The popular duo Brooks & Dunn says the 2003 incarnation of its immensely successful "Neon Circus & Wild West Tour" will kick off in mid-April. The first venue will be Green Bay, Wis., with some great opening acts. Tapped to join the circuit are Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts. Additionally, meteoric newcomer Aaron Lines and Jeff Bates will participate. Lines' latest hit is "You Can't Hide Beautiful." Bates is scoring with "The Love Song." Funnyman Cledus T. Judd will be master of ceremonies. Kix Brooks tells CMT he intends to give audiences the most for their money. "People work hard for their money," he recently told the cable network. Brooks added people want two things, "Something they have not seen before and a good time." Brooks & Dunn appear to have found the recipe to fulfill those two requirements, bringing together some of the biggest stars in country music for this year's tour.
CINDERELLA STORY FOR SCHOOL TEACHER
Preparations continue for the marriage of multi-billionaire Sumner Redstone and a New York City school teacher, Paula Fortunato. Redstone is head of Viacom and has, according to the New York Post, set up some very fancy "wish lists" as part of wedding registrations at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. If you want to contribute to the wedding, you can fork over as little as $59. That's the cost of a so-called "retro toaster" made by Delonghi, which is part of the couple's "wish list." Other items are not that affordable. A Minoan bowl is on the list, priced at $1,500. Redstone and Fortunato plan to live in a newly purchased mansion in Beverly Hills. It was bought last year from Sylvester Stallone for about $15 million. Redstone's original marriage lasted for over 50 years until it ended in a stormy divorce in which the former wife got a settlement of more than $1.6 billion. Redstone is 79, his bride-to-be is "40-something."
HERMAN'S MUSIC STILL ON PARADE
The work of master musical maker Jerry Herman is about to be revived in the Big Apple. Herman is famous for many memorable Broadway moments -- from "Hello, Dolly!" to "La Cage aux Folles." The performance, set for this week at St. Peter's Church on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, is the brainchild of two rather famous people who also are Herman fans. Gossip columnist Liz Smith says impresario David Brown and his editor-wife Helen Gurley Brown fell in love with Herman's creations some years ago. When the great composer's music was put into a revue last year, the Browns were in attendance for several performances of "Showtune." In the ensuing months the couple organized the Herman concert that is being staged this week. By the way, Carol Channing once told United Press International Herman is the "master" and that strutting to his stuff in "Dolly" was one of the high moments of her life.
WEATHER RAINS ON DAYTONA PARADE
Michael Waltrip is the new king of Daytona, despite a rain-shortened race in what should have been sunny Florida. NASCAR officials say Waltrip grabbed the lead from former leader Jimmie Johnson when the race was restarted on lap 106 after the first rain delay. The restart only lasted for three laps before the rains came again. Waltrip was leading when the race was shut down for a second time. After more than an hour NASCAR declared the race official and the charismatic driver this year's winner. Waltrip dedicated his victory to the late Dale Earnhardt, whose spirit seems to never have left NASCAR's premiere track.
IN MEMORY OF EDGAR BERGEN
The great entertainer Edgar Bergen would have celebrated his 100th birthday over the weekend. In most quarters the centennial passed quietly but for those who regularly celebrate the glories of the golden days of radio, Bergen's memory is large. Born in Chicago, his interest in ventriloquism was first sparked when he was still in grade school. By the time he was out of college he was famous in the Midwest for his rapid-fire routine with "sidekick," friendly newsboy Charlie McCarthy -- a dummy created for him by a local barber. As his popularity increased so did the sophistication of his audience ... and so did the sophistication of Charlie's wardrobe and attitude. Nightclubs led to radio and the position of one of the 20th century's highest-paid entertainers. His long-running show sold millions of dollars of products for its sponsors, but continued to amaze consultants who could never figure out how a ventriloquist -- who moved his lips -- could become the nation's top radio star. It retrospect it was a silly question.
Bergen might not have made it to radio without a "miracle" after an unsuccessful audition. Just as the stage was being cleared after a failed attempt, Charlie McCarthy asked a janitor to hand him a script Bergen had dropped so he "could see it again." Instinctively the man held up the script for Charlie to read, entranced by the character's realism. The producer, stunned by the incident, said, "You and your friend are hired." Along the way Bergen fathered a new brand of family entertainment, as well as a daughter who would thrill her own generation -- Candice Bergen. In his later years he became one of the Hollywood community's best-loved people, finally becoming the first chairman of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. That group still reveres him as one of the greatest and one of the best. Bergen gave his last public performance in 1978. After that show he went home and died. Thanks for the good times, Edgar.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 526
As we said last week, we're going to add some grit to the texture of our questions for a few days, getting more controversial than usual. So, if you don't want your name mentioned in your reply, note that. Today's question: "If you were of draft age, or you may be, should all-out war to be declared and call-ups issued, would you hesitate about showing up as ordered?" Put DRAFT in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 521 (HEART)
Last week we asked your feelings about getting an artificial heart if that was the only alternative. Here, from a random dip into the e-mail inbox, are the percentage results:
-- 80 percent said no.
-- 15 percent said yes.
-- 5 percent said they could not make that kind of decision unless they were faced with the real situation.
TOMORROW: At night at the opera. GBA