ROYAL FAMILY IN MOURNING FOR MARGARET
When the death of 71-year-old Princess Margaret was announced late last week, many young people likely asked: "Who is that?" With today's concentration on the trials and tribulations of the younger royals and the tabloids filled with pictures of "Troubled Harry" and "will he marry again Charles," it's only the older members of the Baby Boom Generation who may remember a time when the only scandal in the House of Windsor was the "scandal" of a royal daughter wanting to marry a commoner. Margaret was, in the words of one journalist, "the Diana of her day." Fans of The History Channel can well remember the visage of the strikingly beautiful young high school girl, accompanied by her sister Elizabeth (the current queen) staying in London during the blitz and not repairing to Scotland or another safer haven. Although it was Elizabeth who often spoke on radio to her fellow teens and young adults, Margaret was always there. She is now being remembered as the queen's "beloved sister" and as Prince Charles' "wonderful aunt." Margaret spent her later years in failing health and looks, deprived of both by years of excessive partying. You see, when you don't have to be queen, you have other options. Meanwhile, published reports indicate that the late princess's mom, the Queen Mother -- now 101 -- is trying to shake off a cold as she deals with the loss. Margaret's private funeral is set for Friday at mid afternoon. By the way, her father -- King George VI -- died 50 years ago this past week.
ASNER TAKES ON WEIGHTY ROLE
Actor Ed Asner is in the midst of filming a movie about the late Roman Catholic Pope John the 23rd. He was pontiff from 1958 until 1963. The movie is being filmed in the Eternal City. In some photos released by the project, Asner seems to have taken on the persona of the peasant-born Angelo Roncalli, who rose through the ranks to become the head of his huge flock. The personable Asner must enjoy doing the part, for John 23rd was a funny, energetic, lovable priest. The son of a farmer, Roncalli was suddenly thrust into the papacy. He soon became an international celebrity by convening the Second Vatican Council. He invited observers from all major religions. He told the world that he wanted to "open new doors and open new windows to let some fresh air into the Catholic Church." He used the Italian word "aggiornamento" in describing a process in which he wanted to sort out the present and be open to new ideas. Many can remember a made-for-TV movie about John the 23rd that starred Raymond Burr. It focused on an episode in which Roncalli, then only a bishop, went onto a freighter carrying Jewish boys to the concentration camps and baptized all of them in one overnight period. He then successfully challenged German officers not to take away the "Christian" boys. No word on when the Asner project will be released.
BILLIONAIRE CONFUSES REAL ESTATE EXPERTS
A billionaire Japanese real estate developer has left a lot of unanswered questions in Hawaii by his decision to sell off a chunk of his holdings. Benshiro Kawamato owns about 160 homes and condos on Oahu. Now, according to the Pacific Business News, he's announced that at least 60 are going on the market. The properties range in price from a modest $150,000 to $850,000. When contacted for a comment by the publication, Kawamato's lawyer quipped that she can't understand why her client took the sudden action. According to Carol Asai-Sato, Kawamato is completely debt-free and his actions are "puzzling" at best. It would appear that Kawamato does not need the money.
TOM GREEN'S MOVIE RAZZED TO THE MAX
If you think the movie "Freddy Got Fingered" wasn't the biggest grosser of 2001 but it was the grossest ... you're not alone. The folks at the Golden Raspberry Awards Foundation have nominated the Tom Green "comedy" in eight separate categories ... including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Green), Worst Screenplay and Worst Screen Couple (for Green and "any animal he abuses"). This is the 22nd time around for the so-called Razzie Awards, given out to "honor" Hollywood's worst. Some 500 members of the foundation vote on the "winners," if that's the proper word to use. The results of the balloting will be announced the day before the Oscars.
AMBROSE APOLOGIZES ON WEB SITE
Historian Stephen Ambrose's name has been in the news lately -- not only because of his monumental writings on WWII and his role in museums to honor that generation, but because of charges that he "borrowed" some of the material in his most recent books. Now, reacting to charges of plagiarism, Ambrose has put a public apology on his Web site. His feelings are expressed in a section called: "Statement Regarding Recent Media Controversy." Published reports indicate that at least half a dozen of his recent writings have been the subject of questions about the authorship of some of the content. Ambrose says that some of the so-called plagiarism was the result of his writing material in the same tone or texture of existing prose. He also notes that his writing pace -- more than a book-a-year for the past decades -- lends itself to mistakes.
COUNTRY AWARDS TO STAY IN NASHVILLE
As you may know if you're a regular reader of this column, there had been talk about moving the yearly Country Music Association awards to Atlanta or New York to garner a broader audience. Well, at least for the time being, the gala will stay in Music City. The organization, on it's Web site, confirms that discussions to move the awards out of Nashville have been tabled, at least for a while. Both the Big Apple and the Georgia capital city had issued formal invitations to promoters to move the show and all that goes with it. Naturally Nashville's mayor, Bill Purcell, couldn't be happier. He has pledged all his support to make sure that future shows stay in his city and will work with the CMA on projects to insure their financial viability.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 266
In light of the death of Princess Margaret, here is today's speculative question: "What do you think is in the future for the British monarchy? Will the current system be disbanded when today's younger, more rebellious members assume the throne?" Put THRONE in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 261 (BOWL)
Last week we wondered how many of you actually watched the Super Bowl. The results were more lopsided than I had predicted. Fifteen-to-one said they watched NONE of it. Among those who said they did, most noted that they tuned in only to see the commercials. Among those who did see it is SJ. She says that anyone who says they didn't likely taped it secretly. KeKe notes that she has other interests, including the hapless Chicago Bears, but is losing interest in the NFL because the players are such rotten role models anymore. Where's Sonny Jurgenson when you need him? Nigel says that football is still a rather foreign game in Australia. Pamela read a book. Anne loathes all team sports. Ali and her husband "love extreme sports, such as skateboarding, snowboarding and rollerblading." Sherry spent the day working on a computer project. Mike hasn't watched the big matchup in 20 years. Me? I spent the day wondering if anyone was watching. GBA.