PUT THIS MAN IN CHARGE OF HOMELAND SECURITY!
Kids, kids--in the words of that famed Los Angeles motorist, can't we all just get along? Oscar-winning actor GENE HACKMAN was driving on Sunset Boulevard when a Volvo station wagon made a right turn--from the left lane--and cut off Hackman's Volvo. Hackman said the fender bender was his fault (it's just easier to make it go away when you're a celeb, says his publicist Dick Guttman). But the younger driver threatened Hackman and rained homophobic slurs on him, according to Guttman. Enough. Hackman delivered five punches. A male passenger got out; one put the 71-year-old actor in a choke hold while the other pummeled him, to the horror of diners in Wolfgang Puck's Cafe. A female passenger began kicking him. Police arrived, but no one would press charges. "I guess they wanted a piece of Popeye Doyle, and they got more than what they bargained for," chuckled Guttman, referring to Hackman's French Connection character. The actor has facial bruises, raw knuckles and presumably more offers for action-hero roles, if not Volvo commercials.
Black on Track
There's something about JACK BLACK. Is it the anti-leading-man face and form that win him Gwynnie Paltrow in Shallow Hal, the Farrelly brothers' flick opening Nov. 9? Is it his wild-eyed posturing and preening--coupled with a more-than-decent singing voice--as half of Tenacious D, the satire-rock group? Was it his scene-stealing work as a list-obsessed store clerk in High Fidelity? Nope. Maybe it's this: he's not embarrassed to look like Bluto and yet play a romantic lead. He's not embarrassed to have once polished off five McDonald's Filets-O-Fish at a sitting, then stacked the Styrofoam containers and speared them with a McPlastic knife in one quick motion to impress his friends. He's not embarrassed about making his tough choices public, telling TIME he'd rather have his way with Paltrow than Cameron Diaz. What is he embarrassed about? Getting $3 million a picture.
THE HOME STARS DON'T WANT
As Tony Soprano would say, "It's business. Nothing personal." That's how UMA THURMAN and husband ETHAN HAWKE look at it. They're suing their (former) friend, Sopranos star JAMES GANDOLFINI, in New York State Supreme Court for 300 Gs because Tony--er, Gandolfini--backed out on his offer to buy their four-story brownstone in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. The list price on their co-op, which was divided into three units: $3.6 million. That's a whole lotta peppers and eggs. Gandolfini put down a $300,000 deposit, hoping to make the building into a single-family home. But his attorney claims that Thurman and Hawke didn't provide his client, described as "livid," with the paperwork they promised for a renovation permit. Thurman and Hawke say Gandolfini is backing out of his contractual obligations; they want to keep the 300 grand. As if downtown New York City didn't have enough problems.
NEXT RIVERA: WE OPEN OSAMA'S CAVE