- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

Penny-pinching on pets

Michael Jackson is being sued for unpaid bills by the veterinarian who tends to the pop star’s exotic animals at his Neverland ranch, which the singer has not occupied since being acquitted of child molestation charges in June.

Mr. Jackson has been living in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, but the lawsuit was filed in Santa Maria, Calif., where he stood trial last year.

Martin Dinnes, owner of Dinnes Memorial Veterinary Hospital, claims Mr. Jackson owes $91,602 in veterinary bills. Mr. Dinnes helped the singer acquire animals for his zoo including flamingos, giraffes, elephants and orangutans, said his lawyer, Brenton Horner.

Mr. Dinnes continues to treat the animals regularly, Mr. Horner said.

“He filed this [lawsuit] with great reluctance,” Mr. Horner said. “He has a lot of admiration for Michael. This is just a business matter.”

Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. said he had not seen the complaint and could not comment.

A hearing was set for May 2.

Imus on the morning after

Don Imus, after quitting drinking and cocaine use nearly two decades ago, says he’s still staying clear of temptation.

“I don’t take any chances. I’ve had 18 sober years,” the radio talk-show host says in the February issue of Vanity Fair, on newsstands tomorrow. “I just got to get through the day.”

Reflecting on his past vices, Mr. Imus says he was “not a good drunk.” The 65-year-old also claims he chose to break his cocaine habit because it became “too big a hassle.”

“Cocaine was fun for the first couple lines,” he says. “Then you run out. You never plan ahead. You always run out.

Mr. Imus, host of the syndicated radio program “Imus in the Morning,” which also airs on MSNBC, said he and his wife of 11 years, Deirdre Imus, avoid seeing friends and going out at night.

Costello goes classical

Elvis Costello has found a new touring partner: a symphony orchestra.

The 51-year-old singer-songwriter, whose backing bands in the past have included the Attractions and the Imposters, will team up with symphonies around the U.S. for a tour this spring.

He’ll perform his orchestral work, “Il Sogno,” or “The Dream,” during the first part of each concert, according to his Web site. After intermission, he plans to play his eclectic rock and pop hits.

Mr. Costello marked his composing debut recently with “Il Sogno,” in which he blends classical and jazz styles. An Italian dance company commissioned the music in 2000 for a ballet staging of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Mr. Costello released the work in 2004 as a 24-track album recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra.

The tour kicks off March 27 in San Francisco.

Compiled from wire reports by Kevin Chaffee

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