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People in the News

Eds: Updates with items on David Beckham, James Gandolfini, Bono and Jackie Chan. Also contains items on Frank Serpico, Ian McEwan, Nina Simone and Thomas Wolfe.

AP Photo MAD806, LMC101, NYET163, NYET164, NYET165, NY107, NY108, NY109, NCASH101, of, Wolfe

By The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – Most Britons would support stronger laws to protect the privacy of celebrities, a new poll suggests, as newspapers continued to publish stories of soccer star David Beckham’s alleged affairs.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents to the survey, released Wednesday by pollster ICM, said Britain should introduce a privacy law to protect public figures such as celebrities and the royal family. Just 11 percent felt there was a “legitimate public interest” in newspapers publishing claims about Beckham’s private life.

For more than two weeks, newspapers have been devoting space to Beckham’s alleged affairs with two women, including his former personal assistant Rebecca Loos. The 28-year-old Real Madrid and England soccer star, who is married to former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, has labeled the allegations “ludicrous.”

In the House of Commons, legislator Clive Soley denounced the “very crass invasion of privacy of David and Victoria Beckham,” and suggested the government consider legislation to summon newspaper editors and owners to be questioned about their private lives.

The idea got a laugh, but a smiling Prime Minister Tony Blair declined to respond. “I have no thoughts to offer on it myself except to say that I hope everyone understands that occasionally when people’s privacy is invaded in this they cause great distress to people and I don’t always think it’s really in the public interest,” Blair said.

Sarah Marbeck, a Malaysian-born model and former escort who alleges she also had a fling with Beckham, flew to London Wednesday from Sydney, Australia. Marbeck, 29, brushed off reporters’ questions about her plans while in Britain.

The ICM poll, published in The Guardian newspaper, found that 27 percent of respondents said they believed Beckham’s denials, while 31 percent believed Loos; 43 percent either didn’t know who to believe or didn’t care.

ICM surveyed 1,002 adults by telephone April 16-18; the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) – James Gandolfini, star of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” is among 11 Rutgers alumni to be inducted into the university’s hall of fame on May 1.

“In the entertainment world, James Gandolfini is probably the most recognizable Rutgers graduate,” Cal Maradonna, associate vice president of alumni relations, said in Wednesday’s editions of The Star-Ledger of Newark. “The acting world has recognized him for his talent. He’s a great actor.”

Gandolfini, who plays New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on the HBO series, has made commercials and appeared in billboard ads for the school’s athletics program.

On the Net:



TORONTO (AP) – Rocker Bono praised Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin for showing “real political guts” in the global war on AIDS.

Bono, frontman for Irish band U2 and an AIDS-awareness crusader, commented Tuesday on changes to proposed legislation that would speed cut-rate drugs to developing countries.

“This kind of thing keeps Canada in the lead,” Bono said in a statement. “This is a real breakthrough and shows real political guts from Paul Martin.”

Bono has urged Martin to make good on efforts by his predecessor, Jean Chretien, to get drugs to countries that couldn’t otherwise afford them.

Martin said he would, but nongovernmental groups said changes to the proposed legislation don’t go far enough.

The Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam Canada and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network are calling for more changes to the draft legislation.

It’s estimated that 30 million of the world’s 45 million AIDS sufferers live in Africa. Many are dying because they don’t have access to the drugs developed over the past decade to help stem the deadly epidemic.

On the Net:


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Jackie Chan will be in Cambodia next week to promote the work of the U.N. children’s and AIDS agencies, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The Hong Kong star, known for his daredevil movie stunts, will visit the capital, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap, home to the country’s cultural icon, Angkor Wat, during his three-day stay, a UNICEF statement said.

Chan is scheduled to arrive Monday. He will visit projects focusing on HIV/AIDS, rehabilitation for land mine victims and land mine education, the agency said.

Chan, star of Chinese language movies for more than 20 years, also has starred in several Hollywood films including “Shanghai Noon,” “The Tuxedo” and the “Rush Hour” movies.

On the Net:


NEW YORK (AP) – Frank Serpico is blowing the whistle on a new book by an NYPD detective that downplays police corruption.

“The cops I know in the city say the corruption is there,” the 68-year-old Serpico said by phone Tuesday from his home outside Albany, N.Y. “It’s business as usual.”

In the book “Blue Blood,” Bronx detective Edward Conlon says “Serpico” – the 1973 hit movie starring Al Pacino as a policeman crusading against graft – was too kind to its subject.

“Frank Serpico has many admirers and many detractors, but there was no disagreement that he was a very strange man,” he writes.

Conlon insists police misconduct is not as widespread as pop culture might suggest. Instead, he writes the average policeman must deal with “the smallness of the people and the grandeur of their demands. The danger was not in corruption but corrosion.”

Responded Serpico: “Corrosion must be the Harvard word for corruption. … Where the hell do you get the truth?”

SEATTLE (AP) – Border officials have issued a rare apology to British author Ian McEwan after briefly barring him from entering the United States last month.

“Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience and delay the refusal process caused you,” William S. Heffelfinger III, a deputy assistant commissioner with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, wrote in an April 12 letter. “Be assured that this erroneous refusal will not impact your future applications to the United States.”

McEwan, author of the best-selling novel “Atonement,” was trying to board a plane March 30 at the Vancouver, British Columbia, airport for Seattle, where he was scheduled to speak before subsequent engagements in Portland, Ore., and Pasadena, Calif.

An American inspector kept him from boarding the plane on the grounds that the speaking fees McEwan was to receive for his appearances – $5,000 in Seattle alone – were too large to qualify as honoraria.

After a 24-hour flurry of activity that included legislators, border officials realized there’s no rule limiting the size of honoraria one may receive. McEwan was admitted the next afternoon and arrived in Seattle an hour before his appearance.

NEW YORK (AP) – The JVC Jazz Festival will feature k.d. lang, Lou Reed, guitarist Vernon Reid and a tribute to the late Nina Simone when it begins in mid-June.

More than 300 artists are expected to perform during the event, set for June 15-26 at venues across New York City.

Simone, who had sung at the festival, died last year of cancer at 70. Two of her bands will remember her in a show titled, “Sing the Truth … A Tribute to Nina Simone.” Among the artists expected to appear are Tracy Chapman, R&B duo Floetry, jazz newcomer Lizz Wright and author Toni Morrison.

Another concert, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa, will feature Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti, son of the late Nigerian singer Fela.

Other performers include Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Abbey Lincoln and Ornette Coleman.

The New York City festival, now in its 32nd year, is an offshoot of the renowned Newport Jazz Festival, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in August.

On the Net:


ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Thomas Wolfe’s boyhood home will reopen to the public this weekend, nearly six years after a fire gutted the rambling boarding house.

Wolfe, born in Asheville in 1900, became one of America’s most famous writers with the 1929 publication of his autobiographical novel, “Look Homeward, Angel,” a thinly veiled depiction of Asheville and its residents. He also wrote of his mother’s boarding house, called Dixieland, in the book.

Craftsmen have spent the past two years restoring the 121-year-old house to its condition of 1916, the year Wolfe left to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wolfe’s mother, Julia, bought the boarding house – named the Old Kentucky Home – in 1906 and added a dozen rooms in 1916. Notoriously tight, she often reused building materials and settled for cheap materials and even cheaper laborers to work on the 6,000-square-foot, 29-room house.

Restoration required the recreation of plain woodwork and sometimes skipping a final coat of plaster to make the home authentic.

“We wanted people to feel like they’re walking on the same floorboards as Thomas Wolfe walked on,” said Steve Hill, the site manager. “You can make it look right, but it’s got to feel right, too.”

AP-ES-04-21-04 1359EDT

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