No Man Behind the Curtain

Jack Valenti's Thursday night screening of the new Denzel Washington film, "The Hurricane," was suspense-filled and action-packed--and that was before the movie even started. Valenti, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, had invited a bunch of Washington VIPs to the trade group's Eye Street headquarters for a buffet dinner and the screening. But just as the film was supposed to start, the projectionist was nowhere to be found. "Is there a projectionist in the house?" Valenti queried the crowd. Documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim volunteered to try his hand at the 35mm projector, but apparently it was beyond him. To fill time, former Missouri representative James W. Symington got up and belted out a "Beltway Ballad" from his new book, "A Muse 'N Washington." After about 20 minutes, Valenti was ready to call it quits. "I'm horribly embarrassed. I don't know what to say," he said, promising his guests a rain check and joking that he'd have his projectionist's "head on a platter" in Lafayette Square. But just as everyone was about to leave, the projectionist appeared and the show went on. No word on where he'd been.

A Scary Day for Posh

Victoria Adams, a k a Posh Spice, clobbered a loony fan who tried to grab her 9-month-old son, Brooklyn, on a London street. Adams and her soccer star hubby, David Beckham, were heading home Wednesday afternoon after a shopping spree at Harrods--where they bought their son a $75,000 toy Ferrari--when an unidentified man lunged at Beckham, who was carrying Brooklyn. "I just want a picture of me and Brooklyn together," the man yelled. "Please! Please, let me!"

"I was really frightened. He just came out of nowhere and grabbed Brooklyn. I couldn't believe what was going on," Adams told London's Sun newspaper. "I gave him a massive push out of the way--I did what any mother would do." She added: "Brooklyn, David and I are absolutely fine."

In other Spice Girls news, they'll be the first British pop group since the Beatles to be cloned in wax at Madame Tussaud's. Ex-Spice Girl Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell won't be included.

'1999's' Lives

The Artist We Think Should Still Be Called Prince is ready to retire his anthem for the millennium, "1999." USA Today reports that the Artist will perform the 1982 smash hit one last time at a star-studded New Year's Eve concert in Minneapolis, featuring Lenny Kravitz, George Clinton, Larry Graham and Morris Day and the Time. "I was aware of the impact '1999' would have when I wrote it," Prince said. "I knew my place in the musical community at the time, and I have always sought to be a leader, not a follower."

End Notes

Boy George, of Culture Club fame, was almost killed this week when a giant disco ball crashed from the ceiling of a British concert hall where he was rehearsing. He was treated for shock and bruises, but he still performed . . . Malcolm McLaren-- creator of the 1970s punk-rock band the Sex Pistols--is running for mayor of London. He pledges to legalize brothels and cannabis and also allow alcohol consumption in libraries (yikes!) . . . Defense Secretary William Cohen and celebs including Christie Brinkley, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Al Franken and Terry Bradshaw are headed to Kosovo and Bosnia next week, where they'll spread some holiday cheer to U.S. troops . . .

Aviation pioneer Del Smith, founder of Evergreen International Aviation, was awarded the National Aeronautic Association's Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy at the Marriott Wardman Park yesterday, the 96th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first powered flight.

CAPTION: The show went on for Jack Valenti. Finally.