Originally created 08/24/04

People in the News



BOSTON -- R&B crooner Usher swears he has no beef with Justin Timberlake.

"I'm not in competition with Justin. I'm not in competition with anyone but myself," he told The Boston Globe in Friday's editions. "I'm not looking for that bad-boy image, I'm not a person who goes out looking for trouble."

It's been suggested that the two singers are less-than-friendly rivals, especially after Timberlake, the former 'N Sync leader, was anointed by Rolling Stone magazine as "the new King of Pop" over Usher.

Usher's latest album, "Confessions," has sold more than 5 million copies. Its singles include the infectious dance hit "Yeah!," "Burn" and "Confessions Part II."

"It's not just about a hit record, it's not just the marketing behind an album, it's about the talent, and I go out there and I work hard," he said. "No one can just take your spot. If you really work hard, no one can take your spot."

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Sarajevo opened its annual film festival with the help of such guests as John Malkovich, Mike Leigh and Gerard Depardieu.

This year's festival, which began over the weekend, celebrated the 10th anniversary of a cultural event that began as a simple act of defiance during the country's 3 1/2-year war.

It started when this Balkan capital was besieged by Serb forces positioned on the mountains surrounding the city during the 1992-1995 war. With people cut off and under attack, the festival was created to remind the world that Sarajevans were starved for culture as well as food.

At the first festival, about 15,000 movie-goers dodged sniper fire to attended screenings in a downtown basement. The feature film, "Pulp Fiction," proved memorable because the boom of explosions outside offered a backdrop for the ones onscreen.

Ten years later, the rumbling of fireworks has replaced the exploding mortar shells. People lined up to obtain tickets and organizers said over 100,000 would watch 180 movies from 44 countries.

The festival gives moviemakers from southeastern Europe the chance to network and find distributors. This year, nine movies from the region competed for awards. Leigh, the English writer and director, headed the jury.

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BALTIMORE -- Norah Jones says she's finally adjusting to all the attention and all that fame.

Two years after her smash album "Come Away With Me" made her a household name, Jones released "Feels Like Home" and waited for the new wave of hype. Her first album sold 18 million copes and netted eight Grammy Awards. Her latest has sold about five million copies.

Everywhere she turned, it seemed, her face was on some magazine cover.

"I'm starting to enjoy it finally," the singer-musician told The Baltimore Sun in Friday's editions. "In the beginning, it was freaky. I'm just a musician, you know, and all of a sudden I'm supposed to be this star."

Jones said she stopped reading articles about herself early on. "People think I'm really melancholy and romantic and all whispery," she said. "I'm not at all. I'm very direct."

"Feels Like Home" is "just a reflection of me and the band. The recording is just a slice in time. That's all," Jones said. "I'm anxious to move on. I'm only 25. I want to have fun and play good music."

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LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Author Jacquelyn Mitchard hates that bats get a bad rap.

"I love bats," said Mitchard, who lives on a farm near Madison. "Little brown bats, they're my friends. They eat twice their weight in mosquitoes every night."

Her second children's book "Baby Bat's Lullaby" is about a bat who has to convince a child to sleep during the day because it is a nocturnal creature. It was released Tuesday.

Mitchard is best known for "Deep End of the Ocean," which sold more than 3 million copies, and was later made into a movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer. She's also written "The Most Wanted," "Theory of Relativity," "Twelve Times Blessed" and "Christmas, Present."

After the release of her first children's book, "Starring Prima," Mitchard began thinking about another topic.

"The germ of this idea was planted when we were cleaning the barn for my assistant's wedding," she said. "I found a small bat buried in the hay and held him in my hand for a moment, and saw how sweet and tender it was before it took off flying."

She coupled that experience with a memory of her daughter.

"When my little girl was 2, she had a bat costume for Halloween. Children have that same fragile quality as bats. Their little wrists and hands could be broken if you didn't handle them gently."