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Taking Names: Chenoweth starts 19-city tour

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Kristin Chenoweth is taking the long way home.

The Tony Award-winning singer and actress announced Wednesday that she'll kick off her first-ever concert tour on May 9 in Seattle and it will end June 24 in Broken Arrow, Okla., the town where she grew up.

"I've sung all over the place but I've never committed to a tour because of my schedule," said the petite beauty with the powerful pipes. "So now I'm finally doing it."

Miss Chenoweth's 19-city North America tour will include stops in the District and Baltimore. In her hometown, the main 1,500-seat stage at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center will be renamed in her honor, according to the Associated Press.

"For me, it will be very emotional," she said.

Mark Frie, the arts center's executive director, said Broken Arrow has been looking for a way to honor Miss Chenoweth since the facility opened its doors three years ago. "We're excited to welcome her home," he said.

On tour, Miss Chenoweth said she'll perform songs from her latest country-inspired album "Some Lessons Learned," as well tunes from the TV show "Glee" and ones from her Broadway shows, such as "Popular" from "Wicked."

"If I don't do 'Popular,' I will go out on a stretcher. I know that," she said, laughing. "I've accepted it, and you know what? I'm thankful for it. I'm glad that I have songs that I'm known for."

Miss Chenoweth, 43, won a Tony Award in 1999 for her performance in "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" and an Emmy Award for the TV show "Pushing Daisies." She was nominated in 2004 for originating the role of Glinda in "Wicked" and was last on Broadway in 2010 in "Promises, Promises."

Tickets go on sale March 9.

Witherspoon addresses domestic violence

Actress Reese Witherspoon has had the talk with her two young children. Not the sex talk. The domestic violence talk.

As a global ambassador for Avon's efforts to help victims of domestic violence, Miss Witherspoon traveled to the Washington area to speak to the 2nd World Conference of Women's Shelters, prompting a talk with Ava, 12, and Deacon, 8. Though she said her kids were shocked to hear how one in three women is abused in this country, Miss Witherspoon said it was important for them to be aware of the problem, especially her daughter who's almost old enough date.

At a time when bullies are responding with violence, Miss Witherspoon also said parents must educate themselves and their children about social media and "what constitutes harassment, what is acceptable and what is not."

Domestic violence is a topic in many songs, including Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead," where she sings about shooting an abusive husband. Miss Witherspoon said such songs "create retaliation fantasies," which are "a very important part of our psychology," but she doesn't think they replace the effectiveness of going public about domestic violence.

Miss Witherspoon said talking publicly "creates empowerment" among women and helps them feel they're not alone. She said it often gives them the courage to go to a shelter or take legal action that could save their lives.

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip to open 2012 Olympics

Queen Elizabeth II's busy summer calendar just got a bit more crowded.

The monarch will open both the 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics this summer, signaling that both events will be celebrated as great state occasions — something the British are famous for. It is the first time the queen has opened the Paralympic Games.

The monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, will perform the ceremonial role at the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium when the Olympic games begin on July 27, and for the Paralympic Games that start Aug. 29, the Associated Press reports.

The queen follows in the footsteps of her father, the late King George VI, who opened the 1948 London Olympics, and her great-grandfather, King Edward VII, who opened the 1908 London Olympics. The queen also opened the 1976 Olympics Games in Montreal as she is the head of state of Canada, while Philip did so on her behalf at Melbourne, Australia, in 1956.

The decision to open both ceremonies caps a very busy year for the queen, whose diamond jubilee this year marks her 60 years on the throne.

The queen, 85, and Philip, 90, are planning an extensive tour of the United Kingdom during the celebrations, including visits to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Philip is still planning to stick to the schedule despite his December heart scare, which required a stent to keep his coronary arteries open.

All-star lineup slated for Cash birthday bash

A diverse all-star lineup will celebrate the 80th birthday of Johnny Cash with an April concert.

Kenny Chesney, Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams, Ray LaMontagne and Jamey Johnson are among the performers scheduled to appear in "We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash" on April 20 at the Austin City Limits Live venue in Austin, Texas.

Chris Cornell, Ronnie Dunn, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Amy Lee and Shooter Jennings also will perform. Tickets are on sale.

Though Cash died in 2003 at age 71, interest in his music and legacy continue. Several celebrations are planned. Members of the Cash family gathered Sunday in Dyess, Ark., on what would have been Cash's 80th birthday, to break ground on a museum at his boyhood home.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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