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Buzz Briefs: Vin Diesel, Ryan Gosling

The Early Show: Vin Diesel visits The Early Show to discuss his role as super-cool agent Xander Cage in the new film "XXX." Image of Vin Diesel
CBS/The Early Show

Vin Diesel Endorses Dominican President

Vin Diesel has stopped chasing bad guys long enough to endorse the president of the Dominican Republic for re-election.

Diesel appears in a Dominican campaign commercial urging a vote for his friend, President Leonel Fernandez. The endorsement first aired Wednesday on local TV stations and is paired with movie clips that show Diesel running, driving and surviving a bomb explosion.

The 40-year-old actor says he visits the Dominican Republic about once a year and owns a home on the country's eastern coast.

About 5.7 million of the Dominican Republic's 9 million people are registered to vote in the May 16 general elections. Fernandez is running against construction magnate Miguel Vargas Maldonado.

Gosling Doesn't Let Animal Cruelty Fly

2With a name like "gosling," (which means baby goose) you'd expect award-winning Canadian actor Ryan Gosling to be fighting against the cruelty of birds.

The handsome young actor took the initiative to end animal cruelty by writing a letter on behalf of PETA to John Bitove, CEO of Priszm Income Fund, which operates KFC Canada, urging him to stop KFC suppliers' worst abuses of chickens on factory farms and in slaughterhouses.

Born and raised in Ontario, Gosling pleaded that Bitove stop the inhumane methods and implement animal welfare reform.

"The time is ripe to do the right thing," writes Gosling, who has starred in such acclaimed films as "Lars and the Real Girl," "Murder by Numbers," and "Half Nelson," for which he received an Oscar nomination for best actor. "By adopting the basic recommendations made by PETA and scientific experts (including raising birds in a more natural manner and employing less cruel slaughter methods), you could dramatically improve the lives and deaths of chickens raised and killed for KFC Canada."

According to PETA, the nearly 1 billion chickens raised and killed for KFC every year have their sensitive beaks cut off, and they are drugged and bred to grow so large that many become crippled from the weight of their massive upper bodies. The birds' throats are cut while they are still conscious, and millions are scalded to death in defeathering tanks.

Report: McKellen's Gandalf Comeback Close

3Ian McKellen will again take up the robes of Gandalf the Wizard in the cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic "The Hobbit," a British film magazine reported Wednesday.

But McKellen's publicist warned that final arrangements were yet to be made.

"Of course he wants to do it, but nothing's been agreed or signed," Clair Dobbs said.

Empire magazine's Web site quoted McKellen as saying that director Guillermo del Toro told him he would again be playing the white-haired wizard.

"He confirmed that I would be reprising the role," the magazine quoted McKellen as saying. "Obviously, it's not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf."

McKellen's sonorous interpretation of Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy delighted fans and critics, earning him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

The 68-year-old British actor previously told The Associated Press that he would hate to see anyone else play the role.

The "Lord of the Rings" movies, based on the Tolkien book series of the same name, were extremely lucrative, grossing some $2.8 billion at theaters worldwide.

"The Hobbit" is being produced by Peter Jackson, the director of the "Rings" movies, and is likely to be filmed in his home country of New Zealand next year.

"CSI's" Gary Dourdan Arrested For Drug Possession

4"CSI" co-star Gary Dourdan was arrested Monday for possession of narcotics and dangerous drugs, police said.

The 41-year-old actor was found asleep in his car by the Palm Springs Police Department, authorities said. An officer saw Dourdan's car parked on the wrong side of the street with the interior light on and someone sleeping in the driver's seat at approximately 5:12 a.m. Monday, according to Palm Springs police Sgt. Mitch Spike.

The officer described Dourdan as disoriented and possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer arrested Dourdan after locating suspected cocaine, heroin, Ecstacy, miscellaneous prescription drugs and paraphernalia. Dourdan was released on $5,000 bail at 10:30 a.m. Monday. A court date was not immediately scheduled.


Photos: Celebrity Mug Shots
Dourdan has played crime scene investigator Warrick Brown on CBS' "CSI" since 2000. Several celebrities were in town for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in nearby Indio, Calif. It was not immediately clear whether Dourdan attended the event.

Representatives for Dourdan did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday.

Carly Simon's "Idol" Fave Is Brooke White

5Carly Simon has more than a passing interest in this season's "American Idol" and leaves no mystery about who's her favorite remaining finalist - Brooke White.

Simon was tipped to turn on the television at her home in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., the night White won over the judges by performing her hit song "You're So Vain" during 1970s theme week.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, this girl is so talented and she sings the song so much better than I ever did or ever could,"' said Simon, interviewed during a rehearsal break with her band at a Manhattan studio. "I was so flattered that she chose the song and ... more than impressed. I think she should win."


Photos: Celebrity Circuit
Simon was preparing for a showcase performance of songs from her new bossa-nova flavored album, "This Kind of Love," her first album of original new songs in eight years, which was released Tuesday.

The 62-year-old singer confesses that when she watches "Idol" her motherly instincts take over and she just wants to protect the young singers from what she sees as the show's cruelest part - and it's not the comments by judge Simon Cowell whom she likes.
"One thing I don't like about the show is that it turns truly sadistic when the person is voted off and they have to sing while they're crying," Simon said. "I just want to go up .... and carry them off and say, 'It's OK, sweetheart, come with me.' ... I don't know how the panel can stand that cruelty. ... Doesn't that seem like being thrown to the lions?"

With her legendary stage fright, Simon admits she couldn't have gone far on "Idol" if she had to perform live before a TV audience in the tens of millions. And she doubts that the other noted singer-songwriters of her generation - Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell and ex-husband James Taylor - could have gone far because they all had distinctive but untrained voices.

Angela Bassett To Join "ER" Cast In Final Season

Angela Bassett will don the white coat for the final season of "ER."

NBC's medical drama announced that the 49-year-old actress, who won a Golden Globe for playing Tina Turner in 1993's "What's Love Got to Do With It," is joining the "ER" cast.

She'll play an attending physician who is returning to Chicago after doing tsunami relief work in Indonesia.

Her character's toughness hides a troubled past that will unfold during the season, producers say.

"Angela is a wonderfully talented actress who I've long hoped to work with," said John Wells, executive producer of the series.

Well is hoping to lure many of the "ER" cast's alumni back for appearances for the show's 15th and final season.

Rapper Vanilla Ice Off The Hook For Domestic Battery Charge

Authorities decided against prosecuting Vanilla Ice for a domestic battery charge since his wife recanted her original statement.

The 40-year-old performer (real name: Robert Van Winkle) - who sold 15 million copies of the single "Ice Ice Baby" in 1990 - was arrested April 10 at the couple's home. Authorities said his wife called 911 and claimed he kicked and hit her during an argument. She later told deputies he only pushed her.

In an affidavit provided to Palm Beach County prosecutors, Laura Van Winkle recanted her original allegations. She now says any physical confrontation was accidental.

Prosecutors on Tuesday closed the case.