MARIAH BACK ON HER GAME
Mariah Carey seems to be having some success putting her emotional problems behind her, following a pretty rough late summer and early fall when she had her well-publicized nervous breakdown. It's been announced that she will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans. Plans call for Carey to be accompanied by conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops. The orchestra will also play a program of American classics during the pre-game festivities at the Superdome on Feb. 3, accompanying two as-yet unnamed artists on "America the Beautiful." The artists might be Marc Anthony and Mary J. Blige. The New York Daily News reported Friday that those two have been signed for the pregame show. U2 will play at halftime.
REEVES SET FOR OLYMPIC CEREMONIES
Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves will perform at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Organizers have paired musical performers with Olympic ice skaters for the show. Reeves is scheduled to work with champion skater Kurt Browning. World renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma is also scheduled to perform on the program on Feb. 24 at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium.
RUSH IN RECOVERY
Radio talker Rush Limbaugh is recovering from cochlear implant surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles. Doctors who performed the operation said Thursday that it went well. So did Limbaugh. "I feel great," he said in a prepared statement. "The surgery went smoothly, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the holidays and returning to the air in early January." Doctors said the procedure could help the 50-year-old Limbaugh regain as much as 30 percent to 50 percent of his hearing in the ear with the implant.
TOMMY LEE ON CUSTODY BATTLE
Rocker Tommy Lee -- engaged in a court battle with ex-wife Pamela Anderson for custody of their sons -- took his story public this week, sitting for an interview with "Access Hollywood." While Anderson claims in court filings that Lee is guilty of child endangerment, Lee says the kids actually can't stand their mom. "Yeah, they've said we hate mommy, she works too much," said Lee. "I don't know how much of that to take to heart because they say a lot of crazy things." Lee also said that allegations of drinking and anger on his part should not be taken seriously. "Those actually make me laugh because I'm not angry," he said. "I wish her the best of luck. I hope she's happy with her new boyfriend, I'm not angry about anything. I just want to be in my kids' life just as much as she is in their lives." Lee also acknowledged that it frustrates him to hear Anderson call him an unstable man who uses alcohol. "Yeah, it does frustrate me, but it doesn't make me angry," said Lee. "It makes me sad because that's not, I don't think that's very cool, not very stable of her to make those accusations. Especially when she doesn't see me or communicate with me. I haven't seen her in years. How would she know who or how I am? Very, very rarely have I seen her. My kids always ask is mommy going to be home when I drop them off. I don't know guys, I don't know if she is or not."
AALIYAH'S LAST MOVIE
Producers of singer-actress Aaliyah's last movie, "The Queen of the Damned," called on her brother Rashad to help out in post-production -- to re-record parts of her dialogue. Time magazine reported that Rashad "speaks in the same smooth, serene tones as his late sister," who was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in August. Aaliyah played a 6,000-year-old Egyptian vampire with a thick accent. Rashad's voice did not replace his sister's entirely. Producers mixed it in with Aaliyah's original track, to reinforce her sound. In its report, Time recalls that producers of "Giant" called on actor Nick Adams -- who was a friend of James Dean -- to record a few lines of dialogue after Dean died while the movie was still in post-production. "The Queen of the Damned" is set for release in February 2001. Time reported earlier that the last scene Aaliyah shot for the movie was a death scene.
'NSYNC CROSSES OVER
'NSync's new single, "Girlfriend," is shaping up as another crossover hit for Justin, Lance and the fellows, with R&B music directors showing some enthusiasm for adding it to their playlists. According to Launch.com, the song is poised to follow the most recent 'NSync single, "Gone," onto the urban charts. Mimi Valdes -- editor-at-large for Vibe magazine -- told Launch it doesn't surprise her. "'Girlfriend,' I love that song so much," she said. It reminded her of early music from the '80s R&B group New Edition, with pure and innocent lyrics that hadn't been around for a while. "I think R&B was just missing (that)," said Valdes. "It's just ironic that these white boys just brought that back." Justin Timberlake's girlfriend, Britney Spears, has been on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart for two weeks, with her current single, "I'm a Slave for U."
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 230
Here's an off-the-wall question you might enjoy thinking about: "What is the dumbest thing you did, so far, in 2001?" Put DUMBEST in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 225 (LEAVE)
Last week we asked the rules for taking, using or losing leave at your place of work. Some of the answers were a real education for me. Never having owned a business or been my own boss I did not realize how little time off people who are in that situation get. Debra, for example, works two jobs -- one as her own boss, the other under a manager. In her personal business she says she gets "no sick days, no paid vacation, no personal days, no grief leave, no insurance of any kind and half of my earnings go to the government." No wonder she needs a second job! Here are some of the other replies: Ali is among the many who say their company has a "use it or lose it" policy when it comes to sick days. Milissa is among those who have accrued time off but their company hasn't allowed them to use it. This is becoming more and more common with downsizing. An office I once worked for became so small it was impossible for any of us to take any time off. LMandy's company offers personal days but only if the reason for taking the days falls into one of 20 categories. Amanda, still in high school, says her school allows 18 absences a year. I can tell she's not taught by nuns! Bev is among several military wives pointing out that their men never get any time off. The majority of respondents painted some really gloomy pictures of their leave situation. Again, downsizing and cutbacks are causing it. One said her company was forcing everyone to take off between Christmas and New Year's Day with no pay and they can't take it as paid vacation. GBA.