WASHINGTON – Actress and activist Jada Pinkett Smith urged Congress on Tuesday to step up the fight against human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.

The actress testified during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that she plans to launch a campaign to raise awareness and spur action against human trafficking and slavery. She said the “old monster” of slavery “is still with us,” almost 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in the U.S.

“Fighting slavery doesn’t cost a lot of money. The costs of allowing it to exist in our nation and abroad are much higher,” the actress said. “It robs us of the thing we value most, our freedom.”

She said the issue was brought to her attention by her daughter Willow, 11, who sat nearby with actor Will Smith, Pinkett Smith’s husband and Willow’s father. The Smiths all wore blazers over T-shirts that read, “Free Slaves.” The hearing room was filled mostly with young people, some trying to take photos of the famous family.

With her father’s arm around her, Willow remained attentive to her mother’s testimony and often whispered to her father. At least 30 minutes into the hearing, Will wrapped his gray blazer around Willow.

The actress called for an extension of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which provides funding to combat trafficking and help trafficking victims. The act also created a task force, chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, which coordinates among federal agencies to implement policies against human trafficking. The State Department estimates that at least 14,500 people are trafficked to the U.S. annually.

Chris Colfer writes book for children

NEW YORK – “Glee” star Chris Colfer says his favorite childhood memories are going to the bookstore at midnight to get the next “Harry Potter” book.

It makes sense then that the 22-year-old would want to contribute to that world. He’s written his own children’s novel called “The Land of Stories,” which is now in stores.

The book is about twins Connor and Alex, who find themselves sucked into their favorite book of fairy tales, suddenly face-to-face with the characters they grew up reading about.

Colfer said he came up with the idea as an inquisitive child who questioned the fairy tales his mother would read to him.

“I used to ask, ‘Mommy, who’s the man in the mirror? Why’s he talking to the evil queen?’ I just tried to clarify the questions that I had as a kid,” he said.

If the book were adapted into a movie, he would love for Meryl Streep to play the various fairy tale characters.

Charlie Sheen likes idea of being ‘Idol’ judge

NEW YORK — Could Charlie Sheen be a judge on “American Idol”? The actor says he’s game.

In an interview Tuesday on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, Sheen said “Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe publicly threw his name out there as a possible judge and the idea piqued people’s interest – including his own.

“It seems so out of the blue that it almost made perfect sense. I thought this could be a lot of fun,” he said. “Seriously … I’m genuinely interested. It’s so different, it could be radical.”

Sheen also told Jay Leno Monday night on “The Tonight Show” that his two demands would be that FX and his “Anger Management” team “would have to be into it” and there would need to be a charitable component to him taking the job.

Last week, both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler announced they would not be returning for the show’s 12th season.