After too long a hiatus from touring, during which time she was trashed in the tabloids, country queen Dolly Parton is not only back on the boards, but has some great plans for the future. Parton, whose amusement park, Dollywood, in Tennessee is also a big hit, has announced that she will make her first tour of England and Ireland since the early 1980s. According to country.com, the diminutive singer-songwriter will play the venues in October, belting out songs from her new CD "Halos & Horns," as well as many of her early hits. She will be the entire show, using no "warm-up" act before her first number. The series, to be called "An Evening with Dolly Parton," will, according to CMT, visit Glasgow, London, Manchester and Dublin. She should be back in the United States by the first of November.
SOPHIA LOREN'S LATEST TO DEBUT IN CANADA
The latest venture onto the silver screen by ageless actress Sophia Loren is, according to the New York Post, a "keep it in the family" production. The driving force behind the film is her son, Edwardo Ponti. And, in spite of the "familiar" nature of director and star, the title of the movie is "Between Strangers." Also in the cast, in supporting roles, are Gerard Depardieu, Mira Sorvino and Malcolm McDowell. The story takes place in Toronto -- Canada's version of Los Angeles. Loren plays an "emotionally challenged woman." The film is due to debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
A THRILLING STAGE WIN FOR ARMSTRONG
It's almost painful to watch the cyclists in their multi-day trek called the Tour de France. Again America's Lance Armstrong has overcome adversity, thirst and some of the most rugged roads in Europe to capture the 12th section of the event. That means he's in a good position to take the coveted title for the fourth time. This time around he had put enough space between himself and the No. 2 biker to be able to coast the final 100 yards. According to published reports, one reason he was able to do so well on the final days, in very hilly terrain, is that he lives just miles away from that part of the course and is able to work on hill climbing year 'round. In case you are not aware of the total scope of the race, the section that Armstrong just finished is more than 120 miles. Pick a city that distance from where you live and see if you'd like to cycle it, especially if the road is hilly, at full-tilt on a ten-speed. And the race isn't over yet.
MCENROE TOUTING LATEST BOOK
The tennis pro whose tantrums became the stuff of legend, is back on the courts, this time for charity and to hawk his new autobiography. Columnist Neal Travis reports that John McEnroe is playing at Amagansett this week, in his younger brother's team, the N.Y. Hamptons, in the World Team Tennis Tournament. Travis notes that between matches, instead of madly flinging tennis rackets hither and yon, he's likely to be flinging ink pens as he signs his autobiography "You Cannot be Serious." The matches are expected to be attended by some pretty recognizable faces. Joy Behar, of "The View," is scheduled to be there, along with Susan Lucci (the soap star who went un-honored for all those years to the point it became the expected thing), Howard Stern, Marci Klein and the driving force behind "Saturday Night Live," Lorne Michaels.
WORLEY HITS THE CHARTS FOR THE FIRST TIME
Rising country star Darryl Worley has something to cheer about. For the first time, one of his songs has hit the national charts. The title track from his new CD, "I Miss My Friend," is now in the rankings. Just this week, our country reporter Crystal Caviness shared her assessment of Worley and his rising career. She noted in part that people pay a lot of attention to the singer-songwriter. He's six-foot-six and has a commanding presence. But, according to Caviness, he also thinks that he can do better than the "cookie cutter" songs that are appearing on country radio today. He told a news conference that " ... the majority of what's playing on country radio today, I can write four to five of those a day. It's more important for me to write something that touches somebody. If I strike a chord with somebody about the way they feel, you don't forget that. I hope when they listen to this music, that everybody has their own favorite." His latest song, "I Miss My Friend," is about the sudden death of a woman he had been dating. She and her daughter were killed in a car accident. Worley says he still thinks about the incident and gets emotional when doing the song on stage. Look for his career to blossom ... quickly.
NARSAI IS A REALLY NICE GUY
If you ever see the name Narsai David in print, realize that he's one of the sweetest guys you'd ever want to meet. Narsai (pronounced NARR'-see) is one of the nation's best known experts on wine and food and his reports are heard several times a day, seven days a week, on the CBS all-news station in San Francisco, KCBS. A check of the station's Web site shows that his latest projects is the promotion of one of the country's great food festivals, the annual Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival. It's scheduled for the 3rd and 4th of next month in Monterey's historic downtown plaza. There's more information on the unique festival at mbsf.com on the Internet. Additionally, I wanted to mention Narsai in this column because I often only get around to talking about people after they are gone. Narsai deserves a pat on the back right now. He's not only a tireless crusader for all that is fine and good in American cuisine and a total backer of the California wine industry, but he spends a ton of time working for charities in the San Francisco area. I spent some time with him several Christmases ago while doing an hour-long show for the old UPI Radio Network, visiting the Salvation Army in the City by the Bay. There he was, ringing the bell at Union Square, using his considerable "star appeal" to get quarters and dollars for yet another good cause. Narsai, keep up the good work.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 375
In light of my remarks about San Francisco-based radio cooking and food expert Narsai David, here is today's question: "What TV or radio 'do it yourself' guru have you found to be the most helpful?" (This can be in the area of cooking, diet, car repair, home repair, painting ... doesn't matter). Put GURU in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org on the Internet.
THE LAST OF OUR CATCHING UP
Recently we asked if you listened to NPR very often and, if so, what shows you liked. Nearly everyone who replied noted that they had their local NPR station turned on a lot ... most for the classical music, but many for specific programs. A former UPI colleague Bill Clough (pronounced KLUFF'), now associated with South Texas Public Broadcasting in Corpus Christi, Texas, will enjoy the following comments: Debra D writes to say that she thinks NPR is "great." Even though she constantly has her own CDs playing, she goes to NPR now and then to see what her station has to offer. Melba says that Dave Ramsey is her favorite. PS is among those who are staunch supporters of "All Things Considered." That show got a ton of votes. Diane in Indianapolis says she loves "Car Talk." Diane, so do I. I just wish I lived near them to have them see why my car overheats. There were some negative comments. Respondent keke is among those who charge that NPR has a radical liberal bias and does not like tax monies funding it. Gagama says that she and her husband don't listen that often, but still send in contributions. By the way, my only criticism of NPR is that they use too many people with too much expensive equipment when doing shows. I used to do an hourly on-the-road broadcast for UPI Radio with just myself and less than $200 worth of equipment ... of course, according to one friend who worked for NPR, the show sounded as if I did it that way. NEXT: Back to the old once-a-day number system. Whew! GBA.