NEW YORK (AP) – Liz Smith is making news of her own.

Newsday says her contract has expired, but the gossip columnist disagrees.

In a memo to Newsday employees on Thursday, editor John Mancini said that Smith’s March 31 column was her last for the Long Island newspaper.

“Liz, who joined Newsday in March 1991, did not exercise her option to extend her contract, which has expired,” the memo read. “We subsequently attempted to negotiate a new arrangement with her but could not come to mutually agreeable terms.”

Smith contends she always intended to stay with the paper and to exercise that option for two more years.

The earlier negotiation consisted of an offer to cut her salary by 95 percent, which was immediately rejected, and “we were just waiting for them to get serious,” Smith told The Associated Press Friday.

Stuart Vincent, a spokesman for Newsday, refused to comment.

Newsday has been facing cost-cutting pressures following a scandal in November involving overstated circulation.

“They’re making all their employees pay for their mistakes,” Smith says.

Smith claims she missed the deadline because of the disorder at the paper. “I didn’t even know who the publisher was, in the middle of that turmoil,” she said.

Smith’s lawyer, David Blasbend, told The Associated Press that a request for arbitration has been filed with the American Arbitration Association.

“We hope to make them honor the contact,” Blasbend said. “We’ll give them the column back, but they don’t seem to want it back.”

He added: “It seems pretty logical that this is about money.”

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – The studio where Ray Charles recorded his final album will become a museum to the late music legend.

Organizers said Thursday they planned to convert the 20,000-square-foot, three-story building on Washington Boulevard near downtown into a museum housing recordings, awards and even a tour bus.

It was expected to be completed by late 2007.

“We didn’t want it in Beverly Hills or a monument to Ray Charles anywhere but right where it is,” said Charles’ longtime manager, Joe Adams.

Charles, 73, died in June at his home in Beverly Hills. He used the studio to record his final, Grammy Award-winning album, “Genius Loves Company.” It was declared a city historic landmark last year.

The building will house an education center and working recording studio, Adams said.

The museum will be “a working monument in this community, the community he was proud of, the community that was proud of him,” Adams said.

The cost of converting the studio to a museum hadn’t been determined, but a series of fund-raisers was being planned for summer, organizers said.

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NEW YORK (AP) – Haylie Duff will be a special correspondent for “E! News” at the 18th annual Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

The awards will air live Saturday on the Nickelodeon cable channel from the Pauley Pavilion at the University of California, Los Angeles. Ben Stiller will be the host.

Duff, 20, starred in “Napoleon Dynamite.” She will interview celebrity presenters, performers and attendees. She is the sister of Hilary Duff (“The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” “A Cinderella Story”).

Will Smith’s 12-year-old son Trey also will be on the orange carpet – as a special correspondent for “Access Hollywood.”

“E! News” and “Access Hollywood” will air their reports on Monday.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Hulk Hogan, relishing his weekend induction into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, figures he’s earned it.

“To me, it’s huge to be part of the Hall of Fame because I was there from day one when this business went from small-time to big-time,” Hogan said.

He had tough times starting out in the 1970s, he said, even sleeping in his car. Then he joined Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation as it was beginning to expand from local to national TV distribution in the early ‘80s.

Hogan got to be part of the venture’s evolution from a “small-time carnival atmosphere to a huge multibillion-dollar entertainment force in the world,” he told The Associated Press.

The renamed WWE Inc., now headed by Vince McMahon Jr., is staging “WrestleMania 21” at the Staples Center on Sunday. The sold-out show is available on pay-per-view television.

On Saturday, Hogan’s induction will be held at the Universal Amphitheatre, with Sylvester Stallone set to do the honors. Hogan, who’s appeared in a variety of movies and TV shows, played Thunderlips in Stallone’s “Rocky III.”

Hogan’s glory years with the WWE didn’t come without a price. Wrestling is deemed entertainment and not sport because the outcome is predetermined, Hogan said, but that doesn’t lessen the demands.

“I can’t remember one night when I ever came out the same way I went in,” he said. “I’m usually hurt some way or another physically.”

His worst injury? The torn back muscles he suffered when he tried to body-slam Andre the Giant, Hogan recalled. He’s had knee and hip replacements because of wrestling’s toll.

When a wrestler becomes a fan favorite it’s usually because they’re portraying their real nature, he said.

“When I decided to be Hulk Hogan, my whole thing was positive thoughts, positive deeds and believing in yourself,” said Hogan, born Terry Bollea.

He’s playing a different version of himself these days, “real-life Mr. Nanny” and proud parent.

Hogan said he’s filming a “reality-type” series based on his home life that includes wife, Linda; daughter, Brooke, 16, a singer; and son, Nicholas, 14, “a genius mechanic” when it comes to cars.

NEW YORK (AP) – Sibling actors and former soccer players Elisabeth and Andrew Shue are using an unconventional method to seek out the young female star of their latest project. The Shues have opened up the auditions for their coming-of-age film, “Gracie,” nationwide.

“The search for the girl is sort of a paramount thing,” Andrew told The Associated Press Thursday. “We want everybody to be talking about it, trying to come up with that special girl.”

Inspired by Elisabeth’s life, “Gracie” is about a New Jersey girl in the late 1970s playing soccer on an all-boys team. The Shues are searching for a young female player to provide “outstanding emotional range.” Much like Elisabeth, the title character is motivated by the death of her star soccer-playing brother. Elisabeth and Andrew’s brother, William, died in an accident on a family vacation when Elisabeth was 25.

“The inspiration for the film came from what it means to lose somebody you love,” said Elisabeth, now 41. “In our case, it was once enough time from the devastation of losing our brother had passed. There was a gift he gave us, which was to follow your dreams and not waste time.”

“It’s really become kind of a family project,” said Andrew.

Both Shues will play small roles in the movie. Andrew, 38, will star as Gracie’s coach while Elisabeth will play either Gracie’s mother or an older version of Gracie, who appears at the end of the film. Their brother John will be involved in the business aspects of the movie, while Elisabeth’s husband, Davis Guggenheim, will direct.

“I think growing up gives you a little more courage to take on projects and make them yours instead of waiting for the phone to ring,” said Elisabeth.

“Gracie” is scheduled to begin production this summer in New Jersey. Potential Gracies are encouraged to visit the Web site and submit an audition tape. They’ve already received nearly 1,000 applicants.

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NEW YORK (AP) – Teen surfer Bethany Hamilton is bottling her passion: She’s launching two fragrances – Stoked and Wired – that aim to capture the smell of the ocean.

Stoked is for girls and Wired is for boys. Stoked blends notes of clementine, pineapple, tropical orchids, lotus blossoms, sandalwood and coconut. Wired includes notes of orange and Asian pear, jasmine, juniper, cedar wood and sandalwood.

Hamilton says “stoked” is surfer speak for “excited, pleased, happy or thrilled” and “wired” means to “have mastery over a place, a maneuver or a situation.”

The fragrances, available later this year, will be produced by Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics. A percentage of the sales will go to World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization.

Stoked is “just the way I feel after a great day of surfing,” Hamilton said in a statement. “A little bit feminine, it has all the good aromas and memories of a great day at the beach.”

Hamilton has been surfing competitively since she was 11. In 2003, she lost her left arm in a shark attack off Kauai, Hawaii. She has since returned to surfing.

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MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) – A Muskegon County jury ruled that a music festival must pay $100,000 in damages to Ted Nugent.

The guitarist-singer, who had a 1977 hit, “Cat Scratch Fever,” had sued the Muskegon Summer Celebration over the cancellation of his June 2003 concert.

Nugent said a festival news release at the time of the cancellation wrongly accused him of making racist remarks.

On Thursday, the jury found that festival organizers breached their contract with Nugent and awarded him $80,000 in damages, as well as another $20,000 for lost proceeds from the sale of merchandise.

Nugent’s concert was canceled after he used a slur offensive to blacks during a live interview on a Denver radio station in May 2003.

During the trial, Nugent testified that he had used the word while quoting a black Motown musician’s compliment to then-teen Nugent in reference to his guitar skills.

Nugent, a 56-year-old Detroit native, now lives in Crawford, Texas.

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