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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Singer Shakira returns to school

Shakira (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Shakira wasn’t always the rich, talented singing sensation she appears today.

Though it’s now hard to imagine, the native of Colombia once taught reading at a parochial school in the humble La Playa district of her hometown of Barranquilla on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

That was how she fought illiteracy then. These days she’s a little more hands-off, but she’s likely making a bigger impact. The multiple Grammy winner dedicated a $6 million school on Wednesday.

The money came through her foundation, Pies Descalzos, which means “barefoot” in Spanish (and which happens to be the title of one of her biggest pop hits).

The black-gowned Shakira showed up at the ceremony accompanied by President Alvaro Uribe, who decorated her with a medal.

The 140,000-square-feet school will cater to 1,800 students and is the fifth the singer-songwriter’s foundation has built.

Shakira said her foundation’s work is all about “breaking the myth that quality education is the privilege of the few.”

What’s next? A Colombian Harvard?

They should invite Shakira, too

Speaking of Harvard, actor James Franco has been named this year’s Man of the Year by the university’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals of Harvard. He’ll be celebrated Feb. 13.

They’re dancing to ABC’s tune

ABC is set to announce its new “Dancing With the Stars” lineup tonight. But various sources have been busy leaking the news.

Among those said to be involved are actress (and Charlie Sheen ex) Denise Richards, Steve-O of “Jackass” fame, singer Jewel and even former NFL star Lawrence Taylor.

Fox will prowl the small screen

The cable network TV Land says that actress Vivica A. Fox will be host of its new dating show, “The Cougar,” set to premier in April. The show will be about “an accomplished, beautiful and sexy woman (who) hunts for love from a pool of eligible younger men.”

“This show will prove to be empowering and enlightening for women everywhere,” she said. “Plus, 20 hot guys gathered under one roof doesn’t hurt!”

He’s missing his Saturday nights

Elton John is quitting Las Vegas. The British rocker has been doing his “Red Piano” at Caesars Palace show in Sin City since February, 2004. By the time he’s through, on April 22, he will have performed 241 shows. Not bad since his initial contract was for only 75.

She’s both bella and ricca

How rich is the birth family of French first lady Carla Bruni? Bruni’s father, industrialist Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, just sold the family castle (located near Turin) for a cool $9 million to an Arab sheik. The furnishings from the 40-room Castello di Castagneto Po fetched $10 million at an earlier auction in London.

The birthday bunch

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is 92. Actor Patrick Macnee is 87. Actor Rip Torn is 78. Actress Mamie Van Doren is 78. Actor Mike Farrell is 70. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 69. Singer Fabian is 66. Actor Michael Tucker is 65. Singer Natalie Cole is 59.