Who’s the most powerful actress in Hollywood? It could be 10-year-old Dakota Fanning. After all, the Hide and Seek star managed to wrest a triple concession from E!, a threefold apology for a joke about her that Kathy Griffin uttered during the entertainment cable channel’s Golden Globes red carpet coverage on Sunday. The Suddenly Susan alumna, apparently hired to add some Rivers-style saltiness to E!’s now Joan-and-Melissa-free arrivals coverage, spent much of her afternoon on the red carpet asking stars provocative questions like ”Kabbalah or Scientology?” and ”Got any weed?” She also said, apropos of nothing: ”We did hear a rumor that little Dakota Fanning entered rehab today, and we wish her the best.”
Griffin was kidding; Drew Barrymore aside, precocious blond 10-year-old Hollywood moppets are seldom candidates for rehab. Still, Fanning’s camp was not amused and apparently made its displeasure known to E! As a result, by late Tuesday, the channel had issued an on-air apology on its E! News Live show and printed a ”clarification” in the corner of its website’s home page. A click on the link there generated a pop-up window containing an ”E! Apology” that read, in part: ”On Sunday, something was said on the red carpet regarding Dakota Fanning. E! Networks would like viewers to know that this insensitive comment was not true, and it was spoken in jest. We apologize to Dakota and her family for any misunderstanding.” In addition to its on-air and online mea culpas, E! also coughed up some money — to a charity favored by the actress. ”Because Dakota has devoted much of her time and energy to tsunami relief efforts, E! has made a donation to UNICEF in her name,” the network statement read. No word on whether Griffin herself has felt Fanning’s wrath, but it’s a safe bet that she won’t be part of E!’s red carpet coverage at next month’s Grammys or Oscars; in fact, she may never eat peanut butter and jelly in this town again.