People talk 1/2/02

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

'Survivor' puts farmer's face on shirts

Life in rural Smyth County, Va., hasn't been the same since goat farmer "Big" Tom Buchanan made his television debut this fall on CBS's "Survivor: Africa."

Buchanan, 46, finished taping the show months ago, but even his son swears that he doesn't know if his father will win the show's top prize. The network bans Buchanan from talking about "Survivor: Africa" until he is eliminated.

The farmer came home in early September and tried to get back to everyday life.

He makes morning visits to KJ's Kountry Korner for a fried bologna sandwich and a bottle of Mountain Dew. Then, with a cell phone constantly ringing by his side, he works the farm.

Tourists have filtered into the region with the hopes of meeting "Big Tom" and buying one of his autographed T-shirts.

"He's a hoot," Chilhowie resident Cathy Waters said last week as she sorted through T-shirts showing Buchanan on the cover of TV Guide. "Everybody likes him."

"Survivor," which requires contestants to vote out one member each week, is down to Buchanan and four others. The $1 million jackpot will be awarded after the season finale on Jan. 10.

Hackman appearing in three films

For a guy that dropped out of high school at age 16 to join the Marine Corps, things have turned out pretty well for actor Gene Hackman.

"When my senior class at high school was in the classroom, there I was in China," Hackman said in Sunday's Parade magazine. "I was never a great Marine, but I had a lot of fun."

After he got out of the Marines, he headed straight for New York to attend acting school.

"I'd been there about a year when Dustin Hoffman came to town," Hackman said. "We'd known each other from the Pasadena Playhouse, so he moved in, and we began to hang out with Bobby Duvall, whom I knew. Later, I was introduced to Warren Beatty, and fortunately, he had a movie job ("Bonnie and Clyde") for me."

Hackman, currently appearing in three films -- the "Heist," the "Royal Tenenbaums" and "Behind Enemy Lines" -- says he's finally taking a breather.

"I don't have a movie job set up right now," he said. "I'm 71 years old, and I'm trying desperately to slow down. So I'll wait and see how these three do and then look around."

In the meantime, he's working on his second novel and painting.

Hackman, who has been in more than 80 movies, has won Oscars for his roles in "The French Connection" and "Unforgiven."

Hip-hop helps O.J. deal with life after trial

O.J. Simpson says hip-hop music helped him deal with life in the aftermath of his murder trial.

Speaking before a hip-hop concert he was to host on Sunday, Simpson said he became involved with hip-hop after listening to the music of slain rapper Tupac Shakur.

"He was singing about having these crazy things happening around him, and I could relate to that," Simpson said.

Simpson was acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles. He moved to Florida from California after a civil court ordered him to pay $33.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Simpson said he was angered by the accusations and innuendoes being floated by lawyers, so-called experts and the media during the criminal trial.

"I was really bitter. I wanted to scream," he said.

The hip-hop concert was canceled early Monday after only 100 people showed up.

'Rings' director Jackson honored in New Zealand

Peter Jackson, director of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," was honored by his native New Zealand on Monday.

Jackson, who was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, said his award was a "great thing" for New Zealand creativity.

"We're used to the achievements of our sporting heroes being honored, and it's nice to have recognition for the arts and culture. To me that means more than any personal thing," he said.

Jackson shot the movie and two other yet-to-be released parts of a film trilogy based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien in New Zealand.

Jackson praised his partner and co-scriptwriter, Fran Walsh, who was also named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The pair are among more than 190 New Zealanders honored for their work in many fields.

--From wire reports

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