People talk 07/24/03

Leno publishes picture book for childrenLOS ANGELES -- His day job comes on television long after bedtime, so most little kids may discover Jay Leno for the first time as a children's author.

Leno, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," said Tuesday he's written a picture book, "If Roast Beef Could Fly," based on a family cookout in which mischief led to a ruined rotisserie of meat.

"I was a little kid and I was fascinated by the roast beef going around the spit," the 53-year-old said. "So I took out my little plastic comb and stuck it in the meat. At one point the comb caught on the string used to tie the roast beef. So I went, 'Oh, oh,' and I didn't want to break the motor. So I said, 'OK,' and I walked away."

"When my dad brought the roast beef out, he started to cut it and then -- clunk! -- a big piece of plastic fell off and the meat was pink underneath," Leno said. "Of course everybody was -- 'Eww!' -- sickened by this, and my dad started yelling in Italian, picked up the roast beef and threw it out the window."

"It's mostly a family story," he added. "It's about my mom and my dad. And I come from one of those homes where every Sunday was a huge Italian dinner with cousins and aunts and uncles."

"If Roast Beef Could Fly," illustrated with drawings of "little Jay" by artist S.B. Whitehouse, is set for publication next summer.

This will be Leno's second recent foray into children's entertainment.

He's also the voice of the blustery superhero The Crimson Chin on Nickelodeon's popular cartoon "The Fairly OddParents."

'Seabiscuit' star not big fan of horses

LOS ANGELES -- William H. Macy isn't a fan of horses, although he understands the power of animals on the human spirit.

"They're really dangerous. When you fall off a horse, you fall a long way," said the actor, who plays fast-talking radio announcer "Tick-Tock" McGlaughlin in the new horseracing movie "Seabiscuit."

"But there's something about telling stories about animals that allows us to empathize even more than we can with people. People can see a person get hit by a car and it doesn't do anything compared to seeing a dog get hit by a car. It's just one of the things that makes us human."

Macy's character supplies the humor in the movie as he touts the top betting prospects amid a cacophony of sound effects.

"Seabiscuit," starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper, opens Friday.

Baldwin participates in meat awareness effortLOS ANGELES -- Alec Baldwin wants you to "Meet Your Meat."

"The Hunt For Red October" actor has narrated a new documentary short for the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that shows images of animals raised for food.

In a grass-roots bid to disseminate the short, neither PETA nor Baldwin copyrighted the film, hoping people who buy a DVD or VHS for $5 from the group's Web site will make bootleg copies for friends or post it on the Internet, said PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich.

In a letter to journalists, Baldwin said the film "documents the routine and horrific abuses that animals raised and killed for food endure and makes the case for Americans to adopt a vegetarian diet and enact humane legislation to weed out the worst abuses."

"Animals on factory farms are never allowed to do anything that is natural to them -- breathe fresh air or feel the grass beneath their feet or the sun on their faces. Any kind person would be appalled at their current living and dying conditions," he wrote.

Baldwin, 45, previously narrated the fictional comedy "The Royal Tenenbaums" and the TV specials "Walking with Cavemen" and "Into the Shadows: The CIA in Hollywood."

-- From wire reports