Names & Faces: Kevin Smith, Jim Belushi, Peter Gabriel

NO JOKING MATTER: Jim Belushi detailed his dad's battle with chronic bronchitis for those who stopped by the Fashion Centre for COPD screenings.
NO JOKING MATTER: Jim Belushi detailed his dad's battle with chronic bronchitis for those who stopped by the Fashion Centre for COPD screenings. (Jessie Tunstall For Drive4copd.com)
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kevin Smith vs. Southwest: Twitter edition

Kevin Smith, who calls himself "way fat," has won an apology and a $100 voucher from Southwest Airlines after taking his outrage to Twitter over getting booted from a flight for violating the company's "Customer of Size" policy, Comic Riffs blogger Michael Cavna reports.

The director says a pilot threw him off a flight from Oakland to Burbank, Calif., because he did not fit in the single seat left on the plane after he changed his reservation at the last minute and was put on standby. The airline's policy requires that customers be able to fit comfortably within the armrests of one seat or make other arrangements.

On Saturday night, the filmmaker, in a not-so-Silent-Bob move, tweeted: "Wanna tell me I'm too wide for the sky? Totally cool. But fair warning, folks: IF YOU LOOK LIKE ME, YOU MAY BE EJECTED FROM @SOUTHWESTAIR." On Southwest's Twitter page, he tweeted: "Landed in Burbank. Don't worry: wall of the plane was opened & I was airlifted out while Richard Simmons supervised," and "Look how fat I am on your plane! Quick! Throw me off!"

By Sunday night, a Southwest rep was tweeting back, "Again, I'm very sorry for the experience you had tonight. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do."

Even the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is urging fliers to boycott Southwest, encouraging "people of size to seek out and travel airlines that do not have such discriminatory policies."

"You [messed] with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!" tweeted Smith, who is scheduled to speak in Washington in April as part of a national tour and whose film "Cop Out," starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, is scheduled to open in two weeks.

Belushi gets serious about COPD fight

Taking a breather from his defunct ABC sitcom "According to Jim" (and "Blues Brothers" rave-ups and his world-famous cigar smoking), Jim Belushi dropped by the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on Monday to stump for the prevention and detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

The appearance was part of a pharmaceutical-company-sponsored nationwide celebrity campaign to screen people for the disease. Belushi spoke to a crowd of around 350 about his father's struggle with chronic bronchitis before signing autographs and posing for pictures, said Todd Jerscheid, director of mall marketing.

NASCAR's Danica Patrick (whose grandmother has emphysema), Michael Strahan of the New York Giants (whose uncle had emphysema), country music star Patty Loveless (whose sister had emphysema) and Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner (whose wife's grandparents both had emphysema) also took part in a multi-city series of U.S. screening events over the weekend.

Emily Baier, a public relations manager for German-based Boehringer Ingelheim, which is sponsoring the DRIVE4COPD campaign, said that company reps had spoken to Belushi about his history of smoking cigarettes and cigars before enlisting him in the paid campaign. She added that cigar smoking does not contribute to COPD the way cigarette smoking does.

Belushi tells Baier that he's cut back quite a bit but does still enjoy smoking a cigar. "With this campaign, we're trying to help Jim as well as the public recognize the risks for COPD," Baier said.

Got a Peter Gabriel itch? 'Scratch'

Peter Gabriel returns. The just-turned-60 "Shock the Monkey" rocker has released his first new solo album in eight years. The album, called "Scratch My Back," consists of 12 cover songs pared down to orchestral arrangements and just his voice.

Artists covered include Radiohead, Talking Heads, Regina Spektor, David Bowie and Paul Simon. The album officially dropped in the United Kingom on Monday and is scheduled to wash ashore in the States on March 2. The same artists Gabriel covered will reinterpret Gabriel songs on another album to be called "I'll Scratch Yours," Gabriel said. Gabriel's former band, Genesis, is slated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15 in New York, but Gabriel will be on the road in Europe.

-- Compiled by Christian Hettinger from staff, wire and Web reports


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