People in the news

By United Press International  |  Dec. 20, 2012 at 4:00 AM
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MISS UNIVERSE: Olivia Culpo, the current Miss USA titleholder, was declared Miss Universe in Las Vegas Wednesday night.

Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, was the pageant's runner-up, while Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, came in third.

Culpo, 20, is from Rhode Island. She is the first American to win the Miss Universe crown since Brook Lee in 1997.

This year's 2-hour pageant aired on NBC, with Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic serving as co-hosts.

JENNI RIVERA: Thousands of fans attended a public memorial for Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles Wednesday.

The 43-year-old TV personality and mother of five children died along with six other people in a Dec. 9 plane crash near Iturbide, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Her red casket sat onstage at the memorial, as her kids and siblings spoke about her life and how much they miss her, E! News said.

"I only had 11 short years with my mom. But it's a real honor to say that Jenni Rivera is my mom. That she still lives in me," her youngest child, Johnny, told mourners. "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to go through in my life, but I am happy to say my mother has moved on and she's finally happy."

More than 6,000 tickets for the service, which Rivera's family called a "celestial graduation," were sold online for $1 apiece in an effort to avoid having them re-sold by scalpers at inflated prices.

"We will celebrate the graduation into heaven, with honors, of our beloved mother, daughter and sister Jenni Rivera," her family said in a statement issued to the Los Angeles Times before the service.

A private burial for Rivera will be held separately, the Times said.

GERARD DEPARDIEU: The mayor of the Belgian village of Nechin says French actor Gerard Depardieu has bought a house and plans to settle there.

Radio France Internationale reported French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called the "Green Card" and "The Man in the Iron Mask" star "pathetic" for allegedly moving out of the country and renouncing his French citizenship for tax reasons.

France has a 75 percent tax rate for incomes more than 1 million euros -- $1.3 million.

Depardieu, 63, defended his actions in an angry open letter to the prime minister published in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

"I'm leaving because you think success, creation, talent and anything different should be punished. I am sending you back my passport and social security, which I have never used," Depardieu wrote in the letter, adding the reasons behind his plan to leave France are "numerous and personal."

"I've no place to complain or to boast, but I refuse to be described as pathetic," he said.

The Wall Street Journal said Ayrault's office declined to comment on the letter.

Depardieu's Paris mansion has been up for sale for $65.5 million the past three months, the newspaper Le Parisien reported. RFI said he had intended to convert the building into a high-end hotel.

Depardieu has made headlines for a number of incidents unrelated to his acting in recent years.

He has a court date in January to face charges he drove his scooter while intoxicated last month in Paris, Sky News reported.

In August, he was accused of punching a motorist who hit him while he was riding his scooter, said.

A year earlier, he found himself apologizing for urinating in a bottle during a flight from Paris to Dublin, the BBC said.

In 2009, Depardieu allegedly accosted another motorist in a case eventually settled out of court. Four years earlier, he was accused of punching a photographer in the face, The Local said.

SAM DONALDSON: Veteran broadcast journalist Sam Donaldson was arrested for allegedly driving drunk in Delaware, TMZ reported Wednesday.

Donaldson, 78, was pulled over by police Dec. 1 after he was allegedly spotted driving erratically on the shoulder of a road.

The famed newsman was arrested after he failed a field sobriety test, TMZ said.

The report quoted law enforcement sources as saying Donaldson cooperated throughout the incident.

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