With the flap surrounding the disposition of the body of the late slugger Ted Williams making news, a group of handwriting experts has jumped into fray. They are trying to authenticate Williams' signature on what is considered to be his final will, made out in the fall of 2000. Collectors Universe Inc., of Santa Ana, Calif., says its experts have been enlisted by several in the media to play Sherlock Holmes in the matter. Their conclusion, from viewing scans of the signature, is that it is authentic. But the group tells United Press International that many would like to have access to the document itself, not just to a copy. There also remains a question as to whether other statements made on the document (relating to what should happen to his body after his death) were made at the same time as the signature. The experts say they want to know if it's possible that Williams signed a blank piece of paper, to which other writing was added later. Meanwhile, they say that the signature presented to them is consistent with the autographs done by the legendary player with which they are familiar.
AND GOD SAID: 'DO IT YOURSELF'
An upcoming Hollywood movie has an interesting plot twist. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film -- to be called "Bruce Almighty," described as a "spiritual comedy" -- will star Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston. The scenario works like this: Carrey's character is fed up with life and finally he rages against God. In the form of actor Morgan Freeman, the Almighty appears to Carrey, suggesting that if he thinks he can do a better job than his creator, then he should try it. God then invests Carrey with divine powers and tells him: "Get to work." Should be fun. It's being done at Universal. Meanwhile, according to the Reporter, Aniston has been getting positive reviews for "The Good Girl," following an Emmy nomination for her part in "Friends."
FANNIE FLAGG IS AT IT AGAIN
What a funny woman is Fannie Flagg. Some years ago she showed up at the UPI Radio Network studios in Los Angeles to be interviewed by our Pat Nason. I had a chance to spend some time with Flagg and reminded her about her riotously funny imitation of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson and President Lyndon Johnson's push for highway beautification. Imitating the first lady's east Texas accent, she entreated everyone to "plant a tree, a boooosh or a shruuuub. Remember, a good word for Linnn-dinnnn is a good word for the Byrds." Now, after myriad successes on TV, radio, the stage and as an author ("Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," which she turned into an award-winning movie), she has a new book out. According to columnist Liz Smith, "Standing in the Rainbow" is just as delicious as her previous bestseller. It takes readers into the heart of the Midwest and follows a set of friends through twists and turns in their lives from just after World War II until modern times. It should be good reading. By the way, although I just spent a few minutes with Fannie Flagg on that single occasion, I can safely say she is one of the most endearing people I've ever met.
ALICE COOPER MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
When flamboyant rocker Alice Cooper went on tour with his "Dragontown" project last fall, few people noticed. The timing of his tour was horrible. It started just after the 9/11 attacks. Now his publicist tells United Press International that Cooper is back on the road again, combining much of his original tour with new material. He is also releasing a new set of two CDs. The compilation contains the songs from the tour with new material, including "Can't Sleep, Clowns'll Eat Me," as well as several tracks from live performances. Even his publicist admits that his latest work continues what can only be described as a litany of "disturbing storytelling" over the years. Following the current tour -- officially named "Descent into Dragontown" -- just after Halloween (when else?), he will go on tour in Europe for the remainder of the year.
THESE GUYS SHOULD STAR IN 'NON-FRIENDS'
It's funny how sometimes the most unlikely people get together for projects. In the case of Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth, it would seem a natural that they do a two-man show. After all, they were both part of Van Halen at one time. Roth was fired from the group in 1985, Hagar in 1996. But the glue that binds them together runs thin after that. According to the New York Post, the two have been touring the country in a raucous revue with a very complicated name ... "Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth Tour 2002: Song for Song, the Heavyweight Champs of Rock and Roll." (My sympathy to the people who have to put that on a marquee.) It would seem that Hagar has few good words for his partner, spending much of his time trashing the singer. He tells the publication that Roth is "a flake, playing off (Hagar's) reputation." Hagar has also been overheard chiding Roth for his thinning hair and inability to carry a tune as he gets older. "He even spray paints his hair," Hagar quipped.
PHIL VASSAR LATEST TO HONOR JENNINGS
Following the death of music rebel Waylon Jennings this year, a gaggle of stars -- country and cross-over -- has recorded tribute CDs to the late artist. The latest to do so is Phil Vassar. He has just recorded the mega-hit "Cold Hearted Woman," Jennings' famous duet with Willie Nelson. Vassar chose Rob Thomas to do the Nelson part. In a recent interview on "Country Countdown USA," Vassar told interviewer Lon Helton how much he loved Jennings' work and how much of a fan of his music he is. Additionally, Vassar is planning a major concert on Sept. 20 in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va., during which the city will officially name a street in Jennings' honor.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 284
A couple of weeks ago, after getting my first summertime electric bill here in Las Vegas, I did a consumer report for United Press International on "swamp coolers," more correctly "evaporative coolers." This week I bought one. Except for the fact that I have to keep filling it with water, I love it. So, today's question: "What are your feelings about air conditioning? Do you run it full-tilt? Prefer fans?" Put AC in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 379 (FOOD)
Last week I repeated a question asked a year ago about what single fast-food restaurant you would vote for were you told that your city could only have one franchise. From a dip into the e-mailbox, here are the results: Again Wendy's scored the No. 1 position, getting more than 45 percent of the votes. The late Dave Thomas would smile. None of those checked picked McDonald's. Burger King got about 10 percent of the votes. Surprisingly, a few Johnnies-come-lately got votes, including Baja Fresh. Others getting votes were Sonic, In-N-Out Burger, Fat Burger. Arby's scored well as did Subway. TOMORROW: Open forum. GBA.