Celebrities

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Stars push agendas for arts, immigration

By Théoden Janes
tjanes@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. First of all, John Leguizamo – I apologize.

The actor kindly allowed me to interview him for five minutes during a National Association of Broadcasters reception Tuesday at Dressler’s Restaurant, and ironically, the only quote I have room to use is this one:

“Everybody (in the media) tries to trip you up,” Leguizamo said. “Like Bill O’Reilly’s people” – he gestures toward a Fox News crew that just interviewed him – “you know they’re asking questions to trip you up only. They’re gonna cut out all the parts where you talk about your agenda.”

Leguizamo is in Charlotte as part of a nonpartisan Creative Coalition delegation to the DNC. The group, which advocates for arts funding, includes actors Patricia Arquette, Beau Bridges, Rose Byrne, Tim Daly, Wayne Knight, Richard Schiff and Alfre Woodard; all eight were at Dressler’s.

Anyway, sorry, John. But let’s hear from Patricia:

“(Kids) are two-thirds less likely to drop out of school if they have a strong arts curriculum. And those are kids that we would be paying for to be in jail or to be on welfare, so we might as well pay for them to be in arts classes.

“People forget how much the arts are integral to every aspect of manufacturing. Nobody buys the ugly T-shirts. No small business hires the person who makes the ugliest website. There’s millions of different businesses that kids can go into through the arts.”

Actress turned activist

Rosario Dawson took part Tuesday afternoon in a Voto Latino policy forum at Stage Door Theater, where a key topic was U.S. immigration policies.

Then the movie star walked out onto the street and – as if on cue – put her money where her mouth is.

At Fifth and College streets, right outside the theater, 10 undocumented immigrants were being arrested for blocking the intersection as part of a demonstration demanding immigration reform.

Dawson showed her support for the immigrants, holding up a banner reading “Undocumented” and chanting “Education, not deportation!” She also got on a megaphone and told the immigrants already in jail transport vans that she admired them.

“That’s what it takes,” she said. “For all of you who just got arrested, I want to commend your bravery. Things will change. We are here with you.” Ely Portillo contributed

Perez Hilton won’t serve up dish

Perez Hilton built part of his career as a gossip columnist by outing gay celebrities. But as he chatted Monday in Mez, an EpiCentre restaurant, he restrained himself from revealing where a fellow celeb is staying this week.

After telling us where he himself spent Monday night, Hilton added: “Saw (name redacted).” Then, quickly: “Oh! Don’t put that in. I don’t want to out him. It’s not cool to say where other people are staying.”

He was in town for a party sponsored by Rock the Vote and Pringles, but left right after the event for L.A. It’s a quick visit to the West Coast – his off-Broadway show “Newsical: The Musical” opens this weekend in New York.

“It’s kind of like ‘Saturday Night Live’ with songs,” Hilton said. “I play myself. I also play fictional characters, and real-life people. One of them is Paul Ryan. There’s a whole Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan sketch-song, and I’m Paul Ryan.”

How’s his impression of the VP nominee? “Pretty good. It’s all about the hair.”

Also sighted

Former President Bill Clinton spoke at The Westin Tuesday evening, while actress Ashley Judd – a Tennessee delegate – gave an interview in the next room. Following Clinton’s speech, actor Adrian Grenier (Vince on “Entourage”) was spotted briefly near the elevators. …

Actress Amber Riley (Mercedes on “Glee”) sang the national anthem for convention-goers at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday. Hilary Trenda contributed

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