- The Washington Times - Monday, September 27, 2004

Conan replaces Jay

Associated Press

NBC announced yesterday that Conan O’Brien will take over from Jay Leno as host of the “Tonight” show.

He’ll have time to write his jokes — the planned succession won’t happen until 2009.

The announcement solves a delicate problem for NBC, which realized Mr. O’Brien was getting antsy in his “Late Night” time slot (12:35 a.m. EST) and wanted to keep him from jumping to another network.

“In 2009, I’ll be 59 years old and will have had this dream job for 17 years,” Mr. Leno said. “When I signed my new contract, I felt that the timing was right to plan for my successor, and there is no one more qualified than Conan.”

“Plus, I promised Mavis I would take her out for dinner before I turned 60,” the notoriously workaholic Mr. Leno said about his wife.

The prominent-jawed Mr. Leno took over from Johnny Carson on “Tonight” in 1992. After a few years of trailing the man he beat out for the job in the ratings — David Letterman — he has since passed the CBS star and has been dominant in the late-night time slot.

Dances with rings

Actor Kevin Costner married his (much younger) girlfriend, Christine Baumgartner, last weekend in a ceremony set against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains at his ranch in Aspen, Colo.

Mr. Costner, 49, and Miss Baumgartner, 30, who, according to Reuters, designs handbags, have been engaged since June 2003. It’s the second marriage for Mr. Costner and the first for Miss Baumgartner.

Stayin’ alive

John Travolta says Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep all have something in common, and he’s hoping the same holds true for him.”Some of their best roles have come in their 40s and 50s,” he told the Hollywood Reporter after appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“The one good thing about getting older is that there is more of a variety of opportunities. You can fit more niches than you could before — there are these areas and nooks and crannies that open up,” Mr. Travolta said. “I’ve never been a believer that men and women getting older limits your opportunities. I think it expands.”

Jacko at Yale

The Skull and Bones secret society at Yale University may want to change its name to Skull and Elephant Man’s Bones, because Michael Jackson is on the quad.

…Well, sort of.

Mr. Jackson was the subject of a scholarly conference at the Ivy League school last week, AP reports.

Eighteen eggheads discussed sexual, racial and artistic aspects of Mr. Jackson’s life and music in the first academic meeting to study him.

Mr. Jackson “in many ways is the black male crossover artist of the 20th century,” said Seth Clark Silberman, who teaches about race and gender at Yale. “He has grown up in front of us, so we have a great investment in him, even though some people today may find his image disturbing.”

The two-day conference avoided details of the child molestation case against Mr. Jackson in California, but it did look at how the media has reported the case.

Panelists also discussed Mr. Jackson’s plastic surgery and his skin-tone change from dark to light (which Mr. Jackson has said is caused by a condition called vitiligo).

Fight the power

Some artists think online music swapping is a sign of Armageddon.

On the other hand, there are artists such as Elvis Costello.

The critically revered and outspoken musician has added a personal note on his newest Lost Highway release, “The Delivery Man.” The back cover bears the official FBI seal and the standardized wording warning against “criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain.”

Reuters News Agency notes, however, that Mr. Costello has added his own comment: “This artist does not endorse the following warning. The FBI doesn’t have his home phone number, and he hopes that they don’t have yours.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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