- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Urban Down Under

Country music singer-songwriter Keith Urban says he’ll be spending his holiday season Down Under, where they celebrate yuletide cheer a little differently.

“We actually go to the beach at Christmastime because it’s the middle of the summer in Australia,” Mr. Urban told Associated Press.

“It’s kind of like a cross between Thanksgiving and Fourth of July because we eat way too much and it’s completely stinking hot outside, so, you know — a mixture of all great holidays at once.”

This season, Mr. Urban said, he has plenty to be thankful for. He sees “years and years of work starting slowly to bloom.”

The Oprah touch

As if we didn’t know: A new study says Oprah Winfrey’s book endorsements mean gold for publishers.

“Oprah’s recommendations had a bigger impact on the sales of books than anything we have previously seen in literature, or seen since,” said Brigham Young University economics professor Richard Butler, whose study appears in Publishing Research Quarterly.

A tout from Miss Winfrey not only can lift a book from obscurity, but also keeps it on the best-seller lists for weeks.

Among the authors who benefited most were Barbara Kingsolver, whose “Poisonwood Bible” was on the best-seller list for 137 weeks, and Billie Letts, whose “Where the Heart Is” has a 98-week run.

Waist management

Kirstie Alley wants to be thin again. The “Fat Actress” star recently signed a deal to appear in ads for the Jenny Craig weight-management program.

The TV commercials will begin airing Jan. 10, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company announced this week, according to AP. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“I had a great time getting fat and now I’m going to have an even greater time losing weight,” Miss Alley, 53, said. “I had four offers from other companies, but I wanted to go with the … one that I knew would work — and, let’s face it, Jenny Craig’s food is hands-down the yummiest.”

The bad Apple

In the 1997 film “Murder at 1600,” Wesley Snipes’ character had issues with the District’s city government. But in real life, Mr. Snipes has it in for New York: He sued the city Monday, claiming it had no jurisdiction to seek his DNA in a paternity suit filed in Indiana by a woman he said was crack-addicted and mentally ill.

The federal suit, according to E! Online, seeks to nullify a March arrest warrant filed against the 42-year-old star of the “Blade” trilogy by a New York family court judge, who also is named in the complaint, and to prevent Indiana prosecutors from continuing to seek the actor’s DNA.

Mr. Snipes’ lawyer, Robert Bernhoft, said his client lives in Orlando, Fla., so New York City had no jurisdiction to file the warrant.

Sweating hits

Songwriter Butch Walker doesn’t mind throwing his weaker works at swine.

Known for penning Avril Lavigne’s recent single “My Happy Ending” as well as “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” by Bowling for Soup, Mr. Walker says that the songs that make it on the radio don’t necessarily deserve to.

“There’s a difference between a hit song and your best song, and a lot of people don’t get that,” he told AP. “The same people saying that are the same people that think Ashlee Simpson is genius.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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