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Of Human Interest: News-lite

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International   |   June 3, 2002 at 4:00 AM   |   Comments

FIRE DOES NOT DAMPEN QUEEN'S JUBILEE

A fire at Buckingham Palace in London has not put a damper on the four-day Queen's Golden Jubilee, celebrating the 50-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, however officials were forced to evacuate the palace Sunday.

Scotland Yard told the BBC no one from the royal family was inside the palace at the time and that no injuries were reported. The fire broke out in the loft of the West Terrace, but was contained in a small area and was extinguished within an hour.

Flames could be seen coming out of the roof as the fire began to take hold but firefighters poured water through the roof. The water and smoke damage is being assessed.

The palace and the grounds were evacuated, including hundreds of artists, musicians and workers preparing for pop concert Monday. A massive music auditorium with stage and stands had been constructed in the palace garden and rehearsals were under way when the fire was spotted.

Nick Vaghan Barret, organizer of concert, says there is a "Dunkirk spirit" among the many musicians scheduled to perform for the queen and since the concert is not using the inside of the palace and just the gardens, the concert should go on as scheduled.

The queen was at Windsor Castle when the fire broke out and was not due to return to Buckingham Palace.

Monday, the Jubilee festivities begin with a nationwide peal of bells to herald the beginning of the "people's party," along with the playing of the Beatles hit "All You Need is Love" which will signal the launch of the Commonwealth music festival in Hyde Park and across the country.

The Party at the Palace pop concert takes place on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The queen is scheduled to leave the pop concert to light the national beacon at the Queen Victoria memorial in front of the palace -- it will be one of 1,700 beacons to be lighted across the United Kingdom and around the world.

Fireworks will be launched from the roof of the palace and courtyard. Pubs throughout London and across the country will legally stay open until 1 a.m.


SPACE SINGER

Lance Bass, of the boy band 'NSync, who says it's his lifelong dream to go to space, has jumped another hurdle toward that goal. At a news conference in Star City, Russia, the home of the Russian space program, Bass said he passed the preliminary physical tests from Russian doctors.

He said he hopes to have a deal in place with the Russians, in about two weeks, to be part of a mission to visit the International Space Station in October.

Bass says he has already begun learning Russian and will intensify his Russian speaking skills. He promised he would become "quasi-fluent in Russian" by fall.

He also says he would follow the example of the second space tourist, South African Internet executive Mark Shuttleworth, and do experiments while at the space station.

Shuttleworth used his time in space to perform research on AIDS.

Bass is "amazed" with the timing of the whole adventure because it won't interfere with the schedule of the five-member band. The group finished its latest concert tour several weeks ago and had planned to take the rest of the year off.

According to Bass, the rest of the band is supportive of his space odyssey.

The Russian space agency, Rosaviakosmos, says Bass has not completed the necessary legal documents for the mission. It has not revealed, nor has the consortium of businesses that is bankrolling Bass's flight, how much he will have to pay to become a space tourist.

Dennis Tito, the first space tourist and the creator of the Wiltshire 5000, paid $20 million for his flight. Shuttleworth also paid $20 million, which covers the entire cost of the manned space launch.


THE MARION BARRY STORY

Jamie Foxx will star as former Washington Mayor Marion Barry in an HBO biopic titled "Livin' for the City: The Marion Barry Story" that Leon Ichaso will direct, reports The Holywood Reporter. The project will begin shooting late summer or early fall in Baltimore and Washington.

Chris Rock, who riffed on Barry in his 1997 HBO standup special "Bring the Pain," is executive producer of the project along with Joan Fields and Tracey Kemble. Richard Wesley wrote the script for the biopic. HBO declined comment.

Barry served three terms as mayor of Washington until 1990, when he left office after being videotaped by the FBI seducing a woman and smoking crack cocaine at the Vista International Hotel.

The incident resulted in the end of his third marriage and a six-month sentence in federal prison. Barry staged a comeback when he was elected to his fourth term as mayor in 1995.

"Barry" would mark the second time Foxx has worked on a project based on a personality. Foxx starred as Bundini Brown in Columbia Pictures' biopic "Ali." After the completion of "Barry," Foxx will step into his third biopic, Crusader Entertainment's "Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story," where he will star as the legendary singer.

Foxx is currently shooting the RKO Pictures/Merv Griffin Entertainment crime thriller "Shade."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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