Sunday, May 5, 2002

U.S.-born Jordanian queen touts Islam

NEW YORK -- Hoping to clear up misconceptions about Islam and plug her upcoming memoir, Jordan's Queen Noor addressed about 500 publishers and booksellers Saturday.

"Part of my mission is to portray the Muslim faith as I understand it," she told attendees of a national publishers' fair, adding that Islam is often characterized as a "backward, fanatical religion."

"This is not the Islam that I know and wholeheartedly embraced just before my marriage," she said.

Her memoir, "Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life," is slated for November publication. The book is expected to discuss Noor's childhood in America as Lisa Halaby, her days at Princeton in its first coeducational graduating class, and her life as Queen Noor al-Hussein, wife of King Hussein, who died in 1999.

"I ... hope this book will contribute to countering the many misconceptions in the West about Islam and the Arab world in general," she said.

Johnny Carson pays debt 50 years later

OMAHA, Neb. -- Never let it be said Johnny Carson does not pay his debts -- even some 50 years later.

Bob Sweet knew the former king of late-night television when Carson regaled friends with magic tricks at the Seven Seas lounge.

One night in the early 1950s, the WOW radio personality stopped by the bar, saying he needed $10 for cab fare.

Sweet gave him the money after making a bartender named "Zim" write out the IOU on a napkin. Sweet kept the paper for years but eventually misplaced it, figuring it was gone with the $10 Carson borrowed.

On a whim, Sweet recently wrote Carson, reminding the retired star not only about the loan, but ribbing him about the interest due.

The money was promptly mailed back with a note: "Bob, it was my opinion it was a no-interest loan. Sincerely, Johnny Carson."

'Buffy,' Jack Black lead MTV movie awards

LOS ANGELES -- Sarcastic comic Jack Black and comely "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar have been tapped to be hosts for the MTV Movie Awards show.

MTV President Van Toffler said Friday he hoped teaming the outrageous comic rocker with the attractive vampire slayer "will make for an explosive and unpredictable show."

The music network encourages outrageousness during the program, with 2000 host Sarah Jessica Parker appearing clad only in a towel at one point, and Hugh Jackman and John Travolta accepting a dare last year to flash their bellies onstage.

Federal judge puts stop to ex-playmate's award

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A federal judge ruled enough was enough for former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, refusing to add $30 million to an $88 million award from the estate of her late husband.

Smith attorney Philip W. Boesch asked for the money April 15, telling the court it represents the interest Smith would have earned on the $88 million she was awarded in March from J. Howard Marshall's estate.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter ruled Thursday that Smith will have to get along with the $88 million, saying it was meant to compensate her for the gifts promised her by Marshall.

Carter also said he wanted to punish her stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, for interfering with his father's plan to give $88 million to the model. The judge said Smith could return to Los Angeles bankruptcy court, where the case was first heard, if she wants to pursue the interest money.

E. Pierce Marshall has said he will appeal Carter's $88 million award.

Smith's husband died at age 90 in August 1995, 14 months after they wed.

Ex-NBC boss says TV 'more fun' before cable

LOS ANGELES -- Former NBC chairman Grant Tinker remembers the days when decisions, and profits, were easy in the television business.

Before the advent of cable in the 1980s and the obsession with ratings and profits that now grips the industry, television was "much more fun," Tinker said at recent festivities marking NBC's 75th anniversary at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

"It was such a breeze to do what we did with three networks getting 90 percent of the audience every night. It was ... no-lose," he said.

Tinker helped build NBC into a ratings leader by sticking with shows like "Cheers" and "Hill Street Blues" for several seasons while they built their audiences.

Elton John records video for queen's jubilee

LONDON -- Elton John performed at Buckingham Palace -- but Queen Elizabeth II was not at home to hear him.

The singer recorded a song to be played at a concert in honor of the queen's Golden Jubilee on June 3. John will be on tour and unable to perform at the show, which will be held on the palace grounds.

"Elton was disappointed that he couldn't be at the concert on June 3, and he wanted to do something special," a spokesman said Friday on customary condition of anonymity.

He said John filmed a video in the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. He did not say which song the star recorded.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, were not at the palace at the time.

The 76-year-old monarch is marking 50 years on the throne with a series of public events around the country, including a long weekend of parades, parties and concerts in London June 1 to 4.

Two concerts -- one classical and one pop -- will be held on the palace lawn. The pop concert will feature stars such as Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin and Eric Clapton. More than a million people have entered a ballot for the 12,000 free tickets for each show.

-- From wire reports

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