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Tuesday, July 10, 2001

POPE BEGINS VACATION: Pope John Paul II began a 12-day Alpine vacation Monday, traveling to this hamlet in the mountains near France for the ninth time in his papacy.

The pontiff arrived in the region by helicopter from Rome, with the pilot circling several times to give John Paul a look at some of the Alps’ highest peaks before landing at Aosta.

John Paul then went by car to Les Combes, where children presented him with flowers and read him a poem of welcome.

The pope will be staying in a cottage 4,422 feet above sea level, looking out on Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak.

MIDLIFE HONORS: Sissy Spacek accepted the Midlife Achievement Award at the Maine International Film Festival. But she says that doesn’t mean she’s nearing the twilight of her career.

“There is so much I haven’t done, and I don’t even know what it is,” she said Sunday night.

Spacek finished filming “In the Bedroom” in Maine last July. Festivalgoers on Saturday night received a sneak preview of the film, which Miramax plans to release in October.

The 51-year-old won a best-actress Oscar for her portrayal of country singer Loretta Lynn in 1980’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” She also received an Oscar nomination for the 1976 thriller “Carrie,” the first Stephen King novel made into a movie, and three more nominations in the 1980s.

BIANCA BASH: Bianca Jagger accused President Bush of playing “Russian roulette” with the planet as she helped launch a campaign on Monday warning of the dangers of climate change.

The former wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger joined Green Party activists in central London and criticized Bush for rejecting the 1997 Kyoto agreement on global warming.

“I think that Bush’s policies are a Russian roulette endangering the survival of the planet,” she said.

“He has refused to back the Kyoto protocol despite the fact that there has been a U.N. report written by 3,000 scientists that shows that unless we cut fossil fuel emissions global warming will be inevitable.”

The European Union has declared it will push for ratification of the 1997 agreement without the United States.

World leaders will meet in Bonn, Germany, next week in a bid to restart stalled negotiations over the Kyoto agreement.

‘LAWYER’ TEACHES LAWYERS: Anna Deveare Smith, who played a lawyer on television, will now be teaching them.

Smith, who has portrayed a district attorney on ABC’s “The Practice,” plans to teach at New York University Law School next spring.

“I’m not going to teach acting,” she told The Associated Press. “I think lawyers do that well enough without me. I’ll be thinking of ways to talk about listening and teach listening and what I do, which is to make myself invisible in order to portray a person’s tale.”

Smith’s one-woman play, “Fires in the Mirror,” was based on her interviews with blacks and ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Crown Heights, a neighborhood of Brooklyn, after riots tore it apart in 1991. She portrayed everyone from a rabbi to the Rev. Al Sharpton, taking pains to present multiple points of view without making judgments.

Last year, Smith was a visiting professor at the Yale School of Medicine, where she helped doctors improve their listening skills by acting out interviews she had conducted with doctors and patients.

HARRISON FEELING FINE: George Harrison, the 58-year-old former Beatle who has been battling cancer, said Monday he’s “feeling fine” after radiation treatment and that his fans shouldn’t worry over reports that he has a brain tumor.

“Please do not worry,” said Harrison in a statement released by his London lawyer. “I’m feeling fine.”

Harrison underwent treatment at the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland in Bellinzona a month ago. The modest-looking hospital is on the outskirts of the picturesque mountainside town – better known for its imposing castle than as a place where the stars seek medical care.

“Mr. George Harrison was referred to the hospital to undergo a course of radiotherapy. Harrison successfully completed this course more than a month ago and we foresee no need for further treatment here,” cancer specialist Dr. Franco Cavalli said in a statement read by the hospital’s director.

POUNDSTONE’S PROBLEMS: Comedian Paula Poundstone has a drinking problem that “clearly had a bearing” on her arrest for alleged lewd acts on a child and child endangerment, her attorney said in a statement Monday.

Attorney Steven Cron declined through a spokesman to elaborate on how Poundstone’s drinking related to the allegations. He said she decided to enter a residential treatment program before the investigation began, and was there when arrested June 27.

“It is my belief that Paula’s drinking problems clearly had a bearing on the allegations that led to her arrest,” Cron said. “Nonetheless, after having had a chance to study the details of the case against her, I remain convinced that she is not guilty of the lewd conduct charges pending against her.”

Poundstone, 41, was charged with three counts of committing a lewd act on a girl under the age of 14, as well as endangering two other girls and two boys. She has pleaded innocent.

Prosecutors have refused to provide details about the case against her, and a court order sealed all documents in the case.

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