News, June 18: Gibson Is Most Powerful Celebrity, Andy Dick Says He’s Not Guilty of Drug Charge, Just Call Madonna “Esther,” More…

Forbes tags Gibson as most powerful celeb

Forbes magazine’s Celebrity 100 power list ranks actor/director Mel Gibson at the top this year, Reuters reports. Gibson, who directed, produced and co-wrote The Passion of the Christ, about the last hours of Jesus, earned $210 million as well as huge media buzz from the film. Forbes magazine factors in media attention, i.e. magazine covers, press clippings, TV and radio coverage and Internet hits. Others on the list included golf star Tiger Woods, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, actor/producer Tom Cruise and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Those missing from the list included singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, who ranked fifth last year and her former fiancé Ben Affleck, who ranked seventh, as well as Eminem and Dr. Dre, who held the No. 2 spot and former reality show darlings the Osbournes (12th).

Andy Dick pleads not guilty

Comic actor Andy Dick, best known for his NBC series NewsRadio, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, The Associated Press reports. Dick, who currently appears in the ABC comedy Less Than Zero, was arrested by Indio, Calif., police on May 2 after a security guard at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival reportedly saw the actor trying to light a joint. Dick‘s latest drug-related run-in follows another incident three years ago when a Los Angeles judge dismissed felony drug charges of possession of cocaine and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and a smoking device against the comedian after he successfully completed an 18-month diversion program.

Bono violates Ireland’s smoking ban

Here’s something different: U2 frontman Bono apologized for having a smoke. According to Reuters, the Irish rocker was spotted last week lighting up during a late-night bash at a Dublin restaurant with rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers, thus breaching Ireland’s recent ban on smoking in the workplace. “It was the wee small hours. I was in the company of people from out of town who didn’t know about the ban and for a moment nor did I,” newspapers quoted Bono as saying Friday. “I was quickly reminded by the staff and a few friends. I apologized then and I apologize now.”

Call her Esther

That’s the Hebrew name Kabbalah follower Madonna has chosen for herself, AP reports. In an interview with ABC’s 20/20, airing this Friday, the singer explained, “I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and…I wanted to attach myself to another name. This is in no way a negation of who my mother is…I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name.” Madonna also said her Jewish beliefs are not a trend and that she does not take them lightly. “I’m a little bit irritated that people think that it’s like some celebrity bandwagon that I’ve jumped on, or that, say, somebody like Demi (Moore) has jumped on,” the 45-year-old singer said. “We don’t take it lightly.”

Madonna praises Fahrenheit 9/11

Madonna urged fans during her concert Wednesday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden to go see Michael Moore’s latest film, the anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore screened Fahrenheit 9/11, which opens in New York two days earlier than its nationwide opening June 25, to a crowd of celebrities and members of the press Monday at New York’s Ziegfeld Theater. In what MTV News describes as “a genuine, unscripted moment,” Madonna told the audience–which included Moore–that she had just seen the film and that it had really affected her. “Not only is it inspiring and educating, but it’s proof that people can make a difference, that we can make a difference,” she said. “So, Michael, I know you’re out there tonight, and I just wanted to publicly thank you for sticking your neck out, for going against the establishment, for giving us hope.”

Conservatives slam Fahrenheit 9/11

While Madonna is singing Michael Moore’s praises for his anti-Bush documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, conservative groups have organized campaigns condemning the film and its maker.
One group, Move America Forward, has launched an anti-Moore letter-writing campaign alerting theater chains that they don’t support the showing of Fahrenheit 9/11. “(Moore) is critical of what’s happening right now, and there’s no problem with being critical–but his movie is not a documentary, it’s a piece of propaganda,” Siobhan Guiney, the executive director for the pro-Bush group, says on the group Web site. Another independent conservative group, Citizens United, is making video ads for TV and the Internet denouncing Moore. The group’s head, David Bossie, said the ads would target Moore and George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who donated nearly $13 million to various groups seeking to defeat Bush.

Kelly Ripa gets $40 million in new Live contract

Kelly Ripa will host Live with Regis and Kelly for five more years in a contract purportedly worth millions. The syndicated TV entertainment show Extra reported the co-host will be paid about $40 million under her new Live contract, or $8 million a year. Ripa, a former cast member on the ABC soap All My Children, landed in the chair next to Regis Philbin in February 2001, replacing Kathie Lee Gifford. Philbin, 72, has two more years on his current contract on Live, which enters its 17th season this fall. Ripa, 33, will also continue to appear on her primetime ABC sitcom Hope & Faith, which begins its second season in the fall.

Hawaii Five-O star honored in Hawaii

Hawaii Five-O star Jack Lord, who died in 1998 from congestive heart failure, is being honored with a bronze bust at one of his favorite walking spots in Honolulu, the AP reports. The 40-pound sculpture, by Hawaii artist Lynn Weiler Liverton, is scheduled to go on display Saturday during a ceremony at Kahala Mall in East Oahu. “We decided on Kahala Mall because it was the place where you could always see Jack,” said Doug Mossman, who had recurring roles as Lt. George Kealoha and Frank Kamana on the show. “He’d stroll through the mall in shorts, aloha shirt and straw hat, smiling.” Lord, who portrayed detective Steve McGarrett on the series that ran from 1968-80, is credited with being the first star to require local actors be given roles because he believed they captured the flavor of Hawaii. His wife, Marie, still lives in the couple’s Kahala residence.

Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.