BC-People, 1st Ld-Writethru,1905

People in the News

Eds: UPDATES with items on Michael Jackson, Iris Murdoch, Bill Belichick and Chris Berman, and Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Contains items on Stevie Wonder, David Duchovny, Parinya Charoenphol, Mandy Moore, Lauren Bush, and Kenny Rogers, Sarah Evans and Ricky Van Shelton. Version of Belichick and Berman item also moved on sports wires.

AP Photo NYET130-1, RISM102, JMC101,105, CJP104, SIN101, NY107-9, SDHUR204

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) – Namibian government officials were surprised to learn that Michael Jackson wouldn’t be arriving Friday as they had thought.

An American organization claiming to represent Jackson, St. Louis-based Adventure in Africa Tours, had sent a letter to President Sam Nujoma saying the singer planned to visit Namibia as part of a 12-day African cultural tour.

A meeting was scheduled for Jackson with the president at noon, Nujoma’s personal assistant, Andre Hashiyana, said Friday.

However, Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said the travel company had acted without the singer’s permission.

“I guess we will do our due diligence to look into how this happened,” she said by telephone from Washington. “These things do happen quite often. There are a lot of misrepresentations and misinformation.”

Bain noted that Jackson couldn’t leave the United States because he had turned in his passport to Santa Barbara County prosecutors in California as a condition of his release after he pleaded innocent to child molestation charges. A pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled April 30.

“It is so awful how innocent people can be taken in by people who will just run with things without having the proper authorization to do so,” she said.

An official reached at Adventure in Africa Tours maintained a trip had been planned but fell through. She didn’t know why and did not give her name. The company’s director was not immediately available for comment.

News of the supposed visit had made headlines in this southern African country. It would have been Jackson’s third trip to Namibia, where he’s immensely popular and gets a reception usually accorded visiting heads of state.

LONDON (AP) – England’s Kingston University has bought a library of more than 1,000 books belonging to the late novelist Iris Murdoch, along with her notes, letters and original manuscripts.

Anne Rowe, who teaches courses on Murdoch at the university, said Thursday it had paid “near to the asking price” of $267,000.

Murdoch, one of Britain’s most respected 20th-century novelists, died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1999. Her husband, John Bayley, put her working library up for sale last year, saying that after remarrying he no longer had room for it in his house.

Many of Murdoch’s 26 novels – including “The Bell” and the Booker Prize-winning “The Sea, The Sea” – wrestle with moral and philosophical dilemmas in middle-class British settings.

Her library ranges from philosophy and psychology to poetry and theology. Many of the volumes carry her scribbled observations in the margins and endpapers.

Rowe said the library would help scholars “make a more decisive link between the philosophy and the novels.”

“Primarily she was a philosopher,” Rowe said. “She builds a lot of philosophical ideas into the novels and makes them accessible by writing stories with which ordinary readers can engage.”

The university in southwest London, which gave Murdoch an honorary doctorate, plans to establish a center for Murdoch studies.

Murdoch’s final years were depicted in a memoir by Bayley and an Oscar-winning film, “Iris,” starring Kate Winslet and Judi Dench.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Patriots coach Bill Belichick told Brown University students to appreciate their college experiences during a lecture with ESPN anchor Chris Berman.

Belichick and Berman also sang to a college student for his birthday Thursday night during the fourth annual Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture, which brings journalists to campus each year.

“As you move forward in life, you’re not going to have as much time to develop friendship as you do now,” Belichick said. “A lot of people treat you a certain way because they’re working for something.”

When a student asked about the team’s contract dispute with veteran cornerback Ty Law, Belichick refused to comment.

“Are you a correspondent for The (Boston) Globe?” Belichick asked. “What, are you kidding me?”

Berman, a 1977 Brown graduate, joked with the often-casual Belichick about wearing a suit for the lecture. He also said Belichick made him look good because the Patriots won the Super Bowl, fulfilling Berman’s prediction from the start of the 2003 season.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Tens of thousands of people waving red-and-white Danish flags cheered Queen Margrethe Friday as she appeared on the palace balcony to mark her 64th birthday, flanked by members of the royal family, including Crown Prince Frederik and his Australian fiancee, Mary Donaldson.

Well-wishers shouting “hurrah” had gathered outside Amalienborg Castle for the customary changing of the guards that preceded Margrethe’s birthday appearance.

Frederik and Donaldson – in a stylish dark blue jacket and a white skirt; Prince Henrik, Margrethe’s husband; and their youngest son, Prince Joachim, and his wife, Princess Alexandra, surrounded the popular monarch.

Frederik and Donaldson will wed May 14 at Copenhagen’s Lutheran cathedral.

On Friday, Defense Minister Svend Aage Jensby announced that Frederik had been promoted to senior commander in the navy and to lieutenant colonel in the army and air force.

NEW YORK (AP) – Stevie Wonder has been selected as recipient of the Johnny Mercer Award by The National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The award will be presented June 10 at the 2004 awards dinner at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

“The Johnny Mercer Award goes to a “songwriter’s songwriter,”‘ Hal David, chairman and chief executive officer of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, said Thursday.

“I can think of no one who is more deserving of this accolade than Stevie Wonder. His music is known and loved around the world and has made a difference in the lives of so many.”

Past recipients include Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and Paul Simon.

On the Net:


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Slave to women’s fashion that he is, David Duchovny jokes that he wishes he could have put on a dress for the new drag-queen comedy “Connie and Carla.”

“I was kind of disappointed when I saw I was going to be the literal straight guy,” said Duchovny, who co-stars with screenwriter Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette in the movie. “That there wasn’t going to be that scene where I come out in a dress, which I was hoping for, lobbying and campaigning for.”

Duchovny plays the brother of a drag queen who finds himself oddly attracted to Vardalos’ character – a singer hiding out from mobsters by posing as a man in a drag-queen revue.

Before he became a star as FBI agent Fox Mulder on “The X-Files,” Duchovny had some experience with women’s clothing, playing another FBI guy on “Twin Peaks.” Duchovny had a recurring role as a cross-dressing agent in the early 1990s series.

Duchovny brought in a tape of himself in women’s clothes on “Twin Peaks” for his co-workers to watch while making “Connie and Carla.”

“All I remember from my personal experience is that it’s really uncomfortable what women have to wear,” Duchovny, 43, told The Associated Press. “It’s all tight, it’s kind of confining. It’s no fun.”

SINGAPORE (AP) – A film about a real-life champion Thai kickboxer who hung up his gloves to undergo a sex change operation has meant more than box-office receipts to its subject – it’s given her peace of mind.

The recent Thai release of “Beautiful Boxer,” a dramatic film about her life as a transvestite and transsexual, has helped people understand the tough choices she’s made in her life, former prizefighter Parinya Charoenphol said at a news conference Wednesday.

“After the movie came out, it seemed like people could now understand the reasons why I made certain decisions,” Parinya said through a Thai translator, referring to the sex change operation she underwent in 1999.

“They have given me a lot of encouragement,” said Parinya, decked out in a white satin blouse, floral skirt and sharp-toed boots.

Parinya has been offered several acting roles and has accepted parts in four Thai television soap operas and an action movie.

“Beautiful Boxer” opens April 29 in Singapore.

WASHINGTON (AP) – While other young performers play up their sexuality, Mandy Moore says she doesn’t feel comfortable doing that.

“There are those out there that definitely play up their sexuality and whatnot, but I don’t and I never really have, so it’s kind of weird to kind of see yourself in that light or for people to regard you in that light,” the 20-year-old actress-singer told AP Radio in an interview.

Her films include “The Princess Diaries,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Chasing Liberty.” Her upcoming movie “Saved!” also stars Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin and Patrick Fugit.

Would she ever give up singing?

“No. Never. Never. Music is my passion. It’s my priority. I love it,” Moore said. “And it kind of challenges me each and every time, the fact that the music isn’t necessarily the most successful thing that I have going on in my life. I love music and I guess I have less expectations or pressure to kind of put on myself because the music hasn’t been some huge sensation.”

On the Net:


ROME (AP) – Presidential niece Lauren Bush has been named honorary spokeswoman for the World Food Program’s new student campaign against global hunger.

The campaign’s aim is to encourage high school and college students to take up the “neglected” cause of ending world hunger – the No. 1 killer in the world today, the Rome-based food agency said Thursday.

The campaign’s centerpiece will be a new Web site to help students organize fund-raising drives and information campaigns. Bush, a model and Princeton University student, will launch the Web site at an April 20 news conference in New York, the World Food Program said.

On the Net:


WAVELAND, Ind. (AP) – A tiny western Indiana town is organizing a concert featuring country music stars Kenny Rogers, Sarah Evans and Ricky Van Shelton to raise money to revive the community.

The town of Waveland, population about 500, will use the proceeds of the June 5 concert to repair sidewalks, install streetlights and improve playgrounds, said Brenda Jones, one of the organizers.

“We are raising funds to help this little town stay alive,” she told the Tribune-Star of Terre Haute for a story Thursday. “We need streetlights and lights for the school ball fields and money to help get this town beautified.”

The concert will take place at Lake Waveland, about 30 miles northeast of Terre Haute.

AP-ES-04-16-04 1404EDT

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