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Published: Sat, January 11, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

newsmakers

Venezuelans pay respects to slain actress

CARACAS, Venezuela

Hundreds of Venezuelans paid their final respects Friday to a popular actress whose slaying in front of her 5-year-old daughter has reignited debate about the nation’s rampant crime.

Former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry were shot to death Monday night while apparently trying to resist a robbery attempt after their car broke down on an isolated stretch of highway.

Fellow artists and relatives of Spear, some holding pictures of the actress, formed long lines to bid farewell at a funeral in Caracas. Spear’s sister threw flowers to weeping fans.

Though authorities swiftly arrested several suspects, the killings focused attention on President Nicolas Maduro over the government’s failure to bring down violent crime that has soared during more than 14 years of socialist rule.

So far, Maduro’s response has been to extend an olive branch to the opposition, which he normally derides, and collect proposals for a united front to combat crime.

Spear was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and was fifth runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant the following year. She acted in numerous soap operas, most recently in “Pasion Prohibida” for the U.S.-based Telemundo network.

Her father, Rafael Spear, said Friday that his granddaughter, Maya Berry Spear, is recovering from a bullet wound in her right leg. He said the two families have agreed the 5-year-old should be taken to the U.S. by her maternal grandparents, who live in Orlando, Florida, and be raised there.

Poehler: ‘SNL’ hiring Zamata is ‘awesome’

PASADENA, Calif.

“Saturday Night Live” alumna Amy Poehler says her old show’s hire of young comic Sasheer Zamata is awesome.

Zamata and two new writers were hired at NBC’s longtime comedy show last week. All are black, with the show responding to criticism that it needed more diversity in its creative staff.

Poehler takes particular pride. She’s a co-founder of New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and says that Zamata was brought in as part of that improv group’s own effort to promote diversity.

Poehler is preparing for Sunday’s job co-hosting the Golden Globes with Tina Fey, which she said she’s anticipating with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.

Next Miss America pageant set for Sept. 14

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

Miss America is staying in Atlantic City.

Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri announced Friday that the next pageant will take place in the New Jersey shore resort Sept. 14.

Preliminary competitions are scheduled over three nights at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall from Sept. 9 to 11.

Davuluri, a Syracuse, N.Y., native, was crowned Miss America in September. The pageant originated in Atlantic City in 1921 and spent six years in Las Vegas before returning to New Jersey last year.

Davuluri plans to use her Miss America scholarship to attend medical school.

The program will be televised by ABC.

ND to buy Lawrence Welk’s boyhood home

BISMARCK, N.D.

Pop the cork and start the bubble machine: North Dakota has agreed to buy the boyhood home of Lawrence Welk, the maestro of “champagne music” and one of the state’s most-famous sons.

The North Dakota State Historical Society voted 6-5 Friday to buy the Strasburg homestead from Welk’s nieces, Evelyn Schwab, 84, and Edna Schwab, 80.

The property in the southern part of the state has been listed for sale for more than a year, with an asking price of $125,000. A final sale price hasn’t been negotiated.

The Schwabs have given tours of the farmstead since it was restored with private funds in the early 1990s. Welk donated about $140,000 for the restoration before his death in 1992 at age 89.

The site drew more than 7,000 people in 1992, but attendance has since slipped to only a few hundred per year, the Schwabs said.

Associated Press


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