PEOPLE

R.E.M. singer tells magazine he’s gay

Talk about doing anything to plug your album release. Belinda Carlisle whose band the Go-Go’s released their new album Tuesday told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday that she’ll be in Playboy’s August issue. Donny Osmond who has an album of show tunes out admits he failed at being bad, but more on that later.

Now Michael Stipe has come out, the same week as his band’s latest album, by telling Time magazine that he’s gay. Not that the closet door wasn’t already ajar for the 41-year-old frontman for the band R.E.M., who has in the past coyly refused to categorize his sexual preferences. His involvement “in a relationship with an amazing man” for the last three years has spurred his debut into the gay limelight, because he was “being made to be a coward about it, rather than someone who felt like it was really a very private thing.” Incidentally, the name of R.E.M.’s new album, which debuted Tuesday, is “Reveal.”

NOT EVEN ONE BAD APPLE: Donny Osmond really, really, really tried to be bad, but failed miserably, according to an interview with the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. “One time, I actually tried to get arrested for auto theft,” he recalls. Osmond was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, which a car thief on the loose had been reported as wearing. He spotted some obvious undercover policemen at the airport parking lot and “started ducking behind cars and acting really suspicious.” The cops followed him, ran him down and threw him against a wall. “But, of course, they immediately looked at me and said, Oh, you’re Donny Osmond. We must have the wrong guy.’ I literally could not get arrested.”

Worse still, “In about 1985, I had this manager who concocted a plan to get me arrested for drugs,” admitted a somewhat embarrassed but amused Osmond. “I’ve never tried drugs in my life. But we had this whole scheme worked out where I was supposed to get arrested for marijuana possession while crossing the border, sort of like what happened to Whitney Houston. I finally just had to tell him, No way. This is crazy.'”

ACT’S PERLOFF I’M STAYING: After spending nine years re-establishing the American Conservatory Theater as a major force in Bay Area theater, why would artistic director Carey Perloff want to leave?

That question had been dangling from the local theater grapevine for a month, ever since Perloff was asked to be dean of the Yale Drama School and artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Conn.

But Tuesday, she told ACT that she’s not going anywhere. Her announcement received a standing ovation from the board.

“They’re usually a calm group of people,” Perloff joked later. Still, she added, the board’s reaction cemented her own, that “this is the right decision.”

Under Perloff, ACT eliminated a $3.5 million deficit.

I AM FORTUNE’S FOOL’S GOLD!: Oh, heart-rending scandal! Oh, scorching betrayal! An antiques dealer admitted Tuesday that he staged a phony appraisal for the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow.” George Juno pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and two counts of making false statements in a court case.

Juno and Russell Pritchard III had been accused of arranging for pals to come to a 1996 taping, in which they handed them a Civil War sword that they valued at $35,000. The dastardly scheme was supposed to attract customers to their military artifacts appraisal and sales business, the indictment said. This ne’er-do-well has blamed “bad associations and an error in judgment,” while Pritchard declares his innocence. The alleged accomplice and his attorney did not immediately return calls seeking comment from The Associated Press.

The “Roadshow” producer, WGBH-TV, had already banished the two after claiming the segment had been fixed. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 16. This calls for an iron maiden, probably valued around $35,000.

BRAND WITH NO NAME: Is this his wife’s doing? Brad Pitt, his stylist Todd Shemarya and three Hollywood costumers will be launching a high-end men’s clothing line this September, according to fashion magazine DNR. The actor will work closely with the designers and help with the PR, but his name will not appear on the label. Shemarya told DNR that he and Pitt had altered a designer suit by tapering the legs, cuffing the pants and taking in the jacket. After the 37-year-old actor wore it to a movie premiere, two designers came out with suits with cuffs and tapered legs. “We laughed like you have no idea. It was so empowering,” Shemarya says, who also works with Pitt’s wife, Jennifer Aniston. Ah ha…

Milestones:

Performance confirmed: By Pearl Jam. The group said that it will play at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View this fall. The appearance marks the band’s sixth at the 14-year-old event.

Birthdays: Former Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox (89), opera singer Birgit Nilsson (83), actor-director Dennis Hopper (65), R&B singer Pervis Jackson of The Spinners (63), singer Taj Mahal (59), singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester (57), actor Bill Paxton (46), boxing Hall-of-Famer Sugar Ray Leonard (45), actor-comedian Bob Saget (45), singer Enya (40), singer-musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (36), R&B musician O’Dell of Mint Condition (36), singer Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block (31),R&B singer Darnell Van Rensalier of Shai (31), actor Hill Harper (28), singer Kandi Burruss (25), actor Tahj Mowry (15).

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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