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Aboard the USS Ben Affleck

More than 1,000 newsies invaded the Navy’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the John Stennis, for the $5-million “Pearl Harbor” premiere. But only one of them got to sit on Ben Affleck’s lap.

Affleck embraced a giggling Canadian television reporter, who bears a passing resemblance to Penelope Cruz, pulled her onto his lap and broke into a French-accented rant against corporate America.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jun. 07, 2001 FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 7, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
“Pearl Harbor"--A May 22 City of Angles item about the premiere of “Pearl Harbor” gave an incorrect analogy for the length of the Navy’s aircraft carrier, the John Stennis. At 1,092 feet, it is the length of more than three football fields, not 10.

“Who is that chick?” an amused, white-suited sailor asked. She’s Anne Marie Losique of Montreal’s entertainment news show “Box Office.” She told us Sunday that the laptop interviews are a running shtick with her and Affleck. “It’s something that started a long time ago. Now I’m always on his lap,” she said. “I don’t have to prepare anything. It’s very easy. But I never get to ask him any questions. Never in five years.”

Meanwhile, security was so tight that the film’s director, Michael Bay, initially wasn’t allowed on board one day when he forgot his credentials. But he retrieved them and the day was saved. More than 2,000 people were expected at Monday night’s premiere aboard the Stennis, which is 10 football fields long. The screen is six stories high.

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Riding With the King

Back home in Swaziland, they’re calling him a dictator. Here, in Los Angeles, His Majesty King Mswati III just cut a record deal.

The 33-year-old king was holed up in a suite at the Casa del Mar in Santa Monica for a couple of days with Interscope and Universal execs to hammer out plans for “Songs for Life,” a charity CD due in October. It will feature Destiny’s Child, Michael Jackson, ‘N Sync, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and raise funds for his Royal Initiative to Combat AIDS. One in four Swazi adults is HIV-positive, and two-thirds of the kingdom’s 1 million people lives in poverty.

Swaziland’s press is undergoing a royal spanking. Two leading publications were shut down earlier this month after reporting rumors that one of the king’s eight wives poisoned him to ease her son’s ascent to the throne. Officially, his majesty has been suffering stomach problems since a ritual beer festival in late April.

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The king summoned us to his suite the other day, then said he was too tired to talk. But his Washington lobbyist David Miller defended Swaziland as “a hyper democracy” with an elected body similar to the U.S. Congress. As for the news ban, Miller said the Swazi press got “vicious” and the king taught them a lesson. “These presses will be reopened in a week or two,” Miller said, “but they won’t be talking bad about his wife anymore.”

Supportive Spouse

Foreign correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave is our pick for jet-lagged husband of the week. He flew in from China for a posh party at the Trousdale Estates home of Kathi and Don Koll to celebrate publication of “Villard,” a biography of Civil War journalist and industrialist Henry Villard, by his wife, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave. Then, we’re told, the intrepid journalist jetted off to Afghanistan to interview terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Joining in the festivities were former ambassador to Mexico John Gavin and his wife, Connie; former Gov. Pete Wilson and wife Gayle; Buzz and Lois Aldrin; Dina Merrill; Wendy Stark; sisterly sex therapists Jennifer and Laura Berman; Burt Sugarman and “Entertainment Tonight’s” Mary Hart; and Brad Freeman, adoptive owner of the first family’s wandering feline Ernie.

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More than 100 copies of the book, published by Nan A. Talese, an imprint of Doubleday, were signed and sold. And the exotic nosh from Exploring Foods in Pasadena was a relief from the usual cheese squares and chicken on a stick.

Now You Know

It’s been just two weeks and change since Robert Blake’s wife was shot to death in his curiously parked Dodge Stealth, and already a Web site--blakemurder.com--has been launched to cater to crime buffs’ latest obsession.

Sightings

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Mick Jagger, lunching at the St. Regis Hotel in Century City. . . . Jennifer Lopez, nuzzling her beau, dancer Cris Judd, at the For Him Magazine party at La Boheme in West Hollywood, where she picked up a new Jaguar for being voted Sexiest Woman in the World for the second consecutive year. . . . Dennis Rodman, frolicking by the pool at the Sheraton Waikiki, where Annette Bening was spotted earlier catching some rays. . . . Kevin Costner, scarfing it up at Asia de Cuba in West Hollywood.

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Times staff writers Louise Roug and Gina Piccalo contributed to this report.


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