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In the news

By Times wires and staff report
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 13, 2002

Refunds available for Guns N' Roses concert

At long last, Clear Channel Entertainment on Thursday canceled the Guns N' Roses tour (including the show at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight) that most everybody knew was doomed anyway. Ticket refunds are available at the point of purchase. The Times Forum's box office number is (813) 301-2500.

Marathon toy drive to aid needy families

WWRM-FM (94.9), WTSP-Ch. 10, the U.S. Marines and Toys For Tots are conducting a 14-hour broadcast marathon today to help needy families. The Marines will collect new, unwrapped toys at the Wal-Mart at 1501 N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Chadd and Kristi from WWRM's "Magic Morning Show" will be there for the marathon.

Clarkson might have broken 'American Idol' rules

She might be America's sweetheart, but some are saying Kelly Clarkson is not that innocent.

The American Idol winner, who took the country by storm last summer as the doe-eyed amateur singer she appeared to be, may have already had a recording contract -- and was in the middle of making a record for someone else -- when she showed up to audition for the show, the New York Post quotes Star magazine as reporting.

If true, it means Clarkson may have violated the show's rule about being an amateur with no prior professional singing experience. According to Star, Clarkson -- who got a $1-million recording contract that spawned her No. 1 song A Moment Like This when she won the talent show -- was already recording an album with three producers (including Carole King's ex-husband, Gerry Goffin) before appearing on the show. The show's rules state that contestants must be complete amateurs, and each of them signed releases stating they had never recorded anything.

Noted songwriters Michael Blum, Barry Goldberg and Goffin now say they had Clarkson under contract a month before the Idol auditions began, the magazine says.

"She signed a production agreement with us in early March to record a full slate of 12 songs for an album, but after doing five wonderful songs, she walked out," Goldberg tells Star.

"The next time I saw her was on TV a couple of months later competing on American Idol."

There was no comment from the American Idol camp.

Hints to new 'Harry Potter' sell for more than $45,000

An American collector has paid more than $45,000 for a card full of clues to the plot of the long-awaited fifth Harry Potter book.

The unidentified buyer made the winning bid Thursday for the card, handwritten by author J.K. Rowling as a charity fundraiser. The money will be used to buy thousands of books for schools in Africa.

Whether the buyer, who paid $45,314, chooses to keep the contents secret remains to be seen.

The story of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a closely guarded secret, and Sotheby's auction house in London only revealed that the words "Ron ... broom ... sacked ... house-elf ... new ... teacher ... dies ... sorry" are among the 93 words on the card.

Rowling produced the teaser at a Society of Authors conference earlier this year for an auction to help benefit Book Aid International. The charity supports book distribution in 40 of the world's poorest countries.

Boat parades rescheduled

The Tierra Verde Lighted Boat Parade, which had been scheduled for Thursday, was postponed because of bad weather. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday. The Treasure Island boat parade, canceled earlier this week, has been rescheduled for Monday.

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