RONALD REAGAN FADING INTO THE FOG
Former President Ronald Reagan is now nearly totally into the terrible fog of Alzheimer's. Anyone who has had a loved one or friend whose Alzheimer's has progressed to that stage can understand what Nancy Reagan is going through. In a rare interview with '60 Minutes' and Mike Wallace that aired Wednesday night, Mrs. Reagan talked about her husband's deteriorating condition and the fact that his ailment is slowing bringing the family back together. The former first lady confides to Wallace that she is lonely, expressing the plight of many "caregivers" in their dealings with Alzheimer's patients. Mrs. Reagan's estranged daughter Patti Davis has now returned to the fold because of her stepfather's condition. Mrs. Reagan additionally notes that people who have an Alzheimer's patient in their family should be careful what you say around them for, occasionally, they have a moment of understanding.
YOUNG EARNHARDT RACES WITH INJURY
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is obviously trying to keep alive the traditions on the track forged by his late father. But, according to USA Today, he is doing so while "injured." The publication says that the younger Earnhardt now admits that he has been driving in recent weeks while suffering the after effects of a violent crash last April. He says that he received a concussion during a wreck at the California Speedway and has "felt loopy" from time to time ever since. He says that the lingering problems created by the concussion have contributed to his poor performance in the races since. He noted that he kept the condition a secret until he started feeling better and started doing better on the race track. Earnhardt looked up fellow racer Dale Jarrett for some sage advice. Jarrett had survived a similar hard crash at the Kansas Speedway last fall. That driver told the publication that he thinks that Earnhardt feels he has an "obligation" to race, not only because of the tradition in his family, but the fact that so many people are backing him ... morally and financially.
ACTRESS ROBERTS: DON'T COUNT OUT SENIORS
Veteran actress Doris Roberts is no "spring chicken." But in spite of the fact that she has passed "that certain age," she continues to be a staple on TV sitcoms, recently winning an Emmy for her work on "Everybody Loves Raymond." The 73-year-old perky native of St. Louis was one of the early actresses in live television (going back to 1948), has been a frequent star on the medium ever since and has appeared in over 60 movies. And she's dazzling a new generation of viewers. Now, according to columnist Liz Smith, she is dazzling them on Capitol Hill. Roberts went to Washington this week, Emmy award in hand, to tell members of the U.S. Senate of her disappointment over the way Hollywood overlooks older people in movies and TV shows ... or treats them as doddering stereotypes. She told senators that when a person gets to be 40 they are suddenly taken out of the spotlight. At one point she reminded the members of Congress that if they were Hollywood actors, they would likely be out of work.
YOUNGER BUSH AND WIFE IN COURT
The marriage of Neil Bush (the president's younger brother) and wife Sharon is apparently on the rocks. The couple is headed for divorce court. The New York Post is reporting that there are several factors that have contributed to the split. The publication's Cindy Adams says that there is a "third party" involved in the breakup and that the person is a woman, living in Texas, who has known Mr. Bush for several years. The Bushes have apparently sought marital counseling in the past. Adams says that she has learned that Sharon Bush is "devastated" by the turn of events. Mrs. Bush has left the couple's once-happy home and says there is little chance of a reconciliation. She also tells the reporter that she's had many happy days as part of the Bush family and talked fondly of a visit to the White House Children's Garden -- started by Lady Bird Johnson -- when the first Mr. Bush was president.
WRITER ASSIGNED TO PEN 'GLADIATOR 2'
Look for a sequel to the highly successful Russell Crowe vehicle "Gladiator" to get into production soon. DreamWorks and Universal are, according to the Hollywood Reporter, going ahead with plans for "Gladiator 2." Popular writer John Logan has been tapped to pen the script for the ambitious project. The original movie got a dozen Oscar nominations and copped five of the statuettes, including the best picture award. By the way, Logan is no stranger to the franchise, he was part of the original writing team for the first film. The scenario for "Gladiator 2" will see the action take place 15 years after the first movie plot. Logan's previous efforts -- in addition to the first "Gladiator" project -- include "The Time Machine," "The Last Samurai," and "Any Given Sunday."
LONGVIEW, TEXAS ... THE NEW 'VEGAS?'
If you walk the streets of Longview, Texas, this coming weekend you might think you've been transplanted to Las Vegas. Among those who will be attending country singer Neil McCoy's annual East Texas Angel Network fundraiser in that city will be Wayne Newton ("Mr. Las Vegas") and entertainer Bo Derek. McCoy hails for Longview and has staged numerous fundraisers in his hometown, always bringing in top stars from various musical and entertainment genres to help raise case for a variety of projects. Others who will appear are Charley Pride, Leslie Satcher and Jack Hanna, host of the TV series "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures." The foundation that is hosting this year's telethon was set up by McCoy and his wife Melinda in 1995. Its goal is to help kids with life-threatening diseases. By the way, if you think that the combination of the "rural" McCoy and the "urban" Newton and Derek is an odd one, you may need to know that they met on a USO tour last year and became fast friends.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 424
Here's today's survey question: "How forgetful are you becoming?" Got any interesting "I forgot" stories? Put MEMORY in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 416 (FAIR)
Last week we asked about your experiences of going to fairs and festivals. From a random sampling of the incoming e-mail box, here are some replies: Dale B (Dale, thanks for joining the survey) says he has a "fond (memory of a) childhood experience traveling 60 miles to the Missouri State Fair in wagons pulled by horses -- a two-day trip each way. A large tent was rented for five families. From the campground we had to cross the racetrack to the main fairgrounds. We saw a lot of horse races that week." Terry remembers that as a child she went to the fair with her grandparents. Her grandmother won ribbons for her canned vegetables. She canned whole green beans, which were all standing up vertically, in glass jars. She also canned corn, also standing, 2-3 ears per jar. Additionally, she says that whenever she thinks of going to the fair she can hear the Doris Day song "Que Sera, Sera." Well, Terry, whatever will be, will be. Pat W. remembers going to the Washington County Fair in Abingdon, Va., as a child. It used to be called the Tobacco Festival. She loved to hear the music and see the contests for food and livestock. Me? I remember an elderly woman who ran the Red Cross first aid tent when I was in junior high school. She would walk very slowly from the tent over to a stand that sold homemade ice cream. She would then order 10 scoops because all but about three would melt during her slow trip back to the tent. TOMORROW: Looking at lemons. GBA