GUITARIST HOWIE EPSTEIN DIES
The longtime bassist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Howie Epstein, has died. According to Billboard magazine, Epstein died in Sante Fe, N.M., at a local hospital. The cause of the musician's death is under investigation. Local police say a woman who brought Epstein to the hospital had noted he might have been using heroin. He also was taking antibiotics prior to this death. Meanwhile, a statement released by his former band members noted, in part: "It's difficult to put into words how much we loved him and will miss him. The world has lost a great talent and a kind and gentle soul." Epstein started with the band over 20 years ago when he replaced the original bassist, Ron Blair. He left the band about a year ago because of what were called "personal problems." Epstein was only 47.
ACTRESS CAST AS BOB DYLAN
When director Todd Haynes put out a casting call for a biopic about Bob Dylan, an actor chosen turned out to be an actress. The news provider Arts Canada is reporting the unidentified actress will play Dylan in his golden years when he became an international star, the 1960s. The movie will focus on Dylan's life, from his childhood to his rise to mega-stardom. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Haynes told reporters the film will have a rather avant garde feel, with a variety of different people playing various aspects of Dylan's personality. It's also reported an 11-year-old black boy will portray one of Dylan's various personae.
MARILYN CONTINUES TO BE A HOT NUMBER
It's been more than 40 years since Marilyn Monroe's death and her star is brighter than ever. Gossip columnist Liz Smith suggests Monroe's face still sells publications, witness her upcoming appearance in Vogue magazine. One of the people keeping the image of the great star alive is a photo collector who was a huge fan of the sex symbol when he was in his teens. James Haspiel was 14 when he took home movies of Monroe. He still has the 1955 films, as well as a treasure trove of memorabilia related to the actress. Smith says he has been spending the cold days of winter in his home in the Hamptons putting the finishing touches on yet another book on Monroe. His first photo-packed tome was called "Marilyn: The Ultimate Look at the Legend." It's just gone into a new printing. Over the years Haspiel has been called upon by nearly every documentarian who wants a non-sentimental expert on Monroe. He figured prominently in Anthony Summer's "Goddess."
REPORTER'S FAKED DISPATCH LIVES AGAIN
A once-fired reporter has parlayed his indiscretions into an upcoming book. When feature reporter Michael Finkel wrote a fiction-laced story for his bosses he was fired by the New York Time's Sunday Magazine. Now his account of how he did it and his axing at the prestigious publication has been turned into its own story. The New York Post says the editorial director of HarperCollins has paid the once-disgraced reporter more than $330,000 for the rights to his tell-all book "True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa." After the story of the bogus report and Finkel's firing became known, a mass murderer used Finkel's name as an alias. Finkel himself contemplated suicide. Finally he was able to get an exclusive interview with the murderer who copped his name, reviving his flagging journalism career. Now he's writing a book on the complicated series of events.
GAMBON OK CHOICE FOR NEWEST 'POTTER' FLICK
Reaction has been mostly positive to the decision that Michael Gambon will play Albus Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter movie. Gambon is a versatile actor who has played a variety of character roles, even portraying the late President Lyndon Johnson in the HBO movie "Path to War." There had been rumors the role might have gone to Ian McKellen, Peter O'Toole or Christopher Lee. At one time it was reported McKellen was actually signed for the role. Gambon will replace actor Richard Harris, who originated the character. Harris became ill during the filming of the second Potter film and died of cancer last year at age 72. His replacement was born in Ireland and is 62. The latest film, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," is currently being filmed in England.
TOBY KEITH: THE GRAMMYS ARE BIASED
Now that the coveted Grammys have been handed out, singer Toby Keith has some interesting comments about the way people are nominated. In an interview with radio station executives in Nashville, Keith noted some entertainers get perpetually nominated, while some are overlooked. To make matters worse, Keith says his lone nomination came because he was associated with rock's Sting. That was for a 1997 duet with the singer. "If Sting (breaks wind) he gets nominated," Keith complained. "Some guys get 600 nominations, and all of a sudden I do a duet with the him on a 'sucky' song ..." Keith says he actually compromised to perform with Sting because his label told him to. The thrust of what the singer told the executives could be put in the vernacular: "Play the 'Grammy game' and you get nominated."
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 532
Today we are asking: "What Internet search engine do you use the most?" Put ENGINE in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 527 (BASEBALL)
Last week we asked about your love or dislike of baseball. Here is what our random dip into the e-mail inbox found: Nearly 65 percent of respondents said in spite of the high salaries and in-fighting baseball still is their favorite sport. The remainder mentioned football or basketball. Several said if baseball didn't find a way to appeal to the quicker attention span of kids, it would continue to lose fans. TOMORROW: Inspections. GBA