People talk 5/17

Friday, May 17, 2002

Springsteen won't run for political office

TRENTON, N.J. -- Bruce Springsteen decided he wasn't born to run for political office after all.

Doug Friedline, a consultant who helped professional wrestler Jesse Ventura win the Minnesota governor's race in 1998, had hoped to recruit Springsteen to run as an independent in November's U.S. Senate race. The Boss would have faced off against incumbent Sen. Robert Torricelli, a Democrat, and whichever Republican emerges from the June 4 primary.

However, a spokeswoman for the 52-year-old singer told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune on Wednesday that he had no desire to seek office. In a statement sent to the newspaper, Springsteen paraphrased a rebuff by Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to the GOP convention of 1884: "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve."

The coalition calling itself "The Independence for New Jersey" had launched a petition drive to get the 800 signatures of registered voters required by June 4 to place Springsteen on the ballot.

Paltrow praised, but play's review mixed

LONDON -- Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow won praise Thursday for her first West End stage performance in the London production of "Proof," David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

The 29-year-old actress "brings a hauntingly lost, 25-going-on-14 quality to the role," wrote Paul Taylor of The Independent, who didn't like the play.

"Though Paltrow makes an arresting impression," he wrote, "the play patronizes the audience by running a mile from any real discussion of the eponymous discovery. ... Less than the sum of its derivative parts, it is Broadway's mistaken idea of a truly penetrating play."

The Daily Mail's Michael Coveney, however, called "Proof" a "riveting play about maths and madness in sandals, windcheaters and dungarees."

"Gwyneth plays a clear-skinned girl with a gentle, slow-burning passion and turns the play into a domestic drama of unusual wit and poignancy with the maths (or 'math' as they say, Stateside) as an extra," Coveney said.

Newman reads for wife, gets 'Our Town' role

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Paul Newman is returning to the stage for the first time in 35 years.

The Oscar winner will star in "Our Town" next month at the Westport Country Playhouse, which is near his home.

The movie star and Westport resident was not the first choice for the lead role of stage manager in the Thornton Wilder play.

Joanne Woodward -- the theater's artistic director, and Newman's wife -- said she didn't think of her husband for the lead when she chose the play to open the theater's 72nd season.

"It wouldn't have dawned on me to ask him!" Woodward said Wednesday.

When they discussed the play a few months ago, Newman said, "I could play that role."

"And I said, 'Of course, you could,' and then I went and took a bath. When I came back into the room, he said, 'Listen to this a minute,' and then he recited the whole first speech (from the play)," Woodward said. "I was stunned."

Former 'Seinfeld' star to teach acting courses

LOS ANGELES -- Former "Seinfeld" co-star Jason Alexander has agreed to teach acting courses at the University of Southern California this fall.

The actor, best known as shallow George Costanza on the popular NBC sitcom, will conduct seminars in acting, scene study and musical theater, the university said this week.

"Jason has an excellent career that includes theater, film, television and commercials. He has a great deal to offer our students, and most importantly, he is interested in helping young people achieve as performers," said Robert Scales, dean of the USC School of Theatre.

Alexander, 42, joins the school as the inaugural George Burns Distinguished Visiting Professor in Performance, established through a $1 million gift from the estate of the late entertainer.

'Star Wars' actress no fan of science fiction

LOS ANGELES -- Though she's the current queen of the "Star Wars" universe, Natalie Portman didn't grow up a fan of George Lucas' space saga.

At 20, Portman wasn't even born when the first two "Star Wars" movies came out, and she hadn't seen the original trilogy until she was cast in "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace."

"It really wasn't my thing. It still isn't my thing, the whole science-fiction action thing," Portman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview this month. "I prefer simpler, character-based movies."

Though she was not an enthusiast herself, Portman has a good handle on why "Star Wars" became such a cultural phenomenon.

-- From wire reports

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