PEOPLE

Supermodel Niki Taylor improving since crash

Supermodel Niki Taylor was upgraded to good condition and moved out of intensive care into a private room Thursday, nearly eight weeks after suffering life-threatening liver damage. Her spokeswoman Lou Taylor (no relation) described the 26-year-old as “doing great The imminent danger is over, we hope, and she can get on the road to recovery.” Dr. Jeffrey Nicholas said he is “hopeful that Niki will be able to participate in rehabilitation therapy very soon.”

Taylor had been in critical condition at Grady Memorial Hospital since April 29. The mother of twin 6-year-old boys lives in Florida and was visiting friends in Atlanta. She was a passenger in a car driven by friend James Renegar, who told police he looked down to answer his cell phone and lost control of the 1993 Nissan Maxima. The car hit a utility pole.

BABE TO THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE?: Once upon a time, there was a pig who became a star. Celebritydom, however, may not save Grunty, who played the lead role in the 1995 Academy Award-nominated movie “Babe.” The High Court of England has condemned the porcine unfortunate to death, believing it and 11 pedigreed sheep may have been in contact with animals infected with foot-and-mouth disease.

Owner Rosemary Upton appealed the ruling Monday, telling the court that the Ministry of Agriculture made a serious mistake when it condemned her farm on June 14 because of a foot-and-mouth scare in the area. Upton had visited another small farm she owns that turned out to be infected; however, she says she wore gloves, disinfected her boots and had no physical contact with infected livestock. The court proceedings are not over, and public support is behind Upton for her little piggy and ewes to be spared.

AND SPEAKING OF LITTLE PIGGIES: Sharon Stone is not amused. The faithful wife of Phil Bronstein, the former war correspondent who got the short end of a Komodo dragon during a Father’s Day visit to the Los Angeles Zoo, says his injuries are serious and she’s tired of hearing people poking fun. The missus told the Washington Post that the 43-year-old San Francisco Chronicle executive editor is recovering slowly, and “he’s going to have to make a really extraordinary effort at rehab” and “is facing a long road just to learn to walk again.”

Unlike her earlier forgiving tone, Stone told AP Radio on Wednesday (she certainly knows how to travel the media circus, er, circuit) that “the zookeeper who was there with us was paralyzed and unable to do anything to help in any way I made a tourniquet out of his socks. I turned them inside out. He had such a severe injury and we were alone and I was screaming for help and no one was there to hear us.”

The complete about-face regarding the zoo has even extended to blaming officials there for giving them special celebrity privileges in the first place. “There’s been a lot of PR like it’s a funny thing, or like it was a little accident, when in fact it was an irresponsible offer and it was a very, very serious injury, and it’s going to take him probably a total of four months to rehabilitate and to walk again,” said Stone, who now advocates an end to private visits inside animal cages and perhaps an end to all celebrity favors. No free Komodo lunches.

Milestones

Hair doused: For Carrot Top. The comedian, having drinks with two friends in New York, at one point doubled over in laughter and dipped his trademark locks into a candle. The New York Post reported “eight inches of flames” exploded from his head. It was quickly doused, but “he was really worried, because his hair is his signature,” said Carrot Top’s friend Mame McCutchin. “In the end you couldn’t really tell it had been burned he has so much of it.”

Birthdays: Movie director Billy Wilder (95), fashion designer Bill Blass (79), actor Ralph Waite (73), country singer Roy Drusky (71), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) (68), singer-actor Kris Kristofferson (65), CBS News correspondent Ed Bradley (60), actor Michael Lerner (60), Fox News correspondent Brit Hume (58), actor Klaus Maria Brandauer (57), singer Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon (57), actor Andrew Rubin (55), actor David L. Lander (54), singer Howard “Eddie” Kaylan (54), singer-musician Todd Rundgren (53), actress Meryl Streep (52), actress Lindsay Wagner (52), singer Alan Osmond (52), actor Murphy Cross (51), actor Graham Greene (49), actor Chris Lemmon (47), actor Tim Russ (45), rock musician Garry Beers of INXS (44), actor-producer-writer Bruce Campbell (43), rock musician Alan Anton of Cowboy Junkies (42), actress Tracy Pollan (41), rock singer-musician Jimmy Somerville (40), rock singer-musician Mike Edwards of Jesus Jones (37), actress Amy Brenneman (37), actress Paula Irvine (33), rock singer Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies (31), TV personality Carson Daly (28), rock musician Chris Traynor of Helmet (28), actor Donald Faison (27), actress Lindsay Ridgeway (16).

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

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