WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Hilary Swank has been fined $163 for bringing fruit into New Zealand, after getting thumbs down from judges in an appeal.

Swank was issued notice of a fine for breaching New Zealand’s strict quarantine laws when she failed to declare an apple and an orange when she arrived at Auckland International Airport Jan. 15 on a flight from Los Angeles. She appealed the penalty to a court.

On Wednesday, the Manukau District Court advised the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry that Swank’s appeal had been rejected and that she had been fined $142 plus costs of $21.

Swank had written to the ministry seeking a court hearing to have her fine expunged.

“After my 20-hour flight I simply forgot I had one orange and one apple. I do apologize sincerely,” the Oscar-winning actress said in her handwritten letter.

Thousands of visitors arriving in New Zealand each year are fined on the spot for not declaring agricultural products such as fruit. Few contest the fines.

New Zealand is largely free of insect pests that cause billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock in other parts of the world. The country has extremely strict quarantine guidelines to keep such pests from entering the country.



KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Sinead O’Connor is in Jamaica recording a reggae album with some of the country’s leading musicians.

The Irish pop singer has been in Kingston since last week working on tracks for the album, co-producer Sly Dunbar said Wednesday.

He said the album, set for release this summer by British-based Sanctuary Records, will include covers of some of reggae’s most famous protest songs – Bob Marley’s “War,” Peter Tosh’s “Downpressor Man” and Burning Spear’s “Marcus Garvey.”

Dunbar, a drummer, and Robbie Shakespeare, a bass player, are co-producing the album. They are believed to be one of the world’s best rhythm sections. In 1980, they founded the Taxi record label, which has promoted the careers of stars such as Black Uhuru, Ini Kamoze, Beenie Man and Red Dragon.

O’Connor, 38, is best known for her 1991 hit, “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

She famously tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a 1992 appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”



NEW YORK (AP) – Supermodel Kate Moss will receive an award for her fashion influence at the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s 2005 awards ceremony.

The awards will be presented June 6 at a gala at The New York Public Library.

Nominees for best womenswear designer are Marc Jacobs (for his signature collection), Ralph Rucci for Chado Ralph Rucci and Vera Wang. The nominees for menswear designer of the year are John Bartlett, Ralph Lauren and John Varvatos.

The nominees and honorees, chosen by more than 450 fashion designers, press, retailers and stylists, were announced Wednesday.

“The 2005 CFDA Fashion Awards nominees and honorees represent an impressive cross-section of creative talents in the American fashion industry,” Peter Arnold, CFDA executive director, said in a statement.

Other honorees include Diane von Furstenberg, for lifetime achievement, and Norma Kamali, who will receive a special tribute from the CFDA’s board of directors.

Gilles Bensimon, publication director of Elle magazine, and Alber Elbaz, artistic director for Lanvin, also will be honored.



On the Net:

http://www.cfda.com



GRETNA, La. (AP) – C-Murder, who lost in his latest bid to get his second-degree murder conviction thrown out, is hopeful Louisiana’s Supreme Court will be more favorable to his appeal than the lower courts have been.

“I’m just trying to bring darkness to light the best way I know how,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press Tuesday night. “I’m hoping everything turns out all right.”

The rapper, whose real name is Corey Miller, was convicted Sept. 30, 2003, in the death of Steve Thomas, 16, at a nightclub in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey. He faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.

In April 2004, State District Judge Martha Sassone ordered a new trial on grounds that prosecutors withheld information on the criminal history of their key witnesses.

Prosecutors appealed the ruling, and earlier this month, two of the three judges on a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that even without the witnesses’ testimony, “there was an abundance of other evidence which fully established Miller’s guilt.”

C-Murder asked for a rehearing before the entire court, but the request was denied Tuesday. He is being held in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna.

Ron Rakosky, C-Murder’s lawyer, said he would appeal to the state Supreme Court.

C-Murder told the AP he believes other courts may have been swayed by media reports and negative comments made about him. He recently angered the local sheriff by recording parts of his latest music video and album behind bars.

“I think all of that plays a part, 100 percent. You’ve got the sheriff on TV saying he wants revenge,” he said. “How can I win when it comes to a decision that determines my life?”

C-Murder’s new album, “The Truest (Expletive) I Ever Heard,” was released last week.



NEW YORK (AP) – VH1 has selected seven new has-beens to stop being polite and start trying to revive their careers on “The Surreal Life.”

The fifth season of the reality show, now in production, will premiere Sept. 4, the cable channel announced Tuesday.

In the show, a group of not A-list celebs are taped 24 hours a day while living and playing together in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

The new cast includes “America’s Next Top Model” judge Janice Dickinson, former slugger Jose Canseco, Sandi “Pepa” Denton of Salt-N-Pepa, Bronson Pinchot from “Perfect Strangers,” Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth from the first season of “The Apprentice,” British model Caprice and motorcrosser Carey Hart.

The first two seasons of “The Surreal Life” aired on The WB before the show moved to VH1. Past cast members include Flavor Flav, Charo, Ron Jeremy, Verne Troyer, Vanilla Ice and Corey Feldman.



On the Net:

http://www.vh1.com/shows

http://www.omarosa.com

http://www.josecanseco.com



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Oklahoma natives Vince Gill and Toby Keith will headline an April 22 benefit concert to honor rescue workers, survivors and family members of victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

April 19 is the 10th anniversary of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, which killed 168 people in downtown Oklahoma City.

Other Oklahoma natives who will perform include Ty England, Jimmy Webb, Byron Berline and Katrina Elam.

The concert is designed to honor those who died or suffered losses in the bombing and also to thank the first emergency responders, said Lee Allan Smith, chairman of the Oklahoma Centennial Projects and Events.

“The concert is a way for the memorial to thank the people of Oklahoma who’ve worked so hard to support us with their generosity and giving spirit,” said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.



On the Net:

http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org/


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