If you look up the phrase "quirky actor" in the dictionary, you'll likely see Johnny Depp's picture. (Of course, James Woods would be there also, along with Bruce Dern). Depp is most famous for such quirky flicks as "Ed Wood," "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Edward Scissorhands," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "Nick of Time." Now, according to published reports, he may be changing his image through a two-picture deal with Disney that would move his acting style into the world of the action-actor. Just as Ed Wood -- whom he portrayed in the biopic of the same name -- Depp has been the "golden boy" of independent filmmakers and projects. If the deal with Disney goes through, he would be working with mainstream director Jerry Bruckheimer ("Crimson Tide," "Days of Thunder," "Top Gun"). Depp, a native of Owensboro, Ky., turned 39 last week.
THE 'TEFLON DON' DIES OF CANCER
Because of his ability to keep legal actions from sticking to him and to avoid prosecution, organized crime boss John Gotti was given the nickname "The Teflon Don." According to MSNBC, he rose from abject poverty in Harlem to become the head of all Mafia operations in this country. Now comes word that Gotti has died in a federal prison in Missouri. A decade ago his exploits also netted him a prison sentence. The charges were murder and racketeering. It would be his last trip to a lockup. The first was when he was 17, for car theft and truck hijacking. His family reports that he had been in failing health for the last several years and, after surgery to clean his airway, was not able to talk. The quintessential Mafioso, a dapper dresser, a man who smirked at the law and with the help of lawyers often walked away from major indictments, slick as he may have been, the one thing he could not sidestep caught up with him this week ... death. John Gotti was 61.
NYC HEROES ON NEW POSTAGE STAMP
In the days following 9/11, I'm sure I was not the only one to call the postal service and suggest a stamp be printed (with extra postage) to help the survivors of the terror attacks. Now that idea has become a reality with the issuance of a new 45-cent stamp honoring the heroes of that horrible day. The stamp's artwork is drawn from a classic news photo of firefighters raising the flag at "ground zero" on 9/11. The new stamp was unveiled in ceremonies as close to the old World Trade Center site as you can get in Battery Park. The stamp is officially called "The Heroes of 2001." News photographer Tom Franklin's snapshot is featured in fine detail on the stamp, along with the word "heroes," "USA" and a vertically formatted "2001." The stamp, according to the U.S. Postal Service, is not marked with a denomination. The difference between 45 cents and the prevailing first-class rate will go to a fund to help government agencies help disaster survivors.
NEW YORK JEWS TO PROTECT 'HOMELAND'
When it comes to the concept of "homeland defense," the current American experts may be a group of Jewish families who live in Borough Park and the southern Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn. According to CBS News, citizens of those two areas have armed themselves with shotguns and are patrolling the streets. The reason, according to a rabbi reached by the news provider, is remarks made on "60 Minutes" by Abdul Rahman Yasin. Yasin told interviewer Lesley Stahl that the first attack on the World Trade Center (in 1993) was not his group's initial choice ... blowing up Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn was. Rabbi Yajove Lloyd says it makes sense to take precautions in the wake of the new revelation.
ARE IN-THEATER KORN CONCERTS THE NEW WAVE?
For as long as there have been movie theaters, media projects other than movies have been hosted by them. Over the decades, for example, cinema houses have shown special events, mainly boxing matches. Now the rock band Korn has become among the first to use theaters with the new video projection technology in order to broadcast a 90-minute live concert. The Hollywood Reporter says that group is using the innovative idea to hype its latest CD project, "Untouchables." The concert's actual venue is Manhattan. The virtual venues will be 44 screens in 39 cities, including the IMAX screen in the Los Angeles area. In addition, a half-hour film on the making of the CD will be presented. And, as you might imagine, the "Untouchable" CD will be available for sale in the lobby. The other really interesting aspect of the Korn concert is the way many in the media have been having a field day connecting Korn with theaters, such as the Reporter's headline: "Korn popping up ..."
THOMSON CD GOES GOLD FOR CYNDI
It took 10 months, but to rising country star Cyndi Thomson, that's OK. Her debut album, "My World," has now been certified gold, with a half-million copies shipped to store shelves. CMT is reporting that Thomson says she's incredibly excited about the achievement and "flattered that so many people would buy the album." Her first big single and video from the CD, "What I Really Meant to Say," went to the No. 1 spot on the country charts shortly after its release. After her initial success, she was tapped by both Alan Jackson and Trisha Yearwood to open their respective shows at many venues. By the way, eight of the 11 songs on "My World" were co-written by Thomson. Additionally, the Capitol Records artist is nominated for two Flameworthy Video Music Awards this year, breakthrough video and hottest video of the year. For more information on the photogenic Thomson, check out cyndithomson.com on the Internet.
A SPECIAL NOTE: During last week I inadvertently gave the wrong new e-mail address. I left an "s" off the end of "comments." So, it's firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 351
When we started asking survey questions, some of the first questions we asked were in the vein of "Whom would you like to have supper with?" or "Whom would you like to sit next to on a cross-country bus trip?" Here's a cousin to those questions: "If you could have a nice quiet supper with your all-time hero (living or dead), who would that be?" Put HERO in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 346 (MESS)
Last week we asked if you thought things were getting messier (with apologies to the NHL star). The question was inspired by the trash I find while walking through my apartment complex's parking lot. Here is a random sampling of your replies: DJD tells us that things are definitely getting messier. She says that when her kids play sports she often works in the concession stand and can't believe the stuff people throw on the ground ... without a second thought. And, to make matter worse, there are lots of garbage cans around. CH always finds empty beer cans, pop cans and a grocery cart in her yard and nearby bushes. Since her family lives in a church parsonage it's their job to keep it clean. Deb moved from the Southwest to her current home. She says that things were always cleaner at the old location in Texas. Ironically she now lives in New England, where I always assumed things are cleaner. Well, maybe the folks in New England have had a head start on throwing trash. TOMORROW: What three things would you grab when evacuating your house? GBA.