It took half a dozen tries, but intrepid American millionaire Steven Fossett has done what no person has ever done before ... circumnavigating the globe in a balloon, alone. His ground crew informed worldwide media Tuesday that Fossett had finished the journey that he had begun on June 19. Along the way the 58-year-old investment banker endured rough air and storms that nearly scuttled this latest attempt. At one point he was traveling at more than 200 mph, a scary feat in his fragile craft. This is not the first time a balloon flight around the world has been completed, but the first time it's been done solo. Fossett has also, during his years as an adventurer, participated in the Alaskan Iditarod race, driven at LeMans, competed in triathlon events. He even swam the English Channel and set several sailing records. Next he wants to fly a glider higher than anyone else ever has. Possibly, after he chalks up that achievement, he may be willing to turn off the Fossett for a while. Congratulations.
DIRT BAND AT IT AGAIN
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is coming back ... with a vengeance. Its latest release will be called "Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol III." The project is in the "sweetening" phase. The final CD will be on shelves sometime in October. Country Music Television is reporting that a plethora of country stars has contributed to the project; some are heavy hitters. Included in the band's latest album will be cooperative efforts with the likes of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Iris Dement, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill and several others. By the way, the band's first "Circle" album was released in 1972. A commemorative, 30th anniversary re-issue was recently released.
THE WHO RETURNS TO THE STAGE
Just days after the unexpected heart attack-caused death of The Who's bassist John Entwistle, the band was back Monday night, playing at the Hollywood Bowl. According to all-news station KNX, the remaining members of the band -- Peter Townshend and Roger Daltrey -- performed before a packed house. Daltrey told the audience that there was no way they could forget what happened and said they were dedicating their American tour to their late friend. Pino Palladino stepped in to try to fill Entwistle's shoes. Daltrey, Entwistle and Townshend along with Keith Moon were the founding fathers of the group. Moon died in the late '70s of a drug overdose.
'OCEAN'S ELEVEN' MOVES TO TURNER
The question of which TV network will be the first to show the star-studded remake of "Ocean's Eleven" has been decided. According to Time-Warner, Turner Broadcasting has gotten the rights to show the successful movie as part of a package deal. Also in the basket of films are "Swordfish," "Showtime," "A Walk to Remember" and "American Outlaws," along with several others. In a complicated deal, TNT and TBS will have first crack at showing the films, though the CBS Television Network would also get some opportunities for early airings. Then, after the initial run on TV (which will not be until 2004), WB and HBO will eventually get copies.
SPIDER-MAN BEING RIPPED OFF IN ENGLAND
Spider-Man may be one of the most popular movies in recent months, but in the United Kingdom a lot of people are apparently getting to see the film without paying the freight. The Hollywood Reporter says that the Columbia TriStar hit has become the most pirated film this year. Illegal copies of the movie, in a variety of formats -- from VHS to DVD -- have been showing up all over the United Kingdom in recent months. Most of the copies have been hawked from car trunks in parking lots or from booths at flea markets. The copies were apparently made just hours after the movie was initially screened in the United States. Investigators say the copy is a good one, though obviously done by someone who aimed a video camera at a projection screen. The sound quality is amazingly good for that type of stolen copy.
HANK WILLIAMS' MUSIC CHANGES HANDS
During the Second World War an ambitious entrepreneur named Roy Acuff teamed with songwriter Fred Rose to found Acuff-Rose Music Publishing. Among the company's first "stars" was the late Hank Williams Sr. For decades the company took into its stable some of the hottest acts in Nashville and some of that city's most-respected songwriters. After the death of Acuff the company's catalog was absorbed by Gaylord Entertainment. Now, according to country.com, the catalog is again changing hands, this time to Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Over the years the Acuff-Rose music dynasty added the rest of Williams' original hits -- including "Your Cheatin' Heart" -- to the catalog. Other music evergreens, such as "Tennessee Waltz," were also under the company's copyrights. Even Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" was owned by the company. The selling price for the song rights is said to be in excess of $157 million -- but that also includes some downtown Nashville property.
SPECIAL NOTE: The UPI Daily Survey will return next week. GBA.