After starring on the TV series Baretta, actor Robert Blake suffered a long acting dry spell, which is why, at first, it may seem understandable that he would be eager to do a few TV interviews. There is, however, the not insignificant fact that those interview requests are pouring in because Blake is in jail accused of murdering his wife in May 2001. Since landing in the pokey, Blake has met with a number of print reporters in an attempt to clear his name, but when he agreed to a TV interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, his defense attorney Harland Braun, left, resigned. "I think it's insane for a person charged with a crime to go on camera to answer questions about the case," said Braun. The cruel irony is that the Los Angeles County sheriff has forbidden the interview, leaving Blake with neither a lawyer nor his close-up.
The trial of Paul Burrell filled the British press corps with gleeful anticipation. The former butler to Princess Diana (pictured with Burrell in 1997) was accused of stealing hundreds of personal items, including clothing, letters and photos, from his employer, and there was the possibility that members of the royal family would be called to testify and perhaps even reveal intimate secrets. But it was not to be. Twelve days into the trial, Queen Elizabeth suddenly realized that she had a salient tidbit of information that dramatically, and conveniently, ended the proceedings. While prosecutors claimed Burrell had unlawfully secreted Diana's possessions away from her family, he maintained she had given him some of the belongings and he was safeguarding the rest. Last week the Queen supported his contention when--eureka!--she recalled a conversation she had with Burrell after Diana's death in which he told her of his cache, thereby removing any taint of theft and any basis for prosecution. And any hope that a royal would disclose what life is really like behind palace walls.
THE BIG PICTURE
SHOW PEOPLE We don't know how the cast of Friends dressed up for Halloween, but this is how they turned out--posed in the garb and attitude of Depression-era circus performers--to be shot by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair's December issue
A GEST MOST UNWELCOME
One can hardly have overlooked the fact that Liza Minnelli is back. For starters, her new live show and just-released CD are both called Liza's Back. Then there was the 1,000-guest wedding in March, which seemed designed more as a public spectacle than a private ritual. But while Liza may have returned to the public's consciousness, she will not be visiting our living rooms. Capitalizing on her revived popularity, she signed up to star in a reality show for VH1 with new husband David Gest, the curiously well-preserved music producer who Svengalied her resurgence from drug dependency, illness, corpulence and obscurity. The show, conceived to document Minnelli and Gest socializing with their celebrity friends, was canceled before it ever aired because VH1 found Gest impossible to work with. He allegedly denied camera crews access to his wife and made unreasonable demands on crew members (he insisted they wear surgical booties inside the apartment). Though the network lauded Minnelli for her cooperation, don't look for the David's Back special on VH1 anytime soon.