The Baltimore Sun

Phelps makes Walters' list of most fascinating people

Baltimore's Michael Phelps is one of the most fascinating people of 2008. Just ask Barbara Walters.

She has put together her annual list, and the swimmer, who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, is on the list along with Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Will Smith, R ush Limbaugh and Miley Cyrus.

To find out the other four - as well as the person Walters names as No. 1 - you'll have to tune in to 10 Most Fascinating People on Dec. 4, ABC announced yesterday.

'Act'-ing up

Whoopi Goldberg will produce Sister Act, a London stage version of her hit 1992 movie about an on-the-lam singer who hides out in a convent. The musical will open June 2 at the London Palladium, with preview performances beginning May 6.

Directed by Peter Schneider, the musical has a score by Alan Menken (music) and Glen Slater (lyrics), who collaborated on Broadway's Little Mermaid last season. The book is by Cherie and Bill Steinkellner, veteran television writers for such shows as Cheers. The choreography is by Anthony Van Laast, who did the dances for both the stage and film versions of Mamma Mia!

No word yet on casting - except Goldberg won't be in the cast.

More theater news

For nearly seven weeks, Melora Hardin is trading the offices of Scranton's Dunder Mifflin for the bright lights of Broadway.

The actress who plays Jan Levenson on NBC's The Office will join the cast of Chicago Dec. 29 to portray that killer chorine Roxie Hart. Hardin will appear in the long-running revival at the Ambassador Theatre through Feb. 12.

"I'm thrilled. I'm so excited," Hardin said in a telephone interview. "I have been dancing all my life, since I was 5. ... In a way, I was made for musicals."

A million hits

The animated video adaptation of Stephen King's short story "N." has been viewed more than 1 million times on the Internet and on mobile phones since its release in July, according to publisher Simon & Schuster. King has demonstrated his digital appeal before; his e-novella Riding the Bullet was a sensation in the early years of the Internet.

The print version of King's short story, in which a psychiatrist fatally absorbs the madness of one of his patients, is included in the collection Just After Sunset, released this week.

Hendrix band member dies

Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 1960s and the group's last surviving member, was found dead in his hotel room. He was 61.

A worker at Portland's Benson Hotel called police after discovering Mitchell's body early Wednesday.

Erin Patrick, a deputy medical examiner, said Mitchell apparently died of natural causes.

Mitchell was a powerful force on the Hendrix band's 1967 debut album Are You Experienced? as well as the trio's albums Electric Ladyland and Axis: Bold As Love.


Jazz musician Ellis Marsalis, 74.

Writer P.J. O'Rourke, 61.

Britain's Prince Charles, 60.

Pianist Yanni, 54.

Actress Laura San Giacomo, 47.

Actor Josh Duhamel, 36.

Actress Olga Kurylenko, 29.

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