Making a Splash With Some Serious Activism

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Monday, January 28, 2008

We're going out on a limb with this one: Generation Y finally has its own Jane Fonda, and it is Hayden Panettiere.

Oh, without that messy Viet Cong baggage, of course. But while other celeb-activists have gone uptown polite -- dining with Nancy Pelosi, serving as U.N. "humanitarian ambassadors" -- the bubbly 18-year-old starlet is kickin' it '70s style, snagging an arrest warrant for her face-off with Japanese dolphin hunters and raising the roof at a "Save the Whales Again!" rally yesterday in Dupont Circle.

The "Heroes" star came across like the fired-up activist girl handing out fliers on the college quad, except in diamond studs and luxe cashmere. She talked for most of an hour without notes, protesting the Japanese "scientific" hunts that activists claim are a dodge around the two-decade-old ban on commercial whaling.

"Not only are these animals being cruelly slaughtered, the meat is contaminated by huge levels of mercury. . . . And we're not taking a stand because Japan is one of our biggest allies in the war on terror, but Australia is an ally and they've told Japan what they think, and good on them!"

But she really lit up when asked about the incident last fall when she and five other surfboard-riding activists disrupted a Japanese dolphin kill. "It was like 'Mission: Impossible'! We had masks on. . . . The water was so red with blood. . . . This baby dolphin popped its head up and looked at me."

Panettiere later spoke at Georgetown; today she's scheduled to visit the embassies of Iceland, Norway and Japan; tomorrow she's due at a news conference with Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Nick Rahall of the House Natural Resources Committee.

"I get that rush and feeling of really making a difference rather than just lending my face to something," she told us. "I'd rather people pay attention to me doing this than shopping at Fred Segal." No fear of a Fonda-like backlash? "We're saving magnificent animals. I don't think anyone objects to that. I don't trust people who don't love animals."

A Birthday Serenade From Her Favorite Idol

Now we know who was placing all those toll-free calls! Diane Schuler of Great Falls got a special surprise at her 40th-birthday party, hosted by her spinal surgeon husband, Tom, at the Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast in Middleburg: Country singer Bucky Covington, whom you may (or may not!) remember as the long-hair who placed eighth on "American Idol" in 2006. "She's a huge 'Idol' fan," said guest Jennifer Griffin. "She always wanted him to win, and her sister remembered that and hired him." Bucky played for about an hour, then hung around to mingle with the 200 guests. It's unknown how much he cost the hosts, but probably no bargain compared with most "AI" also-rans: His debut album sold 300,000 copies last year.


"Earlier today, my sister Doro had a wedding shower for Jenna, who got lots of great stuff. Mom gave her a toaster. Karen Hughes gave her a Cuisinart. Dick [Cheney] here sent over a gift I could tell he'd picked out personally . . . a paper shredder."

-- President Bush riffing at Saturday night's Alfalfa Club dinner about his daughter's bridal shower earlier that day. The shower really happened, but that last part's a joke, we're pretty sure.


A brief and private memorial service was held for Heath Ledger Saturday night in Los Angeles at the chapel of a VIP mortuary that largely kept paparazzi at bay, according to several published reports; ex-girlfriend and fellow former Oscar nominee Naomi Watts was among the mourners. According to Australian papers, a memorial and burial are planned in his home town of Perth.

Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund was crowned Miss America Saturday in Las Vegas after singing "Over the Rainbow" in a fluttery voice, donning a semi-see-through "Dancing With the Stars"-type gown, nailing a question about STDs, and strutting her stuff in a black bikini. The aspiring Broadway star, 19, won a $50K scholarship.

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