Blair actor is down on Brown

LOS ANGELES – The English actor who has played former British prime minister Tony Blair three times on screen sees the political fate of Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, in lofty dramatic terms.

During a Los Angeles interview, Michael Sheen said that Brown’s situation would be a “brilliant kind of Shakespearean tragedy” if it didn’t affect so many people.

Brown resigned after last week’s election went against his Labour Party.

Sheen says Brown tripped on his tangled relationship with Blair and his reluctance to make himself “vulnerable,” including dragging his heels on calling a national election.

Sheen portrayed Blair in “The Deal,” “The Queen” and in the upcoming “The Special Relationship,” debuting May 29 on HBO and available later in Europe.

Polanski hints at U.S. return

LOS ANGELES – Filmmaker Roman Polanski’s attorneys have issued a lengthy statement faulting the request for his extradition from Switzerland as incomplete and unfair.

But the lawyers said Wednesday that if the true facts were presented to Swiss officials and they determined extradition was justified, Polanski would return to the U.S. to litigate his case.

It was the first time Polanski’s lawyers have mentioned the possibility of the director returning voluntarily, but they couched it in language that suggested it remained unlikely.

Polanski remains under house arrest in Geneva in a 33-year-old sex case. He pleaded guilty in 1978 to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl and fled to France.

Penn sentenced to probation, service for paparazzi run-in

LOS ANGELES – Sean Penn was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service after settling allegations involving a dispute with a photographer last year in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood.

The Los Angeles city attorney brought vandalism charges against Penn over the incident, which was caught on tape.

Penn on Wednesday pleaded no contest.

The video shows a bearded Penn, dressed in a black shirt and dark pants, striding toward the photographer and kicking at him a few times while repeatedly shouting, “Get out!” The photographer backs up as Penn kicks at him, the video shows.

Penn on several occasions has voiced his disgust at the paparazzi who follow Hollywood celebrities. The actor-director, who won best actor Oscars for “Milk” and “Mystic River,” was known in his younger days for his clashes with paparazzi.

In 1987, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail for striking a movie extra who took photographs of him on the film set of the police drama “Colors.” Penn punched the man in the face several times with a closed fist and had to be pulled off and restrained by members of the crew and cast, officials said.

Facebook fans want Betty to host Oscars

LOS ANGELES – Facebook fans brought Betty White to “Saturday Night Live,” and now they’ve got their eyes on the Oscars.

A page on the social networking website, called Official Page for Getting Betty White to Host the Academy Awards, has collected more than 56,000 fans.

One commenter wrote that “Betty White would be one of the best hosts ever!!!!!”

But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it isn’t ready to let Facebook make casting decisions. Spokeswoman Leslie Unger says the academy will continue allowing producers to select the host.