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As for playing politics, West will punt this time

Kanye West
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Kanye West (The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokesman-Review

OUTSPOKEN RAPPER Kanye West, who called President Bush a racist during last week’s telethon for Hurricane Katrina victims, says he’ll be on his best behavior for today’s NFL opening kickoff concert.

“I don’t want to detract from the show at all, because it’s entertainment, and a lot of times, in a time of need, we need entertainment to lift people’s spirits,” West said at a news conference promoting the free concert in Los Angeles.

On Friday, during NBC’s Katrina telethon, he said that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Departing from his script, West added that America is set up “to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible.” His statement about Bush was cut from NBC’s West Coast airing.

West sidestepped questions about the remarks, noting that the week’s events have been “a lot of pressure for one human being.”

But Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden said he supported West’s right to express himself.

“I think Kanye is very passionate about the tragedy down there,” Madden said. “He’s just trying to get other people as fired up as he is.”

Michael’s latest brainchild

Michael Jackson has written a song to help raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, tentatively titled “From the Bottom of My Heart.”

He hopes to record the song in the multicelebrity style of “We Are the World,” which he co-wrote and produced in 1985 to raise money for African famine relief.

“It pains me to watch the human suffering taking place in the gulf region of my country,” Jackson said in a statement. “I will be reaching out to others within the music industry to join me in helping to bring relief and hope to these resilient people who have lost everything.”

Rod loses big in Vegas

A federal jury decided Wednesday that Rod Stewart should pay a Las Vegas casino $2 million plus interest for a canceled show in December 2000.

The seven-member jury found unanimously that Stewart should not have kept an advance he was paid for the show at the Rio Hotel Casino.

Stewart said he was unable to perform because of throat surgery several months earlier. One of his lawyers said an appeal was planned.

Come on, give Reese some peace

A photographer who tried to take pictures of actress Reese Witherspoon at the California Adventure theme park was cited for allegedly assaulting two employees.

Todd Wallace was photographing Witherspoon from a distance before moving in on a group that included the actress and some children, frightening some of them, police said. He allegedly shoved the park employees when they tried to intervene.

Witherspoon complained in April that photographers had swarmed her car when she left a gym, tried to force her off the road and surrounded her when she reached her home, but authorities declined to file charges.

GQ worships Church

Welsh singer Charlotte Church, who has gone from child opera prodigy to pop star, has been named GQ magazine’s woman of the year.

Editor Dylan Jones called the 19-year-old Church “a great singer, a tabloid giant (who) enjoys life to the full.”

Rapper Jay-Z was named international man of the year. Actor Pierce Brosnan picked up the editor’s special award, the lifetime achievement award went to Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music and the outstanding contribution award went to Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof.

The birthday bunch

Comedian Sid Caesar is 83. Actor David Arquette is 34. Actor Henry Thomas (“E.T.”) is 34. Actor Larenz Tate (“Crash”) is 30. Singer Pink is 26. Actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas (“Home Improvement”) is 24.

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