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19th August 2001
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The Goss

  • Feathering the love nest for the stork 
  • Norris chucks pain 
  • Beyonce bounces back 
  • Actress sued for wrongful death of boy
  • Fox criticizes Bush's research decision
  • Feathering the love nest for the stork 

    Now that they're serving up a baby, tennis supercouple Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are on a mission ó to feather their lavish new $23- million nest. 

    After trying for more than a year, the couple recently announced Steffi is pregnant and due in mid-December. According to Steffi's mom, the baby is a boy. "They're busily getting their homes ready in anticipation of the baby," revealed a source close to the couple. "That means working on a nursery at their place in Las Vegas ó and at their California home." The tennis aces' love nest in the luxury enclave of Tiburon, on the San Francisco Bay, has five bedrooms, six bathrooms, two swimming pools, a tennis court, a four-bedroom staff house - and panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge. They plan to make it their main home when Andre retires. As for marriage, the tennis aces who've been dating for about two years are talking about a New Year's wedding in Las Vegas. Andre was married to actress Brooke Shields from 1997 to 1999 and Steffi has never been married. This is the first child for both. 

    Norris chucks pain 

    Martial arts hero Chuck Norris will find it easier to get his kicks now that he's had surgery to repair his left hip. For five agonizing years, the 61-year-old "Walker, Texas Ranger" star karate-kicked his way through the bad guys on Saturday nights on CBSówith every powerful kick shooting a lance of pain up through his hip.

    "I've been through five years of pain biting the bullet," Chuck said. "I knew that if I kept putting the surgery off, it would just keep getting worse. Now, with 'Walker' finished, it was time to do it." Chuck was injured in 1996 in a fight scene on " Walker" when a 400-pound co-star threw him onto a table. The table broke away too easily and Chuck fell hard, chipping a bone in his left hip. Over time, the injury was aggravated and the pain got worse. After years of agony, Chuck finally had an operation at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre. Doctors were able to fix the damage without a hip replacement and he's now recuperating.

    Incredibly, Chuck's wife Gena is also bedridden: She has been ordered to bed for the rest of her pregnancy with twins, one boy and one girl, because she began early labour at the beginning of July and the babies aren't due until October

    "I figured, why not get the surgery done now and lie next to her for three days?" Chuck said. "It sounded like fun! And I wanted to get it done before the babies come, so I can play with them without hurting."

    Beyonce bounces back 

    Destiny's Child lead singer Beyonce Knowles has achieved worldwide stardom at the age of 20, but hides a tragic secret - she suffered a devastating nervous breakdown nearly two years ago. The breakdown plunged her into a depression so severe that pals - even Beyonce herself - feared it would destroy her career, which was just starting to explode at the time. Beyonce told an insider, "I had a pretty severe nervous breakdown and was almost completely incapacitated, both emotionally and physically." 

    "I became so depressed that I locked myself inside my bedroom for at least two weeks. I refused to speak to any one and couldn't eat. My life was a total disaster. I thought my musical career was doomed."

    Today, the superstar R&B trio Destiny's Child is on top of the world with their megahit CD "Survivor." But it was the road to success that nearly destroyed Beyonce and caused her breakdown. Destiny's Child started out as an all-girl foursome and they took the music world by storm in 1997 with their hit single "No, No, No". Their first album went double-platinum and their second CD, "The Writing's on the Wall," went five-times platinum.

    The original members - Beyonce and childhood friends Latavia Roberts, Le Toya Luckett and Kelly Rowland, performed together starting at age nine. Then in 1999, just days after the group was nominated for two Grammy Awards, a bombshell crisis rocked the band. Out of the blue, Latavia and Le Toya quit. In a stinging professional and personal rebuke, the pair said they refused to continue working under the management of Beyonce's father, Mathew Knowles, who has earned a reputation as a "control freak", say people close to the group. "Beyonce hit rock bottom when Latavia and Le Toya delivered the devastating news," the Insider said. The betrayal plunged Beyonce into her breakdown. It took some time but Beyonce was able to bounce back. Today, with Michelle Williams and Kelly, both 20, Destiny's Child is hotter than ever. 

    Even though Beyonce has it all - dazzling talent, sex appeal, fame, wealth, youth and beauty, "she still suffers from low self-esteem," disclosed the family friend. "But Kelly and Michelle are her saving grace. Without them, she would be lost. And the good thing is, Beyonce is slowly regaining her self-esteem."

    Actress sued for wrongful death of boy

    Actress Rebecca Gayheart is being sued by the parents of a 9-year-old boy who died after being struck by her car in June. 

    The parents of Jorge Cruz Jr. sued Gayheart on Monday for wrongful death, The Associated Press reports. They allege that the actress was talking on a cell phone when her Jeep Grand Cherokee hit their son on June 13 in Hollywood, Calif. The boy received severe head injuries and died the next day. 

    The accident is still under investigation and could result in the filing of criminal charges. The actress, whose credits include Jawbreaker and Scream 2, released the following statement "Despite the allegations in the lawsuit, the facts will establish that this was a most unfortunate accident. The pain of this tragedy will live with me forever," she said. 

    Gayheart, played Antonia Marchette, the wife of Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) on Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1995. 

    Fox criticizes Bush's research decision

    As the moral debate wages over government funding for stem-cell research, Michael J. Fox expressed his dissatisfaction with President Bush's decision to allow only limited funding for the research. 

    The actor, who left the ABC sitcom Spin City last year to spend more time lobbying for a cure for Parkinson's disease, from which he suffers, said that he wishes President Bush had taken a more "sure-footed" approach to the issue. "We have real questions about the quality and quantity of [support] he's given us," Fox told NBC's Today show. 

    Other celebrities who join Fox in supporting stem-cell research include Mary Tyler Moore, Christopher Reeve, and Kevin Kline. Those who support the research, which involves implanting cells from newly formed embryos to replace cells attacked by degenerative illnesses, believe that it will lead to huge medical advances in treating diseases like juvenile diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. 

    Many opponents of stem-cell research consider the destruction of embryos to be murder. 

    Fox, who has addressed Congress on several occasions about the promise of stem-cell research, said of Bush's position, " it's a decision that says, 'Let's go in this direction carefully but without a goal toward what the ultimate goal is,' which is to eliminate a lot of these diseases and help a lot of American citizens." 

    'Just a good guy'

    Ruhanie Perera talks to Gihan De Chickera who captivated audiences at Checkpoint with his solo performance in 'Last Bus Eke Kathava'

    Of those who watched 'Checkpoint - three strangely normal plays', directed by Ruwanthi de Chickera, few will forget her brother Gihan de Chickera, who, expertly, with a twist of his cap, a change in posture and a series of dramatic facial expressions brought to life the 'Last Bus Eke Kathawa'. A one man show depicting a narrator, a drunkard and bystanders along with a chief minister and a doctor, all part of the drunkard's pathetic story which gave the audience an insight into the plight of people caught up in a capitalist system. 

    Gihan's first real acting role (apart from the lower school plays he took part in) was in his final year at St. Thomas' College under the direction of Vinodh Senadheera who taught Gihan the basics of acting. As he puts it, "I was really new to theatre at that time and was inspired to act after watching 'Playing Doctor' directed by Vinodh the previous year." Feeling that "acting was pretty great" he joined the cast of 'The Play' done by the STC Drama Society for the school's 125th anniversary celebrations. 

    This is about the fourth major role he's handled along with a few cameo roles, but according to him it was by far the biggest role he's done. 

    Acting under his sister's direction has been, according to him, "really good". Ruwanthi, he says, is a great director and since they get along really well anyway, working with her hasn't been hard. "I get a lot of family support. In fact if it wasn't for Ruwanthi, my acting career would have stopped at College." 

    So what is it like coming from a drama-oriented family? "Well, we really aren't an 'acting' family as such," comes the answer. "Ruwanthi just started it all and my brother and I ventured into the field as well. We aren't Von Trapps, we're pretty normal."

    "Personally, I'm not one of those actors," he continues with a grin, "I just like acting a lot but I'm no Thespian!"

    "Hmm....applause!" he says with a grin, in reply to my query as to what it is he really likes about theatre. "Seriously, getting some sort of response from your audience is really a great feeling, especially when established people in the field tell you that you've done a good job."

    Audience response plays a big role in judging whether a performance was good or bad, says Gihan. But as far as he's concerned, for starters it's a matter of concentrating on getting the lines and cues right - "then I know I haven't messed up." But that, in his opinion, is a very basic standard and achieving that alone doesn't give him much satisfaction. "As it goes along you start feeling good about what you're doing, you may say a line completely differently to the way you say it at rehearsals - and it sounds good. Or something totally new may happen. And then you stop 'acting' and the character you're playing completely takes over you...and it just feels so right."

    This particular role was a bit difficult because, being a one-man show, he had not just one character to concentrate on but many. At the beginning of the play Gihan, as the narrator, had about a five minute chat with the audience. "That gave me a chance to relax and get used to the audience." That's something he, being a nervous type (so he says), feels he needs. So nervous that, "Before a performance I try not to think of the people I know who will be in the audience on that day." He even tells his parents to stay away from the first few rows where he may run the risk of seeing them. 

    "A one man show is easier to act in, in a sense, because you're basically on your own," says Gihan, adding that hence there is no coordinating of timings and cues with fellow actors involved. "It really is in your own hands. If you mess up it is in your power to pick it up yourself without having to put some one else in a mess. But, although that makes it easier, it is an added responsibility." 

    However the real tough part of the whole performance is the switching of roles at the blink of an eyelid. "In this particular play, the characters can be rehearsed in isolation, so what I did was to analyse each character I played separately; I then rehearsed each character separately and finally put them together." 

    Gihan finds a one-man show very "lonely" to act in. "I really miss the whole cast 'set fit' scenario which is one of the things I really enjoy about being in a play. You meet some really nice people when you're acting." 

    On the topic of how he learns the craft, Gihan says simply, "I watch other actors. See, one of the hardest things in acting is 'acting normal' without being yourself," he quips. According to him whether it be in local theatres or in the movies there are some actors who carry off roles by sheer presence while others thrive on the "funny stuff" and some, doing both. Learning is mostly a matter of observing a variety of personal styles. Says Gihan, "I love watching movies. I really appreciate the talent of every artiste, whatever their field may be."

    Other than acting his interests are water polo and music and he has a distinct fondness for wildlife - "Elephants in particular," he adds. 

    At present a second year student at the University of Colombo studying for his Bachelor of Arts degree, Gihan is still trying to find himself and so has no fixed ambition in life...as yet. That is, except for the fact that he knows that he won't get into the mercantile sector. 

    Off the top of my head I ask him what he would like to be remembered as (thinking it might make a good introduction to the story). "Just as a good guy," he says with this inscrutable smile, very much in keeping with the unassuming Gihan I'm getting to know. "That's enough." (What a conclusion.)


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