One of the great entertainers of the baby boomer generation, Pat Boone, has been recognized again. Boone has just been told he will be inducted into the Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame. The ceremonies will be held in April in Nashville during the presentation of the annual Dove awards. Boone, 68, is one of the most enduring singers who is still working. In the late 1950s only Elvis had more Top 10 hits. Though active in touring and hosting gospel music broadcasts in recent years, he was off the charts for decades. Now he's returned with his patriotic ode to the Pledge of Allegiance, "Under God." He's also the founder of the Gold Label, a recording company for older artists. Along with Boone, Amy Grant and the Blind Boys from Alabama will be added to the hall's roster of gospel greats.
PATTY DUKE HEADED BACK TO BROADWAY
Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke is due to debut in a revival of "Oklahoma" over the weekend. Duke, remembered for her gut-wrenching portrayal of Helen Keller (opposite Anne Bancroft) in "The Miracle Worker" in 1962, had first done the role on Broadway. Now, according to producers of "Oklahoma," Duke will take over the role of feisty matriarch Aunt Eller. According to the New York Post, she'll be taking over a part that has been played by actress-singer Andrea Martin, who has been tapped to be in the new TV sitcom based on the popular movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Martin will also portray author Jacqueline Susann in an upcoming play about the life of the novelist and author of "Valley of the Dolls." Ironically, Patty Duke starred in the movie version of that book, in 1967. Additionally, Duke joins Tommy Tune in the lighting of Broadway's Christmas tree this week.
WELCOME BACK, TIPPIN AND TROUPE
Just as some entertainers are headed for far-flung parts of the world to do USO shows for GIs during the holidays, country's Aaron Tippin and his band and crew have just returned. CMT says Tippin performed during a long Thanksgiving stint in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Qatar. Tippin tells the network that he and his troupe slept in tents and ate in the mess hall, wanting to share the experience that the American troops are having. "It was tough," he said. He also said he was in awe of the way that pilots fly planes in the dark using night-vision goggles. By the way, the troupe's return to the States was delayed for two days because of problems with customs and paperwork in Qatar.
NEW "LA BOHEME" INTRIGUES NEW YORKERS
When mega-successful producer-director Baz Luhrmann announced he was going to produce Puccini's "La Boheme" in New York, many lovers of opera feared that the production would be a multimedia mess. But reviews have been very positive. It is a spectacle, but published reports say Luhrmann stayed as true to the original opera as he could, while giving it an up-to-date touch. On opening night Hugh Grant, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Francis Ford Coppola showed up. Columnist Liz Smith says Luhrmann did an incredible job, though some of the praise was heaped on his wife, Catherine Martin. She designed the sets. As Smith puts it: "'Rent,' move over!" The highly successful musical "Rent" has been called a clone of "La Boheme." Maybe this latest "true" production, sans vulgarity, will draw more young people to opera.
POLANSKI GIVEN HIGH GERMAN AWARD
Controversial and colorful director Roman Polanski will be honored in Germany with the Bavarian Film Award. The presentation, according to the Hollywood Reporter, will be early next week. The initial announcement was made by the German television group that will be televising the event. The Reporter says it's not certain whether Polanski will be on hand in person to accept the accolade. The film awards are considered one of the top cinema events in Germany each year. The honor is usually given to a native of the country. But Polanski, who was born in Poland, has done much of his production in Germany. His Holocaust-based film "The Pianist" was produced there.
DIRT BAND DOCUMENTARY DEBUTS
A 36-minute documentary film about the work of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band premiered in Nashville this week. Hundreds braved a heavy rain to show up to see the presentation. The band, according to country.com, has worked for decades to put together anthology albums, using top country stars, crossing musical and generational boundaries. Its latest effort, "Will the Circle be Unbroken, Vol. III," is a big seller. The first "Circle" album was released in 1972. Among those at the event was Randy Scruggs, son of bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs, and producer of the third album for the band. As a teenager he was a musician on the initial album. The event ended with a communal singing of "Will the Circle be Unbroken?"
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 478
On Tuesday we wondered if you ever had your plans thwarted in an effort to get home for the holidays. Here's a new angle on that question: "What is the longest distance you've ever traveled to get home for Christmas?" Put TRAVEL in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 473 (TOW)
Last week I mentioned that someone had parked in my assigned spot in my apartment complex late at night. Rather than call security and have the vehicle towed, I left a polite note. Should I have done that? From a random sampling of the in-box, here are the results:
Should have called security ... 45 percent.
Should have just left a note ... 40 percent.
The rest said it would have depended on the proximity of alternate parking and other factors not listed in the question. NEXT: Licking those postage stamps.
WE'RE STILL TAKING SUGGESTIONS ...
The deadline hasn't passed for taking suggestions as to whom to honor during the Twelve Days of Christmas. We're looking for stories of local heroes or neat people who need some recognition. We'll need a contact number if you want their name mentioned. Put HONOR in the subject line and send to email@example.com. GBA.