The Wizard of Odds, Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder, will not be sharing his Super Bowl forecast with the nation this week. "He is not writing a column this week. That's his own choosing," said a spokesman for North America Syndicate. "Many of our columnists from time to time will take a break. That's the sum and substance of it." The Greek was fired from his job at CBS last week after an interview in which he made a number of comments about alleged racial traits to which many blacks took exception. North America Syndicate spokesman Dennis Allen said the editorial board at the syndicate "discussed the situation" but decided not to take action against Snyder.
Soviet Encore for Van Cliburn?
Pianist Van Cliburn may return to the Soviet Union with the New York Philharmonic later this year, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported yesterday.
A staffer in the public relations office of the New York Philharmonic said a Soviet tour this summer by the orchestra would be announced in late February, but refused to say whether Cliburn has signed on.
Quoting informed sources, the newspaper reported that negotiations are underway for the internationally renowned pianist to accompany the orchestra.
The Soviet Union was the scene of one of Cliburn's greatest triumphs when in 1958, at the age of 23, he won the Tchaikovsky international music competition in Moscow.
Felix, the Flying Cat
Felix, a stowaway cat who spent a month circling the world in a Pan Am jumbo jet, flew back to her owners in Los Angeles yesterday nibbling on caviar and sniffing champagne in first class. The 2-year-old calico, found thin, weak and frightened in the jet's cargo hold at Heathrow Airport on New Year's Day, managed to log some 180,000 miles on 64 flights since her original departure on Dec. 3.
She is believed to have survived the 29-day ordeal living only on condensed moisture after escaping from a basket on a flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles. Since her rescue, Felix has been recovering in a London quarantine center. In Los Angeles, Janice Kubecki, the cat's owner, said she had trouble sleeping Wednesday night because she was excited and nervous about Felix's arrival. Since her pet would probably be in a similar state, she said, "I'm bringing a big towel that I will wrap around her."
George Burns, Celebrating 92
George Burns celebrated his 92nd birthday Wednesday night and, with a cigar in one hand and a martini in the other, told his celebrity pals he has already endured death. "I'm not going to die again anyway. I died in Altoona," he said, referring back to his vaudeville days. "You die once, you don't have to die again. I don't believe in dying. You lose a fortune when you die." Joining in the singing of "Happy Birthday" at the party in Beverly Hills were Carol Channing, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Jack Carter, Connie Stevens and letter-turner Vanna White. Burns was scheduled to sing "I Wish I Were 18 Again," a number from his upcoming film "18 Again," but instead warbled "Old Bones." Channing said she asked Burns if he thought she was "up to doing 'Hello Dolly' on Broadway?" And he, as expected, said, "Of course. Your voice is as good as mine."
Bits and Pieces
Oscar winner George C. Scott is in an unnamed Southern California hospital undergoing tests for chest and stomach pains. Scott, 60, was admitted Sunday, and a former associate says he has a history of heart problems, reported UPI columnist William Trott ... Syndicated columnist Liz Smith reported yesterday that Sports Illustrated's long-legged swimsuit model Paulina Porizkova -- considered to be one of the world's most beautiful women -- has just picked up a long-term contract with Estee Lauder.
Chuck Conconi has the day off.