NAMES & FACES

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leaving Lake Lucille

Gone from Wasilla, Alaska: Joe McGinniss, the writer who moved in next door to Sarah Palin back in May to research a book about her. He packed up and headed back to Massachusetts on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. His decision to rent the house next to the Palin family's on the banks of Lake Lucille initially prompted alarm from the Palins and from Glenn Beck. On May 25, Sarah Palin posted a photo of McGinniss on her Facebook page under a five-paragraph welcome message, noting he was "about 15 feet away on the neighbor's rented deck overlooking my children's play area and my kitchen window." Her husband Todd dropped by to voice his displeasure. Beck urged a boycott of McGinniss's publisher.

Things eventually settled down, according to McGinniss, who endured "vile e-mails" from some Palin supporters and says he noticed a distinct "undercurrent of fear" among residents. He began interviewing locals, some of whom offered him the comforts of blueberry pie and hand guns. He came back East convinced that Palin is running for president: "Everything she's doing is geared to that. And, she wants to be president. And God wants her to be president, so how can she say no?"

Travolta case dropped

Citing John Travolta's decision not to testify further, a judge in the Bahamas on Monday dismissed charges against two people accused of extorting money from the actor over the death of his 16-year-old son, Jett. With a retrial of ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and his attorney, former Bahamian senator Pleasant Bridgewater, set to begin, the prosecutor in this case submitted a motion to drop the case.

In a written statement explaining the "heavy emotional toll" the case has taken on his family since Jett's January 2009 death, Travolta said that "after much reflection I concluded that it was in my family's best interest for me not to voluntarily return to The Bahamas to testify a second time." Travolta's son died after suffering a seizure associated with autism. Lightbourne, one of the paramedics who arrived at the family's home, allegedly threatened to sell stories to the news media suggesting Travolta was at fault unless he received $25 million from the actor.

Jerry Hall is downsizing

Model Jerry Hall plans to auction some of her art collection next month, including a famous portrait by Lucian Freud that shows her nude when she was eight months pregnant, Sotheby's said Monday.

The auction also will include works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, David Bailey and other prominent artists collected by Hall, ex-wife of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. The works will be sold on Oct. 15-16 as part of a larger contemporary art sale, Sotheby's spokesman Simon Warren said.

Sotheby's specialist Oliver Barker said the Lucian Freud portrait called "Eight Months Gone" is the centerpiece of the auction and is expected to fetch more than 300,000 pounds ($460,000).

"It's a wonderful painting," he said. "It was exhibited shortly after it was done at the Tate Gallery. [Freud's] always been interested in maternity. It's a very tender, loving painting."

Hall, who separated from Jagger in 1999, said the unusually intimate painting came about after she and Freud were seated at a dinner together when she was eight months pregnant with her son Gabriel. The artist asked her if she would pose for him and said they had to begin immediately because she was so close to giving birth.

Spotted

Shrugging off her recent Las Vegas cocaine arrest: Paris Hilton on the Hawaiian island of Maui buying $700 worth of groceries, RadarOnline.com reports.

-- Christian Hettinger, from Web and wire reports


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