Shaq pays for slain N.C. 5-year-old’s funeral
Fayetteville, N.C. — Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal paid for the funeral of a 5-year-old North Carolina girl after being moved by national news coverage of the case of Shaniya Davis, who police say was kidnapped and killed.
The Cleveland Cavaliers player was touched by the stories he saw and got in touch with the family to see what he could do to help, a spokeswoman for O’Neal said Thursday.
More than 2,000 people attended the girl’s funeral Sunday. Her body was found Nov. 16 beside a rural road.
Her mother, Antionette Davis, who had reported the child missing six days earlier, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution. Mario McNeill is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case.
“I was sitting at home watching it on the news and the story brought a tear to my eye,” O’Neal told The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
Corey Breece, of Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, which handled the service, declined to tell the Fayetteville Observer newspaper how much it cost but added that a child’s funeral “averages around $4,500.”
Nude photo of Polanski, Tate to be auctioned
New York — A nude photo of filmmaker Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate taken just months before her death will be sold at auction next month.
The black and white photo by British photographer David Bailey will be sold by Christie’s in New York on Dec. 7. It shows the topless couple embracing.
Christie’s is estimating that the 33-inch-by-33 1/4-inch print will sell for $8,000 to $12,000.
Tate, Polanski’s wife, was murdered in 1969 by followers of Charles Manson.
In 1977, Polanski was accused of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and a Quaalude pill and then raping her. He fled the United States the day he was to be sentenced on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.
Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on Sept. 26.
Polanski prepares for luxury house arrest
Gstaad, Switzerland — After two months in a Swiss jail, Roman Polanski prepared Thursday for the splendid captivity of his $1.6 million chalet in one of world’s most luxurious winter resorts.
Polanski will have views of snowcapped Alpine peaks, spacious rooms and all the amenities of a town with a reputation for catering to the wishes of the rich and famous.
But he won’t be able to go out the front door.
In this isolated bastion of wealth — which Elizabeth Taylor once called home and Michael Jackson visited — the 76-year-old director will be placed under house arrest as soon as he posts $4.5 million bail, surrenders his identity documents and is fitted for an electronic bracelet that allows authorities to monitor his whereabouts.
The Justice Ministry declined Thursday to appeal a court decision granting Polanski bail, and said it would release him from jail while it considers whether to extradite him to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
“He must not leave this house,” the ministry said in a statement.
Should he violate the terms of release, the bail will be forfeited to the Swiss government, it added.
Bruni-Sarkozy says ‘yes’ to film proposal
Paris — Woody Allen has successfully courted France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
The former supermodel and wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy says she’s agreed to be in the famed director’s next film, but doesn’t know what role he has in store for her and admits she could be a terrible actress.
Allen “asked me to be in his next film,” she said Monday on Canal Plus television, where she appeared for an interview and duet with crooner Harry Connick Jr.
Asked if he had told her what part she would play, Bruni-Sarkozy replied: “No. But I said ‘yes’... I do everything a little bit blindly. If I don’t, I won’t do anything.
“I’m not at all an actress. Maybe I’ll be absolutely terrible,” she added.
“I’d like to — you know — when I’m a grandmother, to have done a Woody Allen film,” said Bruni-Sarkozy, who has a son from a relationship before Sarkozy. “I cannot in my life miss an opportunity like this.”
The bespectacled cinematic legend asked Bruni-Sarkozy not to make another film before his, she said.
“If this ever comes about, it’ll be a great experience,” she said.
Kingsley to play emperor who built Taj Mahal
Hong Kong — Ben Kingsley, famous for his Oscar-winning portrayal of Indian independence hero Mohandas Gandhi, is reaching deeper into the country’s history with a new role as the Mogul emperor who ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Kingsley will star as Shah Jahan in “Taj,” 27 years after his award winning performance in “Gandhi.” Indian superstar and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will play Mumtaz Mahal in the $25-30 million production, the British actor’s production company, SBK Pictures, said in a statement sent Wednesday.
The Taj Mahal was built by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan between 1632 and 1654 for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while she was giving birth to their 14th child. Soon after its completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son and imprisoned at the nearby Agra Fort.
“With my passion for India and the Taj Mahal now becoming one of the Seven Wonders of the World, I am compelled to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ this scream of grief frozen in marble came into being,” Kingsley said in the statement.