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People in the News

April 14, 1995

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) _ Kenny Rogers has put his money on a belle with no taste for liquor or high rollers.

The $13 million Showboat Branson Belle, co-owned by Rogers, set off on its maiden voyage Thursday on Table Rock Lake.

In keeping with the wholesome, family image this Ozarks tourist village likes to project, gambling and alcohol are banned on the ship.

In fact, Rogers christened the 650-seat Belle with a bottle of water from the White River. The Belle offers two-hour lunch and dinner cruises.

``I’ve done some movies, I’ve done some TV, and there’s a very good chance that if I don’t have a hit (song) before long, I might be driving this boat around the lake,″ said Rogers, whose ``The Gambler″ album inspired several TV movies in which he starred.


JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Queen Latifah was charged with video piracy after some illegally copied tapes turned up in a video rental store she once owned.

The rapper was charged Thursday, but not arrested, after the store’s current owner, Gil Daggett, notified police. He found 240 illegally copied tapes, about 5 percent of the store’s 4,000-tape stock, including such movies as ``Alien 3,″ ``The Bodyguard″ and ``Single White Female.″

``Queen Latifah hasn’t even been in the store for years,″ said her attorney, Paul Bergrin, adding that his client did not know the store stocked pirated tapes.

Queen Latifah’s mother, Rita Owens, and the store’s former manager, Ramsey Gbelawee, also were charged with video piracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Latifah, who stars on Fox’s ``Living Single,″ was listed on the initial Municipal Court complaint under her given name, Dana Owens. The case has been transferred to Superior Court and will be referred to a grand jury for possible indictment.


NEW YORK (AP) _ The widow of jazz trumpeter Buck Clayton says he was cremated before she even knew he was dead. And she only learned of his death after reading a newspaper obituary.

Patricia Clayton has filed a $2 million lawsuit against Riverside Memorial Chapel, Garden State Crematory and her husband’s lover-biographer Nancy Miller Elliott.

The lawsuit alleges that Elliott posed as Clayton’s wife to arrange his private memorial service two days after he died at Elliott’s home in 1991. Mrs. Clayton said she thought her husband was in the hospital.

Furthermore, Mrs. Clayton claims in court papers made public Friday that Riverside held the funeral and cremation without trying to contact her.

Martin Kasdan, the manager of Riverside, declined to comment. There was no answer at the number listed for Elliott in Manhattan.

Clayton accompanied blues singer Billie Holiday and was a leading soloist for Count Basie’s band. He died at age 80.


LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Stuffing her face made her an asset.

Minnie Driver says it took a year of eating to persuade director Pat O’Connor to cast her in the lead for the film ``Circle of Friends.″

Driver plays Bernadette, a self-styled ugly duckling at an Irish college in the 1950s who charms the school’s most attractive guy with her strength and good heart.

``I had to gain 25 pounds for the role,″ the British actress said. ``That was the prerequisite; they didn’t want to give me the part straight off because of that. I campaigned for a year before I actually got cast.″

O’Connor said Driver didn’t need to try so hard.

``I always thought Minnie could do it,″ he said. ``I met her and I thought she was very sweet and very good.″


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ The names brought the fans but the tunes kept them rocking.

Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder made a surprise appearance Thursday night when he joined punk rock institution Mike Watt for a show before about 300 fans.

``It was a great show, great music,″ said University of New Mexico student Sarah Gillert, one of those who crowded into the tiny Dingo Bar.

Vedder’s presence _ known but not seen by many _ was enough for some fans.

``Knowing Eddie was here helped influence us to come tonight,″ Gillert said.

Watt is touring behind his solo record ``ball-hog or tugboat,″ featuring 50 cameos by alternative musicians including Vedder, ex-Nirvana drummer David Grohl, Henry Rollins and Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner.

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