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This Week, Everything Was Relative

Entertainment news this week gave a new meaning to the term dysfunctional family. The spotlight shown on performers and characters in situations that exposed every quirk, foible and shortcoming.

The week started with a new crop of movies. Though the moneymaker was Michael Mann's adaptation of the 1980s TV show "Miami Vice," critics were looking at the Sundance favorite "Little Miss Sunshine." It's about a family determined to get the daughter into a pint-sized beauty pageant. And what a family it is – loser dad, stressed-out mom, silent, Nietzsche-reading teenage son, suicidal gay uncle and drug-addled grandpa. The laughs keep coming from there.

Another new offering was "Scoop," which pairs Woody Allen as a nebbishy magician with Scarlett Johansson as an artless college student. They are not family but they pretend to be as they go about solving the crime of century. And of course, Allen, who also wrote and directed the comedy, has had his own family issues. Eight years ago, he left Mia Farrow for then-teenaged Soon-Yi Previn, Farrow's adopted daughter from her second marriage.

While moviegoers were watching onscreen antics, one moviemaker was complaining about some off-screen hijinks. James G. Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, scolded actress Lindsay Lohan in a letter in which he called her late-night partying unprofessional. Lohan missed work after collapsing on the set of her latest movie last week.

Momma Dina Lohan immediately came to Lindsay's defense, calling Robinson "out of line" and his letter "ridiculous." This is the same mother who had no qualms putting her children in the middle of prolonged and bitter divorce proceedings between her and Michael Lohan. And the celebrity pop has had his own problems, including a string of arrests dating back to 2003 for assaults, failure to pay bills and drunken driving.

Meanwhile, a surfing accident is the latest mishap for the Carter family whose legal battles have been tabloid fodder for years. Singer and actor Aaron Carter is recovering at home from injuries suffered in the San Diego accident. Carter and his siblings, who will star in the upcoming reality show on E! in the fall, have made headlines with Nick's arrest for driving under the influence, Bobbie Jean's arrest for assault and Aaron's petition (later withdrawn) for legal emancipation from his manager/mother.

And then there are the Jacksons. For the second time in a year, a law firm representing Michael Jackson quit this week, saying it hasn't been paid and can't get the pop star on the phone. Long known for eccentric behavior, Jackson has been dogged by allegations of child sexual abuse. While he is considered the most bizarre of the clan, other Jacksons have gotten into headline–making scrapes, including Janet who suffered a famous "wardrobe malfunction" during a Super Bowl halftime show. Patriarch Joe Jackson has been accused of abusing his famous offspring when they were young.

Last weekend brought the first of four planned weddings uniting "Baywatch" babe Pamela Anderson with Detroit musician Kid Rock. Following tradition, the bride wore white – a white string bikini. Wedding pictures show the groom shirtless but wearing his customary hat. One only wonders what the wedding guests wore. And no one's saying what the bosomy bride will wear down the aisle for her nuptials in California, Michigan and Tennessee.

In midweek, "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who has said she will kill off two characters in her seventh and final book in the series, was begged by authors Stephen King and John Irving to spare poor Harry. Hasn't he had enough? First, the boy wizard is abused in his aunt and uncle's home, where he is relegated to the cupboard un der the stairs, and then he finds a second dysfunctional family among classmates with extraordinary powers at Hogwarts.

But all of this news was overshadowed by the big story of the week: Mel Gibson's arrest on drunken driving charges and the anti-Semitic tirade that followed it. The story grew in stages as details emerged and even two apologies by the Oscar winner has failed to placate critics. Gibson's admission of being an alcoholic and his promise to enter rehab is not very unusual in Hollywood, but his attacks on Jews – and women- dropped jaws and raised eyebrows.

For some, it confirmed what many believed all along, that Gibson, an ardent Catholic and the son of a Holocaust-denying bigot, had bought into his father's views. Interviewed Thursday, Randy Cohen, who writes "The Ethicist" column for The New York Times, said Gibson was asked about Hutton Gibson's views many times and he waffled.

"He refused to simply say what many a child has said about many a parent: I love my parents, but they're really nuts."
By Mary Jayne McKay