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Also: Listen to "Celebrity Watch" from CNN Radio's Ken Pauli
Real Audio: 28k


November 15, 1999
Web posted at: 5:23 p.m. EST (2223 GMT)

Today's buzz stories:

A holiday showstopper? Radio City orchestra might strike

NEW YORK (CNN) -- As high as those Rockettes can kick, they'd look pretty funny jackhammering their way across the stage in silence. That's why the dance between labor and Radio City Music Hall is looking more serious.

Union orchestra musicians of the local chapter voted Friday to authorize a strike if a contract can't be worked out. No date for a work stoppage is set. But if one is called before the end of the year, it could put a lid on the New York landmark's eye-popping decking of the Hall, the annual Radio City "Christmas Spectacular."

The orchestra has been working without a contract since May 15 and has been negotiating with Radio City Productions since September. Little progress has been made, says Judy West, a spokeswoman for Local 802.

The musicians are holding out for more than the 2-percent wage increase that Radio City Productions has offered them. Musicians cite a double-digit price increase for "Christmas Spectacular" tickets, West says. Radio City Productions says in a statement that it's "presenting a fair offer, and will continue to negotiate -- around the clock if necessary -- until a settlement is reached."

The "Spectacular," Radio City's biggest draw, began its two-month run in early November and traditionally features its orchestra on the huge stage's rolling elevator pit lift. The musicians can disappear into the pit at the front of the audience, then rise majestically from the rear of the vast stage, one of the world's most technologically sophisticated performance spaces.

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Dion sets aside titanic career for family

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A new album, an autobiography on the way and a few more concerts: Enjoy them while you can -- they're the last you may hear from Quebecois pop sensation Celine Dion for a while. The 31-year-old singer, best known for the Grammy-winning "Titanic" theme song "My Heart Will Go On," says that she's setting her career aside to spend time with her manager-husband, whose cancer has been in remission for seven months.

"I told myself, 'Life is sending you a message,'" Dion says in the November 20 issue of TV Guide. "The message was: 'It is time that you are there for each other, that you get back to reality, be with your family and friends. ... Show business is not your life.'"

Rene Angelil, who discovered a lump "bigger than an egg" on his throat in the middle of a concert tour last spring, has managed Dion since she was a teen-ager. They were married in 1994.

Of course, her art will go on. Dion's latest album, "All the Way ... A Decade of Song" has just been released. She's co-writing her story with biographer Georges-Hebert Germain, to be published next year in English and five other languages. And, she's to tape an hour-long concert for CBS on November 24. After that, she's scheduled for two more concerts before taking at least two years off.

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Malone (right) in last year's film "Stepmom"

'Stepmom' star sues real mom

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Jena Malone, a 14-year-old actress -- whose film credits include this year's Kevin Costner flick "For Love of the Game" and last year's Susan Sarandon film, "Stepmom" -- has filed a lawsuit against her mother. Court papers in the suit say Malone's mom Debbie mismanaged more than $1 million of the teen-ager's earnings.

According to papers filed recently in Los Angeles Superior Court, Debbie Malone, 36, has lived off the actress' earnings for years, draining the teen-ager's college fund and leaving her owing $20,000 in back taxes.

Debbie Malone didn't return a telephone call from the Associated Press seeking comment. A court appearance is scheduled for November 24.

A 1939 California law, recently strengthened after lobbying by the Screen Actors' Guild, requires that 15 percent of a child's earnings be set aside until she or he reaches the age of majority. The law is named after child actor Jackie Coogan who, despite roles in some 18 movies by the time he was 15 years old, was left broke after his mother spent the millions he earned as a child actor.

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No legs broken: 'Aida' mishap in Chicago

CHICAGO (CNN) -- On the inaugural weekend of the historic Cadillac Palace Theater's reopening, two lead actors were injured when a cable snapped while they were being hoisted in a box during a performance of the Disney-produced musical "Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida."

The accident Saturday sent Heather Headley, who plays Aida, and Adam Pascal, who plays her lover Radames, tumbling to the stage near the end of the show. They were treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and released. A voice recording at the theater described the injuries as minor.

Two performances scheduled for Sunday were canceled, and the show is to resume its normal schedule Wednesday, the recording said. Production officials say the platform was a set piece, and not a fixed part of the renovated theater.

Previews of the musical by Elton John and Tim Rice opened in Chicago on Friday, in the first public showcasing of the newly renovated $20 million, 2,370-seat theater built in 1926. The official opening is set for December 9. "Aida" is scheduled to move on to Broadway in March.

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Church reviews party options for New Year's Eve

LONDON (CNN) -- One day she was a regular schoolgirl. The next, it seems, singing prodigy Charlotte Church found herself in international demand.

The 13-year-old soprano's self-titled new album is expected to run scales up the charts as did her debut CD, "Voice of an Angel." She's juggling New Year's Eve invitations from Pope John Paul II (to sing at the Vatican), Queen Elizabeth II (to sing at London's Millennium Dome) and U.S. President Bill Clinton. And, she's been asked to appear at Egypt's musical extravaganza at the Pyramids.

She says she hasn't decided which invitation to accept but sounds less than enthusiastic about singing for the Queen. "It is just going to be elitist," Church says. "I don't think it will be much of a party. I don't think people will be dancing on the tables. I can't imagine the Queen doing that, anyway."

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Reuters contributed to this report.

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