People talk 05/2703

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

'American Idol' stars idolized by 'Today' fans

NEW YORK -- American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken took the "Today" show by storm on Monday, wowing a crowd of screaming fans who braved a downpour for a glimpse of their favorites.

"It's like a monsoon. Poor Clay is worried about his hair," Katie Couric joked as she tousled Aiken's slightly less spiky than usual 'do.

Aiken helped Couric introduce "Roooooooooooooobin" Studdard, as the fans have come to call him, then beamed from the sidelines as his "Idol" pal crooned his renditions of "Flying Without Wings" and "Superstar."

The two teamed for a patriotic Memorial Day duet, "God Bless the U.S.A."

Instant stardom, said the soft-spoken Studdard, has meant "going from place to place and not getting enough sleep. But it's all good. ... I'm having a great time."

Studdard, 24, of Birmingham, Ala., edged out Aiken, 24, of Raleigh, N.C., by only 130,000 of 24 million votes cast by telephone. The final show of the competition, aired Wednesday night on Fox TV, drew an estimated 33.7 million viewers. Both finalists got record contracts.

Schwarzenegger ponders governor run

RADNOR, Pa. -- Arnold Schwarzenegger says he may think about running for California governor after the summer release of his new movie, "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," -- but his family will have a say in the matter.

"When I get to that point that I say, 'I want to run,' I will have that conversation with my family and with my close friends," Schwarzenegger told TV Guide for its May 31 issue. He said the advice of his wife, NBC correspondent Maria Shriver, a Kennedy cousin and a Democrat, will be especially significant.

"She has to give the green light and feel comfortable with it because she moved away from Washington to get away from all that kind of stuff," Schwarzenegger said.

"I'm not thinking about it (now), but I might start thinking about after 'Terminator 3' is released," said Schwarzenegger, a Republican. He says the movie is his top priority for now.

"So much has to be done for marketing, publicity, commercial tie-ins, and the merchandising," he says.

Houston hopes to find inspiration in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM -- Singer Whitney Houston is in Israel looking for inspiration for her upcoming Christmas album.

Houston arrived Sunday for her stay with the Black Hebrews, a group of nearly 2,000 black Americans who followed a Chicago bus driver to Israel decades ago and believe they are descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israelites.

Their religious customs include a vegan diet and polygamy. Houston spent her first day at their compound in the desert town of Dimona receiving massages, relaxing, and meeting with the Black Hebrews, who call each other saints.

"She is loving it," said Patricia Houston, the singer's spokeswoman and sister-in-law. "She is a spiritual woman and wanted to come here and touch the land and be around the saints of Dimona."

Whitney Houston is accompanied by a group of relatives, including her husband, singer Bobby Brown, and their daughter.

Patricia Houston said the singer had planned to come earlier, but her trip had been postponed a number of times because of security concerns.

Elton John performs at AIDS event in Austria

VIENNA, Austria -- G-strings and feathers replaced the usual staid gray suits and power ties at Vienna City Hall as Elton John took the stage for the Austrian capital's annual Life Ball to benefit AIDS charities.

John dedicated "For The Boy In The Red Shoes" to a friend who died of AIDS, but the mood was far from somber as the event rollicked into the early hours Sunday.

Thousands of guests streamed in and out of the massive neo-Gothic building, clad in everything from tuxedoes to little more than body paint.

Glitter was abundant. So were outlandish headdresses a la Carmen Miranda or Josephine Baker that sometimes blocked the view as tens of thousands of nonpaying visitors ogled from across chain-link barriers set up at City Hall Square.

John accepted a check for more than $533,000 for his AIDS foundation to support projects in Africa. Singer Taylor Dayne and Neal Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys also performed.

First held 10 years ago, the annual event is now among the largest and most colorful charity galas in the world dedicated to raising funds to fight AIDS. Ahead of the ball's opening, organizers said they had raised about $5.4 million.-- From wire reports

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