Shock jock Howard Stern (with a remarkably well-oiled publicity machine behind him) has America in a frenzy. The movies Private Parts, starring Stern and based on his bestselling autobiography, went straight to No.1, after a New York premiere that brought traffic to a halt. Not the kind of reception normally reserved for someone who, after his wife's miscarriage, told his listeners: "We got it in formaldehyde". Private Parts is a tireless, disorienting attempt to reinvent its lowlife hero as, well, a cuddly lowlife hero - somehow, it's worked. Critics love the film; so do one-time enemies (even a media-executive, christened "Pig Vomit" by the DJ, is an avowed fan). The "King of All Media", as Stern calls himself, is certainly living up to his title: once thought too risque, he's notched up at least six magazine covers in the past month, and, even more surprising, a down-and-dirty New Yorker profile, which not only deigns to discuss spanking and lesbian strippers, but is actually tagged "Howard Stern's Acorn", a reference to Stern's constant reminders that he is, much to his regret, "hung like an acorn".

Rosie O'Donnell, whose chat show is still trouncing its competitors in the ratings, continues to side-step insistent tabloid speculations about her sexuality. She's constructed an elaborate smokescreen in the form of a not-very- funny on-air running joke about her supposed passion for Tom Cruise, and some gay commentators are not pleased. Michael Musto, the Village Voice's gossip columnist, has accused the media of covering up for her in "a self-appointed goodwill mission". But the angriest words came, predictably, from the reliably cranky Camille Paglia, who delivered a vicious attack in the on-line weekly Salon, calling the effusive Rosie "oafishly unfunny" and guilty of "frenetic artificiality". Her conclusion: O'Donnell "may well be the biggest pop hypocrite since that self-neutered worrywart Ellen DeGeneres".

The Broadway revival of Annie seemed like the least likely place for scandal, so it was especially gratifying to see a pre-teen All About Eve unfold behind the scenes of the musical. A few weeks ago, Joanna Pacitti, the 12-year-old star discovered in a national talent search, was suddenly fired and replaced by her eight-year-old understudy. But Pacitti immediately turned it all around. She's since become a fixture on the talk-show circuit, belting out show tunes and talking about her heartbreak. It didn't take long for Annie to get her gun - the brat's now threatening to sue the producers for $50m.

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