Martina McBride in class

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Some students at Salem College are experts in country singer Martina McBride. Really – they’ve studied.

The small liberal arts school for women in Winston-Salem, N.C., recently offered a four-week course titled, “Happy Girl/Broken Wing: Martina McBride as Text.” Attendance was capped at 16, and the class was full.

“Many of her songs directly address issues that relate to women and young girls growing up in our culture,” said English professor Ron DePeter, who taught the class. The school also has offered courses on Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Unlike Dylan and Springsteen, McBride doesn’t write her own songs, which makes her an unusual choice for academia. But DePeter said she addresses thorny topics and is a role model to young women.

“She brings a certain voice and persona to those songs,” DePeter said.

In her latest single, “God’s Will,” McBride sings about a little boy with braces on his legs who inspires others. Her first hit, “My Baby Loves Me,” expressed the joy of being accepted for one’s self. “Concrete Angel” dealt with child abuse, “Independence Day” with a woman who frees herself from an abusive husband and “A Broken Wing” with suicide.

McBride, 38, said she knew little about the course, but was flattered. “It’s really cool. I never thought that would happen,” she said.

Is Oprah calling it quits?

In what could be the most tragic news in television history since Walter Cronkite left the airwaves, Oprah Winfrey has threatened to retire – again.

The New Age queen, who made a similar pronouncement in 1997, told network execs in Las Vegas that she may hang up the mike when her contract is up in 2011.

“I really do think that’s going to be it,” said the daytime talk-show goddess, reportedly worth $1.1 billion.

Can television survive such a cataclysm? Can the nation?

– Knight Ridder Newspapers

Snoop countersuit rolls on

Weeks after Snoop Dogg filed a pre-emptive lawsuit claiming he was the target of an extortion scheme hatched by a woman claiming to have been sexually assaulted by the rapper and his posse, the alleged victim, an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist, has responded with her own blistering legal complaint, reports TheSmokingGun.com.

In the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, Kylie Bell charges that Snoop (real name Calvin Broadus) and several associates raped her in the entertainer’s dressing room following a January 2003 taping of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Bell, who won a 2002 Emmy for her work on HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” claims she was left incapacitated after drinking what a Snoop associate told her was champagne. According to the complaint, after Bell, 36, was drugged, she was sexually assaulted by Broadus and four cronies.

In addition to the rapper, Bell, who is seeking $25 million in combined damages, has named ABC, Kimmel’s show, and the Walt Disney Company as defendants.

She alleges that the network is partly liable for the attacks because, during the week Broadus co-hosted the Kimmel program, his dressing room was stocked with “large quantities” of champagne and marijuana (Bell also claims to have seen Broadus “snorting cocaine powder” on the final night of his Kimmel gig, which came during the show’s first week on ABC).

The morning after the incident, Bell claims she told family members about the sexual assault, but was advised not to make a police report due to Broadus’ supposed street gang affiliation. Four months later, according to the complaint, Bell contacted the Kimmel program and told them that she had been sexually assaulted at the show and was contacting the police.

– Knight Ridder Newspapers


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