Guthrie, in New Orleans, asks `How are you?'

December 19, 2005

Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson gave a sold-out crowd in New Orleans something they've needed since Hurricane Katrina -- good music, a good time and a reminder of what they love most about this city.

Guthrie welcomed the crowd late Saturday at legendary Tipitina's, his last performance in a two-week railroad tour to raise money for musicians left homeless and without a place to work by Katrina.

Inspired by television coverage of the hurricane's aftermath and by learning that Amtrak had resumed its City of New Orleans service to the city, Guthrie hopped a train in Illinois two weeks ago and scheduled performances along the route with other musicians.

Nelson took the stage after 11 p.m. and, following his set, he joined Guthrie with a stirring rendition of the Steve Goodman song "City of New Orleans" that Guthrie made popular in 1972. The chorus includes the line "Good morning, America, how are you?"

Elton John's happiest day

Elton John said forming a civil partnership with his longtime lover David Furnish in England this week will be "the happiest day of my life."

"It has been a long struggle for equal rights to gay people in Britain, but now, in the 21st century, we have real civil rights, tolerance and final acceptance in our lives," John wrote in The Observer, a Sunday newspaper. "Next Wednesday, on the happiest day of my life, when I celebrate a civil partnership with David, I will be thinking, however, about those less fortunate than we are. In many countries, having a same-sex partner is still outlawed."

More than 600 same-sex couples plan to form civil partnerships in England and Wales on Wednesday, the first day that such ceremonies become possible.

A `Dog's' life

The Dog is coming back for more.

Duane "Dog" Chapman has signed a $2.6 million contract for a third season of the reality television series "Dog, the Bounty Hunter," a newspaper reports.

The show is A&E's highest-rated series ever.

Chapman will earn $100,000 per half-hour episode aired on the cable channel, believed to be about double what he made for each of the first two seasons, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported Friday.

Geldof chides Arabs

Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof is keeping up with his money-raising campaigns, this time chiding the Arab world for not donating more money to ease poverty in Africa.

Geldof says the Middle East, as a region, does "very little" to help alleviate African poverty.

"I am here today to encourage the business, humanitarian and the arts sectors to do a little more for that continent," Geldof said at a news conference Friday in Dubai.

He said that if Dubai hopes to blossom into a multicultural, model economy, it must start shouldering its responsibility for the world's less fortunate.

Today's birthdays

Country singer Little Jimmy Dickens, 85 -- Actress Cicely Tyson, (above) 72 -- Actor Tim Reid , 61 -- Paleontologist Richard E. Leakey, 61 -- Actress Jennifer Beals, 42 -- Actress Alyssa Milano, 33 --

Sarah Jessica Parker

Said It

"I am amused by the labels people put on you in this business. It was hardly a burden to be thought of like that, but I knew the truth."

Sarah Jessica Parker, on the sex-symbol image she attained while starring in HBO's Sex and the City. Parker stars in The Family Stone, which opened Friday.

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