French Honor Spielberg

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg added a new notch to his belt yesterday when he became a knight in the French Legion of Honor. President Jacques Chirac bestowed the honor, praising him for making films decrying hatred and intolerance.

"In this difficult time when intolerance, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and fanaticism are on the rise again, it is essential that cinema, which touches each one of us deep inside, recalls the horror of what is unutterable," Chirac said at a ceremony in the presidential Elysee Palace.

Spielberg, in turn, hailed France's efforts to fight anti-Semitism, the subject of his film "Schindler's List." The country has witnessed a wave of attacks against Jews and Muslims in recent months. "We have to work very, very hard to make people understand that we have to celebrate people's differences and not condemn them," Spielberg said in his acceptance speech.

It's Not Easy Bein' Dangerfield

Funny man Rodney Dangerfield, 82, remains in intensive care after undergoing heart-valve replacement surgery at UCLA Medical Center more than a week ago.

Best known for his signature statement "I don't get no respect" and his role as Al Czervik in the 1980 comedy "Caddyshack," Dangerfield has proven resilient in the face of medical adversity. Dangerfield went under the knife in 1992 for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, then had a double-bypass surgery as well as an aneurysm correction operation in 2000. He also survived a mild heart attack in 2001.

Upon admission to the hospital last week, Dangerfield joked, "If things go right, I'll be there about a week; and if things don't go right, I'll be there about an hour and a half."

Shyne's Not on the Line

Def Jam hip-hop artist Shyne (aka Jamaal Barrow) is outraged that his phone privileges were revoked after prison officials said he'd been conducting business from the slammer. Shyne, who is serving a 10-year sentence for offenses related to the 1999 nightclub shooting incident that also involved Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and J. Lo, delivered his message via a handwritten letter faxed to MTV News by his lawyers.

Writes Shyne of his treatment at New York's Clinton Correctional Facility: "I categorically deny any intentional wrongdoing. The extreme measures taken by the department of incorrection to suspend my phone privileges and deny the media access are draconian at best. Such extreme steps are taken only with the most dangerous or disruptive inmates; I qualify as neither. This is about me inadvertently failing to comply with [their] Taliban phone rules, which amount to blackmail and extortion."

Apparent Democrat Shyne concluded his fax with a plea for everyone to vote for John Kerry. Hopefully Kerry supports prison reform.

Noted . . .

Things are getting weirder for "Weird Al" Yankovic. While onstage last week at the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois, the comic rocker was swarmed by an onslaught of green moths. "My band asked me if I could find a concert where we would be attacked by insects," remarked Yankovic. "I said I would see what I could do" . . .

Lothian Toland, the widow of comedian, clown and painter Red Skelton, donated more than 200 boxes of memorabilia to Vincennes University. The school in Skelton's home town of Vincennes, Ind., purchased the house where Skelton was born in 1913 to open a museum in his honor. "The Red Skelton Show" enjoyed a run of 21 straight years, a television performer record surpassed only by Ed Sullivan. Skelton died in 1997. Good night and God bless.

. . . and Quoted

"I can't say that it's in tune with the way that I feel that America should be going."

-- Tom Hanks, referring to the Bush administration, while attending the Venice Film Festival, which opened with Hanks's film "The Terminal."

-- Compiled by Allison Wolfe

from staff and wire reports

Out & About will return.

Steven Spielberg, pictured with wife Kate Capshaw, left, and Gwyneth Paltrow, was honored by French President Jacques Chirac for his films decrying hatred and intolerance.Shyne's phone privileges were revoked, so he sends out this message: Vote for Kerry.