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American Scene

- - Thursday, December 16, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Director Blake Edwards dies of pneumonia

LOS ANGELES — Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignancy and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "10" and the "Pink Panther" farces, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Mr. Edwards died from complications of pneumonia at about 10:30 p.m. at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said publicist Gene Schwam. Mr. Edwards' wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side. He had been hospitalized for about two weeks.

Mr. Edwards had knee problems, had undergone unsuccessful procedures and was "pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last year and a half or two," Mr. Schwam said. That may have contributed to his condition, he added.

At the time of his death, Mr. Edwards was working on two Broadway musicals, one based on the "Pink Panther" movies. The other, "Big Rosemary," was to be an original comedy set during Prohibition, Mr. Schwam said.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Metro to start random bag searches

Metro Transit Police will start random inspections of passengers' bags at entrances to rail stations and bus bays, agency officials announced Thursday.

The program is based on similar efforts in Boston and New York, where they have been viewed favorably by the public, said Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn. The inspections have been in the works for years, and are not a response to any particular threat, he said.

Officers will swab randomly selected bags or packages and test for hazardous materials, Chief Taborn said. Items generally won't have to be opened for inspection unless the equipment suggests a need for a closer look.

Riders who refuse to submit their carry-on items for inspection will be prohibited from bringing those items into the station. Checkpoints will be located before turnstiles so riders who don't want their property to be searched can choose not to enter.

MICHIGAN

Father: 'Organization' has missing boys

ADRIAN — The father of three missing Michigan brothers says he gave them to someone from an "organization" who visited his home on Thanksgiving.

John Skelton told a judge on Thursday that he knows the organization but "didn't know the person."

The Daily Telegram of Adrian says Mr. Skelton refused to identify the group. He was testifying at a court hearing related to the custody of 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner.

The boys have been missing since Thanksgiving, when they were at Mr. Skelton's home in Morenci on the Michigan-Ohio state line. Mr. Skelton has been jailed on parental kidnapping charges; the court hearing was unrelated to his criminal case.

His estranged wife, Tanya Skelton, was in court. Mr. Skelton asked her why she wasn't wearing her ring.

PENNSYLVANIA

Vick says he would like to have a pet dog

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick is barred from owning a dog for a year and a half, but the star quarterback's comment that he'd like to bring one into his house generated renewed outrage — and support.

The convicted dogfighting ring operator told the news site TheGrio.com that he genuinely cares about animals and would like to have one for a pet again.

"I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process," he said.

Vick has made similar statements before, but this time, it seemed to have grabbed the world's attention. For example, the gambling website Bodog.com is offering bets on what breed of dog Vick might own in the next two years.

Vick served 18 months in prison after being convicted in 2007. A federal judge also sentenced him to three years' probation, ending in May 2012. One of the terms: He may not own dogs during that time.

Humane Society of the United States President Wayne Pacelle said it's too early for Vick to have a dog, but that it could be appropriate after his probation ends.

Since his release from prison, Vick has worked with the group and makes school appearances to talk to students about his past.

From wire dispatches and staff reports