Image an issue for Springer

Dayton, Ohio -- Jerry Springer isn't sure he can overcome his trash talk-show host image for a possible run for a Democratic Senate seat.

"I can't imagine anyone voting for me at this point," the former Cincinnati mayor said Tuesday at a Democratic fund-raiser.

Springer is expected to make about a dozen appearances in Ohio before deciding this summer whether to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. George Voinovich next year.

A University of Cincinnati poll released Monday found that 71 percent of Ohio registered voters surveyed had an unfavorable opinion of Springer, whose nationally syndicated "Jerry Springer Show" is known for racy topics and raunchy language.

Eastwood in on Armstrong film

Burbank, Calif. -- Clint Eastwood plans to produce and direct a feature film about another American icon, astronaut Neil Armstrong.

The actor-director said he had acquired the rights to a forthcoming authorized biography on Armstrong by noted historian James R. Hansen. Warner Bros. Pictures will release the film, the studio announced Wednesday.

Eastwood, who produced, directed and co-starred in 2001's "Space Cowboys," doesn't plan to star in the Armstrong biopic.

'The District' co-star dies at 54

Los Angeles -- Lynne Thigpen, who co-starred in the CBS drama "The District" and won a Tony Award in 1997 for her portrayal of a black Jewish feminist in "An American Daughter," has died. She was 54.

Thigpen died Wednesday night in her Los Angeles home. She had been in good health and the cause of death was not immediately known, network spokeswoman Beth Haiken said Thursday.

Production was shut down on "The District," which stars Craig T. Nelson as Washington, D.C., police Chief Jack Mannion. Thigpen played Mannion's secretary, Ella Farmer.

Haiken said the 20th episode was in production this week; two more episodes were planned for the season. She said no decision had been made about how Thigpen's death would be dealt with on the show.

Tax man eyes Neverland

Los Olivos, Calif. -- Michael Jackson may have violated zoning rules on his Neverland Ranch when he claimed a tax break for preserving agricultural land, Santa Barbara County officials said.

Officials plan to visit Jackson's home in the Santa Ynez Valley in the next month to determine whether he has surpassed the development limit for those claiming the credit.

Santa Barbara County planner Larry Appel said he would present the results to the county's Agricultural Preserve Advisory Committee in April. He's scheduled to report his initial findings today.

Jackson can develop two of the roughly 2,600 acres on his property for nonagricultural uses and still claim major tax breaks. But Appel said the entertainer used nearly three times that amount.

Neverland's structures include a guardhouse, recreational buildings, barns, a playground and amusement rides.


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