PASSAGES: Penn Minus a Set of Wheels
REDUCED: Best-selling "Interview with the Vampire" author Anne Rice, inspired by Al Roker's story as reported in PEOPLE, underwent a gastric bypass operation in January, the New Orleans Times-Picayune revealed this week. As a result, Rice, 61, has lost 44 of the 254 pounds she weighed when she decided on the surgery. She wants to lose 100 pounds or more, with a goal of being healthy enough to go on a book tour this fall.
ENROLLED: "Dawson's Creek" costar Joshua Jackson, 24, was accepted into an alcohol education program after admitting he was drunk and disruptive at a Nov. 9 Carolina Hurricanes game, reports the Associated Press. Jackson originally was charged with being drunk and disruptive by fighting and simple assault for allegedly grabbing a security guard around the neck and striking him. After he was arrested, he was tested at the jail and his blood alcohol content showed 0.14.
INJURED: Controversial diet doc Dr. Robert Atkins, 72, was in critical condition in a New York hospital on Thursday with severe head injuries after slipping on an icy sidewalk, his spokesman tells Reuters. "He did bang his head on the concrete, he did suffer severe head trauma and they did have to perform surgery to relieve the pressure," said Richard Rothstein, describing Atkins's condition as "very serious."
DIED: World music pioneer Babatunde Olatunji, 76, the Nigerian-born drummer and bandleader whose groundbreaking 1959 recording "Drums of Passion" brought African music to a wide American audience, has died of complications of advanced diabetes, his daughter tells The New York Times. Over the years, his band had appeared at civil-rights rallies led by Martin Luther King Jr., performed at New York's Radio City Music Hall and had a contract with Columbia Records.
HONORED: TV fixture Regis Philbin, 69, received the 2,222nd star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame Thursday in a ceremony that brought out Larry King, comic Don Rickles and Disney chief Michael Eisner, reports Reuters. "I guess they've loosened up the rules lately to include people like me, but I'm grateful for it and it's a big thrill," Philbin said.