By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  Aug. 15, 2002 at 3:02 PM
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One of the most successful of modern-day country stars, Tim McGraw, says he's going back to his roots and will do a special there. In the case of the photogenic McGraw, his "roots" are in and around Start, La., where "it all started." Start is a little town on old U.S. 80, about 15 minutes east of Monroe. McGraw is not only going to perform for the folks back home -- as he has done in past years -- but tells Country Music Television that he'll be taping a TV special that will air on NBC in the coming months. He says that a portion of the ticket sales will go to local charities. By the way, McGraw is the subject of an in-the-works book that will look at what goes into the planning and taping of an album. The book is due out in late November.


The colorful lead singer of the group Drowning Pool, Dave Williams, has been found dead on his band's bus. MTV is reporting that Williams and his Dallas-based band were on tour with Ozzfest, playing at a venue in central Indiana. Drowning Pool had seen a meteoric rise in the past two years. The recent hit single "Bodies" was high on the charts. The band's debut album, "Sinner," has already sold more than 1.2 million copies. At last report the band said it would continue touring with the Ozzfest group, with the next stop in Virginia. Williams was 30. An investigation into his death continues.


When NBC airs a future "American Dreams" episode this fall, look for rising young star Michelle Branch to be a part of the cast, portraying "It's my Party" girl singer Leslie Gore. Published reports indicate that the 19-year-old singer-songwriter will appear on the new series, set to premiere at the end of next month. Branch's episode will center around the old "American Bandstand" show, with Leslie Gore showing up to sing one of her monster hits, "You Don't Own Me." By the way, Branch has also been tapped to appear next year in a new Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider film, "The Hot Chick."


The latest major country stars to announce that they are about to debut new CDs are John Michael Montgomery and Shania Twain. Both have a multi-platinum past and have been among the hottest-selling country stars in recent years. Twain tells CMT that her latest project is called "Up!" It's due out in about three months. The project is produced by hubby Mutt Lange. It features nearly 20 brand-new songs, written by the husband-wife pair. Montgomery's latest effort, "Pictures," will be out in less than two months. The compilation reunites the singer-songwriter with producer Scott Hendricks, the driving force behind two of Montgomery's past hit albums, "John Michael Montgomery" and the hot-selling "Kickin' it Up."


Singer Papa Roach has been told by Sacramento police that a planned bungee-jumping stunt, to be filmed for a new video, will not take place. According to police records, the artist had wanted to do his jump from the city's high Folsom Bridge. The intent was to include the clip in a song that talks about a shattered love affair. The problem seems to be that someone recently committed suicide by jumping from the span and the memories of the event are still fresh in the minds of many people in the California capital city. Roach is from the Sacramento area and had wanted to have hometown fans as an audience during the taping of his videos, so he rejected a plan to take the stunt to another city. Other high bridges in Sacramento were not available for a use permit on the days he had earmarked for the shooting.


One of the last vestiges of the "Big Band Era" is the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Carrying on the traditions of the bandleader-arranger since his death, the aggregation has visited Las Vegas several times. Now, according to the Stardust Resort and Casino, it's returning for another stint in early August. The hotel tells United Press International that the band, under the direction of the late bandleader's son Christopher, will play in the Stardust Ballroom. Over the years the orchestra has been a vital part of the careers of several successful singers, as well as producing highly successful albums on its own. Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole and Linda Ronstadt, at one time or another, recorded with the group. It was Riddle's work in the early 1950s with Cole that first brought him international recognition. Nelson Riddle died in 1985.


Here is today's question: "If you could have any band or orchestra, still performing or from the past, come and play a private gig for you, which would it be?" Put BAND in the subject line and send to via the Internet.


Last week we asked about whether or not you liked to go to auctions, rummage sales and the like. From a very random dipping into the e-mail inbox, here is a sampling of replies: Of the more than 70 percent who noted that they went to auctions, sales and thrift stores on a regular basis, Kenneth W (one of our new respondents) noted that he loves rummage sales. "They are a good way to find things that you need and a good way to help people who might need the cash." He also says it's great that charities that do this kind of thing don't have to charge tax on the items or pay taxes on the profits. Melba tells a great story of raising her hand at the wrong time at an auction. She was simply waving at a friend. "Sold ... for $50 ... to the woman in the red dress," she heard the auctioneer shout. She had bought an Emerson fan. It still works after 35 years, she says. Many mentioned that they loved the eBay on-line auctions. DD says that a friend of hers goes to auctions and rummage sales and buys stuff then puts the merchandise on eBay and resells it. Well, DD, that's the American way. Finally: A special "hello" to Barry Y in Australia, also a new contributor. That's the wonderful thing about the Internet. I sit here at UPI in Las Vegas, typing away, and Barry reads it Down Under. TOMORROW: How cluttered is your table? GBA.

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