Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2004 / 3 Teves, 5765
The dark side of Oz?; close encounter of the tense kind; No bad deed goes unrewarded?; more
Is Columbia University medical professor Mehmet Oz Oprah's "Dr. Kill"?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals thinks so.
Oz a cardiovascular surgeon best known for his Discovery Channel show, "Second Opinion," and his celebrity status as "Oprah's" resident expert on matters of the heart is PETA's latest target, for alleged mistreatment of defenseless dogs.
The animal rights group has fired off accusatory letters to Winfrey (asking that she not book Oz on her show), the American Heart Association (urging the group to rescind its Feb. 16 speaking invitation to Oz) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (urging that the federal agency reopen an investigation of Columbia's science labs).
Oz declined to speak to me Tuesday, but a university spokeswoman defended Oz, calling him "a highly respected researcher and clinician at Columbia University."
The spokeswoman added that Oz's research "has contributed to advances in treating cardiovascular disease. These charges are an unfortunate misrepresentation of Dr. Oz's research." Oz, the spokeswoman asserted, adheres "to the highest standards of animal care."
But PETA alleges that Oz's laboratory research has involved "killing a litter of puppies by plunging syringes in their hearts without any sedation, cutting open dogs' chests for tests and then allowing them to languish in their cages, causing dogs to develop urine scalds (burns that are red and tender and cause fur to fall off) on their hind quarters from being left on cement in their own waste."
PETA investigations director Mary Beth Sweetland wrote last week to the daytime talk diva: "His mistreatment of the dogs he cuts open, throws into cement kennels, and then ignores reveals a side of Dr. Oz that he would surely not want your audience to think about . . . "
Sweetland told me that a whistleblower in Oz's lab, veterinarian Catherine Dell'Orto, documented instances of abuse up through September 2002, and resigned shortly afterward.
But until now Oz hasn't been publicly identified.
The university spokeswoman asserted: "The allegations were thoroughly investigated in the past, by both Columbia and the USDA, and were resolved."
Winfrey and the American Heart Association didn't return my phone calls Tuesday.
CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE TENSE KIND
It was high noon almost.
Guests at "King of Bling" Jacob the Jeweler's boutique opening Monday night held their collective breath when Ashanti inadvertently arrived before 50 Cent had left the building.
The two rappers, whose record labels are bitter rivals, are said to cordially despise each other.
50 Cent whose real name is Curtis Jackson has trash-talked Ashanti with such insults as "Is it me, or is Ashanti's new video Janet Jackson's old video?" and "That b needs to learn some new words."
Ashanti, who collaborates at The Inc. label with 50 Cent's arch-enemy Ja Rule, hasn't responded in kind.
"The feud has been getting very heavy," she said last year.
Monday night's encounter "was beyond awkward," reports a spy for this column. "50 Cent [who records with Shady/Aftermath] is still at war with Ashanti's record label. Fitty was back in the VIP lounge with Jacob, but there's no back exit, so Ashanti's posse was worried about passing by Fitty's posse in this tiny 57th Street railroad store."
Slowly, the two entourages edged toward each other. Worried guests spread themselves against the walls.
The Inc.'s CEO Irv Gotti about whom 50 Cent has rapped, "F - Irv Gotti . . . Hey, Irv, your mama got a thing for me" froze near the entrance, anxiously avoiding Fitty's glare.
Then, at the last moment, Jacob stepped between the two herds, and Fitty and Ashanti brushed by each other silent, for once.
NO BAD DEED GOES UNREWARDED?: Loose-lipped Casino Fortune exec Dennis Rose who got his tongue caught in a wringer for calling "Sopranos" star and anorexia sufferer Jamie-Lynn DiScala "fat, then scrawny" in a press release has just been named president of the Trinidad-based gambling enterprise. But there's a catch. Before getting his promotion, Rose whose comments caused a huge local flap last week after Trinidad's Daily Mirror headlined this column's item must take eight hours of sensitivity training. "He is expected to take the course between now and Jan. 2," a spokesman said. "He's not looking forward to the touchy-feely experience."
PHANTOM OR JUAN VALDEZ?: Minnie Driver, who plays a diva in the movie version of "The Phantom of the Opera," once thought she'd seen a ghost. "There was a strange Mexican in a sombrero and a poncho at the end of my bed in Mexico," the sexy actress confided to this column during the premiere party at the Plaza Hotel. "Don't roll your eyes! I promise you, he was standing at the end of my bed when I woke up very early in the morning. He disappeared before my very eyes! Before I could even say 'Hola!' and 'Buenos Dias,' he buggered off. And it was very frightening and weird." And what had Minnie been drinking the night before? "Lots of tequila!" I'm not surprised.
STONES TO KEEP ROLLING: That was longtime Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell predicting over breakfast the other day that Mick, Keith and the boys will stage a world tour next year. Besides 61-year-old Jagger and Richards, that includes 57-year-old Ron Wood and 63-year-old Charlie Watts. "What are they gonna do sit home at watch TV?" asked the 52-year-old Leavell, who's just published his memoirs, "Between Rock and A Home Place," about his life as a musician and forest conservationist in Georgia.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate