Originally created 01/03/06

People in the News



LOS ANGELES - "Tonight Show" announcer John Melendez is a father for a third time.

Oscar David Melendez weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces when he was born Sunday just after midnight. He was believed to be the first baby born in the San Fernando Valley in 2006.

"It's just funny that my husband's the one who usually is in the spotlight," mother Suzanna Melendez, 39, said. "To pick how you come into this world and have it be New Year's Day is pretty funny to me."

Oscar has two sisters, ages 9 and 5.

"Three kids already, I might have to ask Jay Leno for a raise. That's a lot of mouths to feed," said Melendez, 40.

Melendez is known to Howard Stern fans as "Stuttering John," who carried out cringe-inducting red-carpet interviews for Stern's radio show before moving to the "Tonight Show."

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NEW YORK (AP) - Judi Dench says she is no intellectual and never reads plays, just doing them "because someone asked me to."

"I've gotten myself into real trouble by saying yes to a play, then going to the first reading and realizing, 'This is a bummer!'" the actress said in the latest issue of Newsweek.

Dench, who plays a 1930s British dame who opens a nude theatrical review in "Mrs. Henderson Presents," also admits to sneaking a peek at Bob Hoskins, who appears briefly in the nude.

"Of course! Don't think I'm going to let Bob Hoskins take all his clothes off and me not take a look? I just had a quick look up and down, like you would," she said.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Lorraine Bracco keeps a simple strategy when it comes in investing: She sticks to real estate.

Bracco said she has never bought a stock in her life and doesn't understand it. But real estate "is like porn for me."

"Listen, if I am going to get in a cab to go home, and I see a sign for an open house, I will go in. I like real estate because I am the boss," she said in Sunday's New York Times.

Bracco filed for bankruptcy in 1999, the same year of the debut of "The Sopranos."

"It was horrifying and embarrassing: getting foreclosure notices; lawyers knocking on your door wanting their money and no work to be found," she recalled.

Since then, Bracco said, she has paid off much of her $2 million in debt as well as nearly $500,000 in back taxes.

"I owe my last $50,000 to the bankruptcy lawyers," she said, adding that the show has given her financial security.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Liza Minnelli helped heat things up at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's inauguration with a lurching rendition of "New York, New York."

At times pumping her fist in the air, Minnelli, wearing a billowy red coat and black pants, received a standing ovation from the crowd, which joined in a sing-along at the outdoor City Hall ceremony on Sunday.

Bloomberg, who was sworn in for a second term, helped the 5,000 guests in attendance keep the chill off by providing hot cider and wool blankets.

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - When it comes to the brew of choice for Samuel A. Alito Jr., the jury is in. And it likes caffeine.

When Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court in November, reporters and customers flocked to a Broad Street coffee store that sells a potent blend named after the judge. The federal appeals court judge and former federal prosecutor has an office in Newark.

Two months later, sales of "Judge Alito's Bold Justice" are still going strong.

"We've been selling a lot more ever since he got nominated," Vera Barbosa, a clerk at T.M. Ward Coffee Co., told The Star-Ledger of Newark.

The store blended the brew as a birthday gift for Alito about five years ago. It is a mix of Papua New Guinea, Celebs Kalossi, Java, Italian Roast and espresso.

"It's a pretty strong roast, but he's a pretty strong guy," said Lawrence M. Herrmann, a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut who visited the store for a cup of Alito blend last week. "I think having a strong blend of coffee named for him is better than an herbal tea with hibiscus."

Alito likes it as well. He bought 44 pounds of the $7.95-a-pound blend just before Christmas, Barbosa said.