People talk 11/2/01

Friday, November 2, 2001

Author King rewards five writers for their stories

NEW YORK -- Five storytellers are the winners of the Stephen King "On Writing" contest.

"On Writing," a memoir by King released last fall, encouraged readers to send him writing samples. No cash prizes were offered, but on Thursday the winners got their names, and their work, posted on King's Web site.

King included a statement saying he had received more than 1,000 entries.

"Not many of them were good, but that didn't surprise me either. What did surprise me -- a little -- was how many could have been good if the people who wrote them had tried just a little harder, or had brushed up their skills a little bit before trying their hands at what I think of as the Dick and Jane story," King said.

"I should add that quite a few were, frankly, abysmal. I am not posting any samples of these. I have always believed that it's very bad form (not to mention unsporting), to shoot cripples."

Winners announced were Kassandra Stirling for "Scorched," Matthew Hunt for "The Maid," Jason Winter for "Birthday Surprise" and untitled stories by Jack Skillingstead and Steven B. Orkin.

Singers settle voice lawsuit against resort

LOS ANGELES -- Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes have settled a lawsuit against a resort that used a pair of singers in a commercial whose voices sound nearly identical to theirs.

Medley and Warnes sued Sandals Resorts International over the song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," from the soundtrack to the 1987 movie "Dirty Dancing," which won the pair various awards and spent nine weeks on Billboard's Top 20 pop chart.

The terms of the settlement, which occurred last month in Los Angeles Superior Court, were not disclosed.

The duo alleged in their 1998 lawsuit that the success of their rendition of the song was influenced by the quality of their voices.

The singers hired to star in the commercial were coached "to imitate, as closely as possible, the sonic qualities of plaintiffs' voices," the suit said.

Medley and Warnes claimed that using the singers unfairly capitalized on their success and gave the false impression that they endorsed Sandals.

Chauffeur who pilfered Picasso artwork gets jail

LOS ANGELES -- Film producer Peter Guber's former chauffeur has been sentenced to one year in county jail for stealing a Picasso drawing and other artwork from Guber's home.

Sammie Archer III, pleaded guilty Aug. 29 to first-degree residential burglary, grand theft by embezzlement and receiving stolen property.

He also was placed on five years probation and ordered Tuesday to pay $5,000 in restitution by Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner.

The 35-year-old Archer, also known as Tony Hargain, was arrested May 3 after he allegedly tried to sell Picasso's 1937 ink-on-paper drawing "Faune," valued at $100,000. A Christie's auction house employee researching authenticity found the work listed as stolen on a police Web site.

Several Picasso plates, two bronze sculptures and an $80,000 Tiffany lamp also were taken from Guber's West Los Angeles estate sometime between Dec. 28-29. They have not been recovered.

Guber's film projects have included "Rain Man" and "Batman."

Voice double steps in for Harry Potter film

LONDON -- Makers of the much-anticipated Harry Potter film called in a voice double after its star's voice broke during filming, a British newspaper reported Thursday.

The Sun said London schoolboy Joe Sowerbutts was hired to dub two scenes for 12-year-old star Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which is being released in Britain under the title "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

A seasoned actor who has appeared in British Broadcasting Corp. productions, Sowerbutts spent one day recording at Shepperton Studios, near London.

Sowerbutts -- who, like thousands of other children, auditioned for the Potter film -- also provides the boy wizard's voice on Nintendo and PlayStation Harry Potter games, the newspaper said.

The movie opens Nov. 16 in the United States.

Johnny Cash sidelined again with bronchitis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Johnny Cash is back in the hospital with bronchitis.

The 69-year-old singer was listed in stable condition, Baptist Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Cantrell said Wednesday night. He had been released from the hospital Oct. 22 after two weeks of treatment for bronchitis.

The singer of "A Boy Named Sue" and many other country hits suffers from autonomic neuropathy, a disease of the nervous system that makes him susceptible to pneumonia. He has been hospitalized four times since 1998.

-- From wire reports

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