People: Philippines Oscars end in uproar

'I DIDN'T expect this,' gushed Ruffa Gutierrez as she was named Best Actress in the Philippines equivalent of the Oscars, for her role in a dramatisation of the Lorena Bobbit penis-slicing episode. The judges didn't expect it either. They thought they had chosen someone else.

The mix-up threw the country's film community into uproar and Ms Gutierrez and others face the prospect of jail for fraud. Viveka Babajee, who represented Mauritius in last month's Miss Universe pageant in Manila, will be asked to explain why she did not name the real winner, Aiko Melendez. She faced deportation for being involved in the scandal and - to avoid this fate - fled the country.

The organisers of the Manila Film Festival who put on the event demanded that Ms Gutierrez give her Oscar back. The distraught actress at first refused, but under pressure, weeping and wailing, she eventually complied. The hoax was apparently masterminded by Miss Gutierrez's mother, who is also Miss Babajee's agent.

AS IF the fallen football hero O J Simpson were not in enough trouble, his name was further blackened by Time magazine. Time has apologised for featuring a darkened version of Simpson's mugshot on its cover, saying it did not intend to imply guilt.

The offending photograph was a police shot altered for artistic reasons, making Simpson's face look much darker. Critics complain that the picture played on racial fears and made Simpson look more sinister.

The magazine's editor, James R Gaines, took a whole page in the latest issue to apologise. 'I have looked at thousands of covers over the years. I have never been so wrong about how one would be received.' He intended no imputation of guilt, he said, 'but for at least some people, this cover picture was worth several thousand words'.

THE disgraced skating star Tonya Harding heads for Hollywood to play a waitress on the run from the Mafia in a movie called Breakaway. The film is produced and written by Sean Dash and Eric Gardner who are, like Harding, from the Oregon town of Beaver Creek. In the film, the Harding character accidentally receives money belonging to the mob.

It is not her first brush with the silver screen. Her life story is already subject of a film out next year.

A JAPANESE bullfighter calling himself 'The Kid from the Rising Sun' made his debut in a bullring near Seville at the weekend. Atsuhiro Shimoyama prepared for the rigours of his chosen profession by seeking inner strength from traditional Japanese meditation. But he also called upon reserves of emotion. 'I may look calm but inside I'm full of passion,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

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