TEARFUL SMITH ECLIPSES PAYTON'S RECORD
For weeks there's been a huge billboard outside of Texas Stadium in the Dallas suburbs. The J.C. Penny company had it built to chronicle the running exploits of Emmitt Smith in his quest to become the "running-est" player in NFL history. As Smith scored yardage, the "Emmitt-O-Meter" showed a 16-foot-tall likeness of the player, slowly being moved left-to-right across the billboard. On Sunday Penny's changed the billboard. Now it's a congratulatory note for a man who finally did it and now holds the record for most yards gained in a career. According to NFL.com, Smith's record-setting gain came on a second-and-seven situation from the 30-yard line. At that point he needed only 10 yards to move into first place and beat Payton's record. Smith did it. The crowd went wild. At ceremonies later Smith burst into tears after seeing a taped special congratulatory message from the late Payton's wife and watching a banner in his honor unfurled in the rafters of the stadium. Payton (who died at age 45 of a rare liver disease) held the record for 18 years. Now each time Smith runs a yard and increases his total -- which is now at 16,743 -- he sets another record. Sadly, the Cowboys lost the game, but Smith was the big winner, nonetheless.
SUSAN SARANDON CRUSADES AGAINST WAR
Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon has become the latest high-profile star who will likely be trashed by conservative radio talk-hosts for "dabbling in an area she knows nothing about." But don't try to use that argument on Sarandon. The outspoken advocate for a ton of causes says that simply being human and a parent is enough justification for calling to an end to plans to attack Iraq. She was one of several dozen speakers at a weekend rally in Washington that attracted an estimated 100,000 people. According to People magazine, the march started on the west end of the mall at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, then circled the White House and returned to its starting point. Sarandon, now 58, capped her remarks by shouting: "I am here as a mother because I am afraid for my children ... I'm afraid for Iraqi children."
TWAIN CREATES THE ULTIMATE 'CROSSOVER'
When a country star scores a big hit on both the country and pop charts, he or she is immediately called a "cross-over" artist. The same thing happens, though not as often, when a pop song is embraced by a country audience. Now Shania Twain thinks she's found a way to guarantee that her latest songs will play well on both charts. She decided that her new project -- which is named "Up!" -- would be produced in two different ways, with separate mixes for both types of radio stations. As far as anyone can remember, it's the first time that an artist has created two entirely different "sounds" for the same album. It's a far cry from the efforts of many American singers over the years who have produced foreign language versions of their top hits. Set for a release on Mercury Records just before Thanksgiving, the company says that "Up!" will not be offered as two separate albums, but a double-album set to be priced at about $20. By the way, you may remember that Twain dabbled in the separate-mix concept in 1997 when she re-did her immensely popular "Come On Over" single for international dance clubs.
FOR ANGELS FANS IT'S ABOUT TIME
It was a first for the Anaheim Angels Major League Baseball franchise, a World Series Victory. And the people in Orange County (the entire Los Angeles area, for that matter) could not have been more thrilled. Thousands poured into the streets to celebrate the team's win over upstate rivals, the San Francisco Giants. The Halos won the seventh and deciding game by a 4-1 margin to cap a series that brought a lot of zing back into baseball. Meanwhile, there was no joy in "Fog-ville," as the Giants saw their hopes dashed repeatedly. By the way, when people think of Anaheim, Calif., they think of Disneyland, the Crystal Cathedral and, of course --- particularly after Sunday night -- World Series champions. It's ironic that the modern-day image of the city, the dominant area of Orange County -- about 45 minutes southeast of Los Angeles -- is one of sports, entertainment and religion. If you go back to the earliest days of the region, when a large tract of land owned by a man named Irvine (a city in Orange County still bears his name) was purchased by incoming German immigrants, you will see that "fun, fitness and fellowship" has been the hallmark of Anaheim since "day one." Bringing their strong religious convictions, their desire to have a good time and their feelings about physical well-being with them, one of the first things they constructed -- after a church and an eatery -- was a turnverein (TURN-vuh-rhine), a sports center. Anaheim's sports facilities have come a long way since that first spa and today's Big Ed stadium. By the way, the name Anaheim is a shortened and made-for-English form of the German phrase "My Santa Ana (River) Home," with the "Ana Home" part eventually becoming Ana-heim, then Anaheim.
'TWAS EMMYLOU WHO SAVED THE RYMAN
You would think that as fabled in legend as is the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville that there would be no question that it would be preserved forever. One need only get out his or her videotape of "Coal Miner's Daughter" and watch the scene where Loretta Lynn is awakened by her husband Doolittle, to be shown that the car in which they were riding to Nashville has arrived and it's parked beside the Ryman. The vast majority of country stars of past decades got their start in that building, appearing on the Grand Ole Opry, before the broadcast was moved to new digs on the edge of the city. But, according to CMT, the venerable old building was nearly razed when the Opry moved. However cooler heads thought better. Since the Ryman was in a neighborhood that was becoming increasingly seedy, most thought that the battle to "save downtown Nashville" should be abandoned ... the Ryman and the neighborhood be leveled, the winos scared away and urban renewal be initiated. But it was Emmylou Harris who came to the rescue. Actually she started a wave of re-appreciation for the building when she demanded that the Ryman be re-opened, at least long enough for her to record an album there. Other projects followed, as more and more country artists realized that the building contained the original heart of country music. Now it's been saved, refurbished and re-opened. It's played host to music as well as dramatic performances and remains a downtown tourist draw. And right now it's playing host to the Opry again, while renovations are taking place at "Opryland." There's no question that the Ryman is here to stay, thanks in large part to singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris. Isn't it about time a special preservation award be given out yearly with her name on it?
IN TRIBUTE TO RICHARD HARRIS
When this column "went to press" last there was just time to note the death of actor-singer Richard Harris. Now there's an opportunity to say more. He was a complex and wonderful actor, steeped in the great British tradition of understatement, grace and poise. Intensely masculine, but able to emote in the most authentic sort of way, he was able to bare his soul when necessary. The Irish-born Harris first came to international attention when he portrayed a hot-blooded rugby player in "This Sporting Life." Twice nominated for best actor Oscar honors, he ended up playing a diverse number of roles on Broadway and in over 70 major movies. Recently his career was revived when he was asked to play the gentle, grandfatherly Professor Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" series. What will happen to that character in the third, as-of-yet-unshot film in the series is now up in the air. Through all of this, though, as a former disk jockey I can tell you that most of my colleagues and I remember him for his soul-searching singing in "MacArthur Park." We cringe when a new generation prefers the Donna Summer disco version, assuming that it was the original. On the day of Harris's death, a local radio station here in Las Vegas announced the obituary then played "MacArthur Park," all 14 minutes of it. I sat in the car and sobbed. Richard Harris always represented good times for many of us. A boy who never grew up, whose dreams were left like icing melting on a cake left out in the rain. We may never find the recipe again. Richard Harris was 72. (Additionally, the lyrics for "MacArthur Park" -- the Jimmy Webb-penned, nearly operatic "train wreck" of a song -- and an interesting synthesizer version of the song are available at users.cis.net/sammy/mcarthur.htm on the Internet.The song was on the pop charts in 1968 for 13 weeks. It's highest ranking was No. 2; it would likely have had the most airplay had it not been three times longer than most pop songs of the era.)
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 446
You might call this "favorite star" week. Today we are asking you to list your five favorite actors (male thespians) with your all-time favorite actor first. Put ACTOR in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 441 (COFFEE)
Last week we asked how you prefer your coffee. From a random dip into the e-mailbox here is a listing of your choices, by percentage:
I like my coffee black ... 25 percent
I like my coffee with cream ... 15 percent
I like my coffee with sugar ... 10 percent
I like my coffee with cream and sugar ... 40 percent
I like flavored coffees or tea ... 10 percent.
TOMORROW: Become a sports hero. GBA