Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Former Tom Petty bassist dies

Santa Fe, N.M. -- Howie Epstein, a former bass player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died Sunday of what authorities suspect was a drug overdose. He was 47.

Investigators were told Epstein had been using heroin, said Maj. Ron Madrid of the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department.

Epstein has been a respected musician and producer for more than 20 years. In addition to his work with Petty, he played on some of Bob Dylan's albums in the 1980s and produced a Grammy-award winning album for folk singer-songwriter John Prine called "The Missing Years."

Donahue show canceled

New York -- Phil Donahue's brief career at MSNBC dissolved Tuesday, ending a seven-month effort to counterprogram top-rated Fox News Channel with pointedly liberal talk.

"Donahue's" last edition aired Monday night; the show will be in reruns through Friday. After learning Tuesday that he had been fired, Donahue decided to make an early exit -- apparently spurning a network offer to continue hosting through Friday if he chose to.

"Donahue's" demise was long expected, and the show was to have been shelved when the possible war with Iraq breaks out. By axing "Donahue" on Tuesday, MSNBC execs began to lay the groundwork for network coverage of a war that most news executives now believe is all but inevitable. "Countdown: Iraq," anchored by Lester Holt, will expand to two hours next Monday.

Ripa gives 'Live' baby report

New York City -- Kelly Ripa delivered a scoop during "Live with Regis & Kelly" Tuesday when she called to announce she'd delivered her new son.

Joaquin Consuelos was born to Ripa and her husband, actor Mark Consuelos of the ABC soap opera "All My Children," Monday morning in New York, according to Ripa's publicist, Stan Rosenfield.

"Mark and I are so excited to share our news with everyone," Ripa said in a phone call to the daytime show she co-hosts with Regis Philbin.

The infant weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

The 32-year-old Ripa, who previously co-starred with Consuelos on "All My Children," plans to return to "Live" at the beginning of May.

Album covers Peter Tosh's work

Kingston, Jamaica -- A new tribute album to Peter Tosh will include covers of the late reggae singer's songs by musicians including Eric Clapton and the rap group Cypress Hill.

Eight songs on "The Peter Tosh Tribute Album" are earlier covers, including Clapton's 1974 version of "Whatcha Gonna Do" and Jerry Garcia's 1991 cover "Stop That Train," Atlanta-based producer Mike Malott said.

Other covers include Ben Harper playing "I Am That I Am" and Cypress Hill performing "Legalize It," one of Tosh's trademark songs advocating the legalization of marijuana.

Tosh was a founding member of The Wailers along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, but left in 1973 for a solo career.

He was shot to death in his Jamaica home in 1987. A year later, his album "No Nuclear War" won a Grammy for best reggae album.