It's been a long time since the dulcet tones of sportcaster Marv Albert came from America's radio and TV speakers in a major showcase. That well-publicized "affair" in 1997 knocked him off the air for a while. Now, according to columnist Neal Travis, Albert may be ready for a big try at a comeback from the current gig that perhaps he feels is only transitionary. Albert, who is now 60, is pondering a deal that would net him about $4 million a year. That would be a big raise from what he's reportedly making now working for NBC and the Madison Square Garden Network. Albert's new deal could position him as ABC's chief commentator for its coverage of the NBA with additional exposure on ESPN. In some ways Albert may get the job by default, now that ABC has the rights to future NBA games.
DEFUNCT PUBLICATION WANTS ITS MONEY BACK
What happens when a magazine pays a lot of money up front to a writer who promises to do an exposé and then the publication goes out of business before the story is done? Well, according to the New York Post, that's what happened recently at the now defunct Talk magazine. Lawyers for the publication, who apparently are still on the case, have sent a collection letter to author Bill Stadiem asking him to return the rather sizable advance he was paid before Talk folded. Stadiem tells the Post that his contract notes that his up-front fee is "non-refundable." Additionally, another writer, Russ Baker, says he spent a lot of money researching an article for Talk and should have been paid what is called a "kill fee" when he was told the old monthly didn't want it any more.
GIBSON MOVIE INSPIRES 'SOLDIERS' COLLECTION
The Mel Gibson movie "We Were Soldiers" has inspired a group of country stars to put together a new CD of songs to honor this country's Vietnam-era veterans. The news provider country.com is reporting that many of the best known names in country music have laid down tracks. Among them: Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Montgomery Gentry, Rascal Flatts, Dave Matthews, Train, Jamie O'Neal and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Even Johnny Cash agreed to go to a recording studio and added a song to the anthology. All of the music is new. Much of it was written by the various artists after seeing an advance screening of the movie. The CD is due out Feb. 26. The movie is scheduled to hit theaters, nationally, on the first of next month.
YET ANOTHER 'HALL' READY TO OPEN
This week we reported that Kentucky is in the throes of completing a hall of fame for its most famous citizens, many of them music stars, and that the first lady of the Bluegrass State and Loretta Lynn are the co-chairwomen of the endeavor. Now, not to be outdone, Louisiana says its hall of fame is adding its finishing touches. The hall is being constructed in Ferriday, La. -- a sleepy town of 3,000 on a sweeping curve in the Mississippi River. The official name of the hall will be the Delta Music Hall of Fame. Among the initial inductees will be cousins Mickey Gilley, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. Promoters hope that all three will be able to attend and will appear on stage together -- what a photo op! (Wonder if Swaggart will sob for joy). The event is being used as a springboard for an imaginative state-wide program of music. Called the Louisiana Music Cavalcade, entertainers from all over Louisiana will hit the road for a series of concerts in all sections of the state. The final stop, in early May, is Shreveport and the historic Louisiana Hayride, a long-running weekly hoe-down and radio show that rivals the Grand Ole Opry for the title of "the cradle of country music."
SPEAKING OF HALLS OF FAME ...
The Songwriters Hall of Fame has announced its latest slew of inductees. Among them are Barry Manilow, Sting, Michael Jackson, Randy Newman and Ashford & Simpson. It seems ironic that the hall waited this long to induct both Manilow and Jackson, doesn't it? The Songwriters Hall of Fame dates from the late 1960s. It was organized by legendary songwriter Johnny Mercer and publishers Howie Richmond and Abe Olman. This year's inductions will be the hall's 33rd. They will be conducted in mid June in the Big Apple. Additionally, Barry Manilow did not write the song "I Write the Songs." It's one of very few of his hits that he did not pen himself. The Grammy Award-winning pop hit was written by songwriter Bruce Johnston.
PETER JACKSON DARLING OF NEW ZEALANDERS
When the folks at the Academy Awards announced 13 nominations for "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," New Zealanders were ecstatic. They should be. Director Peter Jackson decided to film much of the fantasy on their soil. Suddenly, according to published reports, the popularity of the movie and the international media attention it's brought to the country have garnered a new wave of patriotism to the nation ... mistakenly lumped in with Australia when people talk about "the land down under." Not only was the filming of the movie an economic boon to New Zealand -- more than 2,500 people were hired in a variety of roles during the making of the movie -- it should boost future tourism. Jackson is a "Kiwi," a New Zealander, and is nominated for the best director Oscar for "Rings" and for his part in co-writing the screenplay.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 268
Last night while waiting in line at the Wal-Mart to get a money order, two different people crashed the line and were served before the rest of us who were obeying the rules and standing in the marked, roped-off queue. Along with the others who had been passed by, I stood there, awaiting the moment when my turn at the counter actually arrived. So, today's question: "What have been your experiences in this area? Would you have said something?" Yesterday's situation was complicated by the fact that the people at the counter saw what was going on and did not tell the "gate crashers" that they were out of line. Put SERVICE in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 263 (TICKETS)
Last week I asked what you might call a follow-up question to one that had been asked in various forms before. It was asked in an attempt to see if you are any less jittery about air travel as the events of 9/11 fade into the past. Here are some of the replies: A surprising number of people who responded noted that they still will not get on a plane. Djdowling says that "my sister went on a mini-vacation to Florida and I had the chance to go with her for only $266 roundtrip, but I begged off." Stacey K, in Washington, D.C. -- by the way, Stacey, I can't tell you how much I miss D.C. -- notes that "if God had wanted me to fly, He would have given me wings!" (Or, as the old comedy line used to say: "If God had intended for me to fly, He would have given me tickets.") Amanda is adamant and won't get on a plane even if someone gives her a ticket. Amanda, I just thought of a great advertising gimmick for Southwest. You live in Texas. Southwest is a major carrier there. They ought to feature you in a TV ad as the person who won't fly even after they give you a ticket ... but, of course, you'd have to change your mind at the last minute. Bev says that even though many people have canceled for a planned trip to Europe, at least 18 are still going. Romayne is among those who didn't like to fly even before 9/11. On the plus side, many people, including Sheli, feel that flying remains the "fastest and safest way to travel." Thanks for the ton of replies. TOMORROW: We'll look at your personal feelings about the "Peanuts" comic dynasty. Friday I'll solve the mystery about the three letters at the end of this column. GBA.