`United 93' contributing to memorial

PEOPLE AND PLACES

People in the News

May 04, 2006

Universal Pictures says it will donate $1.15 million this week toward a memorial to the passengers and crew who perished aboard United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001 - addressing concerns of a lawmaker who has blocked legislation to buy land for the project.

The donation from Universal, which last week released United 93, a film about the flight, brings to $9 million the private donations so far. Organizers hope to raise $30 million to build the memorial near Shanksville, Pa., where the plane crashed.

The studio had promised to contribute 10 percent of the film's box office revenue from the first three days of the North American release to the memorial, which is expected to cost about $58 million to build.

Rep. Charles H. Taylor, R-N.C., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department, has expressed concerns that the project would not receive sufficient private funding and the federal government would be asked to pick up the tab.

Winfrey will be on `The View'

Oprah Winfrey will make her first appearance on The View May 12, ABC announced Tuesday.

Winfrey's ABC prime-time special, "Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball," runs May 15. Barbara Walters and Star Jones Reynolds attended last year's lavish three-day event celebrating the lives of 25 African-American women.

All five View co-hosts will be on deck for the Divine Miss O. - Walters, Reynolds, Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

`Opal Mehta' withdrawn

A Harvard University student's "chick lit" novel has been permanently withdrawn and her two-book deal canceled, publisher Little, Brown and Co. announced Tuesday, as allegations of literary borrowing proliferated against Kaavya Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life.

Little, Brown declined to comment on whether Viswanathan would have to return her reported six-figure advance. Tuesday's decision caps a stunning downfall for the 19-year-old Harvard sophomore whose novel came out in March to widespread attention.

Little, Brown pulled Opal Mehta after extensive similarities were discovered to two works by Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. The Harvard Crimson student newspaper, alerted by reader e-mails, reported Tuesday on its Web site that Opal Mehta contained passages similar to Meg Cabot's 2000 novel, The Princess Diaries. The New York Times also reported comparable material in Viswanathan's novel and Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret?

Pickler's proud father

Watching his American Idol daughter from prison made the time pass faster, Clyde "Bo" Pickler says.

Kellie Pickler was released from the Fox network show last week when the finalists were narrowed to five. Her father was released from prison this week after serving three years for stabbing a man in Florida.

Watching Kellie on television made time move more quickly, Pickler told TV newsmagazine Inside Edition.

Pickler kept in contact with Kellie through letters during his prison term and he says he's looking forward to an in-person reunion. "It'll be great to see her," he said. "I'm going to try to patch up a few burnt bridges and get some things back in order."

From wire reports

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