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People in the News

October 9, 1997

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) _ Kurt Vonnegut, true to his irreverent style, said he did not mourn Princess Diana’s death.

Vonnegut said the Diana never made any memorable statement and was not known to have read a book.

``She’s too tall, for one thing,″ the author told a luncheon gathering Wednesday. ``I don’t know why people are worshipping this tweed. ... Don’t you think you’ve all gone loony?″

The author of ``Slaughterhouse-Five,″ ``Cat’s Cradle″ and ``Hocus Pocus″ acknowledged that some have criticized his writing for not giving more detailed descriptions of his characters.

But he said the best-selling book in history, the Bible, is short on details.

``The Bible did not stress that Job spoke with a lisp or that Jonah was short,″ he said. ``We don’t care what he looked like, but with the situation.″

Vonnegut said young people love his books because he writes simple sentences without semicolons.


HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) _ Country star Hoyt Axton has pleaded guilty to drug charges stemming from a search of his home last year that yielded more than a pound of marijuana and several pipes.

Axton, 58, who suffered a debilitating stroke last year, appeared in a wheelchair before the judge Wednesday. He faces up to five and a half years in prison when sentenced Nov. 19.

Axton’s wife, Debra Hawkins, has already received a one-year deferred sentence for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Hawkins said she doled out the drugs to Axton after he quit smoking tobacco on doctor’s orders.

When officers searched Axton’s home in western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley last February, they found the pot and the pipes, including one pipe in Axton’s wheelchair that was inscribed with the songwriter’s name.

Among Hoyt’s many songs are ``Joy To The World,″ a No. 1 hit for the rock group Three Dog Night, and ``The Pusher″ by Steppenwolf.

``No, no, no, I don’t smoke it no more,″ is a lyric from a song written by Axton and performed by Ringo Starr.


MALIBU, Calif. (AP) _ A teen-ager was convicted of attempted premeditated murder in the shooting of ``Step by Step″ TV star Brandon Call.

After a two-week trial, a jury on Wednesday found 19-year-old Tommy Eugene Lewis guilty in the Sept. 3, 1996, shooting. He faces up to two life sentences without possibility of parole when sentenced Oct. 31.

Call, now 20, was driving when he noticed another vehicle tailgating him. The actor turned down a side street in an effort to lose the menacing motorist, but it was a dead-end road. Lewis fired six times at Call’s vehicle, wounding the actor on both arms.

Call plays J.T. Lambert on ``Step by Step,″ the CBS sitcom about two single parents who married each other. He’s also known for his 1989-1990 role as Hobie, the son of the David Hasselhoff character on ``Baywatch.″

Call’s manager, Louis Bershad, said Thursday that the actor had no comment.


NEW YORK (AP) _ Activists who want China to end its occupation of Tibet are hoping a movie starring Brad Pitt that debuts this week will spur ticket buyers to action.

Members of the International Campaign for Tibet passed out leaflets Wednesday in front of a New York theater featuring ``Seven Years in Tibet.″ The leaflets are part of a campaign in 34 states to draw attention to the film and the Tibetan cause.

``Don’t just see the movie, do something about it,″ said John Ackerly, the campaign’s director. ``I’m proud Hollywood has told the truth about Tibet.″

Tibet’s cause has become a favorite of actors, including Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, Steven Seagal and Uma Thurman.

In 47 years of rule in Tibet, China has failed to quell support for independence. Last year, it launched a campaign to discredit the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

The movie gained attention earlier this year when it was learned that Pitt’s character, explorer Heinrich Harrer, was linked to the Nazi party.

The film is based on Harrer’s book on the years he spent as an adviser, teacher and friend of the Dalai Lama after he escaped from a British POW camp in India and trekked to Tibet in 1944.


LONDON (AP) _ Chay Blyth, the first person to sail around the world from east to west, is now ``Sir Chay.″

Princess Anne, filling in for her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, knighted the 57-year-old son of a Scottish railway worker Thursday at Buckingham Palace.

``It’s extraordinary if you think that I have come from such a working-class background,″ Blyth said. ``When people see that I have been knighted, and I am an ordinary guy, perhaps they may think there is a chance for them too.″

When he set out on his first great adventure, rowing with fellow paratrooper John Ridgeway from the United States to Ireland in 1966, Blyth had never sailed more than six miles.

Four years later, he began his solo nonstop trip around the world in the 59-foot yacht British Steel. He returned to Britain on Aug. 6, 1971 after 292 days at sea.

Blyth flew to London on Wednesday from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where he is organizing a trans-Atlantic rowing race that starts on Sunday.


NEW YORK (AP) _ John F. Kennedy Jr. entered a hospital for hand surgery, the Daily News reported Thursday.

Kennedy went to Lenox Hill Hospital on Wednesday, accompanied by his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.

Hospital spokeswoman Karen Zipern would not discuss the report, saying ``we absolutely do not comment on any patients.″

A spokeswoman for George magazine declined to comment on the editor-in-chief’s personal life.

``Hand surgery? Yeah, that just doesn’t fall into the scope of the magazine,″ said spokeswoman Nancy Haberman.

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