Originally created 10/30/04

People in the News

LONDON - Helen Mirren was named naturist of the year Friday by Britain's main nudist group.

British Naturism said Mirren was selected from among "a number of well-known celebrities who have made their love of a naturist lifestyle public."

Mirren, who was named a dame - the female equivalent of a knight - by Queen Elizabeth II last year, was presented with an engraved rose bowl to commemorate the award.

"Many thanks to British Naturism for this great honor," she said. "I do believe in naturism and am my happiest on a nude beach with people of all ages and races."

British Naturism, which promotes going without clothes "as a friendly, relaxing and enjoyable way to spend your holidays and other free time," estimates there are some 2 million naturists, or nudists, in Britain.

The group's chairman, Mick Ayers, said high-profile supporters like Mirren helped dispel the image of naturism as "an eccentric activity pursued by a tiny minority."

The 59-year-old actress received Oscar nominations for 1994's "The Madness Of King George" and 2001's "Gosford Park."


LOS ANGELES - The mother of Notorious B.I.G. reportedly has dropped a wrongful-death lawsuit against a former suspect in the rap star's slaying.

Voletta Wallace had accused Amir Muhammad, aka Harry Billups, of shooting her son outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles after a music industry party on March 9, 1997.

Her decision to dismiss Muhammad as a defendant followed a pretrial deposition during which he denied any connection to the rapper's death and offered to take a lie-detector test, unidentified sources close to the negotiations told the Los Angeles Times.

The confidential settlement didn't include any payments, the sources said. Wallace's attorneys refused to discuss additional details of the agreement with the newspaper.

Muhammad could not be reached for comment Friday morning, but he has long maintained his innocence and was never questioned by police in the killing of Notorious B.I.G. (real name: Christopher Wallace).

Voletta Wallace's 2002 lawsuit still names the city of Los Angeles and Muhammad's former college roommate, David A. Mack, a Los Angeles policeman now serving a 14-year federal prison sentence for bank robbery. It accused Mack of hiring Muhammad to shoot the hip-hop artist and police of failing to investigate properly after a fellow officer came under suspicion.

Though police never interrogated Muhammed, they had once investigated whether he was paid to shoot Wallace by rival rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight and Mack.

Muhammad became part of the probe when a jailhouse informant familiar with Mack told detectives that the rapper's killer went by a "Middle East" sounding name. Muhammad had also visited Mack in prison, at the request of Mack's family.

Investigators have not found a murder weapon or witnesses linking Mack to the shooting. He has denied any involvement in the murder.


NEW YORK - The "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" franchise is becoming a little more, well, feminine.

Bravo announced Thursday the makeover show's spin-off, "Queer Eye for the Straight Girl," is starring not a fab five but a quadruplet - and one of them is female.

She's former model Honey Labrador, who's been seen in the pages of Elle and Mademoiselle and in episodes of the sexy Showtime series "Red Shoe Diaries."

The show promises to transform heterosexual women for events such as a proposal, a 30th birthday and a wedding.

"'Queer Eye for the Straight Girl' is sure to deliver all the humor, heart and relationship building that made its older brother such a success," said Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick. "Women everywhere should feel fortunate to have gal pals like these in their corner."

"Queer Eye for the Straight Girl" will premiere in 2005.


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NEW YORK - Cinderella's pregnant.

The principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, who has performed the leading roles in "Cinderella" and "Romeo and Juliet," will miss the company's national tour next year and its local season because she's pregnant.

Ukrainian-born Irina Dvorovenko and her husband, fellow ABT dancer Maxim Beloserkovsky, are expecting their first child in March 2005, the company said Thursday.

Dvorovenko will return in September.

She joined the American Ballet Theatre in 1996 and was promoted to soloist in 1997 and principal dancer in 2000. Besides Cinderella and Juliet, her repertoire with the company includes the sugar plum fairy in "The Nutcracker" and Kitri and Mercedes in "Don Quixote."


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JACKSON, Miss. - LeAnn Rimes will host the third season of USA Network's "Nashville Star."

Rimes, who performed as a special guest on the show's second season finale in May, succeeds Nancy O'Dell, USA Network announced Wednesday.

"As a singer and songwriter, I have great admiration for many of the budding stars who come to try their hand at performing and can relate to the hopes and aspirations of all the contestants, no matter how good or bad," Rimes said in a statement posted on her Web site.

The reality talent show pits country music singing hopefuls against each other in an "American Idol"-style competition. The first episodes of the third season are set to begin airing on March 25.

Rimes' aunt Melissa Bagwell said her niece's schedule fits in with the taping demands of the popular country series. Rimes, a native of Pearl, lives in Nashville, Tenn., where the show is based, with her husband, Dean Sheremet.

The 22-year-old singer is promoting her new Christmas album, "What a Wonderful World." Her next studio album, "This Woman," is set for release on Jan. 25.


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LONDON - Lucian Freud's portrait of a naked, pregnant Kate Moss is expected to fetch up to $6.4 million when it is auctioned next year, Christie's auction house said.

The near-lifesize portrait of the supermodel, "Naked Portrait 2002," will be included in a Christie's sale of postwar and contemporary art on Feb. 9. It is being sold by an unnamed private collector, the auction house said Thursday.

Freud, 81, is considered by many to be Britain's greatest living artist, and his sitters have ranged from friends and family to Queen Elizabeth II.

The artist, a grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, has said he prefers to paint his models naked because "I can see more: see the forms repeating right through the body and often in the head as well."

"One of the most exciting things is seeing through the skin, to the blood and veins and markings."


NEW YORK - Host Phil Keoghan is back with his mat, pit stops and detours for the sixth season of CBS' "The Amazing Race."

This time, 11 teams of two will globe-trot for the $1 million prize, beginning with a two-hour premiere on Nov. 16. At every destination, each team will have to compete in a series of challenges - some mental, some physical - and only when the tasks have been completed will they learn their next destination.

The race's roster contains the standard assemblage of friends, couples and family members who must work together in order not to be eliminated from the exotic excursion.

Cast members, who were announced by the network Wednesday, include an engaged model couple, dating model-actors, a pair of married pro wrestlers and two grandparents.

The teams are: engaged models Freddy Holliday, 34, and Kendra Bentley, 25, of Miami; best friends Meredith Tufaro, 26, and Maria Sampogna, 26, of New York; long distance dating couple Kris Perkins, 30, of Long Beach, Calif., and Jon Buehler, 29, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; father-daughter duo Gus McLeod, 50, of Gaithersburg, Md., and Hera McLeod, 24, of Los Angeles; formerly dating personal trainers Adam Malis, 27, and Rebecca Cardon, 29, of Los Angeles;

High school buddies Avi Schneier, 32, of New York, and Joe Rashbaum, 32, of Ventura, Calif.; married pro wresters Lori Harvey, 33, and Bolo Dar'tainian, 38, of Molino, Fla.; grandparents Don St. Claire, 69, and Mary Jean St. Claire, 66, of Portola Valley, Calif.; dating model-actors Hayden Kristianson, 25, and Aaron Crumbaugh, 25, of Los Angeles; sisters Lena Jensen, 23, and Kristy Jensen, 26, of Pleasant Grove, Utah; married entrepreneurs Jonathan Baker, 42, and Victoria Fuller, 32, of Los Angeles.


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LONDON - Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have topped a British magazine's poll of the greatest living movie stars over the age of 50.

The two stars of the "Godfather" saga took the top two places in a poll of 10,000 readers of British film magazine Empire. The poll was released Thursday.

Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman and Marlon Brando - who died in July before voting was complete - took third, fourth and fifth spots.

Anthony Hopkins, in sixth place, was the highest placed British actor, and "Alien" star Sigourney Weaver, in 10th place, the top-rated woman.


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