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People in the News

November 6, 1997 GMT

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ A busy congressman couldn’t make it to his daughter’s school play, so he called on John Travolta to give him a boost in his approval rating.

Travolta phoned Lara Salmon, daughter of Rep. Matt Salmon, this week to wish her luck in her high school production of ``Hello, Dolly!″

The star invited the 17-year-old to the set of his next movie.

``He knows my daughter is his biggest fan,″ Salmon said.

Salmon, an Arizona Republican, and Travolta met when the actor lobbied Congress earlier this year to push Germany to ease restrictions on the Church of Scientology. Travolta, a church follower, made the call to Lara after a House committee that her father sits on took a voice vote in support of Scientology and other religious groups.

Mike Paranzino, Salmon’s spokesman in Washington, said there was nothing improper about the congressman seeking a favor from Travolta.

``This is a non-story,″ he said Thursday.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Francis Ford Coppola is a big man in Hollywood, but he considers himself nothing next to the giants of the wine industry.

Coppola attended a gathering of Harvard Business School alumni who were honoring winemaker Robert Mondavi, 84, as their business leader of the year.

Another prominent winemaker, 88-year-old Ernest Gallo, was also on hand.

``Imagine how I feel in their company,″ said Coppola, himself a Napa Valley winemaker. ``Of course all of us are Italian, which is a source of great pride.″

Coppola credited Mondavi with giving him confidence to enter California’s intensely competitive premium wine business in the 1970s.

``Only one person was encouraging to me,″ he said. ``At every opportunity, he was there to foster us along.″

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PARIS (AP) _ The body of Yves Montand is to be exhumed for genetic testing that could leave half his estate in the hands of a woman who claims to be his illegitimate daughter, French radio reported Thursday.

The testing is scheduled to take place before June 30, 1998, France Info said.

The singer and actor, who died in 1991, had refused repeatedly to undergo the testing to settle a paternity lawsuit filed by the young French woman identified only as ``Aurore.″ She filed the suit in the mid-1980s.

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French law requires that half a person’s assets after death be divided equally among surviving children. Montand fathered a child with companion Carole Amiel.

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LAS VEGAS (AP) _ It was an evening Liberace would have loved: glitzy costumes, classical music and the Rockettes.

Liberace first brought the high-kicking Radio City showgirls to Las Vegas 17 years ago. On Wednesday night, they received the Liberace Legend Award, a silver and Lucite candelabra.

The award is given annually to a performer or group making a significant contribution to the Las Vegas community and the world of entertainment.

Liza Minnelli, Siegfried and Roy, and Debbie Reynolds are past recipients.

Liberace appeared with the Rockettes in Las Vegas in 1980, then performed with them at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

He died in 1987 of complications from AIDS.

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PARIS (AP) _ Two months after Princess Diana’s death in a car crash here, the city is renaming a child care center in her honor.

It will be called the ``Lady Diana, Princess of Wales″ center in recognition of the work she did for the ``most fragile children,″ Mayor Jean Tiberi said in a statement Thursday. It wasn’t yet known which center will be renamed.

Diana died Aug. 31 when her Mercedes crashed in a Paris traffic tunnel. Also killed were her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul.

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BALTIMORE (AP) _ Sen. Barbara Mikulski is becoming a media mogul.

She co-wrote a book, ``Capitol Offense,″ that is now being made into a television movie and followed up with ``Capitol Venture,″ published this month.

Judith Light will play fictional Sen. Norie Gorzack, who solves murders while learning the mysterious ways of politics. Dutton Signet published the book, co-written with Marylouise Oates, last year.

CBS will broadcast the movie, probably next fall, a spokesman for the Maryland Democrat said Wednesday.

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BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) _ Country singer Tracy Byrd and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of a baby boy.

Logan Lynn Byrd was born Wednesday, weighing in at 8 pounds, 3 ounces. Byrd spokeswoman Melissa Matthews said he coached his wife during the delivery and mother and baby are doing fine.

The Byrds also have a 3-year-old daughter.

Byrd is known for hits ``Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got,″ ``The Keeper of the Stars″ and ``Watermelon Crawl.″