- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Ozzy out of woods

He won’t make it home for Christmas, but Ozzy Osbourne was released from intensive care yesterday and admitted into a private clinic near London, his family said in a joint statement.

The 55-year-old metal singer fractured his collarbone, eight ribs and a neck vertebra when a 600-pound off-road vehicle flipped and landed on top of him at his estate in southern England, according to Associated Press.

Mr. Osbourne’s wife, Sharon, has said it will take six months for her husband to recover fully.

“The Osbourne family are very happy that Ozzy has been allowed out of the intensive care unit for Christmas and would like to thank everyone for their kind support, well wishes and prayers,” the statement says.

Perhaps he received a convalescent charge from the news that “Changes,” a duet with daughter Kelly Osbourne, topped the British charts last week.

Michael’s ministers

Bill Clinton had “spiritual advisers” whenever he found himself in desperate straits. Michael Jackson has Darryl Strawberry, the trouble-prone baseball star who has become a member of the Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla.

Along with televangelist Paula White and associate pastor Rob Mallan, the eight-time major-league All-Star ministered to Mr. Jackson during a trip to the singer’s Neverland Ranch last weekend, Randy White, the church’s head pastor, told Associated Press.

Since his release earlier this year from an 11-month prison stay stemming from a probation violation on a prior cocaine possession conviction, Mr. Strawberry, 41, has turned to the ministry as a new career.

“If [Mr. Jackson] is guilty, he needs some type of ministry and counseling,” Mr. White told AP. “and if he’s not guilty, he needs some kind of ministry and counseling with all he’s been through. We are not the judge. We are waiting to see the outcome.”

Bruce truce

The R.E.M. song says he wasn’t afraid, but there was still the matter of that obscenity conviction — until yesterday, when it was removed posthumously from his record.

Nearly 40 years after his death in 1966, the late comedian Lenny Bruce was pardoned by New York Gov. George Pataki for giving a foulmouthed stand-up performance in a Greenwich Village nightclub.

Mr. Pataki said his decision — the first posthumous pardon in state history — was “a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment,” according to Associated Press.

The pardon “is really a major step forward in recognizing the mistreatment of Lenny Bruce personally and of the First Amendment that Bruce defended,” said Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment lawyer who spearheaded a campaign this past spring to clear Mr. Bruce’s name.

“I truly believe my father’s soul can rest in peace with this,” Kitty Bruce said.

Christmas staple

If “you’ll shoot your eye out” is as familiar a seasonal saying as “Bah, humbug,” then you’ll agree that “A Christmas Story” has entered the pantheon of Christmas movies.

In a 20th-anniversary DVD, director Bob Clark and now grown-up star Peter Billingsley reflect on why the movie about young Ralphie’s quest to obtain a coveted Red Ryder BB gun still strikes a chord with audiences.

“It catches the truth,” Mr. Clark told Associated Press. “It’s about the American sense that there is something great in our destiny, and Ralphie’s is to get that BB gun with a compass in the stock.”

It has a unique personal touch, too. “I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, ‘You know, he’s just like my dad,’” says Graemm Bridget McGavin, daughter of Darren McGavin, who played Ralphie’s father and, at 81, is suffering the results of a severe stroke.

“Probably about 10 years ago, when it started getting mentioned in the same breath as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ — and people weren’t disagreeing with that — that’s when I realized, ‘Wow, this thing might be around for a really long while,’ ” Mr. Billingsley, now 32, told Associated Press.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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