Thursday, September 02, 2004

COX.net for Phoenix - NewsBritney's Trash Sold on EBay, Going As High As $14,000 for Old Chewing Gum

Britney Spears is shown in this June 8, 2004, file photo in the Queens borough of New York. Spears' fans don't think the pop star's chewed gum is "Toxic" _ they're buying wads of it on eBay. There are over two dozen auctions of used chewing gum on eBay, each claiming their product has been spit out by the 22-year-old singer. Prices go as high as $14,000, but most are for significantly less. (AP Photo/Jennifer Graylock, File)
09-02-2004 4:54 PM
By JAKE COYLE, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- Britney Spears' fans don't think the pop star's chewed gum is "Toxic" _ they're buying wads of it on eBay. There are over two dozen auctions of used chewing gum on eBay, each claiming their product has been spit out by the 22-year-old singer. Prices go as high as $14,000, but most are for significantly less.

Though there is no way to verify the authenticity of the various wads, many postings include photos of a small piece of chewed gum, a copy of a ticket stub from the place of finding and a personal story of procurement.

One posting claiming to be the originator of the craze says the gum for sale was spat out in anger by Spears outside her Los Angeles home in early August. A picture of the gum, now going for $26, accompanies the auction.

A seller from London who is asking $53 for a piece of gum obtained at Spears' 2000 Wembley Arena concert, declares: "I have had this item for over three years and am only listing it because of the current interest in Ms. Spears' habit for discarding gum!"

Brian Johnson, 25, of Mississauga, Ontario, had a posting asking for $1,000, claiming: "You could take a DNA test to prove this is the real deal." Though he has since taken down the ad, Johnson told The Associated Press in a recent e-mail that he obtained the gum while working backstage at a Toronto concert in April.

"While I was holding the camera, I saw her spit it out," Johnson said. "I thought it would be funny to bring the gum home and show some of my friends. They got a big laugh out of it."

Why would someone pay money for a piece of used gum? Psychologist Joyce Brothers is reminded of the prices that people paid for the clothes and possessions of President John F. Kennedy and actress Katharine Hepburn.

"People want a piece of someone they like and admire," Brothers told the AP Wednesday. "It's like obtaining somebody's halo."

But buyer beware! Some of the auctions are fake. One seller offers a piece of Spears' gum from the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards that "still has her teeth marks in it." Spears didn't attend the event.

The bidding is also often fake. The gum now priced at $14,000 was driven up by one person who bid against himself. Winning bids are mostly closer to $5 to $100.

Chris Donlay, a publicist for eBay, says the veracity of the gum claims isn't the business of the Web site. "As long as it doesn't violate our policies, then it's really between the buyer and the seller."

Whether true or not, more than a few eBayers find the whole thing laughable. One fan offers not Britney's gum, but her own. The auction _ for 1 cent _ reads: "Why waste your money on one of those other super expensive gum auctions when you can get this one here for a steal?" Another offers photos of Spears along with a peach bitten by the seller, who advises, "And remember, please don't spit your gum out. Use a bin or stick it behind your ear."

Still, gum isn't the only Spears' garbage being sold. Also up for auction are a tissue and cigarette butts, making the singer look like quite a litterbug. An allegedly used bath towel and bar of soap, which the seller calls "priceless," are also being auctioned.

And the trend appears to be spreading. There is already a posting selling the gum of another celebrity chewer: Eminem.

CBS 2 Chicago: Spielberg Opens Venice Film FestivalVENICE, Italy (AP) At the opening day of the Venice Film Festival, big-screen dreamer Steven Spielberg offered a tribute to escapism Wednesday, saying times of turmoil call for relief within darkened movie theatres.

Festival organizers may well fancy a little escape themselves, amid criticism that Spielberg's The Terminal -- a picture that opened in North America over two months ago to mixed reviews -- was a middling choice to kick off the world's oldest film festival.

Spielberg, speaking to reporters Wednesday ahead of his film's gala screening, made no comment on this local controversy. But the filmmaker was clearly conscious of the greater troubles roiling the globe, and he offered up cinema as a form of respite.

"The world public has always shown their need for escape when the world is in crisis," he said. "Filmmakers all over the world have always been there either to reflect the crisis with very conscientious historically minded stories or films of pure escape -- science fiction, fantasy, comedy. These films typically work much better when the world is in flux."

Spielberg said he doesn't "chase the current events of the world" in deciding which films to work on.

"But the world has shown us that to be a human being you need to be relieved from the headlines. And now there are headlines on every single television channel, sometimes people feel compelled to escape into the movies. And I think it's a good thing."

Speaking of escape, The Terminal is about an eastern European man (Tom Hanks) who simply cannot. His confinement takes place in New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, where he is stranded after a coup takes place in his homeland.

Hanks was also on hand to promote the film Wednesday, flanking his director and offering occasional comic relief. "I can't sum up my career other than somebody's made a terrible, terrible mistake in giving me all these jobs," Oscar-magnet Hanks wisecracked.

Despite his kidding, Hanks too got drawn into current events, after a reporter praised Saving Private Ryan, then posed a strange polemical question. "Do you have a plan to make a second part -- Saving Private Bush -- and at the end of the film no one saves him?" the reporter asked.

Hanks joked: "He was never a private" -- an apparent reference to controversy over U.S. President George W. Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.

Escapism and comedy may have marked Wednesday's opening, but it wasn't all laughs here on the Lido island where the 11-day show is held.

Bitter words also drew attention, after former festival director Moritz de Hadeln -- who was unhappily ousted before this edition -- argued that many of this year's movies were weak selections, citing Spielberg's film in particular.

"Often, beginning with The Terminal, we're talking about films that have already been seen in their home country," he told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview. "My festival had 99 per cent world premieres."

Sniping aside, this year's festival does have much to offer, with 21 international films competing for the prestigious Golden Lion awards and hundreds more up for secondary awards or being shown out-of-competition.

For autograph-seekers, one of the biggest attractions is the flood of stars. In addition to Spielberg and Hanks, big names already docked here included Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Meryl Streep and Quentin Tarantino, with Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie, Will Smith and Al Pacino expected for later events.

Among movie buffs, the buzz Wednesday focused on screenings of A Love Song for Bobby Long, starring Travolta and Scarlett Johansson, as well as Golden Lion-contenders 5x2, by highly touted French director Francois Ozon, and gritty Greek drama Delivery, by Nikos Panayotopoulos.

Eagerly anticipated works playing later in the festival include Nicole Kidman vehicle Birth; Mira Nair's adaptation of Thackeray's 19th-century novel Vanity Fair; Vera Drake, by Britain's Mike Leigh; German Wim Wenders' Land of Plenty; and Promised Land by Amos Gitai of Israel.

Monday, August 30, 2004

dailyrecord - OLYMPICS 2004: HAUL BACK HOMEOLYMPICS 2004: HAUL BACK HOME Aug 31 2004

Heroes' welcome for Olympic medal stars

By Karen Bale

HUNDREDS of cheering fans gave Britain's triumphant Olympics stars a heroes' welcome home yesterday.

Supporters packed Gatwick Airport to greet the team as they flew in from Athens after their best Olympics performance for 20 years.

Double gold medal winner Kelly Holmes led the athletes into the airport terminal to chants from the crowd of: 'Kelly, Kelly, Kelly'.

Teenage boxing sensation Amir Khan, who brought home a silver medal, got pop-star treatment, with young girls screaming his name and clamouring for his autograph.

As Kelly led Team GB through the crowds, she proudly held up her medals before an emotional welcome home from her mother Pam Thomson, 53.

The 34-year-old, who powered to victory in the 800m and 1500m races, said: 'I can't believe how many people have turned out. It's incredible.'

Rowing champion Matthew Pinsent, the gold-medal winning men's 4x100m relay team and 17-year-old Khan got rapturous applause.

Khan said: 'It's great to be home.'

Pinsent added: 'It feels fantastic to be a British sporting success story. The proudest moment in all our lives is pulling on that GB vest or this tracksuit with the Union Jacks and Olympic rings in it.'

Darren Campbell, part of the victorious relay team, said: 'This reception is amazing.'

A total of 43 Team GB athletes scooped nine golds, nine silver and 12 bronze medals.

Among the crowd were the parents of sailor Sarah Ayton, who scooped Britain's first gold medal of the games.

Mum Coleen, 54, said: 'We were just so proud. We can't wait to welcome her home.'

More than 270 members of the squad flew into the UK on a chartered jet.

Fan Simon Smith, 46, from Brighton, said: 'What these guys have done is amazing. They have pulled off something incredible and I wanted to say, 'well done'.'

Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympics Association, praised the most successful team performance since the games in Paris in 1924.

He said: 'It's mission accomplished. It was a great, great British team performance.'

Sunday, August 29, 2004

TEENMUSIC.COM - Usher Hires Autograph Signer - 8/28/2004R+B superstar Usher has disgusted fans by hiring a "bodyguard" to sign his autographs for him - because he's too tired to please his persistent fans.

The Yeah! hitmaker claims signing his name is the biggest down-side to fame and is too time consuming - so now has hired help to save him from wrist strain.

He says, "I have this bodyguard so if I get tired of signing autographs I ask him to step in.

"It's hard because people get angry at you, but I've got a life to live too."

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