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Web posted on: Wednesday, August 26, 1998 5:41:24 PM

Today's buzz stories:


Bomb threat interrupts Cuban musician

MIAMI (CNN) -- Political protests and a bomb threat disrupted Tuesday what would have been an unprecedented concert by Cuba-based music stars in Miami, a traditional Cuban exile stronghold. Of the three performers planned, only 90-year-old singer-guitarist Compay Segundo was able to take the stage.

"This is the greatest joy of my life," Compay Segundo said as he opened his performance before about a thousand people at the MIDEM Latin & Caribbean Music Market convention.

Some 300 people were also on hand to protest the MIDEM convention, which is meeting for a second year in Miami. And about halfway through his set, police cleared Miami Beach's convention center for 30 minutes and searched it with bomb-sniffing dogs before allowing the show to continue. The police acted on an anonymous bomb threat. No bomb was found.

Opponents to the convention argue that allowing Cuban-based musicians to perform in the United States provides money to sustain Castro's Communist government. The United States maintains a 36-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, but artists from the island can perform in the United States if their shows are presented as cultural exchanges rather than commercial ventures.

Segundo said he knows nothing about politics and just wants to entertain. A member of Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club, he shot to fame after appearing on a Grammy-winning album recorded in Havana in 1996 with American guitarist Ry Cooder.

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Priscilla and Elvis Presley

Elvis' widow wins defamation suit

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Elvis Presley's widow, Priscilla Presley, has won a defamation suit against an old Army buddy of The King who had claimed he had sex with the then-14-year-old in return for introducing her to Elvis.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Curry in an August 19 judgement ordered defendant Currie Grant to pay Presley $75,000 in damages. The judge had previously dismissed a countersuit by Grant.

Priscilla, an actress on the TV series "Dallas" from 1983 to 1988, sued Grant in October 1996, saying his claim of a sexual relationship was false. Priscilla Beaulieu married rocker Presley in 1967.

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Gary Coleman pleads not guilty to assault

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Former "Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to misdemeanor assault and battery charges filed after he allegedly punched an autograph-seeking woman.

Coleman, 30, whose acting career declined after the hit 1978-86 TV show and who now works as a mall security guard, was not in court. His attorney said Coleman's accuser is trying to exploit his client's stardom to "gain fame and fortune."

Tracy Fields, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority driver, said that on July 30 Coleman agreed to sign an autograph when she saw him in a uniform store, but became angry when she asked him to personalize it for her.

Fields claimed punched her in the eye and continued to hit her when she fell into a gumball machine. She said the attack caused her headaches and muscle spasms; she has also filed a $1 million lawsuit against Coleman.

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Bernstein plays the Internet

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Library of Congress put online Tuesday 85 items from its collection of 400,000 letters, photos, manuscripts, recordings and other memorabilia of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, on what would have been his 80th birthday.

Bernstein died in 1990.

The items on the Internet include the first known photo of Bernstein conducting, leading the Camp Onata Rhythm Band in 1937. The composer of "West Side Story" went on to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in celebration of German reunification.

The library plans to make the entire Bernstein collection available on the Internet. The sample can be seen on the Library of Congress's Bernstein Collection page.

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Ringo plays Moscow at last

MOSCOW (CNN) -- The other lads were missing, but former Beatle Ringo Starr played Moscow Tuesday in the style of the decadent rock stars that the old Soviets did not care to have as visitors.

"It would have been nice if we could have come a bit earlier, but I tell you it's better late than never," Starr told a packed auditorium of 2,400 mostly middle-aged fans, many of whom had once traded copies of Beatles records unavailable in the Iron Curtain days.

Though Starr's audience fell far short of the 60,000-plus who turned out for a stadium concert by the Rolling Stones two weeks ago, he kept them happy with Beatles tunes such as "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Yellow Submarine."

The Beatles broke up in 1971. The other surviving members, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, still have not played for their formerly underground fans in Russia. But Ringo's "Fourth All-Starr Band" gave them more than the Beatles songs that they missed in the 1960s and '70s. The band included Peter Frampton on guitar, former Cream bass player Jack Bruce and Procol Harum's keyboardist Garry Brooker.

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Tatyana Ali works on singing career

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It started with a "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" rap party at a karaoke bar. Now the fresh-faced little girl on that show has a single ranked at No. 2 on Billboard's R&B sales chart, and an album being released.

Tatyana Ali, who played Ashley on "Fresh Prince," says it was rapper-turned-actor Will Smith, the star of the show, who convinced her to record after hearing her sing along with the karaoke machine. Smith is an executive producer of her debut album, "Kiss the Sky," which was released Tuesday.

Two years after Smith convinced Ali to begin a music career, she is excited about her potential future in music -- but not yet determined to pursue it exclusively. The 19-year-old is thinking of Harvard: "I'm really looking forward to going there and studying anthropology."

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Reuters contributed to this report.

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