By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  Jan. 15, 2003 at 3:03 PM
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Isolated from the world, telling reporters he doesn't want to live, now Robert Blake's old TV show is being "stolen." The USA Network says that reports are true that it has commissioned a new version of the old Blake hit "Baretta," a show that scored high ratings during its run on ABC (1975-78). But could the announcement come at a worse time for the incarcerated star? In the show, as you remember, Blake played an unorthodox cop who hobnobbed with the lesser element of society. It may be a great time for USA to cash in on Blake's unfortunate fate, but it might be tough for the actor, already abandoned by nearly everyone, to stomach seeing a new generation think of Baretta in terms of another actor -- who likely won't be half as good.


For a long time there have been rumblings that "troubled" actress-singer Liza Minnelli will play Norma Desmond in a movie version of "Sunset Boulevard." Now, according to gossip columnist Liz Smith, the rumors may be closer to bearing fruit than some think. In the meanwhile, Minnelli (who "came back from the dead with better health and a new hubby" in recent months) is about to start on a nationwide tour to be called "Liza's Back!" It will hit the following major cities: New York, Washington and Miami. Some smaller venues are being lined up, including Colorado Springs. Smith says that the time might be right for a movie version of "Boulevard," mainly because a whole new generation has been star-struck by the concept of the musical since the release of "Chicago." Maybe a shot at "Boulevard" can fully resurrect Liza's career. After all, it did the same for Gloria Swanson, who in the minds of many, was the personification of Desmond. Is there a more haunting line than: "I'm ready for my close up now, Mr. DeMille," in the 1950 movie?


The ageless rock group Pink Floyd will be among the first to see its music re-released in a new CD format. According to Billboard magazine, the group's latest, "Dark Side of the Moon," will be "printed" in a new format called SACD. This protocol will allow older CD machines to play the music properly, but will also let newer versions play the songs with great clarity and with more channels. The concept is similar to the invention of "compatible color" in the 1950s. In that system existing black-and-white television sets could see color programs in monochrome while color receivers got the entire spectrum. By the way, a competing system (using a huge color wheel spinning in front of the set) was said to have better color, but required a new transmission system that was not viewable on older TVs.


Busy, successful, meteoric Shania Twain has been tapped to host this year's Juno Awards. The telecast, according to CMT, is set for April 6 from the Corel Centre in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Twain, in accepting the invitation, told the cable network that she "can't wait." She added that "it's going to be a lot of fun and it will be great to be back home again." The Junos are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys. Twain has never hosted the event before and missed the last four awards shows. In addition to being the official host, she is slated to do a few numbers.


Watch for Canada's Celine Dion to pay homage to the States just before the Super Bowl ... singing "God Bless America." It's not certain how true to the Kate Smith version Dion will be, but she will perform the tribute to America just before the Dixie Chicks sing the national anthem. Nearly a billion people are expected to be in the worldwide TV audience; and the presence of Dion prior to the game can't hurt the ratings. Meanwhile, there's a flap brewing between the city of Las Vegas and the NFL. 'Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is up in arms about the league's announcement that a "come and visit Las Vegas" tourism ad will not permitted to be aired during the broadcast. City fathers had wanted hype the city before the massive audience. The NFL says it can't afford to see the perception of gambling on sports played up during the game. Goodman counters that the spots don't dwell on gambling and counters that the NFL has some of the most criminally "deviant" players in all pro sports.


Since the late 1800s some wonderful ladies in Jackson, Miss., have been the champions of music ... the Chaminade Club ladies still are. The major newspaper in the Mississippi capital city, the Clarion-Ledger, says that the ladies of the Chaminade Club of Jackson are always quick to play hostess ... and to perform. The group, an affiliate of the National Federation of Music Clubs, has been celebrating the arts in Mississippi for over a century. Its current roster includes some great musicians as well as a passel of ladies who support the arts 24/7. And, according to one area musician, the women of the Chaminade Club have formed more than your "average club. They are quite into the arts and many are singers and musicians at the pro level," he noted for the publication. By the way, the group commissioned original music several years ago on the occasion of American literary icon Eudora Welty's 80th birthday.


Inspired by the story about the arts club in Jackson, here is today's question: "Do you play a musical instrument or are you a singer? Of what proficiency?" Put MUSIC in the subject line and send to via the Internet.


Last week we asked if you've seen any great personalized plates lately. From our usual random dip, here are the results:

-- Only about 25 percent of respondents said they had personalized plates. (By the way, mine is DILLMAN).

-- A small percentage let us know that they think "vanity" plates are for the birds.

Some suggested good ones: ILUVME, IM2QUT, BAKOFF, IMLOST, GUDHNDS, and from DD, a report that in one state where only the rear plate is required, one person had BACK on the rear and a look-alike plate saying FRONT on the front.

TOMORROW: A surprise. GBA

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