Originally created 04/09/04

People in the News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dolly Parton and Isaac Hayes will appear in a new series of state tourism ads that beckon visitors with the slogan: "Tennessee, the stage is set for you!"

Gov. Phil Bredesen announced the television, radio and print campaign Wednesday during a luncheon for tourism industry professionals.

Parton, who built the Dollywood theme park near her mountain hometown of Sevierville, invites tourists to make Tennessee their stage for family fun, thrills, relaxation, celebration, discovery and romance.

"Just remember Tennessee is great for more than music. The stage is set for you, honey, come play on it," she says during an ad previewed to members of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable.

"I'm doing this because I love Tennessee - I'm a Tennessee girl," Parton said in a video introducing the campaign. "I mean, there's nothing we can't do in Tennessee. The stage is set for everything."

Singer-songwriter Hayes, a Memphis native who serves as the voice of Chef on "South Park," filmed the second ad Monday at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

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LOS ANGELES -- Billy Bob Thornton is going to be a father - again.

The 48-year-old actor, already celebrating this weekend's debut of his latest film, "The Alamo," announced Thursday that he and girlfriend, Connie Angland, are expecting a child this fall.

"The due date is set for sometime in October," Thornton publicist Arnold Robinson said.

Angland, 39, doesn't work in the entertainment business. There were no other details about the couple.

Thornton, who has three children from two previous marriages, divorced actress Angelina Jolie in May 2003.

Thornton plays Davy Crockett in "The Alamo," which also stars Jason Patric and Dennis Quaid. His other films include "Sling Blade" and "A Simple Plan."

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LOS ANGELES -- David Duchovny expects that Mulder and Scully will ride again one day.

Duchovny said a second big-screen installment of "The X-Files" remains in the works. Though he doesn't know the plot, Duchovny said "X-Files" creator Chris Carter has signed off on the story premise.

"I'm dying to hear it," the 43-year-old actor told The Associated Press in an interview for his new movie "Connie and Carla," starring Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette, which opens April 16. "So now it's just a matter of making sure everybody can get together at the same time and do it."

Duchovny starred as alien-hunting FBI agent Mulder for seven full seasons of "The X-Files," worked part-time for an eighth season and returned for the series finale at the end of season nine.

He and co-star Gillian Anderson, who played Mulder's skeptical partner, Scully, also starred in the 1998 movie version of "The X-Files."

"I'm at the point where I finally miss it," Duchovny said. "I wanted the grind to end, but I never wanted the show just to end. And I'd always had this fantasy and hope that it would be a movie franchise. Hopefully, this second movie will give it a foundation as such."

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MINNEAPOLIS -- A college student has sued Prince and his bodyguard for allegedly assaulting him after he took a picture of the rock star getting off a flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Anthony Fitzgerald of Edina filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court.

It states that Prince's bodyguard, identified only as "Trevor," lunged at Fitzgerald on Dec. 29 "in an aggressive, threatening manner," then grabbed his digital camera, leaving him "stunned and humiliated."

The lawsuit alleges assault and battery, loss of the camera and intentional infliction of emotional distress that left Fitzgerald anxious and unable to sleep.

Edina attorney Frank Berman said the lawsuit, dated Jan. 14, was filed Wednesday because Prince's "people" wouldn't accept a copy of it. Fitzgerald is asking the court for instructions on how to serve him with it.

Ronnie Lippin, a Prince spokeswoman, told the Star-Tribune she wasn't familiar with the lawsuit.

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LONDON -- A book about punctuation, an unlikely best seller in any year, won the top prize Wednesday at the British Book Awards ceremonies.

"Eats, Shoots & Leaves," a lighthearted look at the pitfalls of apostrophes and rampant commas, won the book of the year award for author Lynne Truss.

Alexander McCall Smith, author of a series of popular books about the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," was named author of the year.

The British Book Awards are nominated and judged by a panel of 400 publishers, wholesalers and booksellers, together with a telephone vote from the public. The awards usually reflect popular public taste rather than critics' views.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" picked up more awards for author Mark Haddon - children's book of the year and the literary fiction award. The book already had won the Whitbread award.

Monica Ali won newcomer of the year for her debut novel, "Brick Lane."

Soccer megastar David Beckham won a special prize for the scale of success of his ghostwritten autobiography, "My Side." The book sold 103,000 copies in its first week and has sold more than 1 million copies so far.

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ZAGREB, Croatia -- Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" set a new record during its opening weekend as Croatia's most-watched movie, a film distribution company said.

More than 84,000 moviegoers viewed the film, which depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ. The previous record was held by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," seen by some 77,000 people in its opening weekend, the Blitz film distributing company said Wednesday.

Although Croatia is a secular society, more than 80 percent of Croats are Roman Catholic and the church exerts considerable influence in the Balkan country of 4.5 million.

Movie critics expect "The Passion of the Christ" to get a boost during Holy Week, one of the most important parts of the Christian liturgical calendar.

"I went to see the film to get a better feel for Easter," said biology student Sandra Banicevic. "It's a bit heavy emotionally, but I think the message is driven home."

Some say the movie unfairly portrays the role of Jews in Jesus' death, while Gibson and others insist it isn't anti-Semitic and is faithful to Gospel accounts. There has been little controversy over the issue in Croatia.

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NEW YORK -- Scarlett Johansson will be the voice of Mindy, the mermaid daughter of King Neptune (Jeffrey Tambor) in "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," set to hit the big screen on Nov. 19.

SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg tells Entertainment Weekly in its April 9 issue that Johansson "really likes cartoons."

"She told me she's a huge 'Ren & Stimpy' fan, too," he said.

Hillenburg said Alec Baldwin, who voices a hit man named Dennis who's hired by plankton to kill SpongeBob, "actually did it over the phone from New York, so it was pretty easy for him."

So Baldwin literally phoned it in?

"I wouldn't say that about his performance," Hillenburg laughed. "He might be mad if we said that. Technically, it was like he was in another booth in the studio."

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NEW YORK -- As James Brown was being taken away by police in an alleged domestic dispute in South Carolina earlier this year, his wife said she wanted him to look nice.

"I tried to give the police a comb for him," Tomi Rae Brown told The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle from Australia this week. "I asked them to let me put him in some clean clothes. I asked them not to take the Godfather (of Soul) out looking like that."

Brown has a pending criminal domestic violence charge against him. A mug shot of the 70-year-old singer with mussed hair was widely distributed.

Tomi Rae Brown said the couple had been without electricity at their Beech Island home following a January ice storm that left thousands across South Carolina without power.

"We had gone for three days with no power and no heat and we were freezing to death," she said. "Mr. Brown woke up that morning disheveled and I wanted to leave. I wasn't allowed to. That's when I made the 911 call, that's when the chair was raised over my head and that's when the police came."

She hopes the couple can start over.

"I was told not to talk to the press by my attorneys, but I'm tired of hiding," she said. "I don't want to go blow a bomb on my husband and I don't want to put my husband down. I love my husband and I believe he deserves every honor he gets."

Brown said she was asked to leave the singer's Australian tour because of claims she was still married when she wed Brown.

"That was an illegal marriage that lasted for three days and was annulled," she told the newspaper. "It was done under the pretense of a man trying to stay in the country, which I didn't know. It was never consummated."

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Oscar-winning playwright Ronald Harwood has backed out of a promise to direct a play at Manitoba Theater Center next season because of the city's law banning smoking in public places.

Harwood said recent trips to Toronto and New York, where smoking is also restricted in public, has curbed his enthusiasm for those cities. And he wasn't relishing slipping out for a cigarette next January in Winnipeg, either.

"The reason for going back on my word is that I am a cigarette smoker," the South African-born Harwood said Monday by e-mail. "I have recently visited Canada and had to suffer the most draconian anti-smoking regulations in restaurants and public buildings.

"I had no intention of allowing myself to be forced out into the street in winter to partake of one of my great pleasures."

Steven Schipper, artistic director of Manitoba Theater Center, said last year that Harwood had verbally agreed to come to Winnipeg to revive "The Dresser," his drama about an aging actor struggling through "King Lear" with his devoted valet.

But the 69-year-old playwright changed his mind after receiving his contract, which proclaimed the theater's smoke-free environment.

"He feels so strongly about this that there was nothing we could do," Schipper said.

Harwood won an Oscar for his screenplay for "The Pianist."

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NEW YORK -- Charles Fox, Al Green, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Don McLean and songwriting duo Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield are this year's inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The 35th annual induction ceremony is set for June 10 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Special award honorees will be announced later.

"We are looking forward to another terrific and memorable evening where we spotlight the accomplishments of those who have provided us with the words and music that form the soundtrack of our lives," Hal David, chairman and chief executive officer of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, said in a recent statement.

Previous inductees include Carole King, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Jim Croce and Burt Bacharach.

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JAMESTOWN, N.Y. -- Melody Thomas Scott will blend her roles as daytime actress and museum board member for a charity auction to benefit the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Ball's hometown.

Scott, celebrating 25 years as Nikki Newman on CBS' "The Young and the Restless," will raid her character's closet and those of fellow cast members for an April 24 auction to benefit the Lucy museum, where she's a member of the founding board of directors.

"I'll bring all kinds of things," Scott said from her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. The actress, who calls herself a lifelong fan, said serving on the board of a center dedicated to preserving the comedian's legacy is serious business.

"It's something we want to last for generations, not just our lifetime," she said.

Scott also will auction items from her personal wardrobe.

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