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Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 16:52 GMT


Mandela bowls over Jackson

Nelson Mandela with other showbiz fans The Spice Girls

Singing star Janet Jackson has admitted she was overwhelmed when she met South African President Nelson Mandela.

"It was an awesome experience, sitting and chatting with him," she said.

"He said to me, 'Always remember you've got a grandfather in South Africa that you can come and visit'. It was very sweet," she added.

Janet, the youngest sister of Michael Jackson who has also had an audience with Mandela, has sold more than 40m albums worldwide.

Currently in Australia, as part of her world tour, she says she has fallen in love with the country and is thinking of buying a house overlooking Sydney Harbour.

NYPD kills off popular cop

[ image: Jimmy Smits: Written out of the ABC hit series NYPD Blue]
Jimmy Smits: Written out of the ABC hit series NYPD Blue
NYPD writers have killed off popular character Bobby Simone after a tear-jerking storyline.

Viewers in the United States were glued to their sets as Simone, played by Jimmy Smits, finally lost his battle against a mystery disease.

The 90-minute denouement saw him receive a heart transplant, but it was to no avail and fellow members of Manhattan's 15th Precinct said their farewells as the screen faded to white.

Smits has said he wants to pursue other acting ventures on TV and in films.

Danniella desperate for Albert Square return

Former EastEnder Danniella Westbrook is "desperate" to get back in the cast of the BBC One soap - because she could do with the money.

The actress, who played Sam Butcher, told Hello! magazine that her wild days are behind her, following her recent marriage.

She said: "I am desperate to go back to EastEnders and Mike Reid and Barbara Windsor say they're keen to have me back too.

"I could do with the security of a regular income."

Memoirs of a Geisha on hold

[ image: Steven Spielberg: Mission to make film with Tom Cruise]
Steven Spielberg: Mission to make film with Tom Cruise
Steven Spielberg has put his plan to make a film of the bestseller Memoirs of a Geisha on the back burner to allow him to first make a film with Tom Cruise.

He and the Top Gun star have been discussing working together on either a sci-fi adventure based on the Philip K Dick story Minority Report or on Spares, a futuristic drama about cloning for organ donation.

Leo wins jazz rights

[ image: Leonardo Dicaprio: Won over Chet Baker's widow]
Leonardo Dicaprio: Won over Chet Baker's widow
Leonardo Dicaprio has beaten Brad Pitt and Jim Carrey to a race to acquire all film and music rights to the life of fabled jazz trumpeter Chet Baker.

All three actors were hoping to portray Baker, with Pitt being backed by Universal and Carrey by Paramount.

But Baker's widow was reportedly won over by DiCaprio and Miramax, who convinced her that they would do full justice to the life of Baker, who died in 1988 in mysterious circumstances.

Brandy's natural horrors

Brandy, the pop singer-turned-actress, did not enjoy the month she spent on location in Mexico for her first film role in the horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

Brandy, who recently scored a No 1 hit with The Boy is Mine, said: "We were there for a month - and that was a month too long.

"I wanted to go home after three days. I wasn't used to those animals - lemurs and geckos and scorpions and things. One of the actresses woke up with a crab on her head. I hated it."

Shock warning over children's film

Distributors of children's movie Small Soldiers have been warned that scenes with live electrical wires could prompt fatal copycat incidents.

The Electricity Association issued the warning to Universal's UK distributor, saying "there is a very real risk that the film could mislead young people"

Universal claims that the British Board of Film Classification passed the film without objection, but also says it wil issue warning posters to cinema.

Dermot tops newsreader polls

Dermot Murnaghan is considered TV's best-looking male newsreader by millions of women viewers.

He was once voted the newsreader they most wanted to sleep with. However, he says he would rather win recognition for his work.

The 40-year-old, with blue eyes and dark hair, has been with ITN for nine years.

He has also presented ITV programmes The Big Story and Britain's Most Wanted. Murnaghan is married to Maria Keegan, a television producer.

They live in north London and have two daughters - Kitty, six, and Molly, 18 months.

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