"I'm just Mr. Rita Wilson tonight," demurred Tom Hanks at the "Raise Your Voice" premiere at Universal CityWalk. But Hanks still had the crowds going wild as he walked the carpet with his actress/producer wife.
Wilson posed with her "Voice" daughter, Hilary Duff. "I loved working with Hilary," Wilson gushed. "She's the ultimate professional but also a lot of fun to be around. Hey, she's a teenager!"
But like everyone, Tom and Rita had politics on their minds. "I'm the daughter of immigrants, so I grew up hearing how important the freedom to vote is," Wilson said. "I'm voting for John Kerry," Hanks confessed, urging voters to "know what's going on in the world so you can help affect it."
Texas-born Duff is too young to vote (just 17), so she mused on "Voice's" theme: Small-town girl comes to the big city. "The air is different, the people, everything. I think it can be very scary and overwhelming at first. But I know it (coming to Los Angeles) is the best thing that's ever happened to me!"
British actor Oliver James, who plays Duff's "Voice" love interest, hit L.A. three years ago. "I came here on my own and didn't know anyone. They gave me a map, and that was it. But I like L.A. now. When I go back to London, I do miss the beach and the sunshine. We certainly don't have that in England."
Yeah, but those British blokes do have better pubs.
CAN ARNOLD DUNK? Democrats and Republicans alike tore themselves away from watching the vice-presidential debate last week, put aside their differences and joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in West Hollywood to party for a cause for kids.
The setting was the grand opening of the new Reebok "Concept Store" on Robertson Boulevard, the cause was Arnold's All-Star After-School Adventures, the governor's long-standing program to keep latchkey kids busy once school lets out.
The politically diverse crowd included Olympic great Rafer Johnson, skateboard star Stevie Williams and actor Jason Lee.
"Today is a day of celebration," the sharp-dressed, gray-suited governator crowed after accepting a $150,000 check from Reebok boss Paul Fireman to keep funds flowing to the 14-year-old after-school program. Getting those big bucks helps keep lots of kids off the streets, instead offering them "educational classes, sports classes, sports training, computer classes, homework assistance, tutoring," and giving them the chance to follow Arnold's lead in living out the American dream.
We're not sure if joining the NBA was ever part of the muscle-bound governor's childhood fantasies, but the weirdest part of the evening came when Fireman handed the actor-turned-politician his own Los Angeles Lakers jersey.
"The Lakers and David Stern (commissioner) of the NBA have officially given Gov. Schwarzenegger No. 31," Fireman announced. "California was the 31st state to enter the Union, and now the governor is No. 31 on the Lakers!"
Thus giving Lakers fans of both political parties another thing to agree on that night — voting unanimously that the governor should avoid shooting hoops and stick to raising money for kids.