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Russell Crowe surprised fans with an onstage visit during Shamrock Fest.
Russell Crowe surprised fans with an onstage visit during Shamrock Fest. (Chris Willoughby)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, March 17, 2009; 12:00 AM

It's No Joke, But He's Still Laughing

Inappropriate humor is Don Imus's specialty, and he did not let up even when announcing yesterday that he has cancer.

The controversial radio host told listeners he has Stage 2 prostate cancer. What does this mean for the New Mexico getaway he and wife Deirdre run for sick kids? He quipped that he's "changing the name of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids With Cancer to the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids With Cancer, and Me."

He also took the opportunity to haze his own publicist, whom he didn't alert before going live with the story. The publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, told our colleague Howard Kurtz that Hiltzik called to ask about putting out a statement, and Imus told him "stress makes cancer worse. You're giving me worse cancer right now" -- then jokingly hung up on him.

But seriously folks: Sources told Kurtz the cancer is considered treatable, the prognosis good.

"The day you find out is fine," the shock jock, who previously battled drug addiction and a collapsed lung, said on the "Imus in the Morning" show. "But the next morning when you get up, your knees are shaking. I didn't think I could make it to work."

Imus was famously fired by CBS Radio in 2007 after the uproar over his racially charged ridicule of the Rutgers women's basketball team. Today he claims he has more affiliates and listeners from his new base at N.Y.C. station WABC than he did then.

Hiltzik later issued a statement thanking fans for their good wishes: "After years at the Imus Ranch surrounded by inspirational children battling cancer, Don is well prepared to fight this. And no, this does not make him eligible for the kids' rodeo competition."

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

-- Val Kilmer lunching with two others at Overwood in Old Town Alexandria yesterday; business-casual blue blazer. Presumably back in town doing more prep work for his possible New Mexico guv campaign. Bison burger, subbed a veggie for the fries.

-- Emilio and Gloria Estefan dining with their teenage daughter and family friends at Zaytinya on Saturday night; the singer in black, her producer-husband in a tweed jacket. The family came up from Florida for an American Task Force for Lebanon gala that honored Emilio.

-- Zbigniew Brzezinski in the audience at Theater J's Sunday night production of "Benedictus," a drama about an impending attack on Iran.

-- Caron Butler watching the Miami Heat-Utah Jazz game at ESPN Zone downtown on Saturday.

This Just In

-- Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Biden is recovering from hip surgery yesterday at the University of Pennsylvania. The veep's 91-year-old mother fell Sunday at her home in Delaware but is in "good spirits" according to his spokeswoman.

-- Levi Johnston says his engagement to Bristol Palin ended because of "me not being mature enough" for marriage. The 19-year-old told "Good Morning America" yesterday that the two are civil "for the most part" and that a reconciliation could happen down the road: "I'd like to get back together with her. I don't know what she's thinking."

-- A Beverly Hills judge yesterday set aside Friday's arrest warrant for Lindsay Lohan after her attorney proved the actress has, in fact, been attending alcohol education classes. The lawyer said there was a miscommunication with the court when Lohan switched from one program to another due to a "personality conflict."


"Tyra Banks went on her show in her bathing suit and said, 'Kiss my fat [bottom].' That's what I feel right now. I'm like, kiss my fat [bottom]!"

-- Meghan McCain on "The View" yesterday, responding to Laura Ingraham's snark about McCain's weight. Ingraham answered on her radio show: "Can I say 'lighten up'? Can you still say that? Or is that offensive, too?"

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