His mission: to save pedestrian Heloisa Vinhas, 22, who was struck by a car March 4 in Santa Monica, Calif. Tom Cruise, 33, chose to accept it. On his way home from dinner, Cruise passed the scene of the accident, stopped to call EMS, and waited with Vinhas until she was taken to the hospital. He also covered her nearly $7,000 hospital bill. According to Cruise's spokeswoman, the actor has been in touch with Vinhas since her release ''just to check on how she was doing.''
The Oscars may be festive, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson isn't celebrating. Jackson announced that he and his National Rainbow Coalition plan to protest outside L.A.'s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Oscar night because only one African-American achievement was nominated (Dianne Houston's Tuesday Morning Ride, for Live-Action Short Film). Condemning ''institutional racism,'' Jackson said, ''Social inequities continue to be expressed through our cultural forms for all the world to see.'' The Academy denies any wrongdoing. ''There is nothing nefarious in the failure of any given achievement to be nominated,'' said executive director Bruce Davis. ''It is simply the result of a free and unfettered secret ballot.''
She may be the ultimate girl next door, but Sandra Bullock, 31, sure can pitch a fit. The actress abruptly fired her manager and lawyer March 15 and put her career in the hands of her father, John, an operatic voice coach, who was her date to the Golden Globes this year. A spokeswoman for the actress has no comment.
Sometime actor Eric Douglas (The Flamingo Kid), 36, son of Kirk and younger brother of Michael, was arrested March 17 at Newark airport in New Jersey for verbally abusing a flight attendant and refusing to put his dog in a travel carrier. He was released on $10,000 bail.
Polish director and screenwriter Krzysztof Kieslowski, 54, of heart failure, March 13, in a Warsaw hospital. In his Blue, White, and Red trilogy (1993-94), Kieslowski explored liberty, equality, and fraternity; Red earned him Oscar nominations for screenwriting and directing.... French director Rene Clement, 82, March 17, in southern France. Clement received the 1952 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games).... New York City policeman Kevin Gillespie, 33, Harrison Ford's consultant on the upcoming Devil's Own, shot in the line of duty, March 14, in the Bronx. Ford spent time with Gillespie researching the part of a cop who becomes embroiled in a political scandal with an IRA hitman (Brad Pitt). ''Harrison expressed his condolences to the family privately,'' says a spokesman for the film.