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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 13:19 GMT
'Mr Motivator' wins year off work

A 43-year-old personal empowerment coach has won a year off work with double his salary after scooping top prize in the BBC's 2000 to 1 millennium quiz.

John Mitchell from Coulsdon, Surrey, won after his fellow finalist plumped for the wrong answer to a tie-breaker question in the grand finale to the quiz after four weeks spent whittling down 1,600 contestants.

The self-employed motivation expert, who is set to walk away with 70,000 from his victory, said he would enjoy his new-found freedom by travelling abroad.

"I'm absolutely stunned with my win," he said. "I plan to fulfil my ultimate dream, by travelling to Fiji and Tahiti and generally take life easy."

He entered the competition along with the rest of the contestants by donating one hour of his earnings to the Children's Promise campaign, which has so far raised 10.5m for a series of children's charities.




Sheen case settled

Two women who claimed Hollywood star Charlie Sheen's bodyguard assaulted them have settled a court case against the actor.

Erin Sieman and Christina Lee Stramaglia sued Sheen, 34, in a Los Angeles court in August, seeking unspecified damages for battery, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

They claimed they were "intimate friends" of Sheen who were invited to his home in July, only to find no-one answered the gate when they arrived.

They said they climbed a fence to get in, but were met by Curtis "Zippy" Hunt.

They claimed he assaulted them, and also that Curtis called Sieman on Sheen's instructions and threatened to kill them if they reported the incident.

No details were given of the settlement.

Sheen is on probation for a battery conviction against his ex-girlfriend, and his father Martin Sheen took out an arrest warrant in 1998 to force him to undergo drug rehabilitation.




Boy band settle court battle

American boy band 'N Sync has settled a court battle allowing it to change record company and keep its name.

The five-man outfit, which made 30m in 1999 from touring alone, was sued by its former manager Lou Pearlman.

He demanded 100m damages when the band decided to move to the same company as Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys.

The out-of-court deal follows a bid to ban it from keeping the name 'N Sync.


Eastwood joins Muppet writer in space

Spaghetti western star Clint Eastwood is teaming up with Muppets In Space writer Ken Kaufman for his new film Space Cowboys.

Eastwood, 69, who is directing and starring in the film about a group of retired astronauts who are sent into orbit one last time, says the film will be "more serious" than the Muppets.

"It isn't totally fantasy - this could happen," the actor said of the film he has nicknamed Geezer Power in an interview with Premiere magazine.


Street's Leanne in New Year drugs trauma

Coronation Street wild child Leanne Battersby is to end up in hospital after being beaten up by drug dealers.

In a special New Year's Day episode, two pushers will attack the barmaid over a cocaine debt as she locks up the Rovers Return.

Landlady Natalie, played by Denise Welch, whose screen husband was killed by drug dealers last year, cannot stop the thugs but holds the unconscious Leanne in her arms in the cliffhanger.

The scene will be the culmination of a dramatic period for Leanne - played by Jane Danson - who has become increasingly dependant on drugs over the last few episodes.




Wizard of Oz 'Munchkin' dies aged 95

Harry Monty, one of the last surviving Munchkins from the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz has died aged 95, according to reports in the US.

The Los Angeles Times says Polish-born Monty, whose real name was Hymie Lichenstein, died in Beverly Hills.

The pint-sized actor was a capable stunt man who also did a turn as one of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, which starred Judy Garland.

Monty's other films included roles in 1941's Hellzapoppin, The Court Jester in 1951, 1968's Planet of the Apes and Papillon in 1973.

On television, he appeared in series such as Bonanza, Bewitched and Lost in Space.

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