jr., Nancy and Tina. The project required unanimous approval of the Sinatra estate and Warner Music Group — which makes up Frank Sinatra Enterprises.

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