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Jackson nixes trip, cites security

Vienna, Austria -- Michael Jackson has canceled plans to appear next weekend in Austria because of concerns about security, an organizer of the event said Wednesday.

The 44-year-old pop singer has been scheduled to give a concert and introduce a charity project for children on Sunday in the western Austrian ski resort of Ischgl.

Mark Petrisch, a spokesman for the event's organizer, said Jackson was canceling the show because of security risks related to world political events.

Miller selected for city's top prize

Jerusalem -- Playwright Arthur Miller, known for his works examining the darker sides of American society, will receive the prestigious Jerusalem Prize this year, the city's mayor announced Wednesday.

The prize, awarded every two years, singles out literary achievements in the field of freedom of the individual in society, the prize committee said in a statement. Mayor Uri Lupolianski said Miller would receive the award during the biennial Jerusalem International Book Fair, June 23-27.

The chairman of the prize committee, Avishay Braverman, said Miller was selected for "his efforts on behalf of the common good, for standing alongside the small, gray individual and placing him in the center of society." The last recipient was Susan Sontag.

Miller, 87, is best known for his plays "All My Sons" in 1947 and "Death of a Salesman" in 1949.

Material girl to discuss war video

New York -- Madonna will perform songs from her new album, "American Life," in an MTV special in which she's also expected to talk about the antiwar video she created for the title song.

"Madonna on Stage and on the Record" is scheduled for April 22, the same day her album hits stores. The hourlong special will be taped in front of a studio audience that day and is set to air at 9 p.m. CDT.

The 44-year-old singer is expected to discuss the video for "American Life," in which she wears military garb next to dancers in camouflage on a fashion runway. Madonna said she made the video before the war began three weeks ago, and has withdrawn it out of respect for the troops.

Poe missive pulls in $20,000

Milwaukee -- An 1840 letter by Edgar Allan Poe discovered inside a safe at a church has been auctioned for $20,000.

Chris Coover, a senior specialist in manuscripts at Christie's auction house, which handled the item Tuesday for St. Paul's Episcopal Church, said the buyer was a New York rare books firm.

Poe sent the letter to the ancestor of a now-deceased church member whose family had established a fund to support the church's music program. The auction proceeds will go into that fund.

Poe, best-known for poems and horror stories such as "The Raven" and "The Telltale Heart," wrote the letter Feb. 12, 1840, to "J.C. Passmore Esqr.," who became an Episcopal priest.

Passmore had proposed providing articles for Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia, where Poe worked. Poe says in the letter that the proposed articles sounded interesting, but the magazine didn't have the money to pay for them.

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