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Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2007

People in the news

January 7, 2007

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Oprah takes AIDS test, encourages students to do so

Cape Town, South Africa - Oprah Winfrey took an HIV test Saturday, above, and encouraged students at her new school and their loved ones to follow suit, in a bid to inspire more openness about the disease that is devastating South Africa's youth.

At an open day for families at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, the talk show host promised the 152 pupils free AIDS testing, counseling and - if necessary - treatment.

"To be a great leader you must be of sound mind, body and spirit," Winfrey said. "Part of leadership is having the courage to demonstrate true action. Today I have taken the test to demonstrate why it's so important."

Winfrey's test results be kept confidential, as will those of the girls, according to a statement issued on behalf of the Oprah Winfrey Foundation. Taking an AIDS test was not mandatory for students, and results will not affect their participation at the school.

An estimated 5.4 million of South Africa's 48 million people are infected with the AIDS virus.

FBI: Atlanta man tried to blackmail Oprah Winfrey

Chicago - A man has been charged with trying to extort $1.5 million from Oprah Winfrey by threatening to release recorded telephone conversations he claimed would hurt her reputation, according to the FBI and published reports.

Keifer Bonvillain, 36, targeted a person identified only as "a public figure and the owner of a Chicago-based company," according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, citing unnamed sources, reported Saturday that Bonvillain's target was Winfrey.

Bonvillain, of Atlanta, was arrested Dec. 15 in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel and released on $20,000 bail. He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday in Chicago.

According to the complaint, Bonvillain met a California-based employee of the Chicago company at a party more than two years ago, then recorded conversations with the employee about the owner and her business.

Chase says bonds to Ford were more than humor

New York - Comedian Chevy Chase depicted the late Gerald Ford as a bumbling and accident-prone president 30 years ago on "Saturday Night Live," but he says the two shared a more serious link.

Former first lady Betty Ford's courageous decision to talk publicly about her problems with alcohol inspired him to get treated for his addiction to painkillers, Chase wrote in an essay published in Saturday's editions of The New York Times.

He also noted that the president apparently had a sense of humor about his reputation for klutziness, which Chase exploited in "Saturday Night Live" skits.

During one lunch date between the Ford and Chase families, the former president suggested the couples watch videotape of actors being considered for roles in a TV biopic about his wife.

The hookup for the tape machine was a puzzle, and Betty Ford and Chase's wife, Jayni, got down on their hands and knees trying to figure out the connections.

When Chase suggested the men help out, Ford said: "No, no Chevy. Don't even think about it. I'll probably get electrocuted, and you'll be picked up and arrested for murder."

"I'll never forget that moment," Chase wrote.

Wife of goth rocker Manson files for divorce

Los Angeles - Marilyn Manson's marriage is over.

The glitzy goth rocker's wife of just more than a year, model and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, is seeking a divorce.

Von Teese, whose real name is Heather Sweet, cites irreconcilable differences for the split in papers filed Dec. 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court that were posted on celebrity news site TMZ.com. The break-up was first reported Friday by the New York Post.

Von Teese and Manson, 38, (real name: Brian Warner) were wed Nov. 28, 2005, according to the court documents. They separated on Christmas Eve.

It was the first marriage for both. They have no children.

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