PEOPLE

Filmmaker knows the shortcuts to winning

And the television goes to Oscar winner Michael Dudok de Wit. De Wit, who knows how to keep it short since he got his statuette for best animated short, will get a $2,500 high-definition set.

Oscar producer Gil Cates had offered up the curiously redundant bribe in hopes of keeping the ceremony churning along. At any rate, De Wit will donate it to some children’s organization: “I did not write the shortest speech to win the television set. I have many television sets. I wrote it to say what I had to say and no more,” he said. His 18 seconds of brevity was short, perfunctory and probably an example of why the show was the lowest-rated since 1986. Maybe Cates should have offered the TV set to viewers in hopes they would turn on theirs.

FAMED AND DEFAMED ON TEMPTATION ISLAND: A couple removed from the unscripted Fox television series “Temptation Island” has reportedly filed a defamation lawsuit against the network and producers, not for their weekly exercises in self-degradation, but rather because they claim the producers knew they had a child together but told them not to divulge that fact before taping began.

Ytossie Patterson and Taheed Watson, both aspiring actors who have been out of the limelight since the series ended last month, were one of four couples featured on the program. The couple was dropped in the middle of production, when Fox said it found out about their child — a big no-no in the land of fun and frolic.

In January, Fox issued a statement saying the network’s policy was “that no couples with children together could participate in the show.” However, a simple background check by the Los Angeles Times uncovered a paternity suit against Watson that would have revealed the child’s existence.

EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION OR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT? YOU DECIDE: It took more than 1,000 pages for Margaret Mitchell to tell the story of Scarlett O’Hara, but that wasn’t enough to tell about her illegitimate half-sister and former slave.

At least that’s the story line of “The Wind Done Gone,” by Alice Randall, which Houghton Mifflin was set to publish June 6, except Mitchell’s estate has filed suit to block publication of what may technically be a “sequel” to “Gone With the Wind,” and therefore a violation of U.S. copyright law. While blacks have chafed at the stereotypical representations of the black slaves in the best seller by the white southerner Mitchell and the book has been endorsed by major African-American literary voices such as Ishmael Reed and Claude Brown, it may never reach the stores.

Randall, a black author in Nashville who co-wrote a No. 1 country song “XXXs and OOOs,” recorded by Trisha Yearwood said in a statement, “Once upon a time in America, African-Americans were forbidden by law to learn to read and write. It saddens me and breaks my heart (that) there are those who would try to set up obstacles for a black woman to tell her story, and the story of her people, with words in writing.” Meanwhile, Houghton Mifflin which calls the book fair comment promises to launch a civil book war. “It is unconscionable to deny anyone the right to comment on a book that has taken on such mythic status in American culture,” said Wendy Strothman, executive vice president of the company’s trade and reference division, in the statement. “The Wind Done Gone’ is an inspired act of literary invention that gives voice to those whom history and culture have silenced.” A hearing is scheduled for today in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

NUDITY AT 11?: Dennis Richmond and Leslie Griffith doing their KTVU Channel 2 newscast in the nude? Don’t whine to the FCC, because it’s not about to happen but some Bay Area radio listeners wouldn’t mind if it did. According to People correspondent Chuck Barney, on Wednesday morning’s KFOG show, DJs Dave Morey, Peter Finch and Rene Richardson began gabbing about nakednews.com, the Canadian Web site that features attractive reporters reading the day’s headlines in the raw.

Naturally, the conversation triggered speculation about a Bay Area version. “It took on a life of its own,” said KFOG producer Greg McQuaid. “We were just fooling around and the phone lines lit up.” Griffith, Martin Wyatt of KGO Channel 7 and Malou Nubla of KPIX Channel 5 were mentioned by several callers, but no one got as much attention as the buffed-up Richmond.

“That’s been a fantasy of mine for over 20 years,” said one female caller.

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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