Grapevine: See ‘Birth of a Nation,’ Academy prez says

Also news on Larry King and Joey Fatone

Academy President: See ‘Birth’

Motion Picture Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs is urging people to see director Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” despite the recent controversy over Parker’s 2001 rape trial. “The important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film,” said Isaacs, when TMZ cameras caught up to her this week. Isaacs said she had not seen the film, which centers on Nat Turner and the slave rebellion he led in 1830s Virginia, but made it clear she hopes it isn’t overshadowed by the Parker news. “People need to see this movie,” she said. “I know just by the conversation that has gone on since Sundance that it’s clearly a movie that filmgoers should go and see. People need to see the movie and judge the movie.”

Balloons at Joey Fatone’s hot dog stand cause panic

As Joey Fatone’s new hot dog stand at an Orlando mall prepared for its grand opening, several balloons were popped, causing nearby shoppers to mistake the sound for gunshots. In spite of a warning announcement over the mall’s PA system about a test, CBS News reported that the sound of balloons popping still caused people to run. According to reports, nine people were treated at the scene and four were hospitalized for minor injuries. The former *NSYNC member’s restaurant, Fat One’s Hot Dogs & Italian Ice, is set to open next month in the Orlando mall where Fatone once said he used to hang out in his youth.

Larry King: Wife did not cheat

One — did we ask? Two — do we care? Nonetheless, there was 82-year-old interview heavyweight Larry King on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” denying that his much-younger wife, Shawn King, 56, has been carrying on a torrid affair with a public-speaking guru, as reported by the National Enquirer. The couple, who appeared together on the show, have been married 19 years. The alleged Romeo, inspirational speaker Richard Greene, has been described by the Sunday Times of London as the “master of charisma” with clients that ranged from Princess Di to Will Smith. King’s take on the whole thing, as reported by Page Six? “Rumors are what they are — rumors.” Meanwhile, People reports King’s family is “disgusted” by the denial, with one unnamed source telling the magazine, “She’s controlling his mind.” Stay tuned.

Today’s birthdays

Paul Reubens , 65

Tom Ford , 56

Aaron Paul , 37