PEOPLE

PEOPLE

BARBARA WICKENS February 12 1996
PEOPLE

PEOPLE

BARBARA WICKENS February 12 1996

PEOPLE

GARTH JUST SAYS NO

Canadian singer Shania Twain, 30, nearly stole the show when she strutted on stage in a body-hugging shiny black outfit to accept Best New Country Artist honors at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles last week. But the real show-stopper was country superstar Garth Brooks, who was named Favorite Overall Artist— but left his trophy on the podium. Brooks, 34, simply told the audience he didn’t believe in the concept of an artist of the year, “so I’m going to leave it here.” Later, the singer told reporters the trophy he declined should have gone to the pop-rock band Hootie & the Blowfish. But over the next two days, he and the awards

organizers reached an accommodation: the favorite artist trophy will become a “travelling award” that the winner may display publicly, place in the organization’s archives or just keep for a year. Brooks’s name will be engraved on it this year, then it will pass on to next year’s winner. “Now, we can celebrate this award by sharing it as a music family,” Brooks said.

THE RETURN OF MAGIC

He’s umphant back—and return bigger of basketball than ever. superstar Last week Magic marked Johnson, the triwho signed a $3.4-million contract to play the remainder of the season with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team he led to an NBA title five times in the 1980s. Johnson, 36, had retired from the game in 1991 after stunning the sports world by announcing that he had tested positive for HIV, the precursor to AIDS. His first attempt at a comeback before the 1992-1993 season ended after several players expressed fears about playing on the same court with someone with HIV. The difference this time, says Johnson— who, at six feet, nine inches, has bulked up 27 lb. to 257—is that the players are better educated about the infinitesimal risk of catching AIDS during a game. And in fact, opposing players did not hesitate to mix it up with Johnson, who, in last week’s games, alternated between power forward and point guard. “It’s not like we’re going out to have unprotected sex with Magic on the floor,” says Chicago Bulls guard Steve Kerr. “I think we’ll be OK.”

SCANDALOUS -AGAIN

Pop to creating singer Madonna controversy, is used but she may finally have gotten more than she bargained for. Her arrival last month in Argentina to begin filming the $83-million movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit musical Evita seems to have raised the ire of the entire South American nation. Slogans saying “Madonna out” have been splashed on walls. Politicians, trade unions and women’s groups are complaining. Argentine actors working as extras have received death threats. The uproar is over the steamy star playing the role of former first lady Eva Perón. The second wife of former president Gen. Juan Perón died of cancer in 1952 at the age of 33. But many still consider her almost a saint for taking up the cause of the poor. “They attack our history and offend our dignity,” says congresswoman Marta Rivadera. But Madonna, who has been travelling about Buenos Aires with a contingent of bodyguards, denies that the film will tarnish the memory of Evita: “I’ve never hinted at insulting her or the Argentine people.”

AWARDS FOR A NEWCOMER

At first, Christopher Curtis shrugged it off as a crank call. The Windsor, Ont., warehouse worker could not believe that the Chicago-based American Library Association had awarded him its presti-

gious Newbery Honor Book Award for distinguished children’s literature for his novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. “I thought it was somebody playing a cruel practical joke,” said Curtis, who wrote the book dealing with racism from a child’s point of view. Adds the 42-year-old author: “This is my first novel—we had very low expectations.” But Curtis, a married father of two children, is receiving high praise for his funny,

touching story of a black family from Flint, Mich., which draws on his own experiences growing up in that industrial city. On the same day that he heard about the Newbery award, he learned that he had also won a Coretta Scott King award, named for the wife of the martyred civil rights leader Martin Luther King, for promoting interracial harmony.

BARBARA WICKENS