People in the news

Actress Meredith Baxter reveals she is a lesbian

NEW YORK (AP) - Meredith Baxter, who played mother Elyse Keaton on the 1980s TV series "Family Ties," has revealed that she is a lesbian.

"I am a lesbian, and it was a later-in-life recognition of that fact," the 62-year-old actress said in an interview Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Baxter said she has been in a relationship with her girlfriend, a general contractor, for four years.

"Some people are saying, were you living a lie? And, you know, the truth is, not at all. This has only been in the past seven years," she said.

Baxter has been married three times, including to David Birney, her co-star on the '70s TV series "Bridget Loves Bernie." She is the mother of five children.

Baxter said she is "extraordinarily happy" and the support from her family and friends was immediate and unqualified.

Little Richard released from hospital

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Little Richard is out of the hospital following hip surgery, promising to perform again.

He's recovering at his home near Nashville.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who'll be 77 Saturday, tells The Associated Press that he plans to work hard to complete his recovery so he "can get back on the road as soon as possible." He says when he returns to the stage next year, he'll "be shouting 'Shut Up' and rocking like the old days."

Little Richard said Tuesday that he could feel the prayers of his fans and is thankful they care enough about him "to take time to pray."

A family friend had said that Little Richard had been in some pain before the surgery last week but continued his rigorous performing schedule.

Itzhak Perlman fiddles against polio

NEW YORK (AP) - Itzhak Perlman was afflicted with polio when he was 4. Now, 60 years later he's helping to rid the world of the disease.

The celebrated violinist is performing Wednesday night with the New York Philharmonic in a special concert at Lincoln Center. The sponsor, Rotary International, is in the midst of a campaign to raise $200 million to fight the disease, which can cause paralysis or death.

With the development of vaccines, the number of polio cases has gone from 350,000 in 1988 to about 2,000 as of three years ago, according to World Health Organization figures. Last year, only four countries - Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan - had cases of the disease, according to the WHO.

"There's absolutely no excuse for anybody getting polio at this day and age," Perlman said.

As a boy, Perlman recalled hours before the concert, he enjoyed jumping on his bed in his home in Tel Aviv, Israel. Suddenly one day, he said, "I was very weak and I couldn't do it. It was the first indication that something was wrong, that I couldn't really do what I did before."

He doesn't remember much about the treatment, just getting fitted for special shoes and leg braces. However, because he was so young, he was able to adjust to life with paralyzed legs.

"It was just one of those things that that's what I have to do now," he said. "I have to walk with crutches and braces. That's the new me."

Within a year, he started his studies on the violin.

"I wanted to play when I was 3, 3 1/2. Today a lot of people do that but then, it was decided I was a little too young. So I had the polio then and they said, 'So you still want to do it?' The answer is, 'Why not?' Polio didn't affect my hands; it affected my feet. It did not affect the ability to move my arms to play."

The rest, as they say, is history.

Perlman has thrilled millions with his music - in concert halls, on "Sesame Street" and in movie theaters. He has won four Emmy awards for TV appearances, his recordings have won 15 Grammy awards, and he was the violin soloist on the Oscar-winning movie "Schindler's List."

Schwimmer back in the director's chair for 'Trust'

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - David Schwimmer has a well-earned reputation as a TV star after 10 years playing Dr. Ross Geller on NBC's mega-hit "Friends," although these days he is more focused on what happens behind the camera.

Schwimmer talked to reporters Tuesday on the Ann Arbor set of "Trust" - the 43-year-old's second foray into directing a feature film, coming on the heels of last year's Simon Pegg comedy "Run Fatboy Run."

"Trust" is a different kind of movie, and for Schwimmer a much more personal one.

It stars Clive Owen and Catherine Keener as the parents of a 14-year-old girl who is raped by an online predator.

Countering child sex abuse is an important issue for Schwimmer, who serves on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation of Santa Monica (Calif.) and has been working on bringing a story of this kind to the big screen for some time.

Schwimmer has met with victims of child sexual abuse and "was really moved by some of the stories," he said, "and in particular their families."

Seven years ago, a victim's father spoke at a fundraiser Schwimmer attended and discussed in stark terms the anguish and anger he felt when he learned his teenage daughter had been groomed online and later raped.

That man was the inspiration for Owen's character, who has difficulty coping with the attack on his daughter.

It has been an opportunity for Owen to turn in what "Trust" producer Heidi Jo Markel called a "meaty performance" that she said was tonally similar to that by Tom Wilkinson in the Oscar-nominated "In the Bedroom" in which his character seeks justice for the untimely death of his son.


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