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People, May 12, 2007

Staff Report • May 12, 2007 at 12:48 PM

WASHINGTON - Drew Barrymore has been named an ambassador against hunger for the World Food Program.

The 32-year-old actress recently returned from a trip to Kenya, where she toured WFP-supported school meal projects, the United Nations announced this week.

"I can't think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry," Barrymore said in a statement Wednesday. "Feeding a child at school is such a simple thing, but it works miracles. I've seen it with my own eyes."

Barrymore joins marathoner Paul Tergat as an ambassador. Tergat, from Kenya, benefited from school meal programs as a child, then won the New York City marathon in 2005.

Founded in 1962, WFP provides food aid to an average of 90 million poor people, including 58 million hungry children in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. The United States said it provides nearly half the annual contributions to the Rome-based agency, which has an annual budget of just under $3 billion. Barrymore is advocating legislation in Congress to increase money for school meals from $100 million per year to about $300 million per year within five years.

Her screen credits include the "Charlie's Angels" movies and "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."

AVALON, Calif. - It's enough to drive Joe the bartender to drink.

Steven W. Bailey, who plays the portly drink-slinger on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," lives near Los Angeles' Griffith Park, which went up in flames earlier this week. To escape the smoke and heat from the fire that blackened more than 800 acres, he and his wife headed for the peace and solitude of idyllic Santa Catalina Island.

"We thought, get away for a little while, get away from all this fire nonsense, go to Catalina, get some fresh air," Bailey told KABC-TV.

"We were approaching the island and we see this smoke from pretty far away," he added. "I jokingly said to my wife, I was like, ‘That cloud formation over there looks like there is a fire in Catalina.'"

It was a 4,000-acre blaze that erupted Thursday. It dwarfed the size of the one in Griffith Park and forced hundreds of people to evacuate the city of Avalon, where Bailey was headed.

"It just descended into more and more fire, more and more smoke, more and more ash," Bailey said. The actor couldn't immediately be located for comment Friday. KABC-TV reported that the fire prevented Bailey and his wife from checking into their hotel so they were considering returning home by ferry.

MALIBU, Calif. - A judge praised Mel Gibson on Friday for maintaining his court-ordered treatment for alcoholism following his drunken-driving arrest last July.

"I truly believe the rehabilitation that is being effected in this case is effective, and I don't want anything to interrupt that," said Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira.

The 51-year-old actor-director didn't attend the progress report hearing, but Gibson's attorney, Blair Berk, told the judge she filed a report with the court saying Gibson was complying with all the terms and conditions of his rehabilitation program.

"He's doing very well. He's working hard," Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, told The Associated Press on Friday. "This is just an ongoing process that he's committed to." Mira added that he wanted to see Gibson in court at some point "to ensure we are all on the same page." Gibson pleaded no contest to charges of drunken driving Aug. 17 under a deal that included serving three years' probation, a fine and alcohol-rehabilitation classes. He was arrested on a Malibu highway in July after a sheriff's deputy caught him speeding. Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks to the deputy sparked outrage, and he later apologized. Gibson starred in the "Lethal Weapons" movies. His directing credits include 2004's "The Passion of the Christ" and last year's Mayan epic "Apocalypto." His next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23.

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