Jewish World Review Jan. 8, 2004 / 14 Teves, 5764

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Consumer Reports


Sitcom star won't be excused from Blake murder trial; fierstein on fire; Drudge & Blumenthal, together again


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | NEW YORK — Sultry actress Christina Applegate has somehow fallen into the jury pool for the Robert Blake murder trial.


And, so far, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp isn't ready to let her out.


After spending nine hours on Monday at the Van Nuys courthouse with hundreds of prospective jurors — including my pal Harry Shearer, the voice of Montgomery Burns and Ned Flanders on "The Simpsons" — the 32-year-old Applegate was ordered to return to court this morning.


"I think it's safe to say that she was not overjoyed to be called back," Shearer told me yesterday.


He was luckier — obtaining his freedom after retiring to Schempp's chambers to tell the judge, along with the prosecution and defense attorneys: "I'm contractually committed to 'The Simpsons.'" When the judge asked, "What if you don't show up," Shearer replied, "I'd probably be sued for breach of contract."


Applegate's manager, Tami Lynn, told me yesterday that the actress will argue today that she, too, has obligations, and that it would be a hardship to serve on a four- to five-month trial. Blake, who played a cop on the "'70s television series "Baretta," is charged in the 2001 shooting death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, outside a Los Angeles restaurant.


Shearer told me that Blake was present in the small courtroom where he and Applegate spent the afternoon sitting together "making jokes, like the bad kids in the back of the classroom."


Applegate will bring documentation of her busy professional schedule, such as starring opposite Will Ferrell in the upcoming movie "Anchorman" and opposite Ben Affleck in "Surviving Christmas" — both of which will require her availability for re-shoots and voice-overs.


Then there's Applegate's trip to Utah's Sundance Film Festival late next week to help promote three indie movies in which she appears.

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"Obviously, if you're a well-known person, no attorney is going to let you serve on a jury — not the Robert Blake jury, for starters," Shearer said.


But if the actress ended up being impaneled for Blake's trial, wouldn't that be a perfect illustration of a jury of one's peers?


"Christina might be a peer of Robert Blake's," Shearer quipped, "except that she didn't get out of a parked car outside a restaurant and say, "I have to go back inside. I left my gun in the restaurant.'"


FIERSTEIN ON FIRE


Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, wife Hadassah and daughter Rebecca got an earful Tuesday night when they dropped by Harvey Fierstein's dressing room after watching a performance of "Hairspray." Yesterday, the Broadway star told me, "He's a very nice man, but I yelled at him. Basically, I said, "You've got to get some balls and stand up to the Republicans. You have to do what's right and not be frightened off your positions. The American people know the difference between the two parties. How come all of you guys don't?'" Fierstein, who is especially angry about Republican attempts to prohibit gays from getting married, said the centrist candidate listened noncommittally, while Hadassah Lieberman said soothingly: "I understand."


DRUDGE & BLUMENTHAL, TOGETHER AGAIN Once upon a time, cybergossip Matt Drudge claimed on his Web site that then-Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal beat his wife. Drudge retracted the erroneous story, and Blumenthal sued him for $30 million. The case was settled four years later in May 2001 (with Blumenthal paying $2,500 toward the travel expenses of Drudge's lawyer), and the two have had nothing to do with each other since. Until now. Over the holidays, drudgereport.com, which claims to receive more than a billion hits a year, quietly slipped in a coveted permanent link to Blumenthal's new weekly political column in Britain's The Guardian. Yesterday, Blumenthal told me he was unaware of the link. "I never read it," he said, referring to the Web site. "I have no reaction," he added. Drudge, meanwhile, said Blumenthal "plotted my $30 million ruin, but it's a new year and a new century. That was the last century ... I try to compile the most provocative people. Blumenthal is certainly provocative with all his conspiracy theories."



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