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People talk 10/31/02

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Neeson nervous about receiving Queen's honor

LONDON -- Actor Liam Neeson said he was nervous when he received a royal honor from Queen Elizabeth II.

"I've not been so nervous since I met Muhammad Ali," said the 50-year-old actor, who received his Order of the British Empire, or OBE, from the queen Tuesday at Buckingham Palace.

"I really was weak-kneed," he said after the ceremony. "She asked me if the award was for theater or films, and I said I thought it was for both. She said, 'That's nice.'"

Neeson was an amateur boxer during his school days. He met Ali, his idol, at London's Dorchester Hotel in 1981.

Neeson's actress-wife, Natasha Richardson, didn't attend the ceremony, remaining at the couple's New York home to look after their two young sons.

"I've got a green card and I'm a resident alien in New York," said the Northern Ireland-born actor, who got his break in acting at the Lyric Theater in Belfast.

"It's been famine and feast," said Neeson, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in 1993's "Schindler's List." "Now, I get a lot of scripts to choose from."

Neeson's films also include "Michael Collins" and "Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace."

Pop star Simpson weds long-time beau

AUSTIN, Texas -- Pop star Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees singer Nick Lachey have tied the knot.

Simpson, 22, wore a custom-made Vera Wang gown during Saturday's ceremony at Riverbend Church. Lachey, 28, wore a Hugo Boss tuxedo.

About 300 people attended, wedding coordinator Mindy Weiss said Tuesday. The reception was held at the Barton Creek Resort and Club.

Country singer Neal McCoy sang Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" for the couple's first dance, Weiss said.

Former Bush counselor writing of experiences

NEW YORK -- Former White House counselor Karen Hughes is writing a book about working with President George W. Bush.

"10 Minutes From Normal" will be released by Penguin Putnam in 2004, the publisher announced Tuesday.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, although several publishing houses bid for the book.

One of Bush's most trusted advisers -- even predating his years as governor of Texas -- Hughes served as White House counselor until quitting last summer and returning to Texas to be with her family.

She is now under contract to the Republican National Committee and continues to advise the president.

According to a Penguin Putnam statement, Hughes will write about her unique relationship with the president, her views about home and family, her much-noted decision to return to Texas and issues of great concern to her, including the image of the U.S. abroad.

Bjork's mother ends hunger strike

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- The mother of pop singer Bjork has ended a hunger strike against a plan to develop the Icelandic highlands.

Hildur Runa Hauksdottir said Tuesday that she began eating again on Sunday evening. She began her fast Oct. 7 to try to persuade Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc. to pull out of the plan to build an aluminum smelter and hydroelectric plant in the wilderness area.

Environmentalists say the $3 billion project will ruin the area above Vatnajokull glacier.

The state-owned power company plans to build 11 dams to create a 22-square-mile reservoir, which will provide the hydroelectric power for the smelter at Reydarfjordur on the coast.

Alcoa spokesman Wade Hughes has said the firm was committed to sustainable industrial development and had a good track record on conservation.

Hauksdottir, 56, said she quit because she was satisfied that her message was having a global impact.

"Americans, Europeans, people in the Far East, have all contacted me asking how they can help, how they can stop this," Hauksdottir said.

"I thank them for their support and I urge them to keep track by reading the campaign Web site. But a lot more work needs to be done -- time is running out."

Hauksdottir lost more than 14 pounds during her protest, surviving on Icelandic herbal tea and homeopathic tonics.

Bjork arrived in Iceland Sunday -- the 36-year-old singer's first visit since she gave birth to her daughter this month.-- From wire reports


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