2001-09-15 / Columnists

The Hollywood Report: With Garissa Thompson

Hello everybody. I want to take a moment to extend my deepest sympathy to the people of New York and all those who may have lost loved ones as result of the hideous terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I can assure you that the people in Hollywood, and the state of California, share in your pain and suffering.

The entertainment industry has been linked to this tragedy with the death of David Angell, 54, who was the executive producer of the Emmy award winning comedy series "Frasier." Angell was among the many whose lives ended in the early morning of September 11, as he and his wife, Lynn, were reportedly returning to Los Angeles from a vacation in Cape Cod aboard American Airlines flight 11. That was the first plane to crash into the world trade center.

Angell’s partners, Peter Casey and David Lee, released a statement that said, " David Angell was not only our partner but also our friend for the past 16 years. He was a kind and gentle man with a quiet exterior that masked one of the sharpest comedy minds to write for television. His fingerprints are all over some of the funniest moments in "Cheers", "Wings" and "Frasier". "Frasier" has gone on to win five straight outstanding comedy Emmys in a row, a television record.

Actress and photographer Berry Berenson also perished in the crash. Berenson, 53, was the wife of late actor Anthony Perkins, who portrayed "Norman Bates" in the Alfred Hitchcock classic "Psycho". Berenson shot several covers for Life magazine and appeared in the 1982 film "Cat People". She also was featured in the 1980 TV miniseries, "Scruples".

On an eerie note, Berenson recently gave an interview to author and friend David Kessler, who many regard as the country’s foremost authority in grief and loss, for his book "Life Lessons". This was the only time she spoke publicly about losing her husband. She said she did the interview in order to help other people deal with loss and tragedy.

Okay, moving on now, for the first time in a year and a half since she last publicly performed, Whitney Houston, took to the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden last week, as part of the star-studded tribute to music icon Michael Jackson. The pop diva looked extremely thin and very frail during her performance, which raised questions about the status of her health.

According to "Daily Variety", "The rambling, late starting show began on a decidedly disturbing note with a frightfully emaciated Whitney Houston barely making it through one verse of the Michael Jackson classic, "Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’." While she was sharing the microphone with Usher and Mya, some audience members reportedly were visibly moved by her skeleton-like frame. " I don’t think we can use the footage," a top production source allegedly said during an intermission to the news Website "The Drudge Report." The first half of the two-part NYC concert was recorded for a special broadcast in November on CBS to coincide with the release of Jackson’s new album, "Invincible".

Comedienne Paula Poundstone pleaded no contest to criminal charges of child abuse and infliction of injury on a child, when she appeared in a Santa Monica, California court. On October 10, Poundstone is expected to be sentenced to five years formal probation and six months in county jail, which will allow for her to serve in an alcohol treatment program.

Poundstone stated, "The lewd conduct charges against me were dropped because they weren’t true. I pled no-contest to the child endangerment/injury charges because they were. My drinking helped to create a dangerous situation for the children. For this, I am very sorry."

Paul McCartney, presented the Linda McCartney Memorial Award to singer Chrissie Hynde, at PETA’s 21st Anniversary Party and Humanitarian Awards in New York City last weekend. McCartney’s fiancée, Heather Mills, arrived on his arm. Actress Charlize Theron, also an animal rights supporter, attended the event as well.

I want to close this week by offering prayers to all the families of policemen, firefighters, and civilians who were killed at the site of the World Trade Center. I also want to commend all of the rescue workers who are working around the clock in order to locate missing victims.

I guess Harold Bains, a baseball player with the Chicago White Sox, who was in town to begin a three game series with the New York Yankees, summed up the situation best. He stated, "I saw the Twin Towers collapse. It was like a scene from a horror movie." Indeed it was, and it will remain with us for a very long time. Until next time, and remember, don’t be mean…love each other. It means more now than ever before.

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