Originally created 03/31/04

People in the News

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- James Brown will perform in New Zealand after the government granted the Godfather of Soul a special visa, despite a string of criminal convictions that would normally ban him from the country.

Brown, 70, received a special event work visa to perform a "one night only" show in the northern city of Auckland Wednesday night, immigration officials said.

The singer faces a jury trial in South Carolina in a criminal domestic violence case involving his wife. Eight months ago, he was pardoned by a state board for seven convictions he had collected over 10 years, mostly involving weapons.

He has further convictions involving assault, drugs and high-speed car chases.

Under New Zealand law, anyone with criminal convictions can be refused entry to the country, but can be allowed in under special conditions.

"In deciding to approve a special visa for Mr. Brown, the minister felt that the benefits of allowing Mr. Brown to visit New Zealand outweighed any conflicting concerns associated with his visit," said Immigration Service spokesman Brett Solvander.

Brown's hits include "Please, Please, Please," "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag."

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SANTA FE, N.M. -- Gov. Bill Richardson plans to write a book about a political career in which he has huddled with leaders ranging from Saddam Hussein to state legislators.

"Richardson's Rules: The Making of a Political Life" will be published in 2005, G.P. Putnam's Sons said Monday.

"The road Richardson has traveled as he has ascended to this country's top political circles is just as interesting as what he has accomplished," Carole Baron, president of G.P. Putnam's Sons, said in a statement.

He will write the book with journalist Michael Ruby, who has edited several nonfiction books and collaborated with "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt on his 2001 memoir, "Tell Me a Story."

Richardson is a former congressman, U.S. energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations.

He played a troubleshooter role in the Clinton administration, meeting in 1995 in Iraq with Saddam Hussein to gain the release of two imprisoned Americans.

A Democrat in his second year as governor, he appears frequently on news shows to comment on national and international affairs.

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COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Mike Hall landed his "Dream Job."

Hall, majoring in broadcast journalism at Missouri, was the survivor Sunday night on ESPN's reality show to become the cable network's newest sportscaster. Besides winning a new car, Hall correctly answered five sports trivia questions worth $5,000 each, enhancing his one-year ESPN contract, now worth $95,000.

About 12,000 people tried out for the show last fall. Hall auditioned at a sports bar in St. Louis, then survived each round. A dozen contestants made the cast of "Dream Job," with their ranks thinned by celebrity judges and votes from viewers. The final vote was settled by an online poll.

"I always had confidence I could do it, but when it gets down to 12 and then four and two, it's just silly. Really, it's just silly. It's been this surreal, amazing thing. I'm just really lucky," Hall, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., said Monday on ESPN Radio.

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NEW YORK -- Jill Hennessy doesn't have to worry about finding work for at least another year.

The star of "Crossing Jordan" received notice Monday that NBC was picking up the show about her character - she plays a medical examiner - for a fourth season.

The return of "Crossing Jordan" this season was delayed until late winter because of Hennessy's pregnancy. But the series has proven to be a particularly strong ratings performer in its first four weeks back.

"For three years we've been looking for the right show to pair with 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent,' and we've finally found it in 'Crossing Jordan,"' said Jeff Zucker, NBC entertainment president.

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WASHINGTON -- Popping the question was easy. Setting a date for the wedding - that's another story.

Chris Klein, who starred in "American Pie" and "American Pie 2," says it was only natural for him to propose to Katie Holmes ("Dawson's Creek") after dating for five years.

"I really believe it's the natural evolution of a relationship," Klein told AP Radio in an interview. "As you grow up in your life, your relationships grow and mature. And that's the next step. Not because it has to be but because it's the next thing that should happen in order for us to grow and be together."

Klein proposed in December. The 25-year-old actor said he and Holmes, also 25, haven't yet been able to fit a wedding into their busy schedules.

"We don't have a date set yet," he said. "What we do is very different from the normal 'nine to five where you go home' type of situation. We're actually apart for long stretches of time."

Klein has been promoting his new movie, "The United States of Leland," and Holmes has been filming the new "Batman" movie.

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NEW YORK -- The multiplatinum matchbox twenty is taking a break - sort of.

Members of the band, who just wrapped their tour in support of "More Than You Think You Are," have begun work on solo projects.

"If we didn't take a break and make solo records, it would be the end of matchbox," singer Rob Thomas told The Associated Press recently.

"If we went and made another matchbox album, it would be pretty stale right now."

Thomas said matchbox twenty, which began as a bar band in Orlando, Fla., had no intention of ending its hugely successful collaboration.

"We're fortunate matchbox makes us happy. ... We're still having a good time with it," he said.

But Thomas said working on a solo album without the input from his fellow band members was a bit different.

He said their songs are the result of input from the entire band.

On a solo record, "I don't have that. Everything has to rely on me," he said. "My only mantra is it can't sound like any band out there."

Thomas' solo album is expected to be released later this year or early next year.

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TORONTO -- There's a simple explanation why Neil Young impersonates Wayne Newton in his small-town rock flick, "Greendale."

"I was the only guy available at the time," the 58-year-old singer-songwriter said with a laugh. "We only had about an hour to set that one up."

The film features actors lip-synching to Young's music to tell the story.

"I think the thing that keeps it from being a music video, thank God, is that I'm not lip-synching in it. Everybody else but me lip-synchs and to me, that's golden, OK, I love that," he told reporters recently, according to AP Radio.

The songs tell the story of a family in a once-idyllic northern California community that's struck by tragedy and besieged by the forces of modern media and global strife.

"There's nothing represented in 'Greendale' that isn't really happening," Young said. "So if people are angry about it, then that's good."

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