Names and Faces: Sarah Palin, Madonna, Benjamin Netanyahu, Russell Crowe

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Palin's Hideaway: San Diego

Where in the world is Sarah Palin? The former Alaska governor has made no public appearances since she stepped down July 26. This week, her father told a reporter she had been out of the state for more than a month, working on her memoir. Where, exactly, she was doing that, he said he didn't know.

How about sunny Southern California? Residents of a San Diego apartment complex saw Palin several times over the better part of August, our colleague Amy Argetsinger reports. The former guv often sat poolside and tapped away on a laptop, with her husband, Todd, and at least a few of her kids nearby.

Why San Diego? Palin's reps wouldn't get back to us for comment, but public records indicate her ghostwriter -- Lynn Vincent, a writer for the Christian magazine World -- lives in the neighborhood. (Vincent declined to comment.)

A resident tells Argetsinger that Palin -- generally wearing T-shirts, sunglasses and visors -- went mostly unrecognized by the neighbors, until one family found themselves chatting in the pool with a little girl named Piper who told them her younger brother was named Trig.

But don't go looking for them: The neighbor says he saw them pack up last weekend, and he hasn't seen their car since.

Madonna's Sacred Side

Madonna is huge in Israel. So huge, she hangs out with Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Friday night, Madonna joined the Israeli prime minister's family in a traditional ritual that welcomes the Jewish Sabbath, Netanyahu's rep confirmed to the Associated Press. The pop star spent two hours at the Netanyahu residence, lighting candles and reciting a blessing with Netanyahu's wife, Sarah.

Madonna, 51, is not Jewish. But she claims a special bond with Israel and has been a follower of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, for more than a decade. She arrived in Israel on Sunday and performed this week in Tel Aviv -- where her 9-year-old son, Rocco, took the stage and displayed some enviable dance moves.

Crowe Flies

Don't tell Russell Crowe how to exercise -- and expect to get away with it.

Annette Sharp, a celebrity gossip columnist at Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper, penned a recent snarkfest about the Aussie actor, headlined: "Smokes and fatty foods the fitness regime for Rusty." (This after Crowe, 45, was photographed smoking cigarettes, eating tacos and drinking a soda while taking a break from a bike ride with his personal trainer.)

So, naturally, Crowe had his rep call Sharp . . . and challenge her to a bike race. She accepted. A video on the Daily Telegraph's Web site excerpts their 12-mile trek through Sydney. It seemed a humbling exercise: Sharp huffs, puffs and trails Crowe the entire way, and at one point takes a spill off her bike.

Later, recapping the ride at a cafe, Crowe explained, "after a couple of hours on the bike, you've earned a couple of" cigarettes. Sharp -- a nonsmoker -- said she couldn't fault him for it.

End Notes

Spotted: Chef Robert Irvine at Founding Farmers on Thursday night. The "Dinner: Impossible" host, in town for a taping at the Newseum, ate with seven friends. They had salads, clam chowder, fried chicken and carrot cake, and sipped on beer, tequila and absinthe.

Quoted: "The older I get, the younger the leading man gets." -- Actress Michelle Pfeiffer, 51, tells Britain's Telegraph newspaper. Her recent film "Chéri" adhered to this rule: Pfeiffer's love interest was played by 27-year-old actor Rupert Friend.

-- Marissa Newhall, from staff, wire and Web reports

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