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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 1, 2001

Imagine an airport named for John Lennon

Strawberry airfields? Lucy in the sky with jet planes? Liverpool, England, is renaming its airport after one of its most famous sons, the late Beatle John Lennon.

"Throughout the world John Lennon is synonymous with Liverpool," airport chairman Robert Hough said Friday. "The new name places the airport firmly on the international map."

The airport will officially become Liverpool John Lennon Airport when a new terminal opens there in the spring of 2002.

Its new logo will include a Lennon self-portrait and the printed line "above us only sky," from his popular solo composition Imagine. Peel Holdings, which owns the airport, also has commissioned a statue of the slain star.

"As a gateway to the region, this will be seen by millions of passengers and is a fitting tribute to the memory of my late husband," said his widow, Yoko Ono.

Actors, producers talk as contract nears end

Negotiators for Hollywood actors and producers were meeting Saturday in an eleventh-hour effort to reach a new contract and avert what could be a crippling walkout for the television and movie industry.

Talks began Saturday morning and were expected to continue into the night.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists represent 135,000 members. Their negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and networks, began May 15 and have progressed slowly.

Neither side has commented in detail about the status of negotiations.

Uncertainty over the talks had prompted studios to accelerate production. Among the guilds' top concerns was increasing pay for the nearly 75,000 actors who earn between $30,000 and $70,000 annually. Only about 2 percent of the guilds' membership earn more than $100,000 a year.

'People' covers Ryan, Crowe breakup

In its new cover story on Meg Ryan, 39, People magazine gets the goods on her breakup with Gladiator star Russell Crowe, 37.

By late December of last year, colleagues and friends noticed a cooling of the couple's public ardor.

"I think it was your typical co-star fling, destined to run its course and burn out," the magazine quotes an unidentified crewmember of the couple's movie, Proof of Life.

But in fact, Crowe's affection was only burning brighter, according to a friend of Ryan the magazine quoted anonymously: "Russell wanted to marry Meg and have kids with her." But Ryan felt that Crowe's attention and gifts -- including a puppy and a vintage 1963 Buick Riviera -- were "too much too soon. It was overwhelming."

More disturbing to Ryan was his failure to publicly deny the Russell-dumped-Meg reports. "Nobody corrected the misperception," the friend says. "He never came to her aid. It still works to humiliate her."

Harrelson takes a break from hemp. A short one.

It's not really news that Woody Harrelson has all but given up his film career to champion his pet cause, hemp legalization, but here's a bombshell from the laid-back star: He's given up pot, reports Mr. Showbiz.

Well, for a few days, at least. He told Premiere magazine he was so shaken up by a friend's recent bicycle accident that he sought the drastic action of breaking out of his self-acknowledged "perpetual fog."

"I've been so shaken up lately that I can't even bring myself to smoke weed," says the 39-year-old actor-activist of his reaction to close friend and hemp activist Joe Hickey's accident. "It's been four days since I burned one."

Short takes

ELLROY'S L.A.: Fans who enjoy tales of Tinseltown's underbelly have reason to rejoice. James Ellroy, whose noir L.A. Confidential was made into a feature film in 1997, is returning to the screen, this time with three projects based on his work. USA Network will produce James Ellroy's Los Angeles. The miniseries, to be televised in September 2002, will weave real-life and fictional characters as seen through Ellroy's eyes.

HE'S STILL BOND: Pierce Brosnan can breathe easy -- he won't have to give up his James Bond gadgets any time soon. Eon Productions, which makes the 007 films, on Friday denied that it was looking to replace the 48-year-old Brosnan. Producers "confirm Pierce Brosnan will play James Bond in the forthcoming production and for the foreseeable future," Eon said in a statement.

OPERA'S CIGNA DIES: French soprano Gina Cigna, famed for singing Puccini's Turandot, has died at age 101. Cigna died Tuesday in Milan, Italy, news reports said this week. An auto accident ended Cigna's performing career in 1947.

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