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Rain soaks Queen Elizabeth II's grand birthday parade
Guardsmen's impeccable red coats were soaked and their carefully buffed dress shoes muddied, but a royal downpour couldn't dampen the elegance of Britain's annual birthday salute to Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday.

Two white horses led the monarch's open carriage from Buckingham Palace down The Mall to the Horseguard's parade ground. She held a delicate white umbrella, but the torrential rain held off until she was safely seated under a canopy on the reviewing dais.

The Trooping of the Color, one of Britain's most splendid parades, is part of the official celebration of Elizabeth's birthday, although she actually turned 75 on April 21.

Helms attends first rock concert

At age 79, Sen. Jesse Helms has experienced what's usually a preteen rite of passage � he attended his first rock concert. The North Carolina Republican was invited to a U2 concert in Washington by his friend Bono, lead singer for the group.

"It was filled to the gills, and people were moving back and forth like corn in the breeze," Helms said.

Helms said he turned down his hearing aids and put his hands over his ears during the concert because it "was the noisiest thing I ever heard. It was so loud I couldn't really understand what he was saying."

'Miss Congeniality' � not

The star of "Miss Congeniality" won't just grin and bear it when she feels she's being ripped off.

On Friday, actress Sandra Bullock filed a lawsuit against the builder of her Lake Austin, Tex., house, claiming breach of contract.

The suit, filed in Travis County district court, claims Bullock invested $331,225 in 1997 to help Benny Daneshjou's company purchase nearly 19 acres of land to build a subdivision. In the deal, Bullock says she was supposed to get her money back, plus half the profits from the sale of the lots. Daneshjou did not comment on the suit.

Harden to appear in 'Seagull'

Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden has joined the starry summertime cast of "The Seagull," which begins performances July 24 in New York City's Central Park for a four-week run.

Harden, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of artist Lee Krasner in "Pollack," replaces Allison Janney in the Chekhov classic. Janney had to return to California to resume work on "The West Wing."

"The Seagull," in a version by British playwright Tom Stoppard, also will feature Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Christopher Walken, John Goodman, Natalie Portman and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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