Standing at anchor

Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams have something in common besides their jobs: Each has lost loved ones to cancer – which gives them something in common with nearly everybody.

The evening news anchors are planning to join dozens of A-list entertainers and sports figures on “Stand Up to Cancer,” a live, one-hour special being simulcast at 8 p.m. Friday on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as cable’s E! Entertainment channel.

Besides seeking contributions to finance cancer research, the program will attempt to make the subject of cancer “not fun,” says CBS’ Couric, “but maybe a little bit entertaining – as well as educational and informative.”

Her segment will highlight new treatment for medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor that commonly targets children.

ABC’s Gibson will report on breast cancer, he said, “because my wife has gone through a bout of it.” (She is now in recovery.)

NBC’s Williams said his mother and sister died of cancer, which has put him on notice: “Given my family history, it’s not a question of will I have cancer, but in what form and when.”

Strings of his heart

Late-night TV host David Letterman tells Rolling Stone that he’ll never forget his “heartbreaking” post-show talk with frequent musical guest Warren Zevon shortly before Zevon’s 2003 death from cancer:

“(A)s we’re talking, he’s taking his guitar strap and hooking it, wrapping it around, then he puts the guitar into the case and he flips the snaps on the case and says, ‘Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it.’

“And I just started sobbing. He was giving me the guitar that he always used on the show. I felt like, ‘I can’t be in this movie, I didn’t get my lines.’ That was very tough.”

Seen and not heard?

Britney Spears is back on again for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.

Spears, whose awkwardly attempted comeback was the talk of last year’s ceremony, reportedly was set to return, but her manager said she was too busy recording a new CD.

MTV’s Van Toffler says she won’t perform on Sunday night’s show, but will make an appearance that’s “fun and unexpected.”

Legal hurly-burly

On the celebrity court docket, two surfers have been charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly throwing a photographer into the water as he tried to shoot pictures of Matthew McConaughey on a Malibu beach.

And rapper Akon is headed to trial on criminal charges for tossing a fan offstage at an upstate New York concert last summer.

Distaff meetings

R&B singer Usher is preparing to set out on a “One Night Stand” tour – for ladies only.

“This album, I felt like, was definitely the type of one that was more intimate,” he says. “So what better way to get up close and personal than to make it all women?”

The birthday bunch

Radio personality Paul Harvey is 90. Actress Mitzi Gaynor is 77. Actress Khandi Alexander is 51. Actor-comedian Damon Wayans is 48. Actor Wes Bentley (“American Beauty”) is 30. Singer Beyonce Knowles is 27. Actor Trevor Gagnon (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) is 13.


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