Spader on Ellsberg

James Spader, who stars in "The Pentagon Papers," airing tomorrow night on FX, says playing Defense Department whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg was "very enlightening. His life was intertwined with three presidential administrations and was actively involved in the downfall of one president."

Spader was 11 years old in 1971 when Ellsberg leaked to the press the government's secret history of the Vietnam War. The government disinformation campaign revealed by the papers makes Spader wary of the current situation regarding Iraq. "I don't have enough information and I wish I had a lot more. Having just done this film, if there was anybody who had access to all of the information available [during Vietnam], it was Daniel Ellsberg, and even he was completely in the dark."

We couldn't help but ask Spader if he has stayed in character since playing the sockless, smooth and smarmy best friend in the 1986 movie "Pretty in Pink." "I am currently wearing socks, and shoes, too," he said. "The only place I don't wear shoes is in bed."

Gobble Trouble

Seems as though President Bush's pardons only go so far, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving turkeys.

According to U.S. News & World Report, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made an unannounced stop at Frying Pan Park, the Virginia home of turkeys "pardoned" each year by the White House. There they found that Zach, spared the ax in 2002, had died in February; the previous year's tom had also gone on to the turkey afterlife. As they searched the petting zoo more closely, they discovered that Katie, the only pardoned female turkey, was without water in unheated quarters.

Park officials say nothing is wrong, but PETA, which has been criticized most recently in the press for likening the consumption of animals to the Holocaust, has asked for the president's assistance to ensure the turkeys receive proper treatment.

Hooters Overhead

The Hooters restaurant chain is ascending to new heights. On Thursday, the first flight of Hooters Air took off from Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport.

The airline, which predicts its clientele will consist mostly of male golfers, will fly one orange-and-white plane four days each week between Atlanta and Myrtle Beach, S.C., home of four Hooters restaurants. Flights between Atlanta and Newark, N.J., are to start March 20.

"A lot of people today don't have a lot to smile about. We want to transcend that," said Robert Brooks, owner and chairman of Hooters of America. Each flight will include two "Hooters girls" serving drinks and snacks.

Noted . . .

Singer Harry Belafonte keeps making a name for himself, but not on the Billboard charts. After comparing Secretary of State Colin Powell to a slave in October, Belafonte tells Finnish television that President Bush is not a "man of honor" and says the U.S. administration is "possessed of evil." The 76-year-old singer, best known for his hit "Banana Boat Song," was on tour in Finland at the time . . . Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour has canceled his seven-week North American tour, which was scheduled to include 38 cities, deeming it "inappropriate" to perform in the United States while there is a threat of war. This would have been his most extensive American tour to date.

. . . And Quoted "It's hard to believe that Harry met Sally back in 1989. Things were so different then: Bush was president, the economy was tanking, we were about to go to war with Iraq." -- Billy Crystal, to US Weekly

Compiled by Anne Schroeder

From wire and staff reports

James Spader, with Claire Forlani in "The Pentagon Papers," got a history lesson from the role of Daniel Ellsberg.