LOVABLE, MULTI-TALENTED NELL CARTER DIES
Nell Carter, the talented actress-singer with the infectious smile and bigger-than-life persona has died. She first became nationally known when she was tapped to play the housekeeper in the television sitcom "Gimme a Break!" Carter's spokesperson tells United Press International that the singer-actress died of "natural causes" at her home in Beverly Hills. A decade ago she had a brush with death, nearly being done in by a brain aneurysm. A daughter of Birmingham, Ala., raised in a time of deep segregation, Carter used her many talents to become an international star. She first went to New York and got parts in several successful plays. For a while she appeared in the soap opera "Ryan's Hope." She dazzled audiences in the late '70s when she starred in the musical revue "Ain't Misbehavin'!" It featured the rousing songs of Fats Waller. She won the Obie, the Tony and the Emmy during her career. Nell Carter was only 54.
RYDER MIGHT SELL 'STOLEN' GOODS
Winona Ryder may be preparing to repair her PR image by auctioning off the items she was charged with taking from Saks Fifth Avenue. According to the New York Post, the auction would be held as a charity event -- an effort to "burnish her image." Meanwhile, the goods in question (everything from a Marc Jacobs sweater to Calvin Klein socks to an expensive handbag) are safely tucked away in a court vault in Los Angeles. The total value of the goods was set by Saks at about $5,500. A lawyer for the actress says that no papers have been filed to retrieve the stuff, nor has anyone from Saks taken action to contact the court. Currently Ryder is under a court order to undergo counseling for substance abuse and psychological problems and to perform 480 hours of community service. The "fines" part of her sentence was tagged at $10,000 with additional restitution required to Saks.
WILL TOM HANKS PLAY ABE LINCOLN IN BIOPIC?
Much-loved "everyman" actor Tom Hanks may cash in on his lineage and play Abe Lincoln in an upcoming film. Hanks has long known that he is a descendant of Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks. Now, according to columnist Cindy Adams, Hanks may become part of a major project to be directed by Steven Spielberg, a modern-day telling of the story of the Great Emancipator. If the reports are correct, Hanks would follow in the footsteps of some really classic actors in some great Lincoln movies -- Walter Huston in D.W. Griffith's "Abraham Lincoln" (1930), Henry Fonda in "Young Mr. Lincoln" (1939) and Raymond Massey in "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" (1940). (By the way, it's interesting how each of those three movies starred very different actors, yet we think of each portrayal as being "the" Lincoln.) Not much information has been released about Spielberg's planned tribute to the former president. We do know, though, that John Logan will write the script. There are some indications that the scenario will center around Lincoln's relationship with Frederick Douglass.
PEARL JAM ANNOUNCES LATEST TOUR PLANS
The raucous rock group Pearl Jam has announced an ambitious slate of performances for the coming months. The group will kick off its latest tour at the Pepsi Center in Denver on April 1. Additionally, Billboard magazine says that nearly 50 dates have been scheduled, with the wind-up just after the Fourth of July at New York's Madison Square Garden. Just before starting the multi-city trek, the band will play a series of dates in Australia. In both countries, the venues will be a mixture of indoor theaters and outdoor arenas. As it has done in the past, the group will provide opportunities for attendees to bring their own audio recording equipment and get a direct feed from the sound system used for the performance. In doing this, the group is allowing what might be called "authorized bootleg" copies of the shows. In addition, many of the concerts will be streamed live on the Internet.
NICHOLAS CAGE TRYING TO CLEAR HIS MIND
Actor Nicholas Cage has found the best way to keep his mind off his failed marriage to Lisa Marie Presley is to enjoy his own company. According to Army Archerd in Variety, Cage is currently resting up from what can only be called an arduous role as twins in the recently released movie "Adaptation." Then he worked in "Matchstick Men." During all of that, he produced the movie "The Life of David Gale" and used his directorial talents on the set of "Sonny." Some of this was prior to the divorce, so it's easy to see that he was a man with a lot on his mind. Until the next project comes along, the actor, who played two people in "Adaptation," is now playing tennis and finding solace in his own, single private thoughts.
MUSIC FAN MAKES SHRINE OF TORN SHIRT
A consummate fan of bluesman Delbert McClinton has enshrined a torn T-shirt bearing his likeness. It seems that when Kathleen Hayslip, an employee of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, was rushed to a hospital, doctors had to cut open the McClinton tribute T-shirt she was wearing to perform emergency surgery. It was only after getting home that she realized the damage that had been done. Hayslip's discovery of the necessary cutting of her shirt was only tempered by the fact that she realized doctors had to do what they did to save her from dying of a quickly spreading staph infection. She tells CMT that she grew up in Texas and has attended hundreds of McClinton's concerts, since her teen years. But what to do with the shredded shirt? Make a shrine to McClinton from it was the answer. By the way, when McClinton was told about the shirt he jokingly quipped: "Who are we gonna have to sue over cutting up that shirt?"
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 509
Inspired by the T-shirt story, here's today's question: "Do you have any memento of a star or personality that you feel so strongly about that you have a special place for it?" Put SHIRT in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 504 (OVERCHARGE)
Last week we reported on the eatery in Manhattan serving up a $50 burger. We asked for your "overcharge" stories. From a random sampling of responses in the inbox, here are some replies: Avalon says that she was so confused by the exchange rate in France that she accidentally paid what amounted to $15 for a simple subway trip from the airport to the Eiffel Tower. KyleR misread a menu in a swanky Indianapolis eatery once and ended up having to ask his date to help pay for the meal. (How embarrassing.) AMY789 says that she also had a "misread" problem. She saw a sign on a restaurant that offered lobster for $12. Because the restaurant frequently had all-you-can-eat specials, she ASSUMED that was the case with the lobster. She had three orders and was charged for all three. TOMORROW: More of your thoughts.