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Sideshow: Billy Joel, and Sept. 11, and vodka

Billy Joel went through a dark period after the Sept. 11 attacks, often turning to booze to help him cope with life.

Billy Joel

went through a dark period after the Sept. 11 attacks, often turning to booze to help him cope with life.

"I was kind of in a mental fog. . . . My mind wasn't right. I wasn't focused. I went into a deep, deep depression," Joel, 64, tells the New York Times. "[It] just knocked the wind out of me, and I don't know even now if I've recovered from it." Joel, who says he "used booze as medication," went further into depression when his marriage to Katie Lee ended in '09. "When I really got heavy into it, it was vodka. Vodka is a hard-core alky drink," Joel says. Three car accidents and a stint at the Betty Ford Center later, Joel feels more in control. He's not a believer in Alcoholics Anonymous or that "12-step stuff," he admits, saying he still has wine with dinner.

Will 'n' Jaden Smith go 'Fresh Prince'

Overbrook High School's most beloved son, Will Smith, 44, and his son and After Earth costar, actor-singer Jaden, 14, made Britain sway and sigh with their first rap 'n' dance collaboration Friday on the BBC's The Graham Norton Show. They were joined by Will collaboration DJ Jazzy Jeff, but the audience went really wild when Will brought on his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar Alfonso Ribeiro. As of Monday afternoon, the perf had drawn 9.8 million hits on YouTube. (Friday's show featured yet another guest from our area, actor Bradley Cooper.)

All of Smith's kids are performers, including Trey, 20 (from first wife Sheree Zampino), and his second child with Jada Pinkett, 12-year-old Willow. In a more serious tone, Will tells the Associated Press that he has worked hard to help the kids develop a sense of themselves apart from their parents.

"I'm trying to release the sense of ownership" some parents have, Will says. "With our kids, Jada and I believe that it's their lives, and we are helping them with their lives. And they're not our property. They are people that are deservant of our respect and consideration in the same way that any other human being should be."

Aaron Paul breaks real good

Aaron Paul, 33, who costars with Bryan Cranston in AMC's Breaking Bad, tied the knot Sunday with gf, documentary film director, and activist Lauren Parsekian at a ceremony in Malibu, Calif. "I'm the luckiest man on the planet," he tells People.

Lawrence stalker charged

The FBI on Monday charged alleged Jennifer Lawrence stalker Zhao Han Cong, 23, of Vancouver, British Columbia, with interstate stalking and repeated harassing phone communication. The feds say Cong repeatedly approached Jennifer's bro Blaine to offer his services to "protect" the actress.

Call him Dr. Ben Affleck

Beantown film artist Ben Affleck was in Providence, R.I., Sunday to receive an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Brown University. Five other luminaries were presented with honorary degrees, but they're all serious scientist, educator, and college prez types, not fun actor types.

Watching sex scenes with Dad

Blue Is the Warmest Color (The Life of Adele), which won the Palme D'Or at Cannes last weekend, was something of an ordeal to sit through for one of its stars, Adèle Exarchopoulos: She was seated next to her dad at a screening of the sexually explicit picture.

Exarchopoulos, 19, stars in director Abdellatif Kechiche's film as a sexually curious 15-year-old teen who enters an intense affair with an older woman played by sizzling 27-year-old French star Léa Seydoux.

"I was ill at ease with my father being there, but at the same time I wanted him to be there," Exarchopoulos told the Associated Press at Cannes. "I knew that he would probably have a very good reaction, because it's all a question of intelligence, and he's intelligent."

But that didn't stop her feeling awfully awkward. "During the sex scene, I was looking at [my dad], like, 'Oh my God, how does he feel?', because I don't want to make him uncomfortable, you know?" the Greek-French actress said.