Originally created 02/22/06

People in the News



SYDNEY, Australia - Harrison Ford was greeted by hundreds of screaming fans at the Australian premiere of the thriller "Firewall."

Accompanied by his girlfriend, former "Ally McBeal" star Calista Flockhart, Ford told reporters on Sunday that he was happy to be back in Australia for the first time in 12 years.

"It's been a while, it's good to be back," the 63-year-old actor said.

In "Firewall," Ford plays Jack Stanfield, a computer-security expert forced to help carry out a $100 million cyber bank job after a crook takes his family hostage.

Asked why he was attracted to the role, Ford said: "I like to play a real person who has a real life and family. I just thought it would be a good movie for an audience to enjoy."

While in Sydney, Ford and Flockhart also visited Taronga Park Zoo.

---

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - Ricky Gervais' podcast is going commercial.

A New Jersey-based company announced Tuesday it will begin selling subscriptions to the "Ricky Gervais Show" next week.

Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the team behind the BBC's acclaimed comedy series "The Office," launched the podcast in December. Podcasts are audio recordings that are posted online; most are free.

The 30-minute show contains much scatological humor. It features the pair interviewing Karl Pilkington, a producer at their old radio show, about topics such as the cognitive abilities of chimpanzees and the existence of vampires and ghosts.

Wayne-based Audible said it will offer two seasons of the show - one starting Feb. 28 and one in the fall - each with at least four episodes. The podcasts will cost $1.95 per episode or $6.95 per season.

---

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The daughter of the late Ray Charles says she hopes a recent performance here will help keep the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the public eye.

"One of the things that happens when you have such a huge natural disaster is it's big news for about a week," said Sheila Raye Charles.

"Then it's easier for people to rest and sleep at night, because they think once they don't see it on the news, that it's gone away. And it just sincerely hasn't," she said.

Charles, 29, performed Sunday at the Pascagoula High School gym. The event was sponsored by the Minnesota-based nonprofit groups Max Respect Foundation and Agape Food for Peace Missions.

"I'm here to bring some joy and happiness, and hopefully, even for the moment, try to bring people to a different mind-set than where they're at in their life," she said.

She believes her father would support her effort to help Gulf Coast residents.

"He gave to many, many charities, and certainly I know if he were living, would have been very much involved in bringing help to this situation down here," Charles said. "I may not have $20 million, but I have me to give."

Charles released her debut album, "Introducing Sheila Raye Charles," in 2005.

---

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Steven Seagal will reign as this year's celebrity monarch for the Krewe of Orpheus, a lavish Carnival parade that Harry Connick Jr. founded.

Seagal will be the celebrity spokesman for Rebuilding Together, the nation's largest volunteer home rehabilitation group.

Rebuilding Together has partnered with the Mardi Gras krewe to publicize the group's efforts to rebuild 1,000 Gulf Coast homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The 54-year-old actor will lead the 27-float parade on Feb. 27, or Lundi Gras. Mardi Gras is Feb. 28.

---

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Celine Dion and Elton John sang together for the first time at a benefit to raise money for Harrah's Entertainment Inc. workers affected by last year's hurricanes.

The pair, who sang duets of "Sorry" and "Saturday Night" before a packed Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Monday night, also were joined by Jerry Seinfeld to raise $2.1 million for some 8,000 casino workers in the Gulf Coast region.

The money came on top of $4.5 million the world's largest casino operator already had collected for its staff, said Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman.

"I've played in Biloxi (Miss.) many times," John said. "I'm just glad we can do a little something for those people's lives that will never be the same again for many, many years. God bless them."

Some 4,100 people paid $100 to $1,000 each to watch the trio take turns on the stage.