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U2's Bono to write column for The New York Times

Bono - lead singer for U2 and an advocate in the fight against poverty in Africa and AIDS - will write an Op-Ed column for The New York Times.

The paper announced that his first column will appear tomorrow, for which he will also do a podcast. His column will appear occasionally.

Bono, 48, called the gig "an honor," and joked that he's "never been great with the full stops or commas."

The Times said the column will cover a broad range of topics. Editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal said Bono "is an extraordinary man who thinks deeply about his art and the major issues confronting the world."

Swayze in hospital

Patrick Swayze has checked himself into the hospital for observation after contracting pneumonia, A&E; President Abbe Raven announced yesterday at a meeting of the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles.

Swayze, 56, who has been in treatment for pancreatic cancer, was scheduled to appear to discuss his new drama for A&E;, The Beast.

"Chemotherapy can take its toll on the immune system, and illnesses are a part of that, said Robert DeBitetto, A&E;'s programming senior vice president, in explaining Swayze's absence.

Swayze's spokeswoman, Annett Wolf, would only confirm that the actor was in the hospital.

Back to work

Angelina Jolie, who has been lying low since the birth of her 5-month-old twins, Vivienne and Knox, is thinking about a brief return to film.

The 33-year-old actress says she'll be in front of the camera early this year, but didn't say what projects she may be working on.

"I have had a year off," Jolie says. "I'm probably going to take another year and a half or two. I'm going to work a lot less."

Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt attended the 14th annual Critics' Choice Awards at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in California Thursday night.

'Sopranos' actor to prison

A former actor on The Sopranos was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for a botched burglary in the Bronx, N.Y., in which an accomplice shot and killed an off-duty police officer.

A jury acquitted Lillo Brancato Jr. of second-degree murder in the death of the police officer, but convicted him of attempted burglary. He had faced up to 15 years in prison.

Brancato has already served three years waiting for his trial, for which he will receive credit.

In the second season of HBO's The Sopranos, Brancato, 32, played Matt Bevilaqua, who carried out a series of low-level crimes for the New Jersey mob before being gunned down by Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his sidekick as he tearfully begged for his life.

'SVU' redux

Stephanie March will return in her role as New York prosecutor Alexandra Cabot for a six-episode story arc on Law & Order: SVU beginning Feb. 17.

The actress said Thursday that she looks forward to spending time with a production that has been rewarding for her, and compared it to "an old flame."

March starred on the show for four seasons, leaving in 2003 and returning for one episode in 2005.

Extra innings

Filmmaker Ken Burns is adding a 10th inning to his nine-part Baseball documentary series, which aired in 1994 on public television.

PBS said Wednesday that the new film, titled The Tenth Inning, will air in spring 2010, along with a rebroadcast of the original nine-part Baseball documentary series. It will track baseball history from 1993 through 2008, beginning where the original series ended, and feature interviews with Felipe Alou, Joe Torre and other baseball figures.

From Sun news services

today's birthdays

Rock singer Ronnie Hawkins, 74.

Movie director Walter Hill, 69.

Singer Rod Stewart, 64.

Boxer George Foreman, 60.

Singer Pat Benatar, 56.

Actor Evan Handler, 48.

Actress Sarah Shahi, 29.

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