People talk 06/02/03

Monday, June 2, 2003

Presidential job would 'never' interest Oprah

SEATTLE -- Oprah for president?

A fan was handing out orange bumper stickers promoting the idea, but don't hold your breath.

The idea doesn't interest Oprah Winfrey -- top daytime TV talk-show host, magazine publisher, movie star, honored literacy booster and all-around mover and shaker.

"People say, 'Never say never,'" Winfrey said with a broad smile, her big heart-shaped diamond earrings sparkling. But when it comes to politics, "I can say, 'Never.'"

Winfrey was here Saturday for the second stop in her second "Live Your Best Life Tour" sponsored by O, The Oprah Magazine. The four-city tour, which began May 10 in St. Louis and moves to Tampa and Philadelphia in late June, features a two-hour presentation by Winfrey, offering insights and anecdotes from her own life, followed by three hours of more personal contact.

Tickets were $185 -- the pricetag also covers lunch and a gift bag -- and there were reports of four-figure resales on eBay.

'Top Model' contestant mortified by notoriety

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- While other contestants lead prayer meetings or quote cartoon characters, "America's Next Top Model" contestant Elyse Sewell quotes a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, complains of "vapid" conversations with her competitors and calls modeling irrelevant.

Sewell's brother, Everest, 18, says his sister is "the only articulate one on the show."

He says Elyse answered the casting call for UPN's latest reality television show because "she thought it would be hilarious." The joke was on her, it turns out, after she was chosen over thousands of contestants and mortified by the notoriety.

"She wants as few people as possible to know about it," Everest says.

"But I'm sure she relishes it in some way," he adds.

Sewell, a clinical researcher with degrees in Spanish and biology from the University of New Mexico who says she wants to become a physician, is competing against nine other women.

The premise: Ten gorgeous women share a New York loft, pose in bikinis and wait, weekly, to see who gets axed next by a panel of judges.

Medical school, says Sewell, "can be diverted. Being 20 years old cannot."

At least that's the answer she gave one TV judge.

Prize-winning author catches acting bugSEATTLE -- After more than two decades in theater, August Wilson finally has the acting bug.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such acclaimed Broadway plays as "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" made his stage debut two weeks ago with "How I Learned What I Learned," a monologue about growing up black in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

And, years after he turned down roles in Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" and Alan Pakula's "The Pelican Brief," he makes his movie debut this month as narrator of "The Naked Proof," an independent film premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival.

"I'm on camera two or three minutes. The rest is voice-over narration," Wilson said during an interview last week. "I haven't seen the film yet. My daughter said it was good, though."

In "How I Learned What I Learned," Wilson, 58, plays a more serious role: himself. Pacing the Seattle Repertory Theater's stage in a brown jacket and tweed cap, occasionally lighting a Marlboro, he recalls his early adulthood, proud mother, poet-junkie friends and the street ethics of 1950s Pittsburgh.

Northeast's Mount Clay renamed for Reagan

CONCORD, N.H. -- Henry Clay is out, Ronald Reagan is in.

The Senate voted 18-5 on Thursday to rename Mount Clay in the White Mountains after former President Reagan.

The bill, passed earlier by the House, goes to Gov. Craig Benson. Benson spokesman Keith Herman said the governor supports the renaming.

Mount Clay is the first peak on the ridge north of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast. Clay is 5,533 feet high compared with Washington, which stands at 6,288 feet.

Supporters said it is appropriate to substitute Reagan's name because Clay was never president. Clay was a statesman in the 1800s nicknamed the Great Pacificator for finding solutions that postponed the Civil War.

Mount Clay is in the Presidential Range, which includes mounts Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce.

Opponents said it is premature to name a mountain for the 40th president because Reagan, 92, is still alive. They also noted the federal process to change the name of a mountain is not supposed to start until five years after a person's death.

-- From wire reports

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