Billy Elliot's last dance
London - A 14-year-old boy who plays the role of Billy Elliot in the successful stage adaptation of the film has rejected the bright lights of London's West End.
Liam Mower, who won a prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for best actors in a musical along with two other boys who also play the role of Billy, has decided to quit because he's homesick and wants to return to Hull, 185 miles north of London, a realization that came to him when he left home to return to work.
"I started crying because I didn't want to go back, so I rang mum and told her. It was a big moment. She asked me if I was sure it was the right decision and she was really good about it," Mower told the Daily Telegraph.
The show, which was named best new musical in this year's Olivier awards, is one of London's more popular theater destinations. Based on the Oscar-nominated film, it boasts a score by Elton John, who has said Billy's story reminds him of his own childhood struggle to express his creativity.
Mower, who has played the role for 18 months, was to give a final performance on Sunday, the paper reported. He is also giving up his place as a student at the Royal Ballet School in southwest London, where he was on a scholarship the Telegraph said was worth $52,000, in part because of criticism he received for quitting Billy Elliot.
Avoiding another's mistakes
San Juan, Puerto Rico - As he worked his way to salsa stardom, Marc Anthony said he saw the tragic career of the Puerto Rican performer he plays in an upcoming movie as inspiration and a warning to avoid industry pitfalls.
Anthony, who kicked off a concert tour in San Juan this weekend, said he felt a personal connection to Hector Lavoe, who was credited with bringing salsa to the United States and died in 1993 at age 46 following a struggle with drug addiction.
"He painted this clear picture of what you could be if you put your mind to it, but how painful a life you could live if you made the wrong choices," he said.
The biopic "El Cantante," which has Anthony starring opposite his wife, Jennifer Lopez, premiered this month at the Toronto Film Festival. It is expected to be released in North America next year.
The film traces Lavoe's rise from the Caribbean island to stardom in New York, where the sold-out concerts and best-selling albums of the 1970s give way to drug addiction and a strained marriage in the 1980s.
Another birthday bash
New York - Bill Clinton never does things quietly - and that certainly includes marking a major milestone like his 60th birthday.
The former president will be toasted at a lavish Big Apple bash sprawling over three days at the end of the month.
The festivities include a gala dinner at the Museum of Natural History and a private Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theatre.
The birthday bash is already the hottest ticket in town. Priciest, too. Tickets to the extravaganza start at $60,000 and go up to $500,000 for the full-on glitz and glad-handing.
Clinton won't get a dime of that dough - it all goes to his charity. "This is really a big fundraiser for the foundation to support our programs around the world that is also a birthday celebration," spokesman Jay Carson said.
About 2,100 invitations have gone out to Clinton's vast network of donors.
His actual birthday was Aug. 19, but he scheduled the big New York bash for Oct. 27-29 so as not to step on the toes of Democrats trying to raise cash for their fall campaigns.