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Champ to be feted as he rings in 70th birthday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Muhammad Ali is coming home to celebrate another milestone – his 70th birthday.

The iconic heavyweight boxing champion will bask in the limelight once again at a private birthday bash Saturday evening at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. Ali turns 70 on Jan. 17. The party will double as a fundraiser for the center – a cultural and education center that also features a museum focusing on Ali’s long career as a boxer, social activist and humanitarian.

Ali Center spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke said Saturday that Ali will be surrounded by old friends and people who made a difference in his life, including his longtime trainer, Angelo Dundee. The party will feature a dinner, entertainment and speeches.

Kahnke described it as a “retrospective look and celebration” of Ali’s life.

A few tickets remained available for the $1,000-per-person event, she said.

Kahnke said that Ali and his wife, Lonnie, are looking forward to returning for the celebration. The Alis have a residence in Louisville but have recently been staying at their home in Arizona, she said. Ali is battling Parkinson’s disease.

‘Vodka’ toast in TV title for memoir

PASADENA, Calif. – NBC’s entertainment chief insists that it wasn’t squeamishness over booze that got “vodka” dropped from the television version of Chelsea Handler’s memoir.

Robert Greenblatt said Friday that the 2008 book’s title, “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” was just too long. Initially, NBC considered just calling the show “Chelsea” but settled instead on “Are You There, Chelsea?” and it debuts on the network next Wednesday.

“There was no mandate from anyone saying don’t put vodka in the title of the show,” the entertainment president said.

Talk to the author, though, and that’s not so clear. Handler said in a telephone conference call last month that “although there is plenty of drinking in the show, you can’t have it in the title.”

The birthday bunch

Former Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh is 100. Actor-comedian Larry Storch is 89. Actor Ron Moody is 88. Broadcast journalist Sander Vanocur is 84. CBS newsman Charles Osgood is 79. Singer Shirley Bassey is 75. Game show host Bob Eubanks is 74. Country-gospel singer Cristy Lane is 72. Rock singer David Bowie is 65. Movie director John McTiernan is 61. Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith is 48. Actress Maria Pitillo is 47. Actress Michelle Forbes is 47. Singer R. Kelly is 45. Rock musician Jeff Abercrombie is 43. Actress Ami Dolenz is 43. Actress Amber Benson is 35. Actor Scott Whyte is 34. Actress Gaby Hoffman is 30.


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