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Archive for Thursday, February 7, 2008

People in the news

February 7, 2008

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Accidental overdose killed Heath Ledger

New York - Actor Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of six different drugs - painkillers and sedatives - the medical examiner said Wednesday, leading doctors to warn of the dangers of mixing prescription drugs.

The 28-year-old film star died "of acute intoxication" from the combination of two strong painkillers, two anti-anxiety medicines and two sleeping aids, according to the medical examiner's office.

Among the drugs found in his body were oxycodone, a painkiller sold as OxyContin and used in other pain relievers such as Percodan and Percocet. Others included drugs sold as anti-anxiety pills Valium and Xanax, which are sedatives.

The medical examiner and police wouldn't identify the medications Ledger had in his apartment when his body was discovered on Jan. 22, nor would they discuss who had prescribed them. It also wasn't known why he had the drugs; he said in a newspaper interview last year that he needed sleeping pills after two stressful acting jobs.

Police had said they found six bottles of anti-anxiety medicines, sleeping pills and other medicine in his Manhattan apartment after the Oscar-nominated actor was discovered dead in his bed last month.

Experts said the combination of sedatives and the other medicines likely combined to suppress his brain function and his breathing.

Britney Spears released from hospital

Los Angeles - Britney Spears was quietly released from a hospital Wednesday and slipped away unnoticed, only to be spotted hours later driving through Los Angeles with paparazzi and a television helicopter in tow.

Her incognito getaway from UCLA Medical Center - a stark contrast to the extensive police escort that brought her in - required no law enforcement presence, said Capt. Sharyn Buck, commander of the North Hollywood police station that covers Spears' home area.

"There was no media, no paparazzi, and no need for public safety protection," Buck said.

It didn't take long for the cameras to find her.

By late afternoon, Spears had left home in a black Mercedes-Benz and drove for a while, then exchanged seats with an unidentfied man, the myfoxla.com Web site reported as it streamed KTTV Fox 11 news helicopter video from overhead.

Paparazzi vehicles zoomed around the car, which photographers swarmed at every stop. Spears' car was observing traffic laws, the helicopter pilot reported.

Paris Hilton receives Harvard Lampoon award

Cambridge, Mass. - Paris Hilton found herself somewhere she never thought she'd be: Harvard.

"Harvard is hot!" the 26-year-old celebrity heiress said Wednesday as she picked up the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine's "Woman of the Year" award in front of the Lampoon castle.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine standing here, standing on the steps of the Harvard Lampoon. It's really exciting and I've had such a great time," said Hilton, who stars as an attractive best friend to an ugly duckling in the film "The Hottie & the Nottie," which opens Friday.

The Lampoon award is a spoof of the annual honors given by Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

Lindsay Lohan: 'What was I thinking?'

New York - Hindsight is 20-20 for Lindsay Lohan.

"When I look back on this last year, it's like, what was I thinking?'" the 21-year-old actress says in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine, on newsstands Feb. 19.

Lohan was arrested twice last year on DUI charges and pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor drunken driving and cocaine charges. She served 84 minutes in jail as part of a plea deal, and checked into a rehab center in Utah.

"I've learned so much, though, like learning to live my life a different way ... and I wasn't taking the time to feel my feelings," she says.

"Being away and going to a place where I could learn about that and take the time with a clear mind to get back on the right track was nice."

The "Mean Girls" star - who was shown on a video taking a swig from a champagne bottle while ringing in the New Year in Capri, Italy - says it's hard to resist the urge to party.

"I have it in me to go, go, go," Lohan says. "I'm still young. I love life. I love music and being around that. I love people, and I'm a very social person. But I also love being home, quiet and normal."

Bob Barker donates $1M to alma mater

Los Angeles - He's no longer the host of "The Price Is Right," but Bob Barker is still giving away major money.

The venerable game-show host and animal activist said Wednesday that he is donating $1 million to his alma mater, Drury University, to establish an undergraduate animal-ethics program.

"It's incredible that I ever was able to go back to Springfield and give them a million dollars, because when I was there, I didn't have 15 cents," Barker told The Associated Press, adding that he graduated from the Missouri school in 1947. "What I'm hoping is that this will become a model for other undergraduate schools."

Over the past decade, Barker has donated millions to establish animal-rights curricula at law schools nationwide, including Harvard, Columbia and Northwestern.

He created those programs to encourage aspiring lawyers, judges and politicians to consider animal rights in their work, he said.

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