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Jane Fonda Still Stirring Controversy


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Jane Fonda Still Stirring Controversy

By Gina Keating


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She's back with a tell-all autobiography that has critics raving over its frankness and with a new movie in which she finally gets to do something she seldom did in her Hollywood heyday -- have fun by overacting.

It's springtime for Jane Fonda. After more than a decade pretty much out of the public eye, the 67-year-old Oscar-winning actress has resurfaced to plug the book and a new movie and is receiving the same mix of adulation and outcry that used to dog every step of her very public life.

Fonda's autobiography "My Life So Far" describes in blunt and painful detail how she made herself over to please her late father, actor Henry Fonda, and three husbands. She talks of arranging sexual threesomes for her first husband, French director Roger Vadim, of a 20-year battle against bulimia and of a few regrets about her highly publicized trip to Hanoi to oppose the Vietnam war.

As letters to newspapers and calls to radio shows have shown over the past few weeks, Fonda remains a lightning rod for controversy. But she says she now understands and accepts her role as an immutable American icon. "I have to take responsibility for the fact that I represent something to people that is beyond me," Fonda told a small group of reporters in an interview to discuss "Monster-in-Law," in which she plays Jennifer Lopez' fire-breathing mother-in-law.

  • "I represent a movement. I represent a set of values. I have to own that and I have to live that ... to not disappoint myself. You have to embody your values."

"I can't stand complainers," she added. "If you commit yourself to being in the public eye with all the perks, the least you can do is take the ups and downs."

"One thing I have learned the hard way is, it ain't gonna kill you," she added. "You just plow ahead, and if you're a decent person, people will know it."

"Everything that is in my book is in it for a reason," she said. "In order to know where I've come from to arrive at 67 years old and feeling like it's the beginning, you have to know the extent to which I have betrayed myself."

"I so thought that I wasn't good enough that I was willing to leave myself at the door to please the men in my life," Fonda said. "And I can't just say that theoretically. I have to say what that meant in a tangible way."While publicizing "Monster-In-Law," Fonda said she never intended to return to acting after her 1990 film, "Stanley & Iris." She stopped acting, in part, because her third husband, billionaire Ted Turner whom she divorced in 2001, asked her to quit. "I was really miserable acting for the last few films I did. I was scared every day going to work ... and then I met Ted Turner and I could quit," Fonda said. "I am a really different person today and I was curious to know whether I could re-experience joy in acting."

She was attracted to "Monster-In-Law," a romantic comedy directed by "Legally Blond" director Robert Luketic, because of the broad physical comedy required for her portrayal of neurotic news anchor Viola Fields.

"This character came along and I thought, 'Wow, wouldn't that be fun to play over the top?" she said. Fonda said she was relieved to find that Lopez, 35, was nothing like her tabloid reputation. "I was a little bit worried because I didn't know whether she would be a diva or not but ... she's smart and that matters," Fonda said. "She's professional. She showed up on time and she knew what to do."

Fonda did not rule out more film work "from time to time ... if it was fun," but said her priorities were her family and her work helping young women rediscover their self-esteem. "Acting is something I have done and that I hope to do again but it is not who I am," she said. "I have had a very rich life so I am not looking to rebuild a career again."

For her part, Lopez said she "had a lot of fun" working with Fonda after overcoming initial trepidation. "I can stand on my own but you do get the butterflies when Jane Fonda walks in the room, you can't help it ...," Lopez said.

She said she asked Fonda how to go about becoming involved in politics if the inclination should strike. "She said there is a time and a way to do things," Lopez said. "She said when you're ready ... call me and I'll tell you what's right and what's wrong so you don't get yourself in trouble."

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Man Spits In Jane Fonda's Face

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 20, 2005

(AP) A man spit tobacco juice into the face of actress Jane Fonda after waiting in line to have her sign her new book, police said. The man ran off but was quickly caught by police Tuesday night and charged with disorderly conduct.

Fonda has been on tour and doing interviews to promote her just-published memoir, "My Life So Far." The thrice-married, two-time Academy Award winner covers a wide array of topics, including her 1972 visit to Hanoi to protest the Vietnam War, during which she was photographed on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. She has apologized for that photo, but not for opposing the war.

Capt. Rich Lockhart of the Kansas City Police Department said he did not know if the man who spit on Fonda was a veteran. Lockhart said that although Fonda did not want to press charges against Michael A. Smith, 54, of Kansas City, he was arrested on a municipal charge of disorderly conduct after off-duty officers caught him just outside Unity Temple, where Fonda was signing books. Lockhart said Smith was released on bond late Tuesday night and is due to appear in municipal court on May 27. There was no answer Wednesday at the number listed for the address police provided for Smith.

Fonda drew a crowd of about 900 for her appearance, said Vivian Jennings, whose Rainy Day Books of suburban Fairway, Kan., sponsored the event at Unity Temple in Kansas City. Fonda, 67, spoke for about 15 minutes, answered questions for another 15, then began signing copies of her book.

Jennings said Fonda received a standing ovation when she came out and when she finished speaking. Alan Tilson, one of those who had his book signed but left before the incident, said the crowd was very "warm and supportive" to Fonda and he was surprised to learn what had happened. Jennings said the actress never got up from her seat and continued autographing books after the tobacco juice was wiped off.

"The important thing is that she was so calm and so gracious about it," Jennings said of Fonda. "She was wonderful." Jennings said that the man had a book to which the name "Jody" had been affixed as he approached to have it autographed. She said that when Fonda got the book, she looked up and said, "You're not Jody." "At that moment, he turned his head quickly and spit a trail of tobacco juice," Jennings said. "He immediately jumped off the stage and started running down the aisle."

Jynne Martin of Random House, Fonda's publisher, said the actress was flying to Minneapolis Wednesday for another appearance on the book tour she began April 5 and expected to have a statement later.

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