By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  May 7, 2002 at 4:08 PM
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More information is surfacing about the possible future of former President Bill Clinton as the nation's next talk host. Several publications, including the Los Angeles Times, say that the former chief executive has met with no less than NBC in his quest to get back into the public eye. Even though Clinton has a ton of detractors, much mail arriving here shows that a lot of people would love to see how he would handle the chores behind a desk on a daily show. There are also indications that were he to get his own slot on daytime television, his program would not be politically oriented. Clinton feels that it's not his place to use such a program as a forum to blast the current administration, particularly at a time when national unity is of the foremost importance. Additionally, such a show could prove to be a lucrative venture for Clinton. Just look what Oprah's show did for her bank account. It might be interesting, though, to speculate on whom Bill could tap to be his fill-in on his vacation days.


The classic musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" received a total of 11 Tony nominations this week, in what some observers of Broadway say is a wide-open race for the statuettes. "Millie" was first a film, an odd reversal of the way many properties are staged. Last year, the big winner was "The Producers," which also came to New York having first been a silver screen success. But last year that show was such a darling of Broadway there was no question that it would sweep the awards ... and it did. There are larger questions this year about which will get the award for best musical. The awards show will be June 2.


Now that some parts of Los Angeles -- a jurisdiction that sprawls throughout the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley -- want to have local autonomy, there may eventually be a question about ownership of the famous "Hollywood" sign. One enclave that wants to go it alone is Hollywood itself. Some are now asking what might happen to the sign that looms large above that section of the city? Well, according to published reports, at least one city councilman is determined that no matter what happens to Hollywood, the "Hollywood" sign will remain the property of the greater city of Los Angeles and will continue to shine in the night sky. Councilman Tom LaBonge is quoted as saying that the sign is a monument to the entire entertainment industry. By the way, his district includes Mount Lee, where the sign stands. It was built in the early, early days of the area and originally said "Hollywoodland." It is used as a kind of billboard to advertise a tract of land intended for new homes. Eventually the land became the property of Los Angeles when the original owner defaulted on a tax bill.


When you see pictures of Lady Bird Johnson, it's tough to admit that we're all getting older. The energetic first lady who taught us all to beautify America and, in the words of comedienne Fanny Flagg, "plant a tree, a bush or a scruuuub," is now battling the effects of a stoke. Admitted to an Austin, Texas, hospital recently, she has had a series of health problems in recent years, including undergoing cataract surgery. A gentle woman from the hills of east Texas, Johnson has continued to make occasional appearances in Austin, particularly at the museum and library that bears her late husband's name. On a personal note: During a tour of that facility for the old United Press International Radio Network, I was fascinated by the huge photographic display of the Johnsons back when they were dating and in the early days of their 39-year marriage. If ever there was a Southern belle, it's she.


Former actor John Barrymore III is recuperating after suffering a beating at the hands of robbers at his Mountain View home. The San Francisco Chronicle says that Barrymore -- one of the many actors in that illustrious family of thespians -- was attacked, along with his wife, by intruders looking for marijuana plants. The robbers, said to be in their teens, assaulted the Barrymores after hearing from the couple's son about their stash of pot plants. Both he and his wife were apparently struck with metal objects. Mrs. Barrymore was treated and released from a local hospital. Mr. Barrymore required surgery and remained in the hospital for a few days. About half a dozen suspects were arrested. As a result of the incident Barrymore could be charged with possession of the plants.


Feisty Archbishop Desmond Tutu has brought his upbeat message of hope to a congregation in Seattle. At St. Mark's Cathedral, the award-winning prelate told more than 1,000 people jammed into the Episcopal house of worship that everyone is part of the "human family." A choir sang traditional hymns, as well as the South African national anthem. Tutu, looking out into the congregation, noted what a diverse group it was, age-wise and as far as ethnicity and country of origin. He told the crowd that the conflict in the Middle East is at a point no worse than it was in the time of Jesus, filled with tension and discrimination. The Nobel Prize-winning cleric is in the Washington state city on a four-day speaking tour. By the way, he ended the church service by doing a spirited dance.


Recently I moved to a new apartment complex and to a larger apartment. Last night I realized that I have never lived in a place with so many doors. So, today's question: "Counting all entry doors, hinged and sliding, and all interior doors, how many doors does your dwelling have?" The answer may surprise you. Put DOORS in the subject line (my apologies to the late Jim Morrison) and send to via the Internet.


The folks at the Canadian National Tourism Board will be happy to hear the results from last week's question about that country. I received only two letters that had anything negative to say about our neighbor to the north. Charlie is among those who have visited both coasts of Canada and loves it all. Charlie felt safe there, safer than in the States, and "it's a beautiful country." Cindy spent her honeymoon there. Christy is a frequent visitor to Quebec, and she also loves Toronto and Montreal. She asks: Where else would you find libraries in subway stations? Cricketn remembers going there as a child and never having seen so many trees. Janice remembers the hospitality when "strangers" provided her not only with a place to stay but gave her transportation. CMor once ran into the family doctor at a hotel in Canada, six hours from their usual home. Len was less than pleased with Quebec, though. He says that everyone there speaks French and things were slightly "dirty." Yes, Len, and everyone in Quebec smokes. I took a great photo of a guy at the Montreal airport smoking under a NO SMOKING sign. I also had to call McDonalds Canada to complain about the fact that people smoked in their ostensibly non-smoking restaurant. I was told, "in dealing with Quebec, we take into consideration local customs." What a cop out. Also, thanks for the native Canadians who were nice enough to write and say 'Hi.' TOMORROW: Your thoughts on letterboxing. GBA.

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