Arab Idol winner named ambassador
The winner of the Arab Idol reality show can’t stop adding titles.
After winning the popular contest, singer Mohammed Assaf was named a special ambassador Sunday by the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency and the Palestinian president.
On Saturday night, Assaf became the first Palestinian to win the Arab world’s version of American Idol, setting off wild celebrations across the Palestinian territories.
After the victory, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared the singer an honorary ambassador. “I congratulate the talented singer Mohammed Assaf … who conveyed the message of the Palestinian people to the Arab nation through his art,” Abbas said in a statement distributed by the official Wafa news agency.
He was also named a youth ambassador by the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency, which serves Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. The agency runs the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, where Assaf has lived since age 4.
Assaf said he was “truly honored” by the appointment.
Crowds gathered in the West Bank and Gaza late Saturday to watch the final episode of Arab Idol on big screens. After Assaf’s victory was announced, fireworks lit up the sky over the West Bank and Gaza.
Crystal donates $1M to rebuild town
Billy Crystal has helped raise $1 million to rebuild his native beach town on New York’s Long Island hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy.
The “City Slickers” and “When Harry Met Sally” star announced the gift to the city of Long Beach on Saturday, while standing on a newly installed patch of the town’s boardwalk.
Newsday reports $112,000 of the gift will come from Crystal’s family. The $888,000 is coming from money he helped raise at the annual Celebrity Fight Night fundraiser in March, an event that raises money for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute and other charities.
Officials hope part of a new $44 million boardwalk will be completed by mid-July.
The birthday bunch
Actor Al Molinaro is 94. Comedian Jack Carter is 90. Rock singer Arthur Brown is 71. Actress Michele Lee is 71. Rock musician Jeff Beck is 69. Rock singer Colin Blunstone (The Zombies) is 68. Musician Mick Fleetwood is 66. Actor Peter Weller is 66. Rock musician John Illsley (Dire Straits) is 64. Actress Nancy Allen is 63. Reggae singer Astro (UB40) is 56. Actor Iain Glen (TV: “Game of Thrones”; “Downton Abbey”) is 52. Actress Sherry Stringfield is 46. Actress-producer Mindy Kaling is 34. Singer Solange Knowles is 27.