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Access Atlanta > Blog > Archives > 2008 > May

May 2008

W hotel unveiling draws movers and shakers

“Peachtree Street and 14th is the best piece of real estate in the Southeast not on the water,” Noble Investment Group president and CEO Mitesh Shah told Buzz Thursday night.

That would explain the violet carpet and the thousands of people who packed in for the official unveiling of Shah’s W hotel in Midtown.

Whiskey Park nightclub co-owner Rande Gerber was holding court up the stairs in the high-end party playground while Spice Market French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten was welcoming attendees to his latest culinary creation.

Downstairs, hotel guests were sipping complimentary champagne and nibbling on tiny pork chops and scooping up passion fruit creme brulee.

“30 Rock” actress Katrina Bowden who plays Tina Fey’s assistant on the NBC sitcom was dazzled by the new Atlanta property.

“I had to come out because I love the W so much,” she told us.

OK, so down to business. What’s up next season for the Emmy-winning comedy?

“It’s going to be interesting with Jack [Donaghy played by Alec Baldwin] possibly not the head of G.E. anymore. The show has been such a great experience. We’ve learned so much from each other as an ensemble. I’ve learned a lot about timing.”

A few feet away, Atlanta chef Shaun Doty was taking the night off from his popular Inman Park eatery, Shaun’s.

“I came here for one reason,” Doty told us. “To pay homage to Jean-Georges. He’s been such an inspiration to me in my career. I just wanted to thank him and to invite him to Shaun’s for a meal. He’s a star.”

Speaking of which, “Sex and the City” actor Jason Lewis was mobbed by female fans when he turned up at the hotel opening. His character Smith Jerrod emerges in the new feature flick as Samantha’s one-time waiter boy toy turned successful TV doc actor on a “Grey’s Anatomy”-like series.

Of his premiere-filled few weeks here and abroad, Lewis told us: “It’s been so rewarding to be a part of all this. But I never really knew if I would get the call for the movie or not. I’m always amazed when any film gets made, to be honest. It’s been an amazing ride. And the opportunity to play out the evolution of this relationship in the movie is a real tribute to [writer-director] Michael Patrick King’s amazing gifts as a writer.”

Lewis couldn’t help smiling when we pointed out that female fans of the hit HBO show were already packing into movie theaters Thursday night to get their first glimpse of “Sex.”

“Isn’t that great? I love that people are so into it and that women have something great to go to the movies for. I learned from playing [Smith Jerrod] how to have an opinion without being judgmental. And it’s come in handy!”

Among the attendees spotted in the crowd: Tongue and Groove nightclub owner Michael Krohngold, Atlanta doctors Jeffrey and Nancy Gallups, A Legendary Event catering guru Tony Conway (who was hobbling around the soiree after experiencing a leg injury while zip-lining on vacation recently), salon owner Richie Arpino, Star 94 general manager Mark Kanov, jeweler Mark Edge, WSB-TV news anchor Jovita Moore and Action News reporter Manuel Bojorquez enjoying a rare evening off.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Sara Blakely lands Marquis Jet (co-founder)

Spanx footless pantyhose founder Sara Blakely (below) probably isn’t footing those new baggage fees at the airport these days.

blakely.jpg

The Atlanta entrepreneur is sporting a new engagement ring from Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler, 39, who was recently selected as one of the “Forty Under 40” by biz bible Crain’s New York.

“Their lives have really been on a parallel track,” Blakely rep Misty Elliott tells Buzz. “They’re such an amazing match. We couldn’t be happier for them.”

At the dawn of the millennium, around the time Blakely’s revolutionary slimming pantyhose brand was shaping up, Itzler’s company, which “rents” jets to folks in pre-paid 25-hour increments, was taking off. According to Crain’s, Itzler’s company boasted revenues of more than $700 million in 2007.

The pair first got acquainted when Blakely became a Marquis client. When she launched her Sara Blakely Foundation here in Atlanta in 2006, Itzler was among the first donors to write her a check.

Blakely, 37, has built Spanx into a multimillion-dollar retail operation touted by Oscar-winning actresses and Oprah Winfrey.

We hear that an October island wedding is being planned in either the groom’s native New York or the bride’s birthplace of Florida.

Early last year, Blakely and Åtlanta businessman Lawton Ursrey amicably ended a brief engagement.

Oh, and if Blakely and Itzler should want to economize on the entertainment budget at their wedding reception this fall, Itzler could always pick up the microphone. In the early 1990s under the moniker Jesse Jaymes, Itzler’s white-boy rapper persona scored the MTV favorites “Shake It (Like a White Girl)” and “College Girls.”

Family night at Philips

The ticket may have said it was the Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” Tour, but it sure looked like Daughters Night Out. Everywhere you turned Wednesday night, there were moms and daughters, dads with daughters, families with daughters, all at Philips Arena to see one of the most talented and inspiring female artists in contemporary R&B music.

Let’s hope mom or dad covered their ears when “American Idol” Jordin Sparks got a little sad before she sang “Freeze,” and told the audience to cherish each other “because you guys, we don’t know how long we’re going to be here.”

Here’s hoping the little ones’ eyes were shielded as well, when one of Atlanta R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo’s dancers pranced in front of him, in lingerie, during “Mirror” and “Say It.”

And with all of that early use of their hands, maybe they didn’t mind only having sporadic things to applaud during the main attraction, like Cedric the Entertainer’s sermon in the opening video; Keys’ dynamic performance of Prince’s “How Come You Don’t Call Me” in the middle of the sometimes sleepy two-hour set; and whenever her piano was rolled out, and she stopped with the choreography.

Of course Buzz couldn’t let Ne-Yo go without asking him to discuss his one-time tour mate — R. Kelly. “Thankfully, there has been no R. Kelly craziness on this tour,” he said. “And at first I was getting kind of worried because the first two shows with Alicia didn’t happen because she got sick. And I only did two shows with R. Kelly, and I was gone. So I was like, ‘What is it with me touring and two shows?’ But the Alicia thing got going and it’s been good. Great.”

And what about Kelly finally going to trial on child pornography charges: “All I can say about that is, ‘Pray for that man.’ “

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Country singer Wynonna Judd is 44. Guitarist Tom Morello of Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine is 44. Singer-actress Idina Menzel is 37. Singer Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley is 34. Rapper Remy Ma is 28.

STORK REPORT

It’s a girl!

blais.jpg

Home executive chef and “Top Chef” contestant Richard Blais (right) and his wife Jazmin Zepeda welcomed little Riley Maddox Thursday. We hear Riley weighed in at 7.9 pounds and 21 inches. The now-married Atlanta couple notably got engaged after Zepeda trained Blais for and he successfully completed the Peachtree Road Race in 2005.

Contributing: Sonia Murray, Adrianne Murchison and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Ladies’ night out at ‘Sex and the City’ event


Hundreds of Atlanta’s “Sex and the City” fans broke out the designer frocks and heels for the hotly anticipated film’s advance screening at Atlantic Station Tuesday night. For two-plus hours at Regal Cinemas 16, the packed crowd laughed, cried and commiserated with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, their four HBO friends who haven’t been seen on screen in four years.

Afterward, the party continued down the street at Dolce during a private party sponsored by VitaminWater and Q100.

As glamorous gals strolled the pink carpet, they were strongly advised to “Show us your best Carrie, ladies!”

Inside the chandeliered, seductively lit restaurant, specialty cocktails named “Single and Fabulous!” and “Get Carried Away!” were poured by muscular bartenders sporting “I’m Mr. Big” black T-shirts.

Author and former CNN-er Carolyn O’Neil artfully articulated what many of the ladies present were thinking: “Usually, when you watch ‘Sex and the City’ it’s late at night and alone. It was incredibly therapeutic to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ together in a theater. I didn’t expect it to be so emotional. I would never give anything away, but I will say this to women planning to see this movie: You won’t be disappointed by the closet!”

A few feet away, Nani Salon and Spa workers were providing complimentary manicures as Magical Mystical Parties pros Karen Branch and Pat Lantz were reading your “Sex” tarot cards to determine which gal you most resembled (WSB-TV Action News anchor Jovita Moore “is a Carrie,” for example).

“[Legendary “Sex” costume designer] Patricia Field did a brilliant job,” summed up Atlanta style arbiter Kevin Knaus, the creative director of Material World. “She perfectly emphasized the personalities of each character but without the occasional overdramatization that sometimes occurred on the TV show. Tonight, during the film, you never said, ‘Now, who the hell would really wear that?’ She also did a lot of belting in this film, which is different for these characters.”

“Atlanta and Company” co-host Holly Firfer conceded that the film had a singular effect on her: “I need to go shopping!”

790 AM The Zone sportscaster Steak Shapiro popped in to check out the scene. And, no, he didn’t sit through the screening (as one of Shapiro’s associates told us when we asked the pivotal question: “Steak? Please! He can’t sit through a commercial, let alone an entire movie.”

Explained Shapiro: “There are 400 people in here. Eighty percent of them are gorgeous women, 10 percent are gay men and only five percent are straight guys. I’ve never received so much attention in my life!”

Gratefully, Mrs. Steak was also present at the party.

As each woman exited the “Sex” soiree Tuesday night, they were given a goodie bag according to which “Sex” gal they most identified with. Buzz graciously allowed the organizers to determine which bag we received.

Consequently, we’re a Samantha. Among the over “Sex-ed” Sam-centric goodies inside? A current issue of Jezebel magazine, a bottle of XXX-flavored VitaminWater and a Little Hooker purse hanger.

We hear …
That “Sex and the City” fans attending tonight’s grand opening bash for the W hotel at Colony Square in Midtown should be on the lookout for one of the show’s fave hunks who has just RSVP-ed for the invitation-only party.

While we promised not to reveal the gentleman’s identity just yet (we want an interview for Buzz readers, after all!), here’s one hint: He reprises his role in the new feature flick. … Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr also has confirmed for the A-lister event.

Uncoupling
Q100 “Bert Show” member Jenn Hobby had some sad news to deliver to listeners Wednesday: Her five-year marriage to Sister Hazel guitarist Ryan Newell is over.

Through tears, Hobby announced on air that the couple has filed for divorce. Upon hearing the news, Q100 listener and “Madea’s Family Reunion” director Tyler Perry called in to support Hobby.

“What a brave, brave soul,” Perry told Hobby. “You need to surrender to it. It may be God’s way of doing something better for you. Sometimes, life just blindsides you. It’s OK to get angry, but don’t get bitter.”

The couple had been together 11 years.

Apparently, the pair is taking Perry’s advice. While they list their current marital status on their individual Myspace.com pages as “single,” Newell, 35, assures his online friends to “Keep forward.”

Meanwhile, Hobby, 31, has posted this note to friends: “Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.”

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Ty Pennington, Kirstie Alley, more celebs spotted in ATL

“Extreme Home Makeover” host Ty Pennington, (above) Time magazine writer and VH1 talking head Joel Stein and Pussycat Doll member Melanie Thornton at W hotel in Midtown. …

Actress Kirstie Alley cheering on Chipper Jones in the SunTrust Club section at the Braves/Diamondbacks game at Turner Field. …

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin brunching and sampling the brown bread ice cream at Tap in Midtown.

Couple alert? “American Idol” king David Cook says he’s dating an “American Idol” alum.

The newly crowned “Idol” winner said Tuesday on “Live With Regis and Kelly” that he recently had a dinner date with former “Idol” contestant Kimberly Caldwell.

Cook, 25, said he met Caldwell through the show. When asked if he had a good time, Cook replied: “I did. We’ll probably hang out again. So we’ll see.”

Caldwell, 26, appeared on the second season of the top-rated Fox singing competition.

Cook, from Blue Springs, Mo., defeated 17-year-old David Archuleta last week in a landslide victory. And according to Cook, the singing couple dined at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Badu show draws big names

Grammy-winning R&B singer Erykah Badu returned to what she called “my second home” over the holiday weekend.

And her rare performance drew many music notables. Spotted in the capacity Fox Theatre crowd were: film/video director Bryan Barber; Disturbing Tha Peace Records co-president Chaka Zulu; singers Anthony David, Gordon Chambers, Scar and Madame CJ.

Oh, and walking hand in hand with local drummer Lil John Roberts was none other than the million-selling artist he’s been playing with of late — Jill Scott. The vocalist— in town to promote the bra she designed with Ashley Stewart — actually was a surprise guest during the Roots opening set where she joined the hip-hop band in a rocked-out version of a song Badu originally recorded with them, “You Got Me.”

Badu had her audience entranced from the moment she started her two-hour set, playing a great deal from her new CD (“New Amerykah Part One — 4th World War”).

The somewhat eccentric artist also found time to tell presidential candidate Barack Obama to “Hold on!” and to discuss a documentary about government occupation.

Toward the end? The singer rolled around on large Pilates-like balls, wearing a leotard, and closed with “The Wiz” tune “Believe In Yourself.”

A ‘Light’ before ‘Jaws’

Our new favorite activity this week at Buzz Central? Eagerly awaiting the next Bulletin Space message on MySpace.com from Athens rockers Blue Flashing Light. The band has been booked as the warm-up entertainment Thursday prior to “Jaws,” the inaugural flick in the 2008 edition of Screen on the Green in Centennial Olympic Park.

Or as the act itself describes it in the online note to fans: “Blue Flashing Light to open for Richard Dreyfuss!!”

The band makes the best of being asked to gig for a group of chatty, cooler-carrying free movie fans who will no doubt still be grumbling about the relocation of the series from the lusher, now drought-ravaged Piedmont Park.

Still, BFL accurately notes of the classic 1975 Steven Spielberg-helmed beach thriller: “Yeah, we know that [stuff] at the end where the air tank explodes from the bullet is unrealistic, thanks, got it. We watch [Discovery Channel’s] ‘MythBusters’ too. But the meat hanging from the shark’s teeth is pretty raw.”

HIGH FIVE — Music

The top-selling albums at Decatur CD for the week ending May 24:

  1. Death Cab for Cutie, “Narrow Stairs”
    1. Portishead, “Third”
    2. The Roots, “Rising Down”
    3. She & Him, “Volume 1”
    4. R.E.M., “Accelerate” Courtesy: Decatur CD

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Singer Gladys Knight is 64. Singer Billy Vera is 64. Singer John Fogerty is 63. Actor Brandon Cruz (“The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”) is 46. Singer Kylie Minogue is 40. Actor Justin Kirk (“Weeds”) is 39. “The View” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck is 31. Singer Colbie Caillat is 23.

Contributing: Sonia Murray and news services

Got a tip for Peach Buzz? 404-526-2749 or buzz@ajc.com

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Lauper mixes styles, pushes fun, politics

Perhaps only singer Cyndi Lauper could be equally inspired by “Into the Night Life” novelist Henry Miller, beat poetry and high-energy European club DJs. And somehow, the influences merge seamlessly on “Bring Ya to the Brink,” her latest album due out today. “It’s kinda crazy, huh?” Lauper laughs during a recent call to Buzz Central. “In my head it all works, though. When I go out at night, I want to dance with my friends. I want something great to listen to. This is the kind of record I’m always hoping to hear when I want to have a good time.” On June 17, the perky pop star is bringing the party back to Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheatre via her “True Colors ‘08’ tour with pals The B-52s, Rosie O’Donnell and Tegan & Sara. “We had such fun last year that I wanted to do it again,” Lauper explains of the gay- and lesbian-friendly tour. At each stop on the tour, voter registration booths are set up to encourage attendees to take an active role in this year’s presidential election. “We’re not telling anybody who to vote for, just that it’s important to get yourself registered,” says Lauper. “I wasn’t registered but I am now. I can be a real knucklehead about stuff. I’m not great with all that paperwork, but this is just too important.” A pair of Lauper’s iconic red shoes (she kicked off a pair on the cover of her 1983 debut, “She’s So Unusual”) also turn up as cover art on “Brink.” Says the singer: “It’s about outsiders, being out of step. I wanted to use that red power tie color as well.” Like those favored by a certain conservative president occupying the White House when the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” vocalist became a fixture on MTV? “Oooh, I like that!” Lauper coos. “I hadn’t thought of that but that’s good, too!” For tickets to “True Colors ‘08”: www.ticketmaster.com.

June 21 AARP show ‘not for older folks,’ says singer Adams Gospel singer Yolanda Adams says she was impressed by how her grandmother and mom benefited from receiving retirement funds and health insurance from AARP. “Everything was so up to date,” she told The Associated Press. “With all these changes over the last 10 years with Medicare, they were given a fair shot to know what was going on in taking care of their matters.” Now, Adams wants to help the nonprofit organization that advocates for people 50 and over. Adams plans to join Queen Latifah, Patti Austin, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan and CeCe Winans to perform at AARP’s 50th anniversary show on June 21 at Philips Arena downtown. Actress-choreographer Debbie Allen will direct the show. “The great thing about this event is that it’s not for the older folks,” said Fayetteville vocalist Ann Nesby. “This is something to connect young people with senior citizens.” The Grammy-winning former Sounds of Blackness singer will perform with granddaughter Paris Bennett, a former “American Idol” contestant. Jamia Simone Nash, who performed at the Academy Awards this year, also will participate. “It’ll be great for Paris to see what they do for people my age from all across the board,” Nesby said. Performers of the event will receive honorary memberships — even youngsters like 11-year-old Nash and Bennett, who is 19. “Jamia and Paris have fans who will come in and see the AARP stamps,” Adams said. “They’ll understand that over 39 million people are served. Young people will get a chance to see how this group is taking care of older folks in their family.”

Celebrity docket Former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio has received a reduced sentence of three years’ probation for a drug conviction after he completed a counseling and treatment program. The singer had pleaded guilty to a felony charge for possessing painkillers without a prescription during a traffic stop in December 2006. He faced up to three years in state prison if he failed the drug program, which he began in April 2007. The 43-year-old’s guilty plea was reduced to a misdemeanor Wednesday because he’ll graduate from the drug program next month and has completed community service. In January, he spent two days in jail for missing a scheduled drug counseling session. HIGH FIVE Television The Top Five On Demand programs for the week of May 12-18, as determined by Comcast customers in metro Atlanta: 1. Lil Wayne: “Lollipop,” Music Video, Music Choice 2. V.I.C. “Get Silly,” Music Video, Music Choice 3. “Evan Almighty,” HBO 4. “Family Guy,” Episode Number: 9, Season 2, TBS 5. “South Park,” “Professor Chaos” episode, Comedy Central — Courtesy: Rentrak’s OnDemand Essentials

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS Actor Christopher Lee is 86. Actress Lee Meriwether is 73. Musician Ramsey Lewis is 73. Actor Louis Gossett Jr. is 72. Singer Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees is 51. Comedian Adam Carolla is 44. Actor Todd Bridges (“Diff’rent Strokes”) is 43. Rapper Andre 3000 of OutKast is 33. Rapper Jadakiss is 33.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Zoo Atlanta gorillas - from primates to painters

The paintings newly on display at Stella Neighborhood Trattoria at 563 Memorial Drive might seem bold, primitive, even a little animalistic — with good reason. They were created by Willie B. Jr. and Ivan, two of the apes in residence at nearby Zoo Atlanta.

For the next six months, diners can purchase $2 raffle tickets for a shot at owning one of the primate painters’ works. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

We’re told that Willie B. Jr., the only male offspring of the late, lamented Willie B., “enjoys wide brush strokes, resulting in very whimsical and expressive pieces.” Ivan, who came to Zoo Atlanta in 1994, paints with a brush and his tongue, likes bright colors and “signs” each work with a fingerprint. Info: www.gorillafund.org, www.stellaatlanta.com.

Uptown girls … uh, women

Bloomingdale’s Lenox Square and Uptown Scoop.com saluted 26 local women for rocking their respective fields during “Women to Watch of Atlanta,” inspired by “Where’s Your WOW?” co-authored by Atlanta’s Robyn Spizman. Honorees at the May 8 event were Anne Barge Clegg of Anne Barge Bridal Gown Collection; Joyce Bone of MillionaireMom.com; Judi V. Bruce of Deloitte Tax; Kathleen Ciaramello of Coca-Cola; Debbie Gehricke of UPS; Karen Benjack Glatzer of GH Consulting Group; Spanx CEO Laurie Ann Goldman; 11 Alive’s Karyn Greer; Gail Grimmett of Delta Air Lines; Rhonda Harper of RTM&J; Ellen Hartman of Fitzgerald+CO PR; Cheri L. Husney of KPMG; Dr. Kimberly Jackson of the Kare Group; PR consultant Danita V. Knight; Britt Menzies of StinkyKids; Vikki Millender-Morrow of Girls Inc. of Atlanta; Star 94’s Shannon Murphy; Susan O’Farrell of Home Depot; HGTV’s Gail O’Neil; Atlanta Peach publisher Elizabeth Schulte Roth; Star 94’s Cindy Simmons (above); Beth Sneed of GE Capital Solutions; Deborah Storey of AT&T; Loretta Walker of Turner Broadcasting; Jacqueline M. Welch of Rock-Tenn Co. and Elizabeth K. Wilson of Ridgeworth Investments.

Miss Rap Supreme to you, hopefully

Ms. Cherry also would like to be named “Miss Rap Supreme,” courtesy of the VH1 reality show of the same name.

The 24-year-old Atlanta rapper will be seen Monday night vying for a spot in the Top Four. So far, she’s largely stayed out of the drama between some of the other women after clashing early on with the one contestant with a known name, Khia (“My Neck, My Back”). Ms. Cherry mocked Khia for blowing her chance the first time and kept chanting “one-hit wonder” until Khia got good and angry.

“She wasn’t all that, and she thought she was,” Ms. Cherry said. (Khia was disqualified in the second episode for recycling old rhymes.)

Cherry — who frequently wears white Atlanta Braves caps on the show and gleefully did the Soulja Boy dance with Atlanta’s Soulja Boy in last Monday’s episode — said she did the show because female rappers need all the exposure they can get in a male-dominated business.

So far, the judges have appreciated the personal nature of her rhymes but didn’t like how she wouldn’t always follow the assigned themes.

Though she spent most of the time in Los Angeles at the “Fembassy” suite where the show was filmed, she enjoyed the trip to rapper Too Short’s home. “We went to the Hollywood Hills,” she said. “They don’t have hills like that here.”

The show is a sequel to last year’s “The [White] Rapper Show,” won by Atlanta’s Shamrock. (Ms. Cherry has no clue who that is, which says a lot about Shamrock’s career trajectory.)

So far, she has no complaints about how the show is portraying her but is annoyed by the editing.

“A lot of times, they chop the verses up,” she said. “That kind of takes away from it. This is a rap show. Why would you show more of the drama and less of the rapping?”

Answer: Drama draws viewers.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Actor James Arness is 85. Sportscaster Brent Musburger is 69. Singer-drummer Levon Helm of the Band is 68. Steel guitar player Gates Nichols of Confederate Railroad is 64. Drummer Garry Peterson of the Guess Who is 63. Singer Stevie Nicks is 60. Actor Philip Michael Thomas (“Miami Vice”) is 59. Actress Pam Grier is 59. Country singer Hank Williams Jr. is 59. Actress Margaret Colin is 51. Country keyboardist Dave Robbins of BlackHawk is 49. Actress Genie Francis (“General Hospital”) is 46. Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait is 46. Singer Lenny Kravitz is 44. Actress Helena Bonham Carter is 42. Drummer Phillip Rhodes of the Gin Blossoms is 40. Actor Joseph Fiennes (“Shakespeare in Love”) is 38. Singer Joey Kibble of Take 6 is 37. “South Park” co-creator Matt Stone is 37. Bassist Nathan Cochran of MercyMe is 30.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I shouldn’t say we’re doing the Eliot Spitzer story. I should say we’re doing a story about a politician who gets into trouble because of sexual questions … involving prostitution.” — Sam Waterston, on the season finale of NBC’s “Law & Order,” known for its ripped-from-the-headlines plots

Contributing: Rodney Ho and news services

Got a tip for Peach Buzz? 404-526-2749 or buzz@ajc.com

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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‘Idol’ winner Cook borrows Collective Soul hit

While David Cook reigned supreme on the seventh season of “American Idol” Wednesday night, Atlanta’s Collective Soul could take a tiny sliver of credit.

Cook picked one of the band’s early hits, “The World I Know,” to close out his set Tuesday night, a song he loved but had never sung in public.

Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul praised Cook as usual, but Simon Cowell thought it wasn’t the right song choice.

“He did great,” Collective Soul guitarist Dean Roland told Buzz before the results Wednesday. “He definitely put his own spin to it. I found that interesting.”

And since “Idol” condenses three- or four-minute songs in half, Roland noticed how Cook “had to cram in a lot. That song has a slow crescendo buildup and he had to get there fast.”

Roland, who is already buds with former Buckhead resident and “Idol” finalist Michael Johns, said he sees Cook going a long way in the business: “He’s got the talent, the personality and the demeanor.”

Related links: Photos and video from the finale; American Idol Buzz

FANS REMEMBER B.J.

Mike Farrell revels in his role as a human rights activist. And a few of the adoring fans who came to see him at his book signing/talk Wednesday at the Decatur Public Library indulged him.

They asked him his views on gun control (doesn’t mind people owning guns, wishes they didn’t have to), the death penalty (against it, big time, for moral reasons) and the presidential race (first for John Edwards, now for Barack Obama).

But most questions were about his time as B.J. Hunnicut on the classic show “MAS*H.” Now 69 and aging gracefully, he accepted the queries with grace, humor and warmth.

“The reality is the show wasn’t just about a war,” Farrell said. “It was about human beings being put in situations they’d rather not be in, but as a result of necessity, they were required to solve the problems at hand. People who have never been in war or a uniform understand that.”

He spun anecdotes about what an acting challenge it was to play Hunnicut finding out his own daughter didn’t recognize him and how the character almost cheated on his wife in a moment of weakness. As an actor, he appreciated that the “MAS*H” producers respected and welcomed his feedback.

“It became more than a television show,” he noted, “not only to people who watched it but within the industry. We’d get calls from actors and movie stars who thanked us for doing a show about something. That’s very heady stuff.”

Related links: Q&A with the actor-activist

WYNTER OFF THE AIR

Shelley Wynter likes to go against the tide, a moderate/conservative black talk-show host in a sea of liberals on WAOK-AM (1380). But he’s been let go from the station without explanation.

“I love WAOK and have nothing bad to say,” he told Buzz. “But this gives me plenty of new opportunities.”

Rob Redding, a former WAOK host who operates Redding News Review, intimated on his Web site that Wynter’s critical remarks against Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) may have contributed to his downfall.

Wynter also had accepted consulting payments from a Republican opponent of Scott’s.

A Scott spokeswoman declined to comment except to say the politician had never placed any pressure on the station to fire Wynter.

Rick Caffey, the station general manager, didn’t return a call by deadline.

Wynter said his marketing firm did provide services to Deborah Honeycutt, who is running against Scott. But he said he openly disclosed that info to the station and while he has been tough on Scott and other black leaders such as Rep. John Lewis, he’s never even had Honeycutt on his show.

RANDOM BITS

• Former WXIA meteorologist Flip Spiceland wanted to ease into life in the public relations world by taking on a low-key job at a place called the Facility Group in Smyrna. But within a week, a federal grand jury was going after the company for fraud.

Spiceland realized he was out of his element and the two sides parted ways. A believer in technical schools, he has quickly found a new job repping North Metro Technical College.

Spiceland’s former colleague and anchor Clarence Reynolds also has jumped over to PR, as the director of communications for nonprofit group AID Atlanta.

• Holly Firfer, formerly a CNN anchor and now host of WXIA’s “Atlanta & Company,” recently shot a small role on Lifetime’s “Army Wives” in Charleston, S.C., that wasn’t exactly outside her comfort zone. She played a news reporter.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Actress Joan Collins is 75. Comedian Drew Carey is 50. Singer Maxwell is 35. Singer Jewel is 34.

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Ne-yo’s soap opera gig gives mom major bragging rights

The man is responsible for writing the current No. 1 single in the country: Rihanna’s “Take A Bow.”

He also has his first Grammy on the shelf for best contemporary R&B album, thanks to the 2007 disc “Because of You.”

But what is Atlanta singer-songwriter Ne-Yo’s mom “really, really, I mean really excited about?”

His two-day guest stint on the venerable ABC soap “All My Children” Wednesday and Thursday, he tells Buzz.

Ne-Yo performed his new ballad “Stop This World” in the midst of all of the soaplah that is sudsing up around the recently reunited “AMC” super couple Jesse and Angie Hubbard’s long-awaited wedding. Today, he’ll do “Closer,” the first single from his upcoming CD, “The Year of the Gentleman,” during the broadcast at 1 p.m. on ABC (WSB).

But between Ne-Yo numbers, we’re hearing there’s a surprise guest appearance by the Hubbards’ old friend Greg Nelson (portrayed by actor Laurence Lau). Oh, and the bride gets kidnapped by villainous jewel thief Robert Gardner. And don’t be surprised if the show ends today with the groom dangling from a helicopter, thanks to some thrilling CGI work inserted into the sweeps storyline climax.

“My mom is the ‘All My Children’ fan,” Ne-Yo explained during some down time from his tour with Alicia Keys, due in Atlanta May 28.

“She lost her mind when she found out about that one. But you know, I think it’s a great look for me too. People that frequently watch that show, I mean, may not really know me yet. And I’m trying to get a hold of everybody!”

Bloody good freebie

On Wednesday, blood donors at the Red Cross on Monroe Drive scored more than orange juice and a cookie for their efforts — two free tickets to and a CD sampler of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” The new Broadway Across America production of the blood-splattered hit by Stephen Sondheim is sharpening its razors for next week’s run at the Fox Theatre, May 27 to June 1.

“We had a great flow of traffic before people went to work and at lunchtime,” show rep. Ashley Cameron told us. Forty donors had pre-registered and more walk-in donors were due after work Wednesday.

And FYI: According to the Fox Theatre Web site, latecomers next week will have to cool their heels in the lobby for the first 30 minutes of Act One. That’s due to a request from producers who are hoping to keep the musical’s foreboding first act free of giggling idiots who come in late and crawl over you while spilling their plastic cup of white zinfandel.

Not that we have any working knowledge of such individuals. Still, it’s better than the alternative, given the show’s tendency toward throat slitting and sliding corpses into the nether regions of the Fox Theatre basement … To purchase tickets: foxtheatre.org.

‘Witchu’ in Atlanta?

Budget-minded lovers of 1980-era pop divas will likely have some hard choices to make this fall.

First, Madonna and Tina Turner announced plans to tour this autumn. Now, part-time Atlantan Janet Jackson is hitting the road with “Rock Witchu,” touted as her first major tour in seven years.

The tour is scheduled to kick off in Vancouver Sept 10. And while an Atlanta date has not yet been specified, Buzz is betting Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) is not about to disappoint her local fans. Tickets go on sale June 7 via livenation.com.

Coupling

“Fantastic Four” thespian Jessica Alba quietly wed producer Cash Warren on Monday, her publicist, Brad Cafarelli confirms.

The pair became engaged in late December following the 27-year-old Alba’s announcement that she’s expecting a baby with Warren, 31. They met on the set of the 2005 film “The Fantastic Four.”

Her wedding, first reported by People.com, was such a quiet affair that even her brother, Josh Alba, was apparently caught off-guard. When reached by Us Weekly magazine with the news, he responded: “My sister!? I’m going to have to call her!”

Besides a baby, Alba is also expecting two films this summer: “Meet Bill” and “The Love Guru” with Mike Myers as a self-help weirdo trying to patch things up between a hockey star and his wife.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Actor-director Richard Benjamin is 70. Songwriter Bernie Taupin is 58. Singer Morrissey is 49. Singer Johnny Gill is 42. Model Naomi Campbell is 38. Actress Anna Belknap (“CSI: NY”) is 36. Singer Donell Jones is 35.

QUOTE OF THE DAY “Without Don, we’d be Air Supply.” —Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey on bandmate Don Henley in the cover story of the May 29th Rolling Stone, titled “The Eagles: Bitter Feud, Big Comeback.” The rockers ended a four-night sold-out stint Tuesday at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta.

Contributing: Sonia Murray and news services

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Barbara Walters flying high, enjoying view in ATL

Barbara Walters has been to Atlanta several times — after all, her “good friend” Elton John has “a lovely home here” — but she didn’t have time for social calls as her whirlwind book tour blew through the Peach State on Monday.

Buzz scored 25 minutes with the TV maven in the auditorium of the Decatur Library, just before she talked about her milestone career, family struggles — and, oh yeah, “The View” squabbles — to 850 fans who waited hours to see her at Agnes Scott College.

Of course, all of this came nearly two weeks to the day — and on the day of her beloved late sister’s birthday — after her best-selling memoir “Audition” began flying off the shelves.

Dressed in an elegant black pant suit accented by a Shirley Franklin-style white flower corsage, Walters, who admits only to being in her late 70s, discussed a range of topics with Buzz.

On Atlanta: “It’s a beautiful city, with so many lovely homes, especially in this area.” With little time to catch her breath between interviews and speeches, she had little time to eat. “I’m going to have a pulled pork sandwich on the plane tonight.”

On the success of “Audition,” which sold 250,000 in its first week: “I think the reason people bought this book is because they realized I was being candid. There’s no revenge in it.”

On career highs and lows: “A lot of people go through what I’ve gone through. That’s why I wanted to write this book. A lot of people go through failure. I hope my story helps others.”

Later, at Agnes Scott, she answered questions on stage from Channel 2 anchor Jovita Moore, then from the audience, before jetting off to Miami.

“What a life I’ve had,” she said at the end of the one-hour session. “Now I want to take a little time to enjoy my view.”

‘Stunna’ of an evening

Former NFL player Dorsey Levens, “Project Runway” contestant Mychael Knight, fellow Atlanta designer Cedric King of Dap Rugget, entertainment attorney Charles Mathis and local hairstylist to the stars Dee Dee Wales were among the notables Monday night at Justin’s restaurant in Buckhead, where event producer I’na Saulsberry was having a viewing party for the debut of MTV’s first “Stunna 16.”

Generally known as “My Super Sweet 16,” the cable program featured the birthday party that entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs threw in Atlanta back in December for Quincy Brown, the son of his on-and-off love Kim Porter (1980s era R&B singer Al B. Sure is Quincy’s biological father).

Brown’s “presents” included a tennis shoe spree on Combs’ black card; a date with model-actress Lauren London; performances by Fabo, Crime Mob, Omarion and Bow Wow at the Velvet Room; and the finale — a Range Rover for Quincy to have in Los Angeles, and a souped-up, old-school Lincoln to tool around in our fair city. But the extras didn’t stop there — not only did Saulsberry “choreograph” the “Stunna 16” viewing party, she also handed out fake $100 bills with Quincy’s picture on it, which could be used for a free glass of red or white wine.

Sorting out family tree.

What’s in a name? The UGA School of Law graduation Saturday was surely filled with family connections. Not only was Lucy Pope Dodd a fifth-generation graduate of UGA Law School, but U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the graduation speaker, also happens to be family.

His great-grandfather was Middleton Pope Barrow, a member of the first class to graduate from UGA law school in 1860.

And Middleton Pope Barrow is also Lucy’s great-great grandfather. Confused?

Well, truth be told, we also got a little mixed up.

“I was confused, too,” admitted Heidi Murphy of UGA School of Law, who started researching the family ties and connecting the dots on the eve of the graduation. So, here we go and raise our right hand (and cross our fingers) we get it right this time. The very sweet Lucy is indeed a fifth-generation graduate of the UGA Law School.

And Lucy’s other family members who have graduated from UGA law school include: Major Francis Percival McIntire, Lucy’s great-grandfather; Pope Barrow McIntire, Lucy’s grandfather; Sarah Ellen McIntire Love, Lucy’s aunt; and Elizabeth Palmour Dodd Kanne, Lucy’s sister (and also a fifth-generation graduate).

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Comedian Al Franken is 57. Actor Mr. T is 56. Actor Judge Reinhold is 51. Actress Lisa Edelstein (“House”) is 40. Actress Ashlie Brillault (“Lizzie McGuire”) is 21.

OVERSCENE

Before introducing Atlantans to their charitable brands of wines Monday, Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones and Brian McCann lunching at Stats downtown on Cobb salads and bacon-wrapped shrimp.

Contributing: Chandler Brown, Sonia Murray, Helena Oliviero and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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‘Law Dawg’ kept family’s UGA tradition

Lucy Pope Dodd UGA law school grad ABOVE, left to right: Lucy Pope Dodd, Rep. John Barrow, UGA Law School’s 2008 graduation speaker, and Kathleen Flynn Parker. (UGA Law School photo)

Call it destiny or in her blood — Lucy Pope Dodd became a fifth-generation graduate of the University of Georgia Law School over the weekend.

For much of her life, Dodd wanted to be a third-grade teacher.

But that changed after one heated political argument with her grandpa, Pope Barrow McIntire, during her undergraduate years. She supported Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. He backed the Republican incumbent President Bush.

“That night I went to bed crying,” Dodd told Buzz in an e-mail. “In the morning, he gave me a big hug and said that I needed to go to law school. He said that anyone who could argue so passionately about something, especially when she was wrong, deserved to go to law school.”

Dodd’s grandfather, whom Dodd affectionately called “Hoho,” died shortly before she started law school.

“He knew I had gotten in,” said Dodd.

According to UGA school officials, Dodd’s great-great-grandfather Middleton Pope Barrow was a member of the first class to graduate from the law school in 1860. Dodd’s other family members who have graduated from the law school include her aunt Elizabeth Palmour Dodd Kane and her sister Elizabeth Kanne.

“I am proud of my family’s connection to law school,” said the 25-year-old graduate from Atlanta. “I love this state more than I can possibly say, and after three years here at UGA School of Law, I love this school. Even if I were the first generation, I would be so proud to call myself a ‘Law Dawg.’ “

‘Bachelorette’ ready for some romance

Newnan real estate agent DeAnna Pappas had her heart broken last year by Brad Womack in the fall edition of “The Bachelor.” ABC and the viewers loved her so much, the network quickly gave her a chance to reverse roles and pick from 25 hot guys for the summer edition of “The Bachelorette” debuting tonight.

Marietta-born Pappas, in an interview with Buzz, couldn’t say much about the outcome of the show, which just wrapped up. But she said she’s over Womack. “He’s a distant memory,” she said. “I’ve moved on.”

Despite the show’s dismal record as a matchmaker, Pappas remains a romantic at heart: “I completely believe in the show and the whole point behind it. I know it can happen. I was more than willing to put my heart out there and try again.”

And she feels she can beat the odds.: “I put 100 percent into any relationship I’m in. I don’t take this lightly. I tried very, very hard to make it work.”

Kennesaw State student spins wheel

While chatting with his fellow “Wheel of Fortune” contestants, Adam Kleg mentioned that he was a biochemistry major at Kennesaw State University. “I don’t know if it intimidated them,” he told Buzz.

See for yourself tonight at 7 p.m. on WATL. Kleg, 22, applied to the show nearly three years ago because he’s a big puzzle fan. The Alpharetta native auditioned last November in Buckhead, but had to turn down an invitation to spin the wheel in January because of a chemistry lab, exams and presentations.

“I was like, ‘Uh-oh, they’re never going to call me back,’ Kleg said. “When they contacted me in April, I had the same situation, but I told my teachers, ‘Look, I’m going. You can move my stuff for me and we’ll figure it out later.’ “

Kleg didn’t meet host Pat Sajak until the game began, but letter-turner Vanna White wished the contestants good luck.

“Vanna came in when we were getting the legalese spat at us,” Kleg said. “None of us recognized her at first. She was in street clothes, pajama pants, T-shirt and wet hair instead of being made up.”

Likewise, the contestant coordinator didn’t recognize Kleg. “When I auditioned,” he said, “I had a mohawk and a beard.”

He changed his look to interview for physicians’ assistant schools. “I thought it wouldn’t be the best idea to have that,” Kleg said. “But at the pediatrics office where I worked, they loved it.”

Buzz doesn’t want to spoil the suspense, but Kleg’s competitors had good reason to fear his intellect.

London in ‘Purple’ at Fox this summer

“American Idol” fans will see a familiar face in the cast of the first North American touring production of the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.” LaToya London, known simply as “London” to her fans, will play Nettie in the show, which will be at the Fox Theatre July 15 to Aug. 3. London was an early front-runner to win season three of “American Idol” before she ended up in fourth place.

Other cast members for the show include Stu James, an Atlanta native and Morehouse College grad. His acting credits including “Rent” on Broadway, the movie “Dreamgirls,” and appearances on the soap “General Hospital.”

The leading role of Celie will be played by Jeannette Bayardelle, who also played the part on Broadway. Felicia Fields, who plays the strong-willed Sofia, was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of the role on Broadway.

Golden mom up for new golden award

Decatur mom Subrena Glenn-Everett is a national finalist in a “Gold Medal Mom” contest, one of 25 moms, narrowed down from a field of 2,500 nominations.

Nominated by her 20-year-old daughter Alexandria Taylor, who called her mom, “my backbone and best friend.” Taylor told Buzz her mom is always there to comfort and help her.

But one thing judges didn’t realize is Glenn-Everett is already a Gold medal mom — her son Angelo Taylor won gold in the 2000 Olympics in the 400 hurdles and 1,600 relay.

The top prize of the contest — sponsored by Tyson and judged by Mary Lou Retton — is an all-expense paid trip to the Olympic games in Beijing.

“I can’t explain how honored I am to have my daughter feel this way and to see it in writing, I am really honored. I just cried and cried,” said Glenn-Everett, who is a guidance counselor at Midway Elementary School.

From now to June 11, you can vote for Glenn-Everett at www.goldmedalmom.com.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS PBS newscaster Jim Lehrer is 74. Author-director Nora Ephron is 67. Musician Pete Townshend is 63. Singer-actress-model Grace Jones is 56.

Contributing: Karen Rosen, Rodney Ho, Sonia Murray, Kirsten Tagami and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Benefit to raise funds for ailing DJ

Friends and fans will gather Sunday to raise some much-needed cash for ailing Atlanta bartender and DJ David Seymour at Felix’s on the Square, 1510 Piedmont Ave. N.E. in Midtown. For the past month, the musical mixologist (who has memorably spun at clubs like Halo under the moniker Mellow D) has been on and off a respirator in ICU at Crawford Long hospital while being treated for pneumonia and most recently, congestive heart failure. Felix’s rep Gary Dean told Buzz Friday that Seymour’s many pals in the city’s hospitality industry have donated restaurant gift certificates, gift cards, spa treatments, bar tabs and cash for the benefit scheduled from 2 p.m. till close Sunday.

So exactly how beloved is Seymour?

His benefit is being hosted by duelling drag queens Ruby Redd of Amsterdam and Kitty LeClaw of Blake’s on the Park (ordinarily, these two would be trying to re-create that Patty Duke and Susan Hayward wig-flushing scene from “Valley of the Dolls” if caught in close proximity …).

“David’s a great friend and this is what friends do for each other,” explained LeClaw’s alter ego David Stark Friday.

For more info or to donate: 404-249-7899.

RAFFLE REDUX

There’s good news for the attendees of Monday night’s Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention benefit at the Woodruff Arts Center who forgot to snag a raffle ticket for the 2007 Maserati graciously donated by Maserati of Atlanta. The raffle has been extended through June 6, via gcapp.org where you can buy as many tickets as you’d like (G-CAPP founder Jane Fonda was keeping hers safe in her cleavage the other night). Possibly due to the growing economic skittishness, many of the fund-raiser’s innovative live auction items went at bargain basement prices. But when bidding inexplicably stalled on a New York shopping spree featuring tickets to “The View” and “The Martha Stewart Show” and a meet-and-greet with luxe jeweler David Yurman, Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne gallantly stepped on stage to assist. After the New Yorker donated dinner and unlimited movie conversation with himself, the price shot up to $18,000. A bowling party for 50 with Fonda at Ten Pin Alley at Atlantic Station went for $20,000 after a little enticement from the Oscar winner herself. Cracked Fonda of her bowling skills: “It’s easy to beat me!”

Related links: Fondas in hot seat at Alliance, Photos

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Saturday: Actor-director Dennis Hopper is 72. Singer Pervis Jackson of The Spinners is 70. Singer Taj Mahal is 66. Actor Craig Ferguson (“The Late Late Show”) is 46. Musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails is 43. Singer Jordan Knight (New Kids on the Block) is 38.

Sunday: Actor Bill Macy (“Maude”) is 86. Country singer George Strait is 56. Comedian Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) is 38. Musician Jack Johnson is 33.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Whiskey Park tries to capture city’s unique vibe

Whiskey Park, the new nightclub at the W Atlanta Midtown hotel is being touted as equal parts rock ‘n’ roll and sophistication.

And since the swank space quietly opened last week inside the former Sheraton at Colony Square, the hipster haunt already has attracted former “Project Runway” contestant and Atlanta fashion designer Mychael Knight and Motley Crue skins smasher Tommy Lee, who was spotted quaffing a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne there with friends, including Gnarls Barkley vocalist Cee-Lo.

The nightspot is the latest offering by nightclub impresario brothers Rande and Scott Gerber.

On a recent tour of the space, the Gerber Group’s vice president of design Mark LaValle told us Atlanta’s ever-evolving nightlife scene was taken into consideration when choosing an address for their Atlanta debut.

“Midtown really offers everything we were looking for,” explained LaValle. “The fact that Atlanta is constantly re-inventing itself was a big plus for us. We’re hoping to add something fresh to the city.”

Whiskey Park is divided into a main bar area, a lounge area for crashing, cuddling or dancing, a patio bar with a bird’s eye view of the Mayfair towers across 14th Street and an ultra-exclusive V.V.I.P. area featuring black hardwood floors, red velvet cushions and an advance booking fee.

On the phone from Malibu, Rande Gerber told Buzz his company’s goal is to perfectly merge inventive, elegant concepts with each city’s unique vibe (unlike say, the owners of the now-defunct B.E.D. at The Glenn hotel downtown, who appeared bound and determined to shove South Beach elitism down Atlantan throats).

“I have friends in Atlanta and I listened to them about the kind of place they didn’t currently have but wanted to hang out at. Ultimately, our goal was to build a place for the people who live there. I want the business traveler to feel comfortable and I want the person who lives two blocks away to feel that this is their neighborhood place.”

Gerber is due in town for the W Atlanta’s official grand opening on May 29, but this weekend he’s sending an advance team of one to give him a progress report: his wife, supermodel Cindy Crawford, who’s in town for an appearance at Rooms to Go in Buford.

“Cindy told me she’s planning to drop by Whiskey Park with friends while she’s in Atlanta,” Gerber previewed. “I’m betting she’ll feel right at home.”

Gerber has one more challenge ahead of him this month: The Atlanta grand opening date doubles as his and Crawford’s 10-year wedding anniversary.

“I’ve got to step it up this year, especially since I’ll technically be working on our anniversary,” he conceded, laughing. “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do yet, but it’s not going to be cheap, I can tell you that!”

RELATED LINKS: Cindy Crawford talks about her Atlanta visit;
Photos: Business models

Sick bay

B98.5 FM morning man Kelly Stevens, who’s been mysteriously off the air for more than five weeks, is in treatment for alcoholism. His on-air co-host Alpha Trivette has now informed listeners that his co-worker is at a rehab facility to grapple with the malady.

The announcement was an unusual admission for the show long known for its lightheartedness. We’re told that Stevens’ co-workers were not previously privy to his off-air struggles. It remained unclear Thursday when or if Stevens would return to the airwaves before July 1, when Steve McCoy and Vikki Locke take over.

Kelly & Alpha, who have had a successful run with B98.5 for nearly a decade, are under contract through the end of the year. Producer Will Gara, who will stay on with former Star 94 morning hosts Steve & Vikki, currently is filling in for Stevens.

Celebrity birthdays

Jazz drummer Billy Cobham is 64. Actor Pierce Brosnan is 55. Violinist Boyd Tinsley of The Dave Matthews Band is 44. Singer Janet Jackson is 42. Actor David Boreanaz (above) (“Bones”) is 39. Political correspondent Tucker Carlson is 39. Actress Tori Spelling is 35.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Chambliss unveils his official portrait

Pulling back the curtain Tuesday evening on his official portrait in Washington, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Moultrie confessed that as a student he had “never set foot in the library” at the University of Georgia. Now his likeness is destined to go to UGA’s Richard B. Russell Library.

But that won’t happen until 21 years after the Georgia Republican has left office.

chambliss portrait

Meantime, the portrait will hang in the hearing room of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which he chaired for two years before the Democrats recaptured the majority.

The painting is by a Bulgarian-born Atlanta artist known simply as Rossin. The privately funded project was headed by lobbyists Rob Leebern and Louie Perry, who raised $17,000 from an array of farm and agriculture interests.

The unveiling was — where else? — in the Russell Room of the Senate building named for the legendary Georgia senator.

OVERSCENE

At the grand opening of Straits, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and chef Chris Yeo’s Juniper Street eatery in Midtown Tuesday night: actress Vivica A. Fox; producer Jermaine Dupri; Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and the cast of “Battleground Earth,” Luda and Lee’s upcoming Discovery Channel reality show; V-103’s Frank Ski and Ryan Cameron; Atlanta Falcons Ovie Mughelli, David Irons and Jamaal Anderson; Ted’s Montana Grill co-founder George McKerrow Jr. and wife Ginair and CBS 46 “Restaurant Report Card” reporter Adam Murphy.

SICK BAY

CNN founder Ted Turner, one of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention’s biggest supporters, was notably absent from Monday night’s festivities featuring the Fonda family at the Woodruff Arts Center. But it wasn’t because Turner’s support for G-CAPP or its founder (and his ex-wife) Jane Fonda is waning. Turner’s rep Phillip Evans tells Buzz the bison baron is recovering from back surgery.

“Ted is recovering well and bouncing back,” Evans explains.

The back ailment is the result of “degenerative problems accumulated over the years.”

And the most entertaining Turner story circulating at the benefit’s cocktail reception?

The Ted’s Montana Grill co-founder allegedly showed up at his downtown eatery recently clad in a hospital gown. In response to our logical follow-up question, the answer is yes, Turner was wearing pants, we’re told.

‘I DO’ ON ‘TODAY’?

Tossing privacy and control of their special day to the wind like a bridal bouquet, an Atlanta couple is battling four others for a free wedding, courtesy of “Today.”

Darnell Suggs and LaDonna Bradford, both engineers, were chosen to be in the final five. They started competing Wednesday morning and each week, someone gets eliminated by public vote. The video they submitted was a spoof on “Today.” Bradford played Meredith Vieira and Suggs played Matt Lauer.

Bradford, 24, said the couple got engaged in Egypt on New Year’s Day.

“We have a no-bounds relationship. There are no limits on what we could do. He’s everything I ever dreamed of,” Bradford said.

Suggs noted: “We inspire each other. She makes me want to go above and beyond for her.”

Suggs said they have a wedding set (budget $5,000 to $10,000) for April 2009. But they’re willing to let NBC and the “Today” show do it for them in Rockefeller Center June 25 if America votes accordingly.

To vote: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24596237/.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Counterculture icon Wavy Gravy is 72. Country singer K.T. Oslin is 66. Musician Brian Eno is 60. Actor Chazz Palminteri is 56. Actor David Krumholtz (“Numbers”) is 30. Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”) is 27.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I am complex, contradictory and capable of great intelligence but also remarkable stupidity. In other words, I am a human being. To me, labels are for clothes, not people. So, please don’t try to define me; don’t try to categorize me; and most of all, don’t label me.”

— Al Reynolds in a message posted on his Myspace.com page in response to media reports on the dissolving of his marriage to Star Jones

Contributing: Rodney Ho, Julia Malone and news services

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Fondas in the hot seat at Alliance Theatre

fondas.jpg

The evening was billed as “315 Films,” “66 Awards” and “Five Fondas.”

Right: Peter, Jane and Bridget Fonda and Troy Garity appeared at the Alliance Theatre Monday night.
(Jessica McGowan / AJC)

And for film fans and charitable supporters of founder Jane Fonda’s Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, the 13th annual G-CAPP fund-raiser held at the Woodruff Arts Center Monday night did not disappoint.

A capacity crowd turned out in the Alliance Theatre for a sometimes raucous, occasionally emotional two-hour program highlighted by film clips and a Q&A with the two-time Oscar winner, her brother Peter Fonda, her niece Bridget Fonda and son Troy Garity presided over by Turner Classic Movies host and film historian Robert Osborne.

Boxes of tissues were plentiful for the Fondas as Garity noted the family’s “inherent crying problem.”

Discussing growing up the son of an iconic Hollywood actor, Peter explained that the built-in comparisons only served to “raise the bar” in his own work in films like “Easy Rider.”

“I was picked on because I was Henry Fonda’s son,” Peter told Osborne. “But I learned how to fight and I also learned to run!”

Added Garity wryly: “But being the son of Henry Fonda is nothing compared to being the son of ‘Hanoi Jane.’ But in life, you take licks and ultimately, the positives outweigh the negatives.”

Explained Jane of the work behind her father’s critically acclaimed performances: “He didn’t like to talk about [the process of acting]. He couldn’t articulate it. He didn’t talk a lot. What we got from him, we learned through watching his movies.”

Bridget discussed discovering a passion for painting as a child, watching her “Grandpa Henry” paint watercolors. Of her extended vacation from filmmaking in recent years, the “Single White Female” actress, who’s now a mother and married to film composer Danny Elfman explained to Osborne: “Real life just took over. I have a three-year-old. I miss it sometimes, but I cherish what I have these days.”

Osborne also asked Jane about her own 15-year hiatus from Hollywood, pointing out that when her father “wasn’t doing films, he was doing plays on stage.”

Followed up Fonda: “I was doing [ex-husband] Ted [Turner]!”

Fonda, who’s shot “Monster-in-Law” and “Georgia Rule” in recent years, explained that at age 70, interesting roles don’t flood in.

“They’re all glum. I’d rather write books and hang out in Atlanta.”

The line drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

The evening ended with a final film TCM tribute to Henry Fonda narrated by his children and one last question for the iconic exercise queen from a fan in the audience.

Given the renewed interest in fitness, would Fonda, who helped to pioneer the home video fitness craze of the 1980s with “The Jane Fonda Workout” series consider a follow-up?

Cracked Jane: “Well, I could do one for people with new hips. I’m actually thinking of doing one called ‘The Work In.”

OVERSCENE

Spotted at Monday night’s G-CAPP benefit at the Woodruff Arts Center: Former U.N. ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and wife Carolyn; documentary filmmaker Vanessa Vadim; former Georgia Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and wife Sacha; Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers co-owner and attorney Rutherford Seydel and wife/Captain Planet Foundation chair Laura Turner Seydel, along with Laura’s brothers Rhett and Beau Turner; Watershed chef Scott Peacock; rapper/restaurateur Ludacris and Motley Crue drummer/reality TV star/memoirist Tommy Lee; concert promoter Peter Conlon and actor/director Robert Townsend.

Photos: Jane Fonda and family at the G-CAPP fundraiser

TIMBERLAKE ON TOP

Thanks to a “ruling” by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, there was finally a resolution Tuesday to the long-simmering “Who Do You Know?” radio contest on Q100. Sears visited “The Bert Show” Monday to help the morning show determine the parameters of precisely what defines a “celebrity.” For weeks, the show has taken random calls from the famous who were enlisted by local listeners. In exchange, the winner received $10,000 and the “biggest celebrity” scored a $5,000 check for their favorite charity. On Monday, Sears told Bert Weiss and company that the winner should be a global presence well-known to the station’s core listenership of 20-somethings to folks in their 40s. Among those who called in and thus in the running: Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Sean Connery, super couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner and Justin Timberlake. With a 7-2 vote, Timberlake, Q100 listener (and pal of the pop star) Lindsey Glueckert and Timberlake’s fave charity, the Cambodian Children’s Fund, emerged as the winners Tuesday. So how did Sears end up assisting? She had the misfortune of being seated next to “Bert Show” executive producer Jeff Dauler at a luncheon last week for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Movie producer George Lucas is 64. Musician David Byrne (Talking Heads) is 56. Director Robert Zemeckis is 56. Singer Ian Astbury of The Cult is 46. Actress Cate Blanchett (above) is 39. Singer Danny Wood of New Kids on the Block is 39. Director Sofia Coppola (“Lost In Translation”) is 37. Actress Amber Tamblyn (“Joan of Arcadia”) is 25.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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UGA grad gets tough, survives second shot

After 16 cycles, CBS’ aging reality show “Survivor” Sunday finally crowned a winner with Atlanta ties: Parvati Shallow.

Known on the show as “Parv,” the 25-year-old won with a mix of smart, strategic play and social skills honed at Sprayberry High School (2000) and the University of Georgia (2004). She’s now running a charity to teach boxing to underprivileged kids in Los Angeles.

This edition of “Survivor” distinguished itself via a series of blindsides and stupid moves. In the end, Shallow beat Amanda Kimmel five votes to three. She swayed the jury, including all the women, with a more straightforward argument why she deserved the $1 million.

“I think those girls appreciated that I played a very aggressive game and I didn’t make any apologizes for the moves I made,” she told Buzz Monday. She thinks the ladies didn’t buy Kimmel’s tears when she chose to nix wily Cirie Fields. And after playing back-to-back “Survivor” games, Kimmel was just emotionally exhausted by that point, Shallow said.

After Shallow came in sixth on “Survivor: Cook Islands,” producers gave her a second shot as part of a group of 10 returning “fan favorites” competing against 10 fans. This time, Shallow decided to play tougher.

She made an alliance early on with Fields and Kimmel, then helped blindside the show’s biggest threat, Ozzy Lusth. She and the other women also guilted doe-eyed Erik Reichenbach into giving up his Immunity Idol last week. “Dumbest move in Idol history!” Shallow said to the cameras as she voted him off.

Shallow, who was in metro Atlanta last Thursday for her sister’s college graduation, watched the second-to-last show with her family and friends in Alpharetta.

She said Micronesia was much harsher than Cook Islands: “It rained all the time. There were bugs, bats, rats everywhere. My legs were full of bug bites. The cameras panned up my legs on Exile Island. It was so gross!” But those battle scars earned her a boatload of cash.

SICK BAY UPDATE

Toni Braxton’s return to the stage on the Las Vegas strip has been pushed back for at least another month.

A spokeswoman for Harrah’s Entertainment says the target date to resume “Toni Braxton: Revealed” at the Flamingo Las Vegas hotel is now June 6.

The part-time Alpharetta resident’s show has been dark since the singer was hospitalized overnight for chest pain on April 7.

The spokeswoman says she can’t comment about Braxton’s medical condition. The 40-year-old entertainer has been treated in the past for pericarditis, a viral inflammation of the heart.

Braxton’s two-year run at the Flamingo Las Vegas is scheduled to end in August.

CELEBRITY DOCKET

Last we reported on Atlanta rapper Baby D, it was about him being in an Ohio jail — without bond — following his arrest for allegedly trafficking cocaine.

Well, he’s still there.

But at least now he sees a bit of daylight.

Baby D rang his mother, who in turn rang us, to let his Atlanta fans know, “I’m cool, cool. Just holding it down until my court date, May 20. Hopefully I can get a bond. … I will be exonerated on all charges.”

(D also has three pending assault charges in Tennessee, according to his Koch Records label).

“It’s just a little misconception,” he said. “We’ll be able to answer to that, and the other one. People just try to make you guilty by association. And it’s all about the facts.”

The member of Atlanta’s Big Oomp camp noted that he’s been reading a lot since he was locked up on March 26. “Sometimes if you disappear for a minute it makes people anticipate you’re coming back. So maybe this is a blessing in disguise.”

D also added that his latest CD, “A-Town Secret Weapon” — released this month — “is doing really well. … My fans stick by me and have stayed loyal.”

FALLON BACK UP ‘LATE’ ON NBC

Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Jimmy Fallon is succeeding Conan O’Brien as the host of NBC’s “Late Night” sometime next year.

“I’ve been doing a monologue in my living room the last three years and it was embarrassing,” Fallon joked at a news conference.

NBC’s plan is to have O’Brien move west to take over for Jay Leno at the “Tonight” show next year. After a break to refurbish the Rockefeller Center studio where O’Brien now works, the 33-year-old Fallon will take over.

The Fallon transition is being managed by his former “Saturday Night Live” boss, Lorne Michaels.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Actress Bea Arthur is 86. Actor Harvey Keitel is 69. Singer Stevie Wonder is 58. Comedian Stephen Colbert “The Colbert Report”) is 44. Singer Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish is 42. Drummer Andy Williams of Casting Crowns is 36. Bassist Mickey Madden of Maroon 5 is 29.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

‘Now, he’ll be accused of elder abuse.’

— “View” co-host Joy Behar on Alec Baldwin’s sometimes fractious interview with Morley Safer on “60 Minutes” Sunday after the 76-year-old interviewer used a “judgmental tone” with the “30 Rock” actor while asking about his now-infamous voice mail message to his daughter Ireland in 2006.

Contributing: Rodney Ho, Sonia Murray and news services

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Cee-lo, Shawn Mullins, Arrested Development cameo for charity

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ABOVE: Josh Rifkind pours his heart into “Pour Some Sugar On Me” during his Songs for Kids charity fundraiser at Smith’s Olde bar featuring 500 acts singing 500 songs over 10 days. ALL PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/Staff

Josh Rifkind pulled off an incredible feat a year ago, raising money for charity by corralling 500 musical acts to sing the top 500 songs of the rock era over 10 nights at Smith’s Olde Bar.

Well, the 35-year-old musician just did it again.

While last year’s list came from Rolling Stone, this time his Songs for Kids Foundation created its own list of 500 top “sing-a-long” songs of all time.

The list includes obvious classics (“Piano Man,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”) goofy tunes seldom heard live (Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie,” Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend”) and cheese galore (“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” “Escape (Pina Colada)”). Heck, they even threw in an instrumental you can’t really sing along to (“Chariots of Fire.”)

Buzz caught the top 22 on a sold-out Saturday night, featuring appearances by local artists Cee-lo (doing a slowed-down version of his Gnarls Barkley hit “Crazy”), Shawn Mullins (“Imagine”), Angie Aparo (barely needing a poster-sized lyrical cheat sheet for “American Pie”) and Arrested Development (a riveting “Redemption Song”). Earlier in the week, Sister Hazel (“All For You”), Cracker (“Low”) and Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ (“Straight To Hell”) contributed their own songs.

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ABOVE: Speech and behind him, spiritual advisor Baba Oje are part of Arrested Development, whose biggest hit from the early ’90s was “Tennessee.” The group did “Redemption Song.”

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ABOVE: Atlanta musician Shawn Mullins, best known for his Grammy-nominated 1999 hit “Lullaby,” performed “Imagine.”

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ABOVE: Cee-Lo, part of the group Gnarls Barkley, performed his hit “Crazy,” though he admitted to having some vocal problems.

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ABOVE: Atlanta musician Angie Aparo (“Spaceship”) emotes during his take of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Other local bands who hit the stage Saturday night included Heavy Mojo, a reunion of Left Front Tire and Y-O-U.

Singer/producer Butch Walker, who looked like an extra from the film “Boogie Nights” with his spring mustache, sat before a keyboard and did a faithful rendition of the No. 2 song by Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian.”

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Butch Walker, former lead singer of Marvelous 3, did the Night Ranger sing-a-long song “Sister Christian.” Love the ‘stache!

Rifkind himself even took a stab at a song he bearlye knew, “Friends in Low Places,” saved by a front row of pretty women who sang along. After Aparo led a supergroup with No. 1 song “Hey Jude,” Rifkind dubbed the experience “awesome.”

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ABOVE: Josh Rifkind, with his white binder packed with all the songs and acts for his 10-day marathon, peeks into the crowd while his buddy Wes Hoffman, part of the band the Redcoats, helps out.

Moments after it ended, he said, “I’m so wired, I can do another 500 songs!” Rifkind, who manages The Whigs to pay the bills, added: “I haven’t eaten a full meal in 10 days. I’ve been drinking Shirley Temples to stay awake.”

Rifkin’s foundation brings musicians to hospitals to entertain sick children and raises money for summer camps around town. Check out what he does at www.songsforkidsfoundation.org. and the song list here.

Blass from the past

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Designer Peter Som makes his first appearance in Atlanta Tuesday at Saks Fifth Avenue as creative director of the iconic brand Bill Blass. The position is a circle of sorts for Som who worked under the legendary designer after graduating from Parsons School of Design. Fall 2008 represents Som’s first full collection for Blass, and he told Buzz he was excited to continue Mr. Blass’ tradition of personal appearances.

“I know our Southern customers have a very sophisticated look and do love to dress up and look put together. And that really reflects what I’m doing for Blass,” Som said. Som, who also designs an eponymous line, said he is focused on bringing back the spirit of Blass for the woman of today: “It is really about making luxury in a new kind of way. Luxury that has a sense of ease and nonchalance of it.”

Som has brought some of the juxtaposition of colors and textures seen in his own line to his designs at Blass.

At Blass, Som is overseeing a new collection of handbags that he said would follow the same sensibility as the clothing, mixing exotic skins with canvas and playing with proportions. For someone who dreamed of being a designer, it’s all a dream come true.

The hardest thing for this hard-working designer right now is juggling his schedule. Which means, sadly, the only place he’ll likely see during his first visit to Atlanta is a local Starbucks.

“Starbucks is getting a lot more of my money,” he said.

To attend the Bill Blass Trunk Show and meet Som, RSVP 404-812-7320.

Prime time

Nearly 500 revelers flocked to Maxim Prime last week during a “Peach” Atlanta party. The crowd included restaurant owners Jeffrey and Linda Chodorow, Maxim Prime president Dan Smith, former Atlanta Hawk Kevin Willis, “Peach” mag publisher Elizabeth Roth and husband Thomas, local nightclub impresario Pablo Henderson, CBS 46’s Kim Fettig and CNN’s TJ Holmes.

Random bits

“Idol” finalist David Archuleta’s stage dad Jeff was banned from backstage after he convinced his son to include Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” into a rendition of “Stand By Me” last week, causing problems with the song’s publisher… Hollywood Reporter says Jennie Garth has joined the CW remake of “Beverly Hills 90210” as a guidance counselor. . . Photos are all over the Web showing former Atlantan John Mayer canoodling with Jennifer Aniston.

HIGH FIVE

Star 94 top 5

For the week of May 2-8

  1. “No Air” Jordin Sparks, featuring Chris Brown

  2. “Love Song” Sara Bareilles

  3. “Sorry” Buckcherry

  4. “See You Again” Miley Cyrus

  5. “Feels like Tonight” Daughtry

— Mediabase 24/7

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Composer Burt Bacharach is 80. Comedian George Carlin is 71. Singer Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn) is 53. Actor Ving Rhames is 49. Actor Emilio Estevez is 46. Actor Stephen Baldwin is 42. Actress Kim Fields is 39. Actor Jason Biggs is 30.

Contributing: Nedra Rhone, Jennifer Brett, Rodney Ho and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Usher’s latest ‘Dream’

Usher is such a multi-hyphenate at this moment, it’s almost easy to forget we first got to know him as a singer.

At last count the Atlanta superstar was a husband, a father, an actor, a restaurateur, a fragrance endorser and a part-owner of an NBA team. Now his nonprofit organization New Look has gone into business with Atlanta’s WNBA team, The Dream, so that the kids in the foundation can get hands-on experience in sports management, player development and game-day operations and marketing.

“The Atlanta Dream shares Usher’s commitment to inspiring young men and women to reach their dreams,” Atlanta Dream President and COO Bill Bolen said in a news release. “We are excited to partner with Usher’s New Look Foundation and look forward to the New Look youth participating with us this season.”

“I’m extremely excited about Camp New Look’s partnership with the Atlanta Dream, and look forward to witnessing how this new partnership motivates our young people to even greater heights,” Usher said in the same news release. “We wanted to do something extra special for our students, and I’m happy that the Atlanta Dream has provided an avenue for our young entrepreneurs to attain real life experience.”

TOURS OF THE TIMES

Think those local TV news stories featuring investment property seekers snapping up steals on the courthouse steps as the houses’ former owners protested a few feet away were a severe dose of reality this week? Then you might not be prepared for the first Foreclosure Tour and Learn session set for May 18 at 10 a.m. The bus tour of bank-owned properties will be led by Harry Norman Realtors’ Butch Whitfield and will feature “various price points and quadrants of the city.” For $49 per person (or $65 per couple), you’ll score useful information on foreclosure investing and looksees at the properties. Oh, and lunch is provided.

Or as a co-worker described it Friday: “Come tour the misery of others!”

We rang Whitfield Friday to ask the obvious.

“How would this be perceived as something insensitive?” Whitfield responded. “Somebody’s going to buy these homes. I’m sorry it’s happened. But I sell homes. This is what I do.”

Whitfield says response thus far has been strong and additional tours are being booked for June 8 and June 29.

“It’s also a great way to save on gas,” he pointed out.

If you’d like to book a spot, contact tour coordinator Damon Borozny at damonb@foreclosuretourandlearn.com.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Saturday: Singer Bono of U2 is 48. Rapper Young MC is 41.

Sunday: Comedian Mort Sahl is 81. Singer Eric Burdon (The Animals, War) is 67. Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (“24”) is 56. Former MTV VJ Martha Quinn is 49. Actress Natasha Richardson is 45. Actor Jonathan Jackson (“Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,”) is 26.

OVERSCENE

The members of Radiohead sampling salads, risottos, desserts and virgin Bloody Marys at Veni Vidi Vici in Midtown before their show Thursday night at Lakewood. At the band’s gig, R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe and his former bandmate Bill Berry were there. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke (right) and company, meanwhile, were spotted checking out of the brand new Midtown W hotel Friday.

Members of The Bravery at Bonefish Grill Thursday filming Ovation TV’s upcoming series “Notes on the Road.” The band munched on shrimp, salmon with warm mango salsa, chicken eggrolls and chicken portobello pasta.

Contributing: Rodney Ho, Sonia Murray and news services

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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At 104, she’s grieving for bowling beau

As soon as we received word of Bill Hargrove’s passing Thursday at Buzz Central, we immediately picked up the phone and rang Rachel Rosen Lehmann, our favorite 104-year-old reader.

As you’ll no doubt recall, Lehmann first called us back in March 2005, after reading about bowler Bill “Tiger” Hargrove, then 102, who had just been featured in the AJC Sports section. Lehmann wanted his digits. We happily obliged. The two ended up getting on so well, Hargrove showed up at the longtime Atlanta Opera volunteer’s 102nd birthday party in June of that year with three long-stemmed red roses. Sporting a jacket and tie, Hargrove gave her a hug and purred in her ear: “I came in here looking for an old lady but I couldn’t find one.”

We took copious notes and the pair ended up on the front page much to the delight of readers.

“Oh, Bill, what a darling sweet man,” Lehmann reflected Thursday. “He was a real Southern gentleman. He would always call me ‘Rachel darlin’ ’ in that accent of his. It was the cutest thing.”

Lehmann told us the two met up from time to time when they could arrange transportation but mostly kept up via phone calls.

Said Lehmann: “He would tell me, ‘When I go to bed at night, I see you in my dreams.’ How can you top that? They aren’t making gentlemen like that anymore.”

Regrettably, Lehmann never had a chance to take Hargrove to her beloved Atlanta Opera. But she did attend his 106th birthday party last year.

“I brought him a big bottle of wine!” Lehmann recalled with a wicked laugh. “I mean, at our age, why not? We always had so much fun together. I just wish we could have started a little earlier. But I’m so happy I got to meet him. And so handsome!”

In tribute to her bowling beau, the Zaban Tower retirement community songbird plans to attend Hargrove’s memorial service Saturday at 2 p.m. at Atlanta’s Grace United Methodist Church.

With three long-stemmed red roses in hand.

A GOSPEL ‘JESUS’

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production company has tapped Atlanta’s Susan V. Booth to direct the forthcoming gospel version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” scheduled to run at the Alliance Theatre on Jan. 14-Feb. 22 in 2009.

The Alliance artistic director said she was called to London recently for a sit-down with Webber’s Really Useful Group. “Sir Andrew wasn’t there,” Booth said, “because he was on his way to Las Vegas for ‘American Idol.’ “

Detroit native Louis St. Louis is restaging the classic musical as “Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL.” To prepare, Booth said they will be hitting Atlanta’s gospel churches in the coming weeks. She says part of the fun is being able to check out churches “other than Presbyterian,” which is her denomination.

Apparently, the search for a director was quite competitive.

“This is their prime copyright,” Booth said. “This is the first major reconception of the work in a long time and that’s a big deal.”

“It’s very humbling and it’s very challenging, and it’s the greatest thing in the world when you get to do that,” she said of her new assignment.

Booth’s connection to the ’70s rock opera is personal. She says she sang “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” in a sixth-grade talent show.

“I thought it was stunning, but I don’t think everyone else did,” she said. She says she now croons “Everything’s Alright” to her 4-year-old daughter, Moira.

COUPLING

Mariah Carey really did get married to Nick Cannon in the Bahamas last week — and they have the tattoos to prove it.

The 38-year-old singer and the 27-year-old actor confirmed to People magazine, out today, that they tied the knot at Carey’s Bahamian estate April 30 after a courtship that began in late March.

In the interview, Cannon said they clicked instantly when Carey cast him as a lover in the video for her new single, “Bye Bye.”

“From the first time we sat down to discuss the video at the Beverly Hills Hotel, we connected,” Cannon said. “We had so much in common spiritually, and we laugh at the same things. I didn’t have to put on my Mac Daddy suave mode. I was able to be myself with her. We are both eternally 12 years old.”

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace is 90. Actress Candice Bergen is 62. Singer Billy Joel is 59.

HIGH FIVE

Television

The top On Demand programs for the week of May 5, as determined by Comcast customers in metro Atlanta:

1. Lil Wayne, “Lollipop,” music video, Music Choice

2. Shawty Lo, “Dunn, Dunn,” music video, Music Choice

3. Usher, “Love in this Club,” music video, Music Choice

4. Keyshia Cole, “Heaven Sent,” music video, Music Choice

5. “Family Guy,” “Mr. Griffin goes to Washington,” TBS

— Courtesy: Rentrak’s OnDemand Essentials

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It is a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters, in the sunset of her life, is reduced to publicly branding herself as an adulterer, humiliating an innocent family with accounts of her illicit affair and speaking negatively against me all for the sake of selling a book. It speaks to her true character.”

Disgruntled former “View” employee Star Jones to US Weekly on ex-boss Barbara Walters’ new memoir, “Audition.”

Contributing: Wendell Brock and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Girlfriends sit within eyelash of Oprah

Atlantans Mara Davis and Amy Leavell Bransford literally have front-row seats for today’s “Oprah Winfrey Show,” recently taped at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and featuring Tina Turner and Cher.

And since Dave FM midday diva Davis has the BuzzBerry hotline number, we have all the scoop you won’t see on-air on WSB at 4 p.m. Last month, Davis, Leavell Bransford and friends were in Vegas for a girls weekend away when they bumped into “Oprah” audience coordinator Sally Lou Loveman who hooked them up with front-row seats, three chairs down from Oprah BFF Gayle King.

“Honestly, I don’t ever expect to be in a room with that many wigs or hair extensions again!” Davis told Buzz. In addition to the faux follicle-favoring icons on stage, the Caesar’s Colosseum also contained numerous Cher and Tina impersonators invited for the show.

Davis says the taping took several hours as Turner and Cher recorded various renditions of musical performances. When Cher’s headset mike got caught in her wig during “Take Me Home,” she retaped the tune with a handheld mike. And taping temporarily halted when Winfrey lost a false eyelash.

“Cher had to point it out to Oprah,” Davis dished. “Oprah told Cher, ‘Hey, you know who your real friends are when you lose an eyelash!’ Cher was very down to earth but Tina’s a little wacky. She’s very European now.”

On the way out, Leavell Bransford prompted Davis to say something to the departing King.

Explained Davis: “Amy comes from a show biz family [she’s the daughter of Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell], but even she was a little starstruck. I yelled to her, ‘Hey Gayle, nice shoes!’ She said, ‘Thank you,’ and kept walking.”

Footnote from Davis: “Gayle was wearing Lucite wedges but not the trampy type of Lucite wedges. These were very stylish.”

MOORE SWABBING FOR TV SWEEPS

Like the rest of the city endlessly intrigued by those radio and TV spots touting WSB anchor Jovita Moore’s sweeps-inspired purse swabbing, we raced home Tuesday night to catch the report on Action News. For the story, Moore swabbed the bottom and handles of her purse, along with 36 other purses at random and sent them to Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake City for testing. Like most of the women interviewed for the report, Moore conceded that she routinely places her bag on her desk and her kitchen counter. So what did the lab tests reveal?

Well, fecal contamination, for starters, due to placing purses on the floors of restrooms and public sidewalks. Explained Nelson’s Beau Rollins in the report: “It’s like wiping feces on your plate and then eating it.” That’s about when the city collectively put down its dinner fork.

Naturally, after the segment, we had lots of follow-up questions for Moore. And while the anchor was game to talk to the likes of us, her bosses at WSB politely nixed our request.

So we rang Rollins. He told us that the 37 test samples were placed in “general enrichment broths that are a perfect environment for organisms to grow if they’re present.”

In addition to fecal coliforms, staph also was detected in the results.

“It’s really about creating awareness,” Rollins told Buzz. “If you interviewed 100 women, 95 of them would tell you they’ve never washed their purse. It’s just not on people’s radar screens. But it’s really the same as washing your hands.”

A spokesperson for Moore’s purse, meanwhile, told us the embarrassed accessory was in seclusion and not available for comment Wednesday.

DEALS FOR REHAB, SOMMERVILLE

Another day, another major record label move on the Atlanta music scene.

On Tuesday, ajc.com reported that rap duo Rehab has been resurrected as a quintet by original member Danny Boone and has a deal with Universal Republic.

Now there’s news that much-buzzed-about local trumpeter Joey Sommerville has inked a deal with Three Keys Music — a label launched by BET founder Robert Johnson and pianist/businessman Marcus Johnson, and distributed by Koch.

“Joey is a great musician, and he understands the new music business model,” Marcus Johnson said in a news release. “His talent, tremendous work ethic and drive have allowed him to create a truly incredible album.”

Sommerville’s latest CD, “Like You Mean It,” will be released next week, with guest appearances from Wayman Tisdale, Mike Phillips, Marion Meadows and Phil Perry.

On May 15, there will be a CD release party/performance at Sambuca Jazz Cafe, from which Sommerville’s performances have been broadcast live each Thursday on Smooth Jazz 107.5.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Comedian Don Rickles is 82. Singer Toni Tennille is 68. Drummer Alex Van Halen of Van Halen is 55. Actress Melissa Gilbert is 44. Singer Darren Hayes (Savage Garden) is 36. Singer Enrique Iglesias is 33.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Randy, stop. ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ is going to start!”

“American Idol” host and Dunwoody High grad Ryan Seacrest (left) to long-winded judge Randy Jackson during Tuesday night’s live show as the broadcast threatened to creep into the 9 p.m. time slot.

Contributing: Shane Harrison, Sonia Murray and news services

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Atlanta bakers spatula-rich, thanks to TV

At last weekend’s Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Breadwinner co-founders Geoff Melkonian and Katie Melkonian discovered that your unconventional kitchen techniques can live forever on Food Network.


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Atlanta Breadwinner bakers Katie and Geoff Melkonian know all about spatulas after Paula Deen’s (center) sons chided Geoff on TV for using his hands to mix ingredients.

The husband-and-wife Atlanta bakers reunited with Food Network “Road Tasted” stars Jamie and Bobby Deen, who featured the family-owned Atlanta business in the first season of their series. As viewers will recall, the Deen boys poked a little fun at Geoff in the episode because he uses his hands to combine ingredients.

Like most Food Network programs, the Atlanta-centric “Road Tasted” episode has been rerun liberally.

Over the weekend, Jamie popped by Breadwinner’s booth to say hello and promptly asked Geoff if he’s “picked up a spatula yet.”

The short answer is yes, thanks to fanatical “Road Tasted” fans who have inundated the Breadwinner offices with spatulas since the segment began airing last year.

The Melkonians also got to meet Jamie and Bobby’s mama, Food Network phenom Paula Deen, and presented her with their latest Breadwinner flavor, Lemon Poppyrazzi.

An appropriate gift since some of Deen’s fans don’t seem to comprehend the concept of “personal space” these days.

FUTURE FOREST IDEA A DESIGN WINNER

A drought-fighting scheme for Atlanta called “The City in the Forest” came up the winner in “City of the Future: A Design and Engineering Challenge,” a national competition hosted by the History Channel. After besting seven local competitors in February, the team — composed of design firms EDAW, BNIM and Praxis3 and environmental engineers Metcalf & Eddy — won the Web competition in which 25,000 votes were cast.

Their proposal, which aims to make Atlanta the city in the trees once again by reviving underground streams, already has some traction, says David Hamilton, a principal at Praxis3. “We’ve briefed Sustainable Atlanta, a mayor-appointed group, and they are interested in doing some of the things we suggested.”

The team plans to use the $5,000 award to produce a Web site about sustainability — after funding a celebration for the group.

MAYER NOT SO DEFT WITH ‘DEFLECTION’

Well, this is disappointing. Former Buckhead boy and Eddie’s Attic performer John Mayer was less than his usual articulate self on the red carpet Monday night in New York. Entering the annual Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum, the singer-songwriter was asked about those pictures of him and former “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston in InTouch Weekly.

The poolside pair were the canoodling cover subjects in the current issue of the glossy celebrity weekly that these days chiefly serves to anesthetize us against check-out sticker shock at the Publix. Of the potential romance, Mayer told “Extra”: “I don’t mean to deny it, but sort of deflect it. You have the photograph. You think it’s Photoshopped?”

‘PRAYING’ FOR CYRUS

Maligned Mouse House employee Miley Cyrus bravely soldiered on through a taping of the Disney Channel Games concert over the weekend in Orlando. The teen pop star spawn of Billy Ray Cyrus, however, dodged any direct media questions about that controversial skin-baring Annie Leibovitz photo spread in the June issue of Vanity Fair. Onstage, she referenced the ongoing media dust-up between her and Leibovitz, telling fans: “I saw a sign back there that said, ‘Miley, I’m praying for you.’ I could not be more appreciative. God bless you.”

Oddly, Cyrus not only signed off on the tarted-up photo, her father was on the set at the time it was taken.

But we’ll admit it — when the June Vanity Fair arrived at Buzz Central Tuesday, we licked our lips lasciviously. After all, the issue does contain juicy excerpts from Barbara Walters’ dishy new memoir, detailing the nasty skirmishes with her former ABC News co-anchor, Harry Reasoner.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Singer Jimmy Ruffin is 69. Actress Robin Strasser (“One Life to Live”) is 63. Singer Thelma Houston is 62. News correspondent Tim Russert (“Meet the Press”) is 58. Actor Michael E. Knight (“All My Children”) is 49. Actress Traci Lords is 39. Actor Breckin Meyer (“Road Trip”) is 34.

COUPLING

Scarlett Johansson and her boyfriend, Ryan Reynolds, are engaged.

The 23-year-old actress and the 31-year-old actor have not set a wedding date, Johansson’s publicist, Marcel Pariseau, said.

Johansson’s recent credits include “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “The Nanny Diaries.” Reynolds recently starred in “Definitely, Maybe.” He was previously engaged to Alanis Morissette.

Contributing: Catherine Fox and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Atlanta magazine scores upset in Big Apple

The staffers at Atlanta magazine had a prestigious parcel to liberate from its bubble wrap Monday: The 47-year-old city mag’s first Ellie Award.

Last week, Atlanta editor in chief Rebecca Burns and deputy editor Paige Williams were stunned when Williams’ piece, “You Have Thousands of Angels Around You,” beat out The New Yorker, GQ, Vanity Fair and New York magazine to net the Feature Writing prize at the National Magazine Awards.


Steve Friedman
Atlanta magazine’s editor in chief, Rebecca Burns, receives an Ellie Award from former Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham. Atlanta won for deputy editor Paige Williams’ article on a teen immigrant.

The piece originally ran in Atlanta’s highly acclaimed “International Issue” last October and details the harrowing plight of Atlantan Cynthia Siyomvo, a refugee from Burundi.

The win, at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, became the first big upset of the evening (Atlanta mag staffers joked that they were clearly the “Little Miss Sunshine” of this year’s Ellies).

Of her acceptance speech, Burns told Buzz Monday: “Apparently, it went well. I just remember weeping on [presenter and legendary Harper’s editor] Lewis Lapham. Afterward, people complimented me so I must have said something. I don’t really remember. I didn’t write an acceptance speech because I didn’t want to jinx it. Plus, when you’re up against The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, you don’t expect to win!”

Here’s what the American Society of Magazine Editors judges said about Atlanta’s winning narrative:

“Without a trace of false sentimentality, Paige Williams tells the stop-you-in-your-tracks tale of a teenager who survived a war, lost her entire family, fled two continents and wound up in Atlanta, where she is helped in her claim on a bright future by an unlikely network of ‘angels,’ including a middle class family and an indefatigable immigration attorney who plucks her case from obscurity.”

Or as Burns more succinctly put it Monday:

“I cried when I read the first draft and I cried when I read the 25th draft. I mean, close-the-door, head-on-your-desk bawling.”

New York media and celeb Web site gawker.com immediately blogged about Atlanta’s surprise win. And after lugging the prize — an Alexander Calder elephant sculpture — off stage, Burns wondered how she would get the abstract award home.

“I knew we would never get it through airport security,” Burns recalled. “They told us, ‘It’s never really been an issue since the winner is always based in New York.’ “

That’s where UPS came in handy. On Monday, the award rested next to the numerous bouquets of congratulatory flowers.

“It looks like a funeral home in here today,” cracked Burns, who added that she bought the classic black cocktail she wore to the awards at Rag-O-Rama for a thrifty $14.

If you didn’t read “You Have Thousands of Angels Around You” last fall, you may find the piece in its entirety at atlantamagazine.com.

WEST HITS GWINNETT

Hip-hop phenom Kanye West finally brought his live show to his metro Atlanta fans Sunday night, and while his “Glow in the Dark” tour may feel a little past his latest CD’s expiration date, his concert was something light years from now.

Whatever epoch his visually arresting stage show was set in, apparently it was not a time when anyone other than West needed to be on the Gwinnett Arena stage — as his incredible band was set just underneath him in an orchestra pit, and in all black.

Apparently it was also not a time where any other recording artists should make an appearance with him — as the only person who joined West was opening act, rapper Lupe Fiasco, on one of the closing tunes, “Touch the Sky.” And apparently it was not a place much on patter, either — as the only time West seemed to kind of acknowledge where he was was when he changed the chorus of “Good Life”: “The good life — it feel[s] like A-Town/it feel[s] like A-Town/it feel[s] like A-Town!”

The capacity crowd, however, had no problem acknowledging West. It remained on its feet almost the entire concert as the 10-time Grammy winner gave what felt like a breathless, almost athletic 90-minute performance.

And even with the lights lowered it was hard not to spot the numerous stars in the audience from the worlds of music (Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Musiq, Scar, Quincy Jones, Jermaine Dupri, Chaka Zulu), TV (Kenny Burns, Ryan Glover) and sports (Jamal Anderson).

The dynamic West more than made up for the lack of energy in Rihanna’s 30-minute-plus set, which the audience mostly stood and watched like it was a fashion show. And to her credit, the singer — in fishnet stockings and a tight, black, short, leather one-piece with hot pink piping — was certainly fashionable.

DNA DOESN’T LIE

Former CNN-er turned Atlanta blogger Art Harris has The Associated Press and “Entertainment Tonight” eating his dust after he broke news on his Web site: Peter Shahid, an attorney for James Brown II’s guardian, confirms to the AP Harris’ report that the boy is the late singer’s son.

Brown II is the son of Tomi Rae Hynie, a former backup singer for the Godfather of Soul.

The results of a second, court-ordered test have not been released.

Trustees handling Brown’s estate have suggested Hynie was not legally married to Brown and her boy is not his son. They were not mentioned in Brown’s will.

A call to a spokesman for Hynie and a message left for Brown’s trustees were not immediately returned.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Singer Bob Seger is 63. Actor Alan Dale (“Ugly Betty”) is 61. Actor Ben Masters (“Passions”) is 61. Host Tom Bergeron (“Dancing with the Stars”) is 53. Actress Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”) is 48. Actor George Clooney is 47.

OVERSCENE

Harold Dieterele, the season one winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” enjoying lunch with current contestant Richard Blais at the Atlanta chef’s current restaurant, Home in Buckhead.

Actress Laura Dern shopping at REI. We hear Dern is in town shooting a film.

Contributing: Sonia Murray and news services

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Funny how Seinfeld is worth $77 to many

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Not many standup comics can get away with charging up to $77 for tickets. But Jerry Seinfeld can. The king of observational humor sold out two gut-busting shows at the Fox Theatre on Friday night.

How funny was he 10 years after his seminal sitcom “Seinfeld” ended? Weakened by laughter, Buzz at times had trouble jotting notes.

Seinfeld vented faux outrage over everything from pointless cliches people utter (“How about this weather? Do you think it’ll last?”), those strips of news below the talking heads on CNN and Fox News (“Don’t they know the reason people are watching TV is so they don’t have to read?”) to the utter ubiquity of Starbucks.

“I know people who stop by for a latte on their way to a Starbucks!” he said. Time seems to have stood still for Seinfeld. At age 54, he looks fit, relaxed and 15 years younger than his age.

And though he makes references to iPhones and Ebay, he hasn’t changed an iota stylistically from those bits you see in the early episodes of “Seinfeld” in syndication. The difference now is he’s a happily married gazillionaire with three children. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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MySpace song gets him pro gig

Atlanta’s own Home Depot has generated plenty of Olympic athletes and proudly publicizes them. But for a change of pace, Home Depot now employs the new lead singer for the band Boston.

One day, Tommy DeCarlo was a credit manager at a Charlotte Home Depot. Now he’s prepping to sing “Don’t Look Back” and “More Than a Feeling” on a North American tour, including a stop at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta on Aug. 17. “Holy cow! I’m just thrilled!” 43-year-old DeCarlo told Buzz. “I’ve never been in a band before.”

After lead singer Brad Delp committed suicide last year, DeCarlo posted a tribute song on his MySpace page. Some fans heard it and encouraged him to contact Boston. He eventually reached Boston founder Tom Scholz. “I was wicked nervous,” he said when Scholz first talked to him.

For years, DeCarlo said friends thought he sounded like Delp. Scholz agreed. After DeCarlo did an audition and live tribute show, Scholz awarded him the job as lead singer. DeCarlo’s now on leave from Home Depot.

“When articles about me ended up in the papers, my coworkers came up to me and wanted me to sign them,” he mused. “That was bizarre!”

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TV actor crashes in Road Atlanta race

Ian Ziering (above) crashed his Mazda in his first Road Atlanta race as a pro driver Saturday, emerging physically unscathed but a bit bruised in the ego.

“I’m disappointed to say the least,” said Ziering, best known in pop culture circles as Steve Sanders from “Beverly Hills 90210” and a 2007 fourth-place finisher in “Dancing With the Stars.”

Braselton’s Road Atlanta over its 38 years has been host to a number of celebrities including Lorenzo Lamas, Craig T. Nelson, Bruce Jenner, Crystal Bernard and the only big name who has won a major race there, the esteemed Paul Newman.

Ziering — who started in last place among 31 drivers after qualifying rounds, lagged behind the others throughout the race — getting lapped twice by the eventual winner on the 2.5 mile course. Then near the end, he lost control of the vehicle at a turn, slid out and hit a tire wall, forcing the race to end early.

But he’s not discouraged. “This is spurring me on to do better,” he told Buzz. “I have seven more races. I just need more seat time.” He even whipped out his phone and took photos of the car damage for posterity. (see below)

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Overscene

Though they lost Game 7 Sunday in Boston, the Atlanta Hawks captured the imaginations of starved local basketball fans by winning Game 6 Friday night against the Boston Celtics, and several celebs at Philips Arena cheered them on. Among them: local R&B stars Jermaine Dupri, Ciara and T-Boz and former Falcons DeAngelo Hall and Alge Crumpler.

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Next ‘Bachelorette’ is Newnan woman

Remember DeAnna Pappas? She’s the adorably cute Newnan real estate agent jilted by “Bachelor” Brad Womack during the finale last November. In fact, Womack didn’t pick anybody. There was much outrage and sympathy for Pappas in “Bachelor” land. ABC rewarded her with her own show. Her run as “The Bachelorette” is ready to debut May 19. An ABC news release notes that she’ll have a date at Dodger Stadium to meet Tommy Lasorda, a concert with Natasha Bedingfield and a visit to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

HIGH FIVE

Hot 107.9

Covering April 24 to 30

  1. Lil Wayne “Lollipop”

  2. Usher “Love in This Club”

  3. V.I.C. “Get Silly”

  4. Shawty Lo “Foolish”

  5. Rick Ross “Boss”

— Mediabase 24/7

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Comedian-actor Michael Palin (Monty Python) is 65. Newsman Brian Williams is 49. Actress Tina Yothers (“Family Ties”) is 35. Singer Craig David is 27. Singer Chris Brown is 19.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Actor gets motor running in Braselton

Ian Ziering, best known as smooth-talking Steve Sanders on “Beverly Hills 90210” during the 1990s, has joined the ranks of fellow actors Frankie Muniz and Patrick Dempsey and taken on auto racing as a hobby.

You’ll be able to hang out with him today at Road Atlanta in Braselton, where he’ll be competing at 1:30 p.m. in the SCAA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. (That rolls off the tongue. …)

“I’ve loved motorsports since I was a kid, but I just went pro last year,” Ziering told Buzz this week.

He took a racing school class at Road Atlanta five years ago and deemed it an “awesome track.”

This is not a cheap hobby. Besides the vehicle itself, staffing a pit crew and maintaining the vehicle can go into six figures per year. As a “complete newbie,” Ziering said he’s seeking more sponsors. Interested? He gave Buzz a contact number at Hale Motorsports: 860-399-4603. Psst, ask for Randy.

Ziering’s profile went up a year ago when he finished a solid fourth on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” This led to hosting duties of Lifetime’s recent reality show “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” He fended off assertions that the show is creepy because it features parents dancing with their sons and daughters, often in sexy outfits.

“The dancers were not sensual,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than a parent having fun with their kids.”

Ziering isn’t involved with efforts to create a “90210” spinoff, but he’s not against the idea. “It’s great if they capture the spirit” of the original, he said. “I’m like anybody else. I want to be entertained!”

MONEY FOR CENTER

If Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and his co-chairman, Dr. Jeffrey Gallups, want to put their feet up today, they should be indulged. After all, when the final numbers were crunched this week, the pair and some deep-pocketed pals helped raise $106,000 via the first Murphy-Harpst Golf Classic at St. Ives Country Club. The outing generated necessary funds to go toward the planned Murphy-Harpst Children’s Center. Gallups told us a live auction featuring a trip to New York City with tickets to see “Live With Regis and Kelly” and “Late Show With David Letterman” and a stay at the Intercontinental-Barclay were among the signature items.

“This may have been my first and last time as a co-chair,” Gallups joked. “I had no idea exactly how much work goes into creating a successful fund-raiser.” Gallups conceded that his wife, Dr. Nancy Gallups, is usually the charitable co-chair in the family.

Despite Jeffrey’s protestations, we’re wagering that after raising $106 grand his first time out, the Atlanta doc is already being considered for an encore.

COUPLING?

When she was making the media rounds on Atlanta radio last week, pop diva Mariah Carey declined to discuss her relationship with comic and actor Nick Cannon.

But according to several published reports, Carey, 38, married Cannon, 27, on Wednesday. Neither Carey’s publicist nor Cannon’s manager returned requests from The Associated Press for comment.

If the pair did indeed wed, it would be a whirlwind romance. Word that the two were seeing each other first surfaced in the past few weeks. Last Saturday, Carey was seen sporting a huge diamond ring on her finger at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of her movie “Tennessee,” in which she plays a waitress. Cannon was at her side at the party. Speculation swirled that the couple were engaged.

Latina.com was first to report that the two got married, at Carey’s home in the Bahamas. Friday’s New York Post also reported that the pair had wed, and E! Online quoted a relative of Cannon’s as saying that Cannon called his family and confirmed the news.

“He called us and told us all about it. We are happy for him. If that is what he wants, then we are happy for him,” Linda Cannon, identified simply as a family member, was quoted telling E!

People magazine’s Web site reported Friday that Carey had obtained a marriage license on the island of Eleuthera, in the Bahamas, where she has an estate.

Cannon is best known for his role in the movie “Drumline” that was shot in Atlanta.

HIGH FIVE

Television

The top On Demand programs for the week of April 28, as determined by Comcast customers in metro Atlanta:

1. Lil Wayne, “Lollipop,” music video, Music Choice

2. “House of Payne,” “Cheers” episode, TBS

3. “Family Guy,” “Airport 07” episode, TBS

4. Lil Wil, “My Dougie,” music video

5. “Family Guy,” “Dammit Janet” episode, TBS

— Courtesy: Rentrak’s OnDemand Essentials

OVERSCENE

The Boston Celtics’ starting lineup, including Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce fueling up on burgers, oysters, sushi and tapas at Twist in Buckhead before the team’s Friday night playoff game against the Hawks at Philips Arena.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Saturday: Folk singer Pete Seeger is 89. Actress Ann B. Davis (“The Brady Bunch”) is 82. Singer Frankie Valli is 73. Sports announcer Greg Gumbel is 62. Actor Dulé Hill (“The West Wing”) is 33. Dancer Cheryl Burke (“Dancing With the Stars”) is 24.

Sunday: Surf guitarist Dick Dale is 71. Country singer Randy Travis is 49. Comedian Ana Gasteyer (“Saturday Night Live”) is 41. Actor Will Arnett (“Arrested Development,” “Blades of Glory”) is 38. Bassist Mike Dirnt of Green Day is 36. Singer Lance Bass of ‘N Sync is 29.

Contributing: Rodney Ho and news services.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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Chef Immel says goodbye to Table 1280

Chef-owner Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia, Quinones at Bacchanalia, Star Provisions and Floataway Cafe confirmed this week that chef Todd Immel (below right) has left his post as executive chef at tony Table 1280 at the High Museum to work in her and husband Clifford Harrison’s stable of restaurants.

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Josh Cary, manager at Table 1280, corroborated that Immel left April 1, leaving his sous chef, Tracey Bloom, in charge of the multimillion-dollar venue’s kitchen. Bloom, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, worked under Immel’s supervision at Table 1280 for more than a year, and before that was his sous chef at now-closed Oscar’s in College Park and Luma (a Concentrics restaurant) in Florida.

“We’re so glad to have Todd as part of our team,” Quatrano said. “As we expand our restaurants, we’re looking to add Todd’s talent to the mix.” Quatrano added that at the moment Immel is “focusing on absorbing all areas of our business — from charcuterie production to our hot line at Bacchanalia and Quinones.”

Bloom already has changed a few menu items at Table 1280, but Cary said the menu would probably not take any dramatic twists or turns. Operated by Restaurant Associates, Table 1280 opened as part of the grand, $124 million revamping of the High Museum in 2005. Atlanta star-chef Shaun Doty opened the restaurant, but left within a year to pursue a restaurant of his own, Shaun’s, in Inman Park. The management group, out of New York, has had a hard time since luring local talent to its kitchen, so Immel’s loss could be a grave one.

Quatrano also confirmed plans to expand the couple’s group of restaurants to include a new “meat-centric” casual spot to reside in the still-under-construction White Provisions complex on Howell Mill Road. The menu will focus on meats and meat products — local pork and lamb, and eventually local beef — but Quatrano was hesitant to call the new restaurant a steakhouse. The venue is larger than the couple’s other efforts, with 130 seats plus 40 more on a patio. The name? Abattoir, which means “slaughterhouse” in French. The restaurant is slated for a November opening.

SUPPORT FROM MUSICIAN SAMPLE

If you know anything about legendary keyboardist Joe Sample (below right), it should come as no surprise that he is more than willing to support jazz wherever it is appreciated. And Clark Atlanta University surely qualifies, he says. “I’ve been impressed with what they’ve been doing there for a long time,” Sample told Buzz this week prior to his appearance Saturday at the 15th annual Jazz Under the Stars benefit concert at Clark’s Panther Stadium. “I remember I was doing this seminar at black colleges in the latter part of the 1980s, where I went to South Carolina, Mississippi, Fisk, all of these schools — even my old alma mater, Texas Southern. And the only school that had what I determined was a well-supported and qualified music department was Clark’s.

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“I have been on [Clark’s] campus at least three or four times since then, talking to music students and performing, and it has maintained that excellence,” Sample continued. “So of course I’m happy to return this weekend, and help raise money to keep up the good work.”

Doors open for the benefit for Clark students in the performing arts — which will also include the CAU Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Vocal Ensemble — at 6:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $60, and available by calling 404-880-8136. Corporate tables and sponsorships are available at 404-577-8677.

CELEBRITY DOCKET

Atlanta rapper Baby D released a new CD Tuesday, but it’s unlikely he’s doing much celebrating behind bars.

Koch Records has confirmed that its artist has been a guest at an Ohio jail since March 26, when he was arrested for allegedly trafficking cocaine in Dayton. Baby D is being held without bond in the Butler County Jail.

In addition to those federal charges, the member of Atlanta’s Big Oomp Camp — probably best known for the 2000 single “Eastside Vs. Westside” — has three pending assault charges in Tennessee, according to Koch. And a warrant for his arrest in his home state was dismissed, the label says.

Still, Koch issued Baby D’s third CD, “A-Town Secret Weapon,” this week, featuring guest appearances from fellow local phenoms Sean P of the YoungBloodZ, Pastor Troy, Shawty Low, Gucci Mane, BackBone and DJ Jelly. The first single, “I’m Bout Money,” is enjoying local airplay, and the video is in rotation on BET and MTV Jams.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Singer Lesley Gore is 62. Country singer Larry Gatlin is 60. Singer Lou Gramm of Foreigner is 58. Actress Christine Baranski is 56. Country singer Ty Herndon is 46. Wrestler-actor Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is 36. Singer Lily Allen is 23. Actress Kay Panabaker (“Nancy Drew”) is 18.

OVERSCENE

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Ivory Latta of the Atlanta Dream WNBA team dining on nachos, wings and a burger at Stats downtown. We’re told she “became an instant fan” of the stylish sports bar and plans to bring her family there when they come in town to see her play.

If you have a tip, call 404-526-2749. Or fax 404-526-5509. Or e-mail: buzz@ajc.com.

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