BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – Hungary’s prime minister on Monday bestowed a national honor on British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, praising his support of Hungarian culture.

Ferenc Gyurcsany awarded Lloyd Webber the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit.

Lloyd Webber came to Budapest for the Hungarian premiere of his musical “The Beautiful Game.” The musical opened in London in 2000 and ran there for about a year.

“One just cannot understand the culture of our days without knowing the musicals of Lloyd Webber,” Gyurcsany said. “His music binds people who live in faraway places.”

“I have always been very aware of Hungarian music. Bartok and Kodaly were very much a part of my early childhood,” Lloyd Webber said at the award ceremony in the Hungarian parliament.

Lloyd Webber, creator of such hits as “Cats,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Evita,” has won seven Tony awards, three Grammys, and an Oscar.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A woman who claims she had an affair with former NBA star and Fox Sports Net sportscaster John Salley has filed a lawsuit alleging he mentally and physically abused her during the relationship.

The suit filed Friday alleges that the co-host of “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” met Laura Azevedo at Magic Johnson’s “A Midsummer Night’s Magic” charity event in 2002.

Calls left for Salley at Fox Sports Net were not immediately returned.

The two began dating the following December after Salley told Azevedo he was going to divorce his wife, according to the court papers.

Azevedo alleges that Salley became increasingly jealous and abusive, until at one point he “began violently pulling and twisting” her left leg. The suit says that Salley paid for Azevedo to undergo an MRI, which revealed a torn knee ligament that required surgery.

Salley played on NBA championship teams with the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He joined the Fox Sports Net show in 2001.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Six finalists will begin competing on Wednesday night for cash prizes in the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The gold medal winner’s prizes are worth more than $500,000 in cash and performance fees. Results will be announced Sunday.

The finalists are Davide Cabassi, 28, of Italy; Sa Chen, 25, of China; Chu-Fang Huang, 22, of China; Alexander Kobrin, 25, of Russia; Roberto Plano, 26, of Italy; and Joyce Yang, 19, of South Korea.

Some 270 pianists submitted written applications and 147 pianists from 34 countries were invited to audition.

Cliburn is the acclaimed pianist from Fort Worth who gained prominence after winning the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow in 1958, six months after the launch of Sputnik. He is not one of the judges but attends many performances and presents the awards.

The contest was created in his honor in the 1960s. It is held every four years.

On the Net:


MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) – A song honoring veterans will open the Operation Homecoming USA concert in Branson, Mo., next month.

Singer-songwriter Paulette Carlson, the former lead singer of the group Highway 101, returned to Nashville six weeks ago to record the song, “Thank You Vets.” She said she ended up recording a complete album in 11 days.

Carlson said the inspiration for her song was her brother, Gary, a Vietnam veteran now suffering a debilitating illness contracted during his tour of duty.

Operation Homecoming USA, which will be held June 13-19, also plans to feature performances by the Beach Boys, the Fifth Dimension, the Supremes and the Oak Ridge Boys. The Doobie Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Tony Orlando also are to perform, Carlson said.

“It’s the national homecoming we never gave our Vietnam vets,” she said.

On the Net:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Two decades after the original Live Aid, when rock stars raised money for Ethiopian famine relief, singer-activist Bob Geldof is planning another star-studded humanitarian event.

Live 8 is set for July 2 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a city spokeswoman said. The event will coincide with a second show in London, publicist Laura Perez said.

Details, including the lineup and other possible venues, are expected to be unveiled Tuesday morning at joint news conferences in Philadelphia and London, according to Perez.

The name “Live 8” is a nod to the G-8 summit, a meeting of the world’s leading powers, set to start days later in Scotland. Geldof has pressed for the world’s wealthiest countries to do more to fight famine and poverty in Africa.

Live Aid, held July 13, 1985, brought Mick Jagger, Madonna, Tina Turner and other stars to town while others performed at Wembley Stadium in London. The effort raised tens of millions of dollars for Ethiopia.

“What started 20 years ago is coming to a political point in a few weeks,” Geldof told the BBC last week. “There’s more than a chance that the boys and girls with guitars will finally get to turn the world on its axis.”

Sting has confirmed that he will take part in the event. “Bob called me up and said I was doing it,” Sting said. “He doesn’t ask you, he tells you.”

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) – Chuck Leavell, who plays keyboard for the Rolling Stones, plans to be here this week to help honor an organization that seeks to protect both the environment and property rights.

Leavell, set for a world tour with the Stones this summer, is scheduled to be at the Museum of the Rockies on Friday for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Property and Environmental Research Center.

PERC, a think tank and advocacy group, was organized in Bozeman in 1980. It favors free-market approaches to environmentalism and advocates reductions in regulations.

For PERC, the appeal of the musician whose resume includes work with the Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton and George Harrison is the forestry practiced on the Georgia tree farm Leavell owns with his wife, Rose.

At their Charlane Plantation southeast of Macon, Ga., the Leavells have converted farmland to forest. The property is known for wildlife conservation, and the natural resources management there has drawn a number of awards.

On the Net:

Chuck Leavell:


WASHINGTON (AP) – Forget Jeb or George Prescott or any of the other political men in the Bush family. Lynne Cheney says the next Bush president should be a woman.

Cheney said some people think former first lady Sen. Hillary Clinton should run for president, but she’s looking to the current first lady, Laura Bush, instead.

“I think Mrs. Bush ought to run for president,” Cheney joked during an interview with CNN’s “Larry King Live” scheduled to air Monday. “If we want to have a Bush dynasty, let’s get Laura Bush.”

Cheney sat for the interview with her husband, Vice President Cheney, who said he had no plans to run for president or any other office after he puts in his eight years with President Bush. “I’ve got other things I’d like to go do,” he said.

AP-ES-05-30-05 1504EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.