People Talk 10/28/02

Monday, October 28, 2002

Statler Brothers say goodbye in Salem

SALEM, Va. -- Legend has it that the Statler Brothers got their name from a box of tissues.

That seemed only fitting after their final concert Saturday night: Much of the audience was bathed in tears.

After 38 years of touring, the down-home boys from Staunton are packing up and retiring from the road to spend more time with their families.

"They are just like the rest of us, they're getting older," said Elsa Brinkley, 96, one of the nearly 7,000 mostly gray-haired fans who attended the sold-out farewell concert at the Salem Civic Center. "We saw them when they started and we'll see them when they finish."

Brinkley has watched the group move from concerts at church halls and state fairs to recording more than 50 albums.

As the Brothers settled into their routine, they played perennial hits, including "Class of '57" and "Flowers on the Wall." They closed with the first song they ever sang together, "Amazing Grace."

According to one popular story, band member Harold Reid came up with the quartet's name after spotting a box of Statler Tissues in a hotel room.

"We might have been called the Kleenex Brothers," Reid has often said.

Rhea holds auditions with a sense of humor

MILWAUKEE -- They came with guitars, Hawaiian-patterned skirts, spoons, their voices -- and a sense of humor.

About 60 people, mostly amateur comics and singers, auditioned Saturday in front of Caroline Rhea for a chance to appear on her talk show and win a new SUV.

"I was really impressed by a lot of people," said Rhea.

"The Caroline Rhea Show" is looking for dancers, singers, comedians and anything out of the ordinary at auditions and in videotapes contestants send in.

Successful candidates will appear on her show in November and viewers will vote for their favorites. The winner, to be announced Nov. 27, gets a moment in the limelight and a 2002 Dodge Durango SLT.

Between 120 and 150 people have auditioned so far in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Milwaukee, Rhea said. She is to visit Minneapolis on Friday and Phoenix Nov. 2.

Former NFL player has problems with land deal

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's highest court has overturned a public land sale that gave former NFL lineman Rulon Jones 160 acres of mountainous land near a ski area in Ogden Valley to use as a hunting ranch.

A group of hunters, hikers and horse riders sued Weber County, saying Jones got a plum, no-bid deal with no public notice, paying $200 an acre for land worth 10 times as much.

Jones, formerly of the Denver Broncos, called it Broadmouth Canyon Ranch.

The Utah Supreme Court voided the 1999 land deal because the county and planning commissions held no public hearings on it.

Weber County resident Ben Toone said a county commissioner arranged the sale with Jones. Other commissioners approved and Jones was provided a deed the same day.

Jones' lawyer, Michael Houtz of Ogden, said he was "personally very disappointed in the analysis" of the Utah Supreme Court. "I don't think they fully looked at all the statute."

But some residents expressed delight.

"As of today, the public is allowed full access and right to enjoy the 160 acres," said Robert Fuller, an Ogden Valley resident.

Poets' daughter seeks her share of estate

LONDON -- The daughter of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has accused her stepmother of withholding money Hughes wanted her to have.

Hughes' will left all of his $2.2 million estate to his widow, Carol Hughes, when he died of cancer in 1998.

But the one-time British poet laureate's daughter, Frieda Hughes, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that her father also left a letter instructing Carol Hughes to share proceeds from sales of his books with his two children and his sister, Olwyn.

She said the dispute had left her "not only without my father, whose loss devastated me, but also without the stepmother whom I had loved, and trusted, as my father did."

She said her stepmother sent her a check six months after Ted Hughes' death for a portion of his works' earnings, but subsequently made clear that she felt she was not legally bound by his letter.

Frieda Hughes said her stepmother had not refused outright to share further proceeds, but that she had placed unreasonable obstacles in the way of any distribution.

She said she had no wish for court proceedings.

The Sunday Telegraph quoted Carol Hughes' lawyer, Damon Parker, as saying Ted Hughes' letter had "no legal status."

Ted Hughes' books included "Birthday Letters," a collection of passionate and mournful poems about his marriage to the celebrated American poet Plath, published only months before his death. Plath committed suicide in 1963.

-- From wire reports

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