Michael Jackson failed to show up for another day of testimony Thursday at the Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse where he testified Wednesday in a $21 million lawsuit, in which he is accused of reneging on a contract to perform two concerts on New Year's Eve 1999. Jackson wore a surgical mask as he entered the courthouse Wednesday, but removed it before he took the witness stand. During three hours of testimony, Jackson denied that he backed out of the deal. A lawyer for Jackson said it was actually concert promoter Marcel Avram who decided to cancel the shows -- when he realized the concerts would not be as profitable as he had expected. Avram claims Jackson agreed to perform four millennium concerts on Dec. 31, 1999, in Honolulu and Sydney, Australia -- but only performed two.
HONORS FOR FRANK SINATRA
The University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television will hold a dedication ceremony Monday to name an auditorium in honor of the late singer and Oscar-winning actor Frank Sinatra, who died at 83 in 1998. Sinatra's daughters, Tina and Nancy Sinatra, are lending memorabilia from their father's legendary career for display during the ceremony, which is scheduled to be private. The collection -- which includes Sinatra's Congressional Gold Medal, gold records and the supporting actor Oscar he won for "From Here to Eternity" in 1953 -- is scheduled to go on public display from Nov. 25 through March in USC's David L. Wolper Center for Study.
STARS COME OUT FOR 'NATIVITY'
Stephanie Mills, BeBe Winans and Phylicia Rashad head an all-star lineup for an upcoming production of "Nativity: A Life Story," presented by New York's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The musical -- written by James Stovall ("Ragtime") and Hattie Winston ("Becker") -- is based on playwright Langston Hughes' holiday classic "Black Nativity." It's a retelling of the Christmas story with African-American music and dance. The concert performance will also feature Tony winner Lillias White, Keith David, Grammy Award nominee Freddie Jackson, the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble directed by Bettye F. Forbes, the Broadway Inspirational Voices directed by Michael McElroy and the Christ United Church Youth-In-Action Chorus. Producers plan just three performances -- Friday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. -- at The United Palace Theatre in New York.
RUSSELL CROWE'S LATEST
Scotland Yard officials said no charges would be filed in connection with actor Russell Crowe's latest public brawl -- reported by the British newspaper The Sun. The Oscar-winning star of "Gladiator" reportedly traded punches with another man Tuesday in the men's room at a trendy London restaurant. Citing eyewitness accounts, the paper said Crowe spotted an old adversary, Eric Watson, in the restaurant and went after him. Watson -- one of the wealthiest men in New Zealand -- has been engaged in a longstanding feud with Crowe over a woman, said The Sun. One bystander told the paper that a member of Crowe's entourage rushed into the restroom after hearing shouting, and found Watson on top of Crowe. According to a Scotland Yard press statement, the situation was under control when police arrived. "No allegations of a crime were received. There were no arrests, and there will be no further police action." The Sun reported that both Crowe and Watson declined to press charges.
IT'S A GIRL!
Just a few days after Dixie Chick Emily Robison and her husband, musician Charlie Robison, welcomed a new baby boy on Monday -- there's word that Troy Gentry of the hardcore honky-tonker duo Montgomery Gentry, and his wife Angie have a new baby girl. Kaylee Alexandra was born at 2:50 p.m. on Wednesday at a Nashville area hospital. A publicist for Gentry said Kaylee weighed in at 5 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 inches long. Troy assisted in the delivery, and the publicist said everybody is doing fine -- even though Kaylee was a few weeks early. By the way, Emily and Charlie Robison are asking that fans who want to honor the birth of their son, Charles Augustus (Gus), please make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in lieu of sending gifts.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 459
Today's question is: "If you had the chance, would you like to travel to the International Space Station?" Put SPACE in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 454 (OWNED)
Last week we asked how many cars you've owned over the years. From a random sampling of the e-mail inbox, here are some replies: MaryannR has owned over 30 cars in the 45 years she's been driving and says that a red Mustang was her favorite. The average number of cars owned was 15. Two respondents noted they were on their first car ... both are still in school. TOMORROW: How much to you spend in restaurants? GBA.