Originally created 06/18/04

People in the News

NEW YORK -- Call her Esther: That's the Hebrew name Madonna has chosen for herself as a follower of Kabbalah.

"I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and ... I wanted to attach myself to another name," the singer says in an interview on ABC's "20/20," airing at 10 p.m. Friday. "This is in no way a negation of who my mother is ... I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."

During the interview, Madonna wears the red string around her wrist that's a symbol of the Jewish mysticism, but says she's sensitive when critics suggest her interest in Kabbalah is just a trend.

"I'm a little bit irritated that people think that it's like some celebrity band wagon that I've jumped on, or that, say, somebody like Demi (Moore) has jumped on," the 45-year-old says. "We don't take it lightly. ...

"Paris Hilton did come to the Kabbalah Centre once, because her parents brought her ... and they wanted to help her and they were desperate and they brought her there and she had a meeting and she left and she never came back and suddenly, Paris Hilton studies Kabbalah. I mean that's what happens and people ... they don't know the whole story."

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NEW YORK -- First, he was named Britain's sexiest actor. Now, Orlando Bloom is among the "50 Hottest Bachelors," according to People magazine.

The 27-year-old star of "Troy" and the "Lord of the Rings" movies is on the cover of the annual bachelor issue, which comes out Friday.

Although his female co-stars describe him as "lovely and very friendly" and "a very good kisser," Bloom says he'd like to carve out a career for himself the way Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt have.

"They created a heartthrob thing, then went against it," he says. "You kind of have to."

Also on the list are fellow actors Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Jake Gyllenhaal and Colin Farrell; the male cast members on the Fox drama "The O.C."; reality TV stars including Colby Donaldson ("Survivor") and Bill Rancic ("The Apprentice"); and athletes including tennis star Andy Roddick and Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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INDIO, Calif. -- Comic actor Andy Dick, who starred in the NBC series "NewsRadio" and the 1998 movie "Bongwater," pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

An attorney entered the plea Wednesday in Riverside County Superior Court on behalf of the 38-year-old actor, records show.

A June 29 pretrial hearing was ordered for Dick, who was cited for allegedly possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

Dick, who currently appears in the ABC comedy "Less Than Zero," was arrested by Indio police on May 2 after a security guard at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival reportedly saw him trying to light a joint.

Three years ago, a Los Angeles judge dismissed felony drug charges against the comedian after he successfully completed an 18-month diversion program.

On June 11, 2001, Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus dismissed a felony charge of possession of cocaine and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and a smoking device.

The actor had pleaded guilty to those counts in August 1999.

Afterward, Dick said in a statement that he was happy he had the time to "conquer my problems."

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MIAMI -- Florida Sen. Bob Graham's upcoming book on national security will be released before the third anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the November elections.

Random House announced Wednesday that Graham's upcoming book, "Intelligence Matters," will hit bookstores Sept. 7, and "raise important questions about the competence and honesty of certain officials in government."

"Graham is judicious and measured as he sifts through the details, but his conclusions are disturbing and his call for action compelling," Random House editor-in-chief Jon Karp said in a statement. The publishing house called the book "an insider's account of faults within America's national security network."

The former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman told reporters Sunday the book would discuss "why intelligence is particularly important to the American people today."

Graham, who has served in the Senate since 1987, is retiring after three terms. Along with the Intelligence Committee, Graham also co-chaired the congressional probe into the Sept. 11 attacks.

Graham's book was written with Jeff Nussbaum, who collaborated with Democratic strategist James Carville on his book "Had Enough?"

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LOS ANGELES -- Antonio Banderas, Rod Stewart and Donald Duck are among an eclectic bunch of honorees who will receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.

The 32 honorees were selected Wednesday by the Walk of Fame Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. They were ratified by the chamber's board of directors.

The 2005 inductees, picked from hundreds of nominations, will receive their stars at high-profile sidewalk ceremonies on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

"The ceremonies for these artists will bring a lot of smiles and excitement to the local residents and to our visitors from around the world," honorary Hollywood Mayor Johnny Grant said.

The recipients are:

MOTION PICTURES: Tim Allen, Antonio Banderas, Donald Duck, Kevin Kline, Julianne Moore, Patricia Neal, Dennis Quaid and Ben Stiller.

TELEVISION: Tom Brokaw, James Doohan, Roger Ebert, Susan Lucci, Al Michaels, David Hyde Pierce, Wayne Rogers and Soupy Sales.

RECORDING: Emilio Estefan, Al Green, Herb Jeffries, Billy Joel, The Righteous Brothers, Carly Simon and Rod Stewart.

LIVE THEATRE/LIVE PERFORMANCE: Theodore Bikel, Linda Hopkins and Fred Travalena.

RADIO: Jim Ladd and Bob Miller.

POSTHUMOUS STARS: Stella Adler, Redd Foxx, Freddie Prinze and David O. Selznik.

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LONDON -- The producers of a reality TV show that aims to catch thieves red handed were left red faced Thursday after their own equipment was stolen.

"Swag" was devised by Guy Ritchie, Madonna's director husband, to trap petty criminals in the act and deliver surprise retribution. But producers missed a trick when thieves crept into the show's London editing suite Wednesday night and carried off camera equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars.

"It would have been better if the 'Swag' camera crew had been around and on the case," said series editor Syeda Irtizaali. "The chances of these thieves escaping with anything would have been substantially reduced if our crack team of super-sleuths had been around."

Irtizaali said producers are relieved that the thieves took only the camera equipment and left behind tapes of the second series of the show.

The first season of the show, which aired last year, scared away burglars and surprised car thieves with talking vehicles. The second season, which begins June 29, features British celebrities trying to get away with petty crimes such as dodging payment of restaurant bills.

Ritchie - whose films include "Snatch," about a diamond heist - said he came up with the idea for the program after his bicycle was stolen from outside a London recording studio.

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LOS ANGELES -- Former Hollywood studio chief Terry S. Semel, now chairman of Yahoo! Inc., and his wife are donating $25 million to the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The donation by Semel and wife Jane Bovington Semel will be used to endow the institute, director Dr. Peter Whybrow said Thursday.

UCLA said it was one of the largest gifts anywhere in the nation dedicated exclusively to the effort to understand the brain.

The institute will be renamed the Jane and Terry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

Whybrow said the gift will support research, community education and treatment for such illnesses as autism, mood disorders, addiction and Alzheimer's disease.

"We want to help lift the stigma that weighs heavily on millions of Americans suffering from diseases of the brain by inspiring greater public understanding of the impact of biology, genetics and culture on behavior and personal health," Terry Semel said in a statement.

His wife added: "We hope to build a stronger bridge between academic research and community outreach to promote emotional well-being among individuals, families and communities."

Semel joined Yahoo! Inc. as chairman and chief executive officer in May 2001. Previously, he worked at Warner Bros. for 24 years and ascended to chairman and co-chief executive officer at the studio.

Jane Semel is founder of ijane inc., a nonprofit production company that works to address public health issues through entertainment.

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RENO, Nev. -- Treat Williams is going to back school this week - flying school.

The actor, whose films include "Hair" and "Prince of the City," is among 46 pilots signed up for the Reno National Championship Air Races rookie school Thursday through Sunday.

Air Racing Association spokeswoman Sue Putnam says that along with his extensive acting career, the 52-year-old has been a professional pilot and is a certified flight instructor.

His Web site says he owns two planes, including a World War II-vintage T-6. He'll be racing in that class, which carries a $96,000 purse.

Williams - and anybody else who wants to qualify for the Sept. 16-19 air races at the Reno-Stead Airport 10 miles north of Reno - first must attend this week's Pylon Racing Seminar.

The school includes safety and procedures classes and practice around the airport's 40-foot pylons. Pilots also must demonstrate the ability to fly in formation and to handle emergencies.

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PHOENIX -- Two Arizona State University professors have put together a two-volume set of encyclopedias designed to explore the impact of Desi Arnaz, Jennifer Lopez and other Latinos on American pop culture.

The Encyclopedia of Latina and Latino Popular Culture in the United States is designed to give readers a comprehensive look at the diversity among Latinos in the United States and examines pioneers in literature, art, music, religion, politics, sports and other areas. It is expected to be released in the fall.

Cordelia Candelaria and Peter Garcia, university professors and co-editors on the project, focused attention on the three largest Latino populations in the United States - Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican.

The essays examine the popularity of the subjects and their lasting influence. For example, Arnaz, the Cuban-born actor who played Ricky Ricardo on the TV show "I Love Lucy," helped introduce a technique involving three cameras instead of one to make filming sitcoms easier.

"Things like that give a fuller perspective and put some flesh where often we (Latinos) are a caricature," Garcia said. "I'm hoping it will encourage readers to delve deeper."

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Andy Garcia says a longing for his native Cuba is the guiding force behind his next movie, which will be filmed in the Dominican Republic starting next week.

Garcia, 48, was born in Havana but left Cuba with his family when he was 5 for Miami Beach, Fla. Garcia's family left after Fidel Castro's revolution in 1959, and Garcia has been a critic of Castro's communist government.

"The Lost City" will focus on the transition from the rule of dictator Fulgencio Batista to Castro's takeover. Garcia's character, a cabaret owner, eventually leaves the country to go into exile in New York.

Novelist Guillermo Cabrera Infante, a Cuban exile who is also a critic of Castro, wrote the script for the movie, which Garcia also will direct.

"I told Guillermo my dream of making a movie about this time period, about the Cuba that I left very young but that I have a lot of nostalgia and obsession about," Garcia told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

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ATLANTA -- Some travelers passing through Atlanta's sprawling airport soon will have some famous duds to gaze at on their way to the gates.

Cowboy boots worn by Alan Jackson, a leather jacket signed by the two members of OutKast and a silk jacket that Ray Charles wore are going on display at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The 300-foot-long display will include highlights from the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The exhibit will be finished within a week and will stay up until July 2005, officials said.

The hall of fame, which has struggled to attract big crowds to its Macon home despite Georgia's rich music heritage, is hoping a high-profile display at Hartsfield will boost visits.

"Our idea was how to get maximum exposure for the museum," said spokeswoman Jessica Walden-Griner.

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ATHENS, Greece -- Forty years after providing the musical soul for "Zorba the Greek," Mikis Theodorakis has written a personal ode to Greece.

"This is not my story," the 78-year-old composer said Tuesday, announcing a new musical that mixes his works with his well-known political passions. "It's the story of Greece."

The show, "A Life Full of Greece," opens next week in Athens as part of the cultural events leading up to the start of the summer Olympics in August.

Theodorakis has set the play between 1950 and 1975, turbulent years for Greece framed by the end of civil war and the return to democracy after the 1967-74 military dictatorship. Theodorakis' music was a rallying point for junta opponents.

Internationally, Theodorakis is best known for the score of the 1964 film "Zorba the Greek," but in Greece his music is considered an important part of the nation's modern cultural identity.

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LOS ANGELES -- Donald Trump, Don King, Avril Lavigne and Ed McMahon are among the celebrities offering private lunches, guitar lessons and other items in an eBay auction to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The highest bidders can play tennis with Trump, spend an afternoon with Arnold Palmer or win an internship at Esquire magazine or ABC radio.

Other items include a guitar lesson from Paul Stanley of Kiss, a visit to the set of NBC's "Fear Factor" and lunch with Lavigne.

All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit foundation, based in Santa Monica, which provides funds for prostate cancer research. The auction is pegged to Father's Day and will run through Monday.

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