Girl group testing independence
New York The members of Destiny's Child plan to be "Independent Women," taking time off from the group to concentrate on solo projects.
Already, lead singer Beyonce Knowles has a featured role in the upcoming "Austin Powers" sequel, and Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland have discussed solo albums.
The Grammy-winning trio has been omnipresent during the last couple of years, with back-to-back multiplatinum albums, a string of hits, dolls made in their images, a recent tour and a new holiday disc in stores.
Knowles told the E! Entertainment network that it's time for the group to go on hiatus, but they're not breaking up.
"Destiny's Child put out four albums in four years, which is unbelievable. That doesn't happen a lot," she said. "We've been working, Kelly and I, since we were 9, nonstop. So I think Destiny's Child is going to take a little break."
Actress takes message to school
Long Beach, Calif. Patricia Arquette urged a group of high school students to break free from cliques and learn more about people of different races and religions.
"Start making friends in all kinds of different places," the 33-year-old actress said. "Become rich with yourself."
Arquette, whose films include "True Romance" and "Stigmata," made a presentation Tuesday at Long Beach Poly High School. Her speech was part of a new program by the entertainment industry and the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission to discourage hate crimes.
Besides school visits, Arquette and other celebrities will make public service announcements. Arquette, who was raised by parents of Muslim and Jewish faiths, said she felt compelled to contact the commission and volunteer her time.
Young poet pens publishing deal
New york Eleven-year-old Mattie Stepanek, whose poetry has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and brought him admirers including Oprah Winfrey and former President Jimmy Carter, has agreed to a publishing deal with Hyperion.
Terms were not disclosed but a source close to the negotiations said the deal could be worth millions of dollars.
Mattie already has two best sellers, "Heartsongs" and "Journey Through Heartsongs."
Mattie has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, a disease that took the lives of his three siblings and left him dependent on a ventilator that feeds oxygen through a tube attached to his neck.
Proceeds for Mattie will go into a trust fund and help pay for medical care.