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Getting In the Last Word


Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox News Network's talk show "The O'Reilly Factor," has again hit a nerve with Hollywood folks--drawing ire from famous nice guy George Clooney.

At issue is the estimated $250 million raised to help victims of the terrorist attacks by the Sept. 21 celebrity telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes," a live telecast on which Clooney and scores of other A-list celebrities appeared. O'Reilly says the money is being mishandled. Clooney says O'Reilly is fabricating a controversy in order to boost his ratings.

The tiff started last week after about 50 celebrities from the telecast, who were contacted by O'Reilly staffers, refused to discuss how the funds are being distributed. In response, O'Reilly publicly accused the entertainers of using "the fund-raising forums to garner favorable publicity for themselves."

We checked in with the feisty TV host, who told us, "If you go around your neighborhood and say, 'Please give me money for this cause' ... and then the money isn't going to that cause, you have a responsibility to at least show concern."

On his Oct. 31 show, O'Reilly mocked celebrity publicists who refused to take his calls. "Sylvester Stallone's flack said his wife is pregnant, so he can't make a statement....Mike Myers' flack says he needs to pass," O'Reilly said. "Does he have a gallstone?" When Clooney's publicist, Stan Rosenfield, was contacted by the show, he demanded that O'Reilly substantiate his accusations. Later, on the air, O'Reilly joked, "Well, Stan, maybe read a newspaper once in a while. They do have them in Hollywood."

For Clooney, that was the last straw. The actor fired back with a letter accusing O'Reilly of lying. "The fund is intact and has already handed out some $36 million to victims' families, with over $230 million more to be allocated as the United Way sorts through the complicated process of who is in the most need," Clooney wrote. "If you were a journalist, you would have known that." And, he added, "to have given out all the money only six weeks after it was raised would be truly irresponsible."

On Tuesday night, O'Reilly called Clooney's letter silly. Rosenfield said entertainers from the telecast will discuss the issue, they just didn't want to talk to O'Reilly. "All he had to do," said Rosenfield, was "get the facts, instead of making irresponsible innuendoes that could have negative cascading effects."

Siblings Sans Rivalry

Aaron Carter, mini-rapper and younger brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, has a career of his own. Earlier this week, the 13-year-old called from Toronto, where he was shooting a video for his disc "Oh Aaron," the follow-up album to the multiplatinum "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)."

But there's no rivalry between the brothers, he assured us.

"Nick gives me a lot of good advice about my career," Aaron said. "Like, always respect the people you work with, watch out for your managers."

And what about girls?

"That's a whole different story," Aaron said, between giggles. "Most of the time, I give Nick advice."

So, what kind of guidance does he offer?

"I tell him not to be embarrassing. He's always knocking around."

For those interested in more counsel, Aaron comes to Santa Monica Air Center on Sunday to perform at a benefit for the Neil Bogart Memorial Fund, which raises money for cancer treatment and research at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Dish on HRH

Last time we spoke to Kathi Koll, she was packing her bags for a trip to Scotland. She called the other day to tell us about her dinner with Prince Charles at his castle in Edinburgh.

Koll and her husband, Newport Beach developer Donald Koll, were among the three dozen guests at a dinner celebrating the work of the Prince of Wales Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based outfit that bestows grants on nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Britain and other countries.

As Koll tells it, his royal highness mostly talked about his offspring. (According to Koll, her son is the spit and image of Prince William--something that serves him well with the girls, she said.)

"The prince was very warm," Koll said, adding that so is his castle. "Everybody asked if it was drafty, but it wasn't."

During dinner, the prince gave a toast, saying his heart went out to America in the wake of Sept. 11. Later, bagpipe players performed "God Bless America," Koll said.


Mark Wahlberg, sporting a New York Fire Department baseball cap, was among the guests celebrating Deep's first anniversary Tuesday. Also spotted at the Hollywood nightclub were Vince Vaughn and Wesley Snipes, mingling with other guests. Carl Lewis was on the dance floor, as was Hugh Hefner and his seven girlfriends.

"I expect this club to go down in infamy starting tonight," said owner Ivan Kane. "I want this club to have the nastiest, dirtiest reputation in this town."


Staff writer Maria Elena Fernandez contributed to this report.

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