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by dr andrew cousins

The One About The Gossip Columnist...

Alana Berkovich is one of Hollywood’s leading gossip columnists. Her articles in ‘Variety’ make for compulsive reading as she divulges the secrets the stars would rather that we didn’t know. I caught up with her as she launches her new book - a collection of the best of her column, "American Blabbermouth".

You’ve been described as "a cold sore on the face of fame". Hollywood really doesn’t like you much does it?
My goodness, no! They hate me with a passion. But the only reason they hate me is because I tell people stuff that the celebrities would rather keep secret. If they didn’t all behave like a bunch of complete wackos then I would be out of a job. Barbra Striesand hates me in particular. Just because I told people that she employs a Chinese psychic to cleanse the aura of any hotel room she stays in. She once refused to stay in the Beverly Hills Hilton because it was "radiating negative energy".
Did you know that Clint Eastwood has got a cat called Mr Snuggles? It’s true.

Where do you get your information from?
That would be telling wouldn’t it? I hear things from all sorts of different people. You have to remember that stars surround themselves with huge numbers of staff. They all have housemaids, drivers, cooks, personal assistants and so on. They all get to know what’s going on and sometimes they tell me. My number one piece of advice to any would-be celebrity is to treat your staff well. Happy staff keep their mouths shut.
I bet you didn’t know that Winona Ryder is allergic to Ryvita. It gives her nosebleeds.

Was it a housemaid who told you about Sylvester Stallone’s underpants?
As a matter of fact, it was. She told me that Sylvester will only wear boxer shorts that have been gently warmed first. He refuses to wear cold pants. When he’s on set a production assistant is specially assigned to his make sure his underwear is warmed to 25 degrees centigrade every morning.
A lot of stars have strange underwear habits. Jim Carrey will only wear his boxer shorts back-to-front. He says that it brings him luck. He also insists that his pet lizard has matching underwear. In fact his lizard lives an exact one-eighth sized replica of Buckingham Palace. It even has cable television installed.
Errol Flynn wouldn’t wear underwear unless it had been blessed by a priest first. He claimed that otherwise there was a danger that his pants may have been possessed by Satan. I bet you didn’t know that Sharon Stone has all her underwear hand made by Bolivian monks. I tried to interview them but her lawyers jumped all over me.
Did you know that Tom Hanks has got a swimming pool in the shape of Mickey Mouse? I’ve seen the pictures.

You also ran into trouble with Jack Nicholson’s lawyers didn’t you?
Yes I did. I ran a story that Jack Nicholson employed a very small man so that he would always feel superior to him. Of course, Jack went nuts and threatened to sue me. It all got a bit nasty for a while but he eventually dropped the case. Jack has a lot of strange habits. During the seventies he used to employ a guy to lose arguments with him in public. The idea was that people would see Jack always winning. It was part of his image. He also breeds gerbils. They have a gold-plated cage.

Do you have any particular favourite celebrities?
Dustin Hoffman is always good value. When he’s making a film he stays in character all the time. He will only answer to his characters name. If you call him ‘Dustin’ he just ignores you. When he appeared in ‘Tootsie’ he lived as a woman for a whole year before production started. He even investigated the possibility of having a womb surgically implanted "just to know how it feels".
Another of my favourites is Bruce Willis. He keeps a pet rock. He feeds it on bits of granite and takes it for walks. When he’s making a movie it has to have it’s own trailer. If you watch closely it makes a cameo appearance in all of his films. Michael Jackson also has a pet rock. In fact he has a family of them. They all have an individual birthday and he makes sure that they get sent a birthday card if he’s out of the country at the time. He won’t let them travel with him. He claims they get airsick.

Are American celebrities more eccentric then British ones?
Mainly I would say they are. British celebrities have their own quirks too though. David Niven used to have his toilet paper flown from Britain to where ever he was filming. He claimed that any other kind used to bring him out in a rash. When Sean Connery makes a film his bed linen has to be tartan. He says he hasn’t slept in a bed with out tartan bed sheets for thirty years. He also has a voice coach to stop him losing his Scottish accent.
I also was told that when Madonna and Guy Ritchie signed the register after the wedding ceremony they had a thirty-piece Welsh male voice choir sing ‘Like a Virgin’. Contrary to all the rumours Guy wasn’t wearing a kilt. He was in fact wearing an exact replica of Michael Caine’s suit from ‘The Ipcress File’ I think he drew the line at the NHS spectacles though. I believe that baby Rocco’s romper suit is based on the jumpsuit that Caine wore in ‘The Italian Job’

Do you ever foresee a time when you won’t have anything to write about?
No. The thing about Hollywood is that it always manages to surprise you. Just when you think you have heard it all another little scandal comes along. As long as we have celebrities, I’ll have a job. Did you know that Brad Pitt had his third nipple removed? I’ve seen the medical reports.

Alana Berkovich, thank you.

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