Getting rare look at Harper Lee


October 05, 2002

Author Harper Lee greeted fans and posed for photos during a rare public appearance, but the 76-year-old author of To Kill a Mockingbird spoke for only a few moments while accepting the 2002 Alabama Humanities Award on Thursday in Birmingham.

Lee's 1960 novel won the Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for a 1962 film that earned Gregory Peck a best-actor Oscar.

When longtime friend and fellow author Wayne Greenhaw introduced her, the audience applauded for several minutes. All Lee said was: "Mr. Greenhaw has robbed me of words, so I'll say thank you from the bottom of my heart."

The Alabama Humanities Foundation presents the award annually "to honor an individual in Alabama who has made an exemplary contribution to the public understanding and appreciation of the humanities."

The life of Jim Brown

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown will return to Syracuse University tomorrow to join Spike Lee at a showing of the director's film Jim Brown: All-American.

Lee's 130-minute HBO Sports Documentary examines Brown's childhood on Long Island, his football and lacrosse achievements at Syracuse and his NFL career as a running back with the Cleveland Browns.

The filmmaker also explores the 66-year-old Brown's film career, his work with street gangs and well-publicized problems with women.

When HBO gave Lee the choice of any subject after his Oscar-nominated documentary 4 Little Girls, he chose Brown.

"When I was a kid, he was John Henry. Mythic! You know what I mean," Lee said while filming on campus in April 2001.

The film is scheduled to air on HBO in December.

Live from New York ...

Two new cast members are joining NBC's Saturday Night Live in time for tonight's season opener.

Fred Armisen and Will Forte will replace Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer, two longtime cast members who've left the show.

Armisen has appeared on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, a former SNL writer. Forte comes from Los Angeles' improv outfit The Groundlings, a troupe that's produced cast members Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell and Maya Rudolph.

Trekkie tracks

Trekkies in El Paso, Texas, for the city's first Star Trek convention won't need star charts to find the birthplace of Gene Roddenberry, creator of the sci-fi TV series.

By the time the convention begins today, the central El Paso site where Roddenberry was born in 1921 will be marked with a wooden plaque at Sylvia's Flowers.

The plaque reads: "He created a universe for his future and that universe was `Star Trek,' which became a worldwide phenomenon."

Roddenberry died in 1991 at age 70.

City Rep. Anthony Cobos, who's paying for the marker with campaign funds, hopes the plaque will become a destination for legions of Star Trek fans and bring tourism to El Paso.

Today's birthdays

Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane is 80.

Actress Glynis Johns is 79.

Comedian Bill Dana is 78.

Actress Diane Cilento is 69.

Singer Steve Miller is 59.

Rock singer Brian Johnson (AC/DC) is 55.

Actor Jeff Conaway is 52.

Actress Karen Allen is 51.

Director Clive Barker is 50.

Rock musician David Bryson (Counting Crows) is 48.

Rock singer Bob Geldof is 48.

Actor Daniel Baldwin is 42.

Actor Guy Pearce is 35.

Rock musician Brian Mashburn (Save Ferris) is 27.

Actress Kate Winslet is 27.

Rock musician Paul (Good Charlotte) is 22.

From staff and wire reports

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