The Statler Brothers, one of the first country groups to make inroads into the world of rock music, say they will disband when their current tour is over. Their Web site confirms that the group, first organized as the Kingsmen in 1961, will call it quits sometime in the fall. The current members of the act are brothers Harold and Don Reid, Phil Balsley and Jimmy Fortune. One of the founder members of the act, Lew DeWitt, left the group in 1981, too ill to continue. He died in 1990. It was DeWitt who wrote the group's first national hit, "Flowers on the Wall." The song went to No. 5 on both country and the pop charts. In 2000 singer Eric Heatherly revived the song and included it in a new CD, bringing it to a new generation of listeners. The group will hold its farewell concert on Nov. 1 this year.
FIRST LADY'S COURAGE PROFILED
The first lady, Laura Bush, is the subject of a major article in the latest on-line edition of People magazine. The publication says that Mrs. Bush, though thrust into the background by the events of 9/11 and the role of her husband, has been a pillar of strength for the president. People says that one thing that has provided strength for the first family has been Mr. and Mrs. Bush's reliance on family traditions, including having tortillas and tamales on Christmas Eve. Amid all of this Mrs. Bush -- and of course, her husband -- has had to live in a world of increasing security. There are now snipers on the roof of the White House and bomb-sniffing dogs everywhere. The security is at a level not seen since the assassination of JFK in 1963. Although the 55-year-old Mrs. Bush was able to keep the low profile she had sought in the initial days of her husband's tenure, following the most contested and controversial election in modern times, the events of September have caused her to refocus her attentions and has given her increased visibility. People's Web site, people.com, contains the full article and several sub-links to other facets of the first lady's life, both before and after moving into the executive mansion.
CNN'S AARON BROWN: AREN'T I SEXY TOO?
The Cable News Network recently apologized for stressing anchor Paula Zahn's sexiness in a recent promo for her "news work." In the wake of a firestorm of criticism about a 15-second spot welcoming the anchor after she jumped ship from rival Fox News, the network noted that the promo was never cleared with top brass and, after all, it was Zahn's reportage that was to be praised. Now, fellow CNN anchor Aaron Brown has taken the reverse tack, asking the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper why he was left off a recent "sexy" survey. The publication says that Brown will be included in next year's readers poll on the country's sexiest men and women. By the way, anchor Bill Hemmer is on the poll and is leading in the on-line vote count at this time. In a gesture of good humor, CNN recently aired a clip that purported to show Hemmer voting ... for himself.
ELVIS COSTELLO GOES COUNTRY
Colorful rocker Elvis Costello has become the latest non-country star to be highlighted on Country Music Television's "Crossroads" broadcast. The series features artists from a variety of genres interacting with established country stars. CMT says that Costello teamed with Lucinda Williams in a series of mainstream and country-flavored songs for the episode. The show will air on Jan. 13 at midnight Eastern and Pacific Times. It will be repeated on Jan. 14 at 8:00 p.m. in both time zones.
TOP NATIONAL COUNTRY DISK JOCKEYS HONORED
The nation's top country disk jockeys have been announced in Nashville. The news provider country.com says that the winners this year are: Cody Alan of WOLF-FM in Dallas, the best DJ in a major market; Baton Rouge, La., announcer Scott Innes, chosen for his work in a medium-sized market at station WYNK-FM; Becky and Brad Austin, of station KLUR-FM in Wichita Fall, Texas, the small-market winners. The honorees will be brought to Music City in March to receive their awards. The ceremonies will take place at the Country Music Seminar on March 2.
SCIENTIFIC WORLD SALUTES STEPHEN HAWKING
Few modern-day scientists have shown the courage of Stephen Hawking. The "big thinker" has lived in recent years confined to a wheelchair and able to communicate only with a synthetic, computer-generated voice. This week, according to the New York Times, hundreds of his colleagues gathered in Cambridge, England, to celebrate his 60th birthday. Nearly 40 years ago Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. In the ensuing decades, even as he became increasingly weaker, his reputation and thinking became stronger. Now he's considered the world's greatest authority on black holes, far outer space and the origins of the universe. Even as he has amazed his colleagues with his immense brain power and his ability to conjure up intricate three-dimensional imagery to describe the ethereal aspects of the solar system, he has also amazed doctors with his ability to survive a disease that, by medical expectations, should have ended his life years ago. Those not familiar with Hawking are often shocked when they see him in a documentary, tied to his wheelchair, slowly "talking" via computer. I remember one such broadcast in which the story was told of the great physicist signing some important papers years ago. In the narrative Hawking noted that it was the last time he ever wrote his name, due to his deteriorating condition. Hawking ended his busy 60th birthday by delivering yet another lecture about the broader world in which we live.
UPI DAILY SURVEY NO. 245
They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I guess that's why Dennis Franz can be considered one of the country's sexiest men. Heck, that gives all we Dennises a chance! So, in light of the mention of Paula Zahn and Aaron Brown, here's today's question: "Who do you think are the most attractive people in network news?" I used the word "attractive" rather than "sexiest" for a reason. Many anchors are pleasing, fun, intelligent and the kind you'd like to have lunch with without being overtly sexy. So, put ANCHOR in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org, via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 240 (SCREEN)
Last week I noted that I change the appearance of my desktop screens on various computers from time to time, often putting the faces of friends or my cat as the centerpiece. Here are some of your ideas on screen savers: Robert M. does something really interesting. He finds neat proverbs and displays them on the screen, changing them from time to time. Deinagh found a new place on the Web where you can get pictures of various fruits. Nice. Well, as the great vaudevillians used to say, "everyone likes bananas, because they have appeal." Pat. B. must smile every time she looks at her computer. The screen is a photo of her four grandchildren sitting at Christmas dinner. Stacey is also family-oriented with pictures of her son on the screen. Amanda has a cartoon of Ziggy, her latest obsession. Amanda, did you know there is a half-hour cartoon called "Ziggy's Gift?" It's a neat Christmas special, done about 20 years ago. Wonder if Blockbuster has it. Deb in Michigan switched her screensaver of Eric Clapton to an American flag after 9/11. GBA.