- - Thursday, November 11, 2010


Intrepid producer De Laurentiis dies

LOS ANGELES | Dino De Laurentiis, one of the last great, intrepid film producers who with unmatched showmanship shepherded movies as varied as “La Strada” and “Barbarella,” died Wednesday night in his Beverly Hills home. He was 91.

Mr. De Laurentiis helped build the Italian film industry during the heyday of its “new wave,” oversaw seminal American films such as “Serpico” and “Blue Velvet,” and pursued blockbusters in flops like “Dune” and critical fiascos such as the 1976 remake of “King Kong,” which nearly ended the career of a young Jessica Lange.

In producing more than 500 wide-ranging films over six decades, he presided over an incredible mix of triumphs and trash. That the same filmmaker could be involved with Federico Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria” and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Conan the Barbarian” would seem to contradict normal understanding of taste. Instead, he was irrevocably drawn to the spectacle of the movies.


Chrysler Jeep SUVs, GM sedans recalled

General Motors said Thursday it is recalling nearly 14,000 sedans to address potential problems with the power steering. Chrysler, meanwhile, is recalling about 16,000 Jeep Liberty SUVs to fix faulty windshield wiper systems.

GM’s recall involves certain 2010 and 2011 model year Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne sedans with V8 engines.

The cars have alternator cables that can wear through a power steering line, leading to a fluid leak. A leak could cause a loss of power steering and lead to a crash.

Chrysler’s recall involves certain 2008 model year Jeep Liberty SUVs. Water could get into the windshield wiper motor and stop the wipers, which could reduce a driver’s visibility and lead to a crash.


Man sentenced in scaring death

GASTONIA | A bank robbery suspect whom authorities accused of scaring an elderly woman to death after hiding in her home has been sentenced to life in prison.

Larry Whitfield of Charlotte was sentenced Wednesday in federal court, authorities told North Carolina media outlets. Whitfield, 22, had been convicted of attempted bank robbery, weapons offenses and seeking to avoid arrest for attempted bank robbery.

Prosecutors say Whitfield and another man tried to rob a Gastonia credit union in September 2009. They say Whitfield forced his way into the home of Mary Parnell, 79, to elude police.

Police say Whitfield made Mrs. Parnell sit in a chair and soon left the house. An autopsy report said Mrs. Parnell died of a heart attack brought on by “stress during home invasion.”


Torn-down stack falls on power lines

SPRINGFIELD | A nearly 300-foot smokestack being demolished at an old Ohio power plant toppled in the wrong direction and sent spectators scrambling Wednesday before knocking down two 12,000-volt power lines and crashing onto a building housing backup generators, officials said.

No injuries were reported after the 275-foot stack at the unused 83-year-old Mad River Power Plant teetered and then fell in a southeast direction, instead of east, as originally planned, seconds after explosives were detonated.

The falling stack brought down the power lines and sent spectators scrambling to avoid the sparking lines.

Officials estimated that about 4,000 customers in the Springfield area lost power because of the downed lines.

Lisa Kelly, the president and owner of Idaho-based Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc., which handled the demolition, told the News-Sun that the explosives detonated correctly, but an undetected crack on the south side of the stack pulled it in a different direction.


Dirty dancing cancels formal

PORTLAND | Frustrated teachers who have been unable to stop students from grinding on the dance floor have canceled the winter formal at an Oregon high school.

Vice Principal Pam Joyner told the Oregonian chaperones have tried everything to prevent the inappropriate contact — lectures, shining flashlights, and even T-shirts that said “No bumping.”

Nothing worked. So, teachers at the Portland school are refusing to chaperone the January dance.

The school’s special projects coordinator, Jan Watt, said the students dance like people they see on TV.

Some students told the Oregonian grinding is no big deal, but they wouldn’t want their parents to watch.


Court: Second wife to get NFL pension

PHILADELPHIA | A Pennsylvania woman should get the NFL pension of former Philadelphia Eagles running back Tom Sullivan because he never divorced her before marrying again, a federal judge has ruled.

The other woman, who lives in South Carolina and bore a child with Sullivan during their 16-year marriage, is no longer entitled to the $2,700-a-month spousal benefit, the judge said. He found that marriage to be void under South Carolina’s bigamy law.

The NFL must now send the pension payments to Lavona Hill, of Folcroft, whose 1979 marriage to Sullivan was never dissolved when they went their separate ways in 1983.

The Delaware County Daily Times first reported Thursday on the ruling, which was released earlier this month.

Sullivan was married three times. He had been wed and divorced before he and Mrs. Hill were wed in Baltimore on March 15, 1979, U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller found. Mrs. Hill didn’t know about Sullivan’s first marriage, and an attorney told the Associated Press that Barbara Sullivan, whom he married in 1986, probably didn’t know about his second marriage. Sullivan died in 2002 after a car crash in Florida.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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