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Ebert slated for surgery today

Chicago � Film critic Roger Ebert will undergo surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his thyroid gland.

The operation for the Chicago Sun-Times movie reviewer is scheduled for today, the paper reported Thursday.

Ebert, 59, bounced back quickly from a similar procedure in 1987.

He said programs for his nationally broadcast "Ebert & Roeper and the Movies" television show have been taped in advance and he hoped to return to work without missing a movie.

John targets Spears, boy bands

London � Elton John likens the new generation of pop stars, including Britney Spears and 'N Sync, to packets of cereal. And he's fed up.

The singer accused the music industry of churning out "average and mediocre" bands.

"Nowadays, record companies want the quick buck from the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, S Club 7, from the Steps. I'm not knocking the music perhaps, but it's like packets of cereal," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Newsnight program Wednesday.

"There are too many of them, too many of them are just average and mediocre. And I think it damages real people's chance, real talent, of getting airplay. It's just fodder."

Mulder signs on for final 'X-Files'

New York � David Duchovny is out there � and he's coming back for the final episode of "The X-Files."

The actor, who played FBI Agent Fox Mulder on the Fox sci-fi series for eight of its nine seasons, will return for the two-hour series finale, scheduled for May 19, the network announced Wednesday.

Fox would reveal few details about the last five shows, but said they'll "begin to provide highly anticipated answers to many of the show's most-asked questions."

Mulder's former partner, Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), has been investigating his disappearance for the past year with her new partner, Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick).

Arnold goes to bat for schools

Los Angeles � Flanked by students and teachers, Arnold Schwarzenegger helped launch a campaign to support a proposed ballot measure that would set aside more than $400 million for after-school programs in California.

"This is an education issue, a crime issue and a working family issue," Schwarzenegger said Wednesday at an elementary school in the San Fernando Valley. "Every child who wants and needs one should have a safe, educationally enriching and fun place to go after school."

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