A bevy of country stars and acts from other genres has signed on for what is becoming a major tribute to the late star Waylon Jennings. Some of today's best-known entertainers tell RCA that they will participate. CMT says the long-awaited tribute CD will be named "I've Always Been Crazy: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings." Meanwhile, Jessi Colter, Jenning's wife, has OK'd the project. It appears that as many as 16 tracks of music will be included. Among those who have signed on are: Brooks & Dunn (singing "I Ain't Living Long Like This"), Kenny Chesney and Kid Rock ("Luckenbach, Texas"), Metallica's James Hetfield ("Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand?") and Hank Williams Jr. ("Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line"). Additionally, the set will include one of Jennings' last recordings, "The Dream." The compilation is due out in April.
TRIBUTES POUR IN FOR JAMES BLUEGRASS GREAT
He was tall and distinguished with the voice of an angel ... now James McReynolds is dead. The Nashville Tennessean says that James Monroe McReynolds, a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry and one of the pioneers of bluegrass music has died of Gallatin, Tenn., of quickly spreading cancer. He and his brother Jesse toured much of the country over a four-decade period, singing mountain harmonies in perfectly matched tenor voices. The pair, although certainly displaying a "down home" persona, always appeared in freshly starched shirts with a prim and proper manner that belied many of their lyrics. Both are in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and they entered the Opry nearly 40 years ago. Jesse survives. James McReynolds was 75.
THE FOLKS ARE FOX AREN'T FROWNING
Fox News made incredible gains in gathering a larger audience in 2002. Even as CNN was retooling after a huge housecleaning (during which time they lost some very familiar faces), Fox News Networks gained more than 44 percent in audience share in the last 12 months. According to figures released by Nielson Media Research, during the same period CNN lost about 11 percent of its share. Fox was the only of the cable news networks to show substantial gains during the past year. It's audience was up some 38 percent in the important prime time hours. It would appear that CNN, though not in the same dire financial straits, is having the same problem that Kmart is having, vis-a-vis WalMart. Kmart was there first and set the trend in many cities. Newcomer WalMart barged in and surpassed the older merchandiser. Meanwhile, over at MSNBC, the Hollywood Reporter says that Phil Donahue's move from a small studio into a larger one (with audience) has boosted his ratings.
ROUND-FACED, AFFABLE APPLEGATE DIES
One of the country's most-enduring character actors has died ... Royce Applegate was found in a burning L.A. mansion. Forensics experts in Los Angeles tell local media that a body found on New Year's Day in a burning home in the hills above Hollywood is that of Applegate. Over the years he became a familiar face on television and the big screen. According to the movie database imdb.com, he worked on shows such as "Little House on the Prairie," "Dallas," and "Charlie's Angels" and as Manilow Crocker in the series "SeaQuest DSV." On the silver screen he portrayed Brig. Gen. James L. Kemper in the sprawling movie "Gettysburg." He was also in "The Rookie" and "Splash." Royce Applegate was 64. An investigation continues into the circumstances of his death.
LEGAL WRANGLING ABOUT 'BOBBY' CONTINUES
After flamboyant coach Bobby Knight was fired by Indiana University he sued; the legal machinations continue. In the latest round, the university is telling its side of the story. The school, according to its public radio station WFIU, notes that although Knight during the 29 seasons he spent in Bloomington was "tied to the school" in the minds of millions, not all of the thoughts people had about the coach were positive ones. The university's lawyer tells the station's news department that Knight's association with the school was a mixed blessing. Meanwhile, Knight's lawyers contend that the colorful coach was fired without reason and illegally. They say that the decision to fire was done without a complete quorum of university trustees and the firing cost Knight about $2 million.
FAREWELL TO SYDNEY OMARR
Long-suffering astrologer Sydney Omarr has died. For decades Sydney Omarr was one of the English speaking world's best known predictors of the future, using the stars as his map. Many of his readers and listeners had know idea that he was confined to a wheelchair. In his later life he was blind and paralyzed from the neck down, the result of the increasing complications of multiple sclerosis. He rose from a self-published astrologer to become the "astrologer to the stars." During the Second World War he contributed a column to the newspaper read by American troops. He made numerous TV appearances and wrote more than a dozen books. The Tribune Co., in reporting the death, noted that his predictions were printed in over 200 daily newspapers. In the 1970s he did a daily radio show called "Astrology Today, with Sydney Omarr." It ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System. This reporter was the producer of that show. My vivid memory of Omarr (who taped his reports in Los Angeles then mailed them to Washington for processing) was the fact that his reports always ran too long. It was necessary to edit out one of the astrological signs to make the report fit time constraints. Being a Pisces, the decision was easy. Additionally, since Omarr always talked about how abused and downtrodden Pisces are, it was a logical choice. Sydney Omarr was 76.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 495
In light of the death of Sydney Omarr, here is today's question (a re-asking of one from last year with a slight twist): "Do you believe in any kind of future-telling?" Put FORTUNE in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 490 (EVENTS)
Last week we asked you to try predicting the future (how coincidental). Here are some of the things you think will come to pass in the coming months:
Sadly, the No. 1 prediction is that Pope John Paul II will die. Nigel is one of those who feel this could happen and even suggests that the new pope will be Italian, who in a few year's time allows priests to marry. He also predicts that Dick Cheney will retire due to ill health. The new vice president will be Trent Lott, but he will be dropped from the 2004 ticket. Additionally he thinks that oil prices will nearly double, due to the ongoing strike in Venezuela, then the contamination of Iraqi and Saudi oil fields. Finally, the all-seeing Nigel says that President Bush will finally have his father's revenge, ousting Saddam Hussein in a 3-month battle in Iraq. The consequences in human life and contamination, though, he says will be staggering. By the way, war in Iraq was the second-most predicted event.
On a less serious note, usslarabee suggests that ... George Clooney will sweep Nicole Kidman off her feet in romance, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston will be expecting their first baby, Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock will announce they are officially seeing each other and that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez will call it quits. NEXT: Some of your questions.
TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS HONOREE
In this column we complete our Twelve Days of Christmas salutes to unsung heroes, based on your submissions. FredF in Boston remembers a neighbor he had as a kid growing up in the shows of western Massachusetts. "Mr. Henrahan was like a grandmother to me. During the time when my family was not doing well, she was over to our house every day, often bringing pre-prepared meals. She was our babysitter, our nurse, our cleaning lady and did ten times more than anyone could expect of a neighbor. She lightened the load my mom was carrying. And she did it for a reason that we children did not know. Our mom's health was deteriorating due to a major heart problem. The situation was kept a secret until the last. What followed seemed the best of all worlds, my two siblings and I were eventually adopted by Mrs. Henrahan." Thanks, Fred for the great story. GBA.