Licensed to marry

New York -- Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and fiancee Judith Nathan beamed as they picked up their marriage license, five days before they plan to tie the knot.

The couple breezed Monday into the City Clerk's Office, walking past other prospective husbands and wives.

"They were very excited," said Sunny Mindel, a spokeswoman for the ex-mayor, who now runs a consulting firm, Giuliani Partners.

The lovebirds plan to marry Saturday evening at Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence, in a ceremony with Mayor Michael Bloomberg presiding.

Vandross vigil conducted

Detroit -- Fans and fellow singers attended a candlelight vigil for R&B; artist Luther Vandross, who's recovering from a stroke.

Aretha Franklin, a friend of Vandross, organized Monday night's event at the Little Rock Baptist Church.

"I felt he needed prayer, and he needed it now," said Franklin, who sang "Amazing Grace" for a crowd of 5,000 people.

Five weeks ago, Vandross was discovered in his New York apartment suffering the aftereffects of a stroke. He remains in the intensive care unit of the Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

First prize: April Lavigne

Dunkirk, N.Y. -- Pop singer Avril Lavigne performed a free concert for students at a high school that won a radio contest.

Teens flocked to the Dunkirk High School gymnasium Monday to hear the 18-year-old Canadian, who wore an oversized T-shirt, baggy pants and a pair of vintage sunglasses.

"I think it's the fact she's our age and being herself," said junior Katie Abramowicz. "Her fame is not based on her looks. She's original in her music and the way she dresses."

The students won the regional High School Spirit Contest sponsored by Buffalo's Kiss 98.5 by collecting about 950,000 index cards with messages for troops in the Middle East.

Kennedy Center honors Tomlin

Washington -- Lily Tomlin, who came to fame as the humorously unpleasant telephone operator Ernestine, has won the Mark Twain Prize for 2003, awarded by the Kennedy Center.

"Lily Tomlin, like Mark Twain, offers her genius wholeheartedly, as she levels the playing field all across society and evokes the most healing of all responses: laughter," said Michael Kaiser, the Kennedy Center president.

The announcement said her comedy, like Twain's, expresses truths we already recognize unconsciously, and she allows us to embrace frailties without shame or embarrassment.

Tomlin's later stage successes included the one-woman show she co-wrote with Jane Wagner, the long-running "Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe." One of the many characters she takes on wonders thoughtfully:

"What's the good of being a hedonist if you're not having a good time?"


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