CHER TO PLAY 'GOD' ON SITCOM
Cher will play the role of God when she appears in an upcoming episode of "Will and Grace." According to Extra magazine, Cher will make a second guest appearance on the hit comedy. Producers of the show tell the entertainment magazine that the role was one "Cher was born to play." In the episode she appears to Jack in a vision. There are reports that it took some convincing for Cher to accept the acting assignment. The episode is set to air on May 16. Cher's previous appearance on the popular comedy was last November.
FINNEY PLAYS CHURCHILL TO THE HILT
HBO has come up with another major film success. Its premiere of "The Gathering Storm" played to very good reviews. Columnist Liz Smith noted last week that those who had seen advance screenings loved it. Now that it has been seen by the full cable audience, reviews have been just as glowing. In the movie, actor Albert Finney plays Sir Winston and Vanessa Redgrave appears as Clementine Churchill. The cigar-chomping, rotund British prime minister was a complicated man. His father was English; his mother was American. His superb style and his ability to "mobilize the language and make it fight" held England together during the darkest and most demoralizing days of World War II. His chemistry with President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it possible for the American president to circumvent neutrality laws and enact the Lend-Lease policy that brought the United Kingdom much needed material.
RAP WORLD MOURNS LOSS OF LOPES
Funeral arrangements have been announced for Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, the TLC rapper who died last week in a car crash in Honduras. TLC manager Bill Diggins said Monday that services are to be held at 11:00 a.m. EDT Thursday at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in Atlanta. No TV or still cameras will be permitted inside the church. Family members and friends have been invited to attend a private "visiting" in Atlanta on Wednesday evening. In the statement, Diggins said that Lopes' mother Wanda Lopes "and her entire family wish to express their heartfelt thanks to the thousands of fans that have sent messages of condolences to them at this tragic time." During her meteoric career, Lisa Lopes was tagged as "the crazy one" in TLC. She was often outspoken and manic. Lopes was also a daytime host of a popular show on MTV. Never out of the spotlight, she pleaded guilty to arson in 1994 in connection with the torching of an expensive Atlanta home once owned by NFL player, Andre Rison, her boyfriend at the time.
KENNY CHESNEY UPDATE
It wasn't that long ago that few, outside of his circle of friends, knew who aspiring young country singer Kenny Chesney was. Now the Lutrell, Tenn., native is a household word in country music. And, according to CMT, he's about to embark on his first major tour in which he will be the No. 1 act, and not the warm-up. It's been three years since he's released a major album. His new "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" album is soaring to the top of the charts. He apparently seems to have settled down, using the past three years to get a lot of rebellion out of his system. He tells the cable channel that at 34 he "still has a lot of partying left" in him, but his newest CD contains some serious stuff as well. Over the weekend CMT aired a major Chesney concert and turned its music format into KCMT, Kenny Chesney Music Television. He also appeared on the Grand Old Opry Saturday night.
STARS GATHER FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH
Many of the best-known women in the entertainment world are in Washington this week to promote women's health. Among them is Trisha Yearwood. She's scheduled to perform and to speak Monday night at the annual gala sponsored by the Society for Women's Health Research. She is expected to speak about the importance of research in finding cures and treatments for many medical problems that hit women in higher numbers than men or are only women's problems. Also appearing at the gala: actress Cheryl Ladd, author Gail Sheehy and three-time Olympic gold medallist Gail Devers.
SILVERMAN SENSATIONAL AT 70
Violin virtuoso Joseph Silverman is still going strong at 70. He's not only in the midst of a series of "birthday concerts," he's released a compilation of Bach. His publicist tells UPI that Silverman's latest CD is a huge collection of all of Bach's music for solo violin. It's a two-CD set, released on Image Records. The recordings were made the Hevreh of Southern Berkshire in Great Barrington, Mass., during a two-week period. The works for solo violin were first published by the great composer in 1720 and remain many violinists' favorites, some because of their intricate complexity. By the way, there's a good reason why Silverman has such an affinity for Bach. They share the same birthday in late March.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTON NO. 321
The other day, during one of my rare sessions of watching commercial television, I saw the same ad run over and over again. It began to drive me nuts. So, in light of that, today's question: "Is there any TV or radio commercial you'd like to eliminate from the airwaves?" Put COMMERCIAL in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 316 (HDTV)
Last week we asked your feelings about the new, super-sharp high-definition TV sets. Very few of those responding had ever seen HDTV. A few were not sure what it is. As a refresher, remember that when TV was developed, in the first third of the last century, electronic devices were made up of tubes, not transistors. Tubes "think" very slowly compared to solid-state devices. So engineers were limited in just how clear they could make the TV picture because of limitations in the amount of information that could be processed and displayed. Our system uses 525 lines, some of which are not seen -- they are at the top and contain information such as SAP and captioning. We get 30 pictures a second. Each picture is scanned (painted) in two passes, first the odd-numbered lines then the even. So we have 60 frames but only 30 fields. Whew! With the invention of the integrated circuit TV can think quicker, more bits and pieces can be shown. HDTV paints a TV picture with many, many more pieces of picture, hence it is as clear as the cover of Time magazine. So, pulled at random, some replies to our question: Milissa sees the current price of receivers ($3,000, in some cases) out of the reach of most people. That was a common answer among those who have seen HDTV in store displays. She says it's a "ridiculous luxury" right now. IMTU agrees with me that the demonstrations can be pretty dramatic and, as I mentioned, it is as clear as looking through a window at what you're viewing. Finally, Cindy H worries that they are developing technology right now that will make HDTVs obsolete in a few years. Maybe it is just what we call a "transitional" technology. TOMORROW: Your thoughts on speech making. GBA.