If you want to watch stars torn limb from limb, you can go see the new sandal-and-sword flick ”Gladiator.” Or you can read the tabloids. There’s so much celeb feuding these days, you’d think Hollywood’s Pellegrino was spiked with testosterone.
But EW wants to be part of the solution, not the problem. So we pulled together a panel of experts to guide these poor souls through their kerfuffles. Our distinguished advisers include Nick at Nite’s therapist Dr. Will Miller, syndicated TV judge Mills Lane, WWF senior referee Earl Hebner, and MTV’s ”Celebrity Deathmatch” head writer Matt Harrigan. Their prescriptions?
EMINEM VS. ALMOST EVERYBODY On his new single, ”The Real Slim Shady,” platinum-blond rapper Eminem slices more celebs than a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. Among the targets: Will Smith, who is taken to task for his squeaky-clean image; sums up Eminem, ”F— him!” (Smith’s publicist says the star won’t ”dignify” the lyric with a comment.) MTV gross-out guru Tom Green is slammed with the following witticism: ”My bum is on your lips… give it a little kiss.” (Rebuts Green, ”I was a huge fan of Vanilla Ice, so to be included in Eminem’s song is exciting.”) Em reserves even more venom for Christina Aguilera, suggesting the bubblegum diva performed oral sex on MTV host Carson Daly and Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. Aguilera, through her spokeswoman, calls the ditty ”disgusting,” ”offensive,” and ”not true.”
PANEL SAYS A bit below the belt. ”You have this bully Eminem picking on a girl,” says Miller. ”It’s not very brave.”
PETS.COM SOCK PUPPET VS. TRIUMPH THE INSULT COMIC DOG And you thought Chucky was the doll with temperament issues: In March, Triumph (a wisecracking canine puppet on ”Late Night With Conan O’Brien”) publicly accused the Sock Puppet (a wisecracking canine in Pets.com ads) of being a rip-off. Then, on April 12, Pets.com filed a defamation and trade-libel suit, alleging the vulgarity-spewing Triumph has created ”an unsavory mental association” between the two mascots. The suit notes that Triumph – whose favorite word is ”poop” – ”often conducts physical attacks of a sexual nature on female dogs.” (Triumph creator Robert Smigel had no comment.)
PANEL SAYS Bypass the trial in favor of a good old-fashioned dogfight. Recommends Hebner: ”A no-strings-attached arm-wrestling match with darning needles and eye-button pulls.” For his part, Lane calls the claim ”horse manure” and says, ”I’d chase ‘em out of the courtroom.”
PATRICK STEWART VS. BROADWAY PRODUCERS Apparently, the ”Star Trek” captain has his phaser set on Rankle. On April 29, in a startling curtain-call speech, Stewart denounced the producers of his Broadway play ”The Ride Down Mt. Morgan,” saying they’ve failed to promote the show enough. ”[Playwright] Arthur Miller and I no longer have confidence in our producers’ commitment,” thundered the Brit. The producers – including the Shubert Organization – have fired back, lodging a complaint against Stewart with Actors’ Equity for ”unauthorized behavior from the stage.” Insists their spokesman, ”The producers have spent over $1 million in advertising expenditures.”
PANEL SAYS A split decision. Miller thinks ”Shubert needs to coddle Patrick and treat him like a loved child.” But Harrigan gives the captain no sympathy: ”He’s just cranky because Shatner got all the Priceline.com stock.”
BEN STEIN VS. RADIO PERSONALITY ANTHONY CUMIA Cumia, a host on New York City’s WNEW, won Ben Stein’s enmity on April 28. While on hold waiting to be interviewed, Stein – host of Comedy Central’s ”Win Ben Stein’s Money” – heard Cumia do a live commercial for a used-car company in which he employed the phrase ”chew down” the price of a car. An angry Stein thought the line sounded too close to the offensive ”Jew down.” Stein derided the comment as ”a crappy thing to do” and hung up. ”Racism in this country is not a joke,” says Stein. Cumia went on to imply that Stein propagates Jewish stereotypes on his game show (i.e., stinginess) and mocked Stein’s service as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon, a ”big anti-Semite.”
PANEL SAYS ”Both are guilty,” says Miller, ”of overreacting.” Notes Todd Gutnick, spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League: ”We haven’t received a single complaint about this. Ben Stein may have a problem with it. We don’t.”
(Additional reporting by Will Lee, Laura Morgan, and Joshua Rich)