2002 WAS TOUGH YEAR FOR ELIZABETH II
It goes without saying, 2002 was not the easiest, emotionally, for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. She lost her much-loved mother, the Queen Mum, and her sister Princess Margaret during the past 12 months. On the positive side, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee. All these issues and more were treated by the queen during her annual Christmas message to her people. During the broadcast speech, the queen displayed photos of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother. She thanked the members of her empire and the British Commonwealth for the outpouring of support she received when both deaths were announced. During her report, Elizabeth did not make any mention of the scandal surrounding that former butler to Lady Diana, nor her personal intervention into the case at the last minute. This time around, anticipating that the broadcast would not score well in the ratings, promos were aired on national radio and television. CBS News says that the queen faced some heady competition for the attention of British viewers, including an appearance from the matriarch of the Osbourne family at the same hour.
QUARTET OF STARS DEBUTS LATEST VIDEOS
Four major country stars and acts are out with new videos this week, just in time to hype post-holiday sales. Look for Blake Shelton's new video for his "The Baby" single from his latest album, "The Dreamer." That's the cut that Shelton taped recently in his first-ever video shoot. According to CMT, he came through the session like a trouper. "The Dreamer" is due to hit music store shelves in early February. Deana Carter's newest video for "There's No Limit" is also getting its first airplay this week on country video channels. The song is from Carter's long-awaited new project, "I'm Just a Girl." That CD is from her first association with Arista Nashville Records. Additionally, look for Keith Urban's "Raining on Sunday" and "So Wrong," the newest effort from Pam Tillis.
CHERUBIC CHESNEY DOES IT AGAIN
It's so much fun to report on what Kenny Chesney does. The angel-faced singer with the black hat pulled down over his eyes became the "golden boy" of country music this year. Now Chesney, named by one national magazine as one of the nation's sexiest men of the year, has been given yet another award. Billboard magazine is reporting that his 2002 "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" tour was the highest-grossing country music tour during the past 12 months. It took in over $24 million in ticket and associated sales. In receiving word from the publication, he noted that he wanted the tour to make enough money so he could "go back and play all these places that my heroes had played when I was growing up. I'd never headlined before." Chesney noted that he simply didn't want to embarrass himself. Well, embarrass himself he didn't. Obviously, according to the rising country star, 2002 turned out to be a much better year than he anticipated. Additionally, United Press International's Crystal Caviness in Nashville says that had Alan Jackson not captured national attention with his post-Sept. 11 pro-American song, Chesney might have received top honors in other categories.
TRIBUTES CONTINUE FOR 'KING OF CLASH'
The death of Joe Strummer, lead singer of The Clash, was mostly lost in the crush of the holiday. But now that the initial rush of Christmas is over, many are paying tribute to the frenetic guitarist who lead what CNN is calling the "the landmark British punk band" into international music prominence. Not only was Strummer the band's predominate singer, he was a driving instrumentalist and wrote many of the group's hits. His death happened several days ago, and now the music world is remembering the man who set the standard for a future wave of punk rockers. According to his record label, he died peacefully at his home. His wife and two children were at his bedside. Strummer had been touring -- as recently as last month -- with his most recent band, The Mescaleros. The group's final appearance was in Liverpool in late November. Some published reports say he died of a heart attack. Joe Strummer was only 50.
NO WEDDING INVITATIONS FOR DAMON ... YET
Actor Matt Damon says "no," he is not engaged to Odessa Whitmire. The couple, according to comments relayed by People magazine, is only "dating." Rumors of an impending "official announcement" by Damon went into high gear a few days ago when a story surfaced in a national publication that the engagement was on. A New York-based columnist went so far as to say that a three-carat diamond ring had been presented to Whitmire. But then the Boston Herald, which has watched the hometown boy's career blossom, talked to Damon's father and got a denial of the "engagement" report. Now Damon's publicist has chimed in with the official "no" statement. Damon is now 32 and has been romantically linked to several starlets and personalities in the past few years. Whitmire, the "possible future engagee," is 27. She and Damon met in the fall of 2001.
DICK CLARK WARMING UP FOR 2003 COUNTDOWN
Ageless Dick Clark is in the final days of arranging yet another New Year's Eve spectacular. The broadcast, produced by the longtime host of "American Bandstand" and other major music programs, will include some three hours of programming on the night of 12/31. ABC says that the evening will be start at 10 in the east, with "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve 2003." The show, according to the network and E!Online, will feature the usual live shots from New York's Times Square and will also take a look back at the music tours that made news in 2002. The countdown to midnight gets underway in earnest at about 25 minutes 'till 12. Look for performances from B2K, Missy Elliott, Las Ketchup, Nelly, Rod Stewart, Third Eye Blind and Uncle Kracker. And Clark will continue for another hour or so into 2003 as he looks at the festivities and prepares for celebrations in other time zones.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 489
Today we are continuing to prepare for 2003, asking again for you to list your New Year's resolutions. Put PROMISE in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 484 (SMARTEST)
Last week we asked for some of the smarter things you did during the past 12 months. From a random dip into the e-mail inbox here are some of your thoughts: Many answers related ways taken to de-stress the hectic pace of society. PamS (a frequent contributor) says that she checked into a hotel to get away from it all. She says she left home for "eight solid days and did not miss it a bit." Pam, a personal caretaker, says that pampering herself for a change was a great idea. Karen says she joined an on-line service and began uncluttering her life. LoReen says that having the guts to throw out a freeloading, abusive roommate was the smartest thing she could have done. MadLinn says that walking out on a drunken longtime partner was a liberating experience. But maybe Karen had the best way of conducting 2002. "I didn't set unrealistic goals for my resolutions," she wrote.
SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS HONOREE
During these Twelve Days of Christmas we are honoring people, as suggested by the e-mail. Today we honor Larry S, the brother-in-law of contributor Vivian T. She lauds what can only be described as an unsung hero and a very wonderful guy. In part she notes that Larry has been married for more than 30 years and has raised great children. He has been a confidant of members of Congress and a constant crusader for human rights. He served as mayor and was just re-elected to another term on the city council of his town. He has done more than any ten people, always going to the "nth" degree ... and he's blind. An extraordinary person indeed who has inspired countless others to do more than what is expected of them. Vivian, thanks for the nomination. Larry, our best to you. TOMORROW: Doing the dumb thing. GBA