CELINE DION ANNOUNCES MEGA-SHOW DETAILS
For some time there has been a question as to just what kind of show mega-star Celine Dion could mount that would keep Las Vegas audiences buying tickets during her planned three-year commitment there. Now the details have been released. United Press International has learned that the show, "A New Day," will be a state-of-the-art, multi-media affair -- featuring not only a live orchestra and Dion's incredible voice, but all the electronic and modern-day pyrotechnic gimmicks that can be crammed into a stage show. Producers call the show a combination of "concert, dance, theater and multimedia in which the audience will be transported into a virtual world." The ambitious project will be staged at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, with the curtain set to rise on March 25 of next year. It would appear that the show will attempt to at least equal some of the fascinating presentations for which Las Vegas is famous. With the number of incredible magic shows, bang-and-boom theatrical presentations and circus acts that are the staple in the gaming mecca, Dion's producers are apparently going to take the best from around the city and combine them into a complicated showcase for the world's best-selling female artist. Tickets are already on sale at celinedion.com on the Internet. Prices range from $87.50 to $200 per ticket, with an eight-ticket maximum per buyer for opening day. The show is slated to run only 90 minutes with no intermission.
BONDS MAKES DRAMATIC SERIES DEBUT
It was not the first time that a major league baseball player had hit a home in his first time in a World Series. But Barry Bond's "hello" to the Fall Classic was surprisingly dramatic. Bonds, considered to be one of the best players in the game, had to wait for 17 years to finally get to bat in a Series. In Anaheim, over the weekend, he got his chance. Stepping up to the plate for the first time in the post-season series, Bonds thwacked a pitch (at 2-and-1) nearly 420 feet. According to ESPN, it finally ended up in an outfield tunnel. Even players on the opposing team stopped for a moment. It was, for many, a breath-taking experience ... a magic moment for Bonds, his family, his fans and many who are convinced that he just keeps getting better and better with age.
LIFE AFTER 'FRIENDS' FOR LEBLANC?
Can Matt LeBlanc become a solo TV star in a spin-off of "Friends?" That's what producers are wondering. Now, in an interview with "Extra," LeBlanc says he is thinking about a spin-off series as Joe Tribbianni -- his character on "Friends" -- in a show that would focus on that single role. At 35, LeBlanc has to make some important career decisions. When "Friends" ends -- after its ninth season -- he can nearly write his own ticket. Still rather young, by Hollywood standards, but on the cusp of aging, he retains his boyish good looks and a huge audience following from the successful sitcom. He recently told reporters that his main goal is to find a job that will allow him to have some kind of normal homelife ... supper at home, time with family and friends and time to just enjoy his car.
ALAN JACKSON NIXES SONG REQUEST
When a political candidate in Oklahoma wanted to use Alan Jackson's highly jingoistic and immensely popular 9/11-themed song "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?" as background for a TV ad, the country superstar said "No!" The reason, according to country.com, is that the candidate, running for the governor's chair in Oklahoma, had wanted to use the song as part of a political spot that asked the question: "Where was my opponent on 9/11/01?" The candidate who wanted to use the ad, independent Gary Richardson, had planned to use the spot as a slam to his GOP rival Steve Largent. Neither Jackson nor Arista Records say they will permit use of the song. The story is reminiscent of another used decades ago in the Midwest, but not for a damning cause. Former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh used Broadway musical song "Hey Look Me Over," but with different words, in two consecutive successful bids for the Senate. It was so catchy that a Kentucky candidate used it the next year. Then, the opposition party bought the rights to the song to keep it from being used again.
SEARCH FOR NEW IDOLS BEGINS
The latest crop of candidates for the next season of "American Idol" will be strutting its stuff this week in Detroit. Producers of the show tell People magazine that Motor City will play host to the initial auditions. The first season of the show, which was eventually won by a Texas cocktail waitress (Kelly Clarkson), garnered a huge audience. It's actually the American version of a British concept. And, as we reported last week, a Canadian network says it wants to do the same north of the border. There are reports that Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will be returning as judges for the Fox series. A fourth judge may be added to "make things more interesting." Season two will have a tough time following in the footsteps of the initial season.
ANITA BAKER EMERGING FROM HIATUS
Few singers have demonstrated their vocal virtuosity as well as Anita Baker. And few -- even going as far back as Mable Mercer and as far forward as Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman -- have managed to become such a big star with a style that sounds as if they don't know what gear they're in. Over the years Anita Baker has made a living singing in, around, under, over, near and ON pitch in a manner that would make Cleo Laine swoon. But, in spite of her very idiosyncratic method of crooning, she rose to the top of the cross-over music heap with incredible songs, first displayed on "Giving You the Best That I've Got," in 1988. Then something happened. After a hectic schedule of more recordings and myriad public appearances, she dropped out of sight. It's been seven years since the multi-award-winning Baker has trod the boards. Now, thankfully, according to columnist Liz Smith, she's about to return to the public eye. Baker has been booked into the Westbury Music Fair just before Christmas. Fans could not be happier. Few artists have managed to mix R&B, the blues, soul, gospel and adult contemporary hits as well as Baker. She's a native of Toledo and is now in her mid 40s, though doesn't look it. Welcome back, Anita.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 441
Here's a question for coffee drinkers: "How do you like your coffee? ... black, with cream, with cream and sugar, some other way?" Put COFFEE in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 436 (POLICE)
Last week we asked you about positive encounters with law enforcement. From a very random dip into the e-mail inbox, here are some of your replies: It would appear that most everyone seems to deal with the police nowadays in a rather negative manner. Only a few noted anything positive. SJ was two who say they work with a local police auxiliary unit. Both help out at Christmas. KHJKman says he worked for a radio station as a news director and had to work closely with all police jurisdictions in doing his job. TOMORROW: Winning the big prize. GBA