Sarah Palin, Oprah Winfrey, the Obamas, Michael Jackson

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Palin ends at the beginning

Sarah Palin's book tour has come to an end, and it wound down where it all began: Sandpoint, Idaho, where Palin was born in 1964.

Palin spent her first three months in that small town before her family moved to Alaska. On Thursday night, our colleague John T. Reuter joined a crowd of Palin fans at the Sandpoint Events Center, a recently renovated building that was once the town's high school -- and where Palin's father, Chuck Heath, taught science and coached track 45 years ago.

Marilyn Dalby Sebella, a longtime Sandpoint resident, recalled Heath's talking about the then-unborn Sarah during Sebella's eighth-grade science class: "He didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, so he called her 'Oscar.' "

Sally Heath, Palin's mother, confirmed the story. "He was convinced it was going to be a boy named Oscar," she said. "I guess we could have made Oscar her middle name." (Imagine that!)

The Heaths, both at Thursday's book signing, spent time catching up with old neighbors. Otherwise, the night's big attraction was Palin's tour bus: People streamed forth, taking turns to have their picture taken in front of the giant Palin graphic adorning its side.

Oprah pays Obamas a visit

Forget Santa! Christmas at the Obama White House means a visit from Oprah Winfrey.

Set to air Sunday at 10 p.m. on ABC, "Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special" includes interviews with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, who will share Christmas memories. Winfrey sneaked in and out of town last week for the taping, leaving hardly a public trace.

In a statement released by her production company, the daytime-TV mogul says she began calling White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Day One of the administration, "asking not for the first interview because, number one, I didn't think I was going to get the first interview for the first 100 days -- but I wanted an opportunity to sit down with them in a comfortable setting."

Among the show's revelations: The president recalls the time his father gave him a basketball during a Christmas visit. "The degree to which I came to love basketball -- it wasn't until much later in life that I realized, 'Actually, he gave me that basketball,' " Obama said. "I think there was some cause and effect there in terms of the degree to which I just ended up taking up the sport as a kid who didn't know his dad."

Jackson to get Grammy

One more laurel for the King of Pop: Michael Jackson will receive a posthumous lifetime achievement award at next month's Grammy Awards ceremony, Reuters reports.

During his career, Jackson won 13 Grammys and had 17 No. 1 singles in the United States. He died in June at age 50, after an overdose of powerful medications. His death is still the subject of a criminal investigation.

Six other artists will receive lifetime achievement Grammys on Jan. 31: singer Leonard Cohen, blues musician David "Honeyboy" Edwards, country star Loretta Lynn, pianist Andre Previn, flugelhorn player Clark Terry and the late singer Bobby Darin.

End notes

Born: A baby boy to former "Girls Next Door" star Kendra Wilkinson, 24, and husband Hank Baskett, 27, a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. Hank Randall Baskett IV was born Friday in Indiana, People magazine reports.

And Michelle Duggar, of TLC's "18 Kids and Counting," gave birth to her 19th child -- a girl named Josie Brooklyn -- Thursday night. Born three months premature, the baby is being kept in the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital in Little Rock, the Associated Press reports.

-- Marissa Newhall, from staff, wire and Web reports

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