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Jennifer Hudson 'Feeling Good' About Weight Loss

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(Reuters) - She won't say how much weight she lost, but singer/actress Jennifer Hudson will say that in the nine months she's been a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, she has never felt better.

Hudson is even singing about it in a new tune, "Feeling Good," which is part of an ad campaign the dieting firm is launching on December 26 to coincide with its new nutritional PointsPlus program.

Weight Watchers said roughly 11 percent of its annual attendance at meetings takes place in January, as Americans look to atone for their holiday-related binges.

"Basically (the song) is the perfect way to describe this journey and how it's left me feeling," Hudson told Reuters. "If I could bottle everything inside me and tell others to help motivate them, then this is it."

Hudson and her gospel-grounded voice found their place on Hollywood's starmaking menu in 2004 when she was a finalist on "American Idol," and further when she won an Oscar for her supporting role in the 2006 musical "Dreamgirls." But in an industry obsessed with skinny women, Hudson has been challenged by her big size.

In April, Hudson announced she would become the new spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. It was about seven months after the birth of her son, David Jr., and at that time she had already lost some weight. By August, she told InStyle Makeover magazine she'd dropped to a size 6 from a size 16.

The company's marketing chief, Cheryl Callan, called Hudson a great spokeswoman because people identify with her as a real woman who struggles with weight and eating issues, yet has found success in Hollywood.

Hudson blogs about her diet on Weight Watchers' website, and she said that building a network of friends and a community of followers among the diet community gives her as much pleasure as losing weight has.

"That goes back to why I did the song," Hudson said. "I know so many people out there who are on the same path. Anything I can do to help them along, that motivates me, and inspires me."

Yet, Hudson said she is still grappling with knowing herself in her thinner frame. She said she still feels like the same woman, but is aware that people now view her differently.

"It's almost like there is a new person, but there is still the question of how do I want to represent myself, how do I want to be perceived," she said.

She knows one thing, however, she is sticking to Weight Watchers in the new year. She has embraced its new PointsPlus program, which does away with calorie counting and assigns points to foods based on their overall nutritional value.

The new program favors foods that more easily convert to energy that is used, create a sense of satisfaction and encourage the consumption of natural foods versus those with added sugar and fat.

"It's one thing to lose weight," said Hudson, "but it's another thing to eat healthy."

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Dean Goodman)

Kenny Lattimore and Celebrities to Perform at Holiday Toy Drive

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By Natasha Ferguson –

The Elite City Foundation (EFC) is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization founded by actor, writer, producer and R&B vocalist Willie Latimore.

The center was recently opened with the vision of mentoring and empowering inner city kids by offering a platform in which to expose youth and young adults in the area of arts through vocational training in various related fields including music, dance, production and more.

EFC has partnered with the County of Los Angeles to host ‘The Arts of Giving Toy and Gift Drive’ to benefit needy children. The foundation’s goal is to collect 1,000 to 3,000 toys and donations for Performing Arts Multimedia Scholarships at the Elite City Foundation Complex located at 11422 So. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles, Calif. The holiday drive, which started December 7, will continue collecting items through this Friday December 17. Donations for this holiday toy and gift drive will go toward scholarships for the foundation in the following areas: dance classes, martial arts/self-defense, fitness classes, piano, guitar, drum and violin lessons, vocal training, acting classes, photography/ videography, Web and graphic design, as well as professional studio recording time.

The toy/gift drive will end with a celebratory event to be held at the Elite City Complex on Saturday, December 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special celebrity guests scheduled to perform at this gala event include: Grammy-nominated recording artist, Kenny Lattimore; the legendary Paul Jackson Jr.; Def Jam recording artist, Abraham McDonald; founder of Elite City Foundation, Willie Latimore; and many more! A host of other celebrities expected include actress Charnele Brown from the TV Show ‘A Different World’, as well as some of the industries’ top choreographers, fitness trainers, and various community and religious leaders. In addition, there will be free dance and fitness class demonstrations, a free professional holiday photo by Celebrity Photographer to the Stars: Arnold Turner/Wire Image, a performance tribute by surprise special guests and more! “We are very appreciative of everyone’s generosity of time and resources to make this toy/gift drive possible and a huge success,” said Latimore.

“We look forward to making this event an annual holiday tradition.”

Toys and gifts are being collected for ages 2 up to 18. For monetary contributions please visit www.theartsofgiving.org orwww.elitecityfoundation.org.

For a list of confirmed Los Angeles participating facilities where you can drop off your toy and gift donations contact ECF. Donations are also being accepted by U.S. mail, or hand-delivery to the Elite City Complex at 11422 So. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles Calif. 90044 (call the foundation at 323-756-7871 prior to delivery).

Following the morning event, there will be an adult benefit concert supporting ‘The Arts of Giving Toy and Gift Drive’ at The Elite City Complex on December 18 with doors open at 7 p.m. The evening portion of the program is hosted by David Mitchell, editor and chief of Amalgam Magazine. Entry is a $10 donation. This celebration will include music, dancing, socializing and lots of fun with many special invited guests in attendance spreading some holiday cheer.

ECF believes that as we give cheerfully, empathize with the needs of others and sow a seed in fertile ground, an abundance of harvest and blessings are inevitable.

Aretha Franklin Reported to Have Pancreatic Cancer

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(Reuters) - Soul singer Aretha Franklin, who recently underwent surgery for an undisclosed health issue, was reported to be suffering from pancreatic cancer, the Detroit News said on its web site.

Publicists for the 68-year-old singer, who has canceled all her appearances through May 2011, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Detroit News report on Wednesday cited a source familiar with the situation for the cancer diagnosis, an illness which the report pointed out has a poor prognosis.

Separately, the Fox television station in Detroit reported the same diagnosis for the "Queen of Soul," citing a close relative as the source. The report said she was doing "OK."

After the surgery, Franklin released a statement December 2 that she had undergone "highly successful surgery" but did not disclose the nature of her illness.

The legendary singer of 1960s hits like "Chain of Fools" and "Respect" had continued a busy schedule of touring and recording until late October.

In January 2009, she sang at the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

(Writing by Andrew Stern, editing by Greg McCune)

'I'm not a lesbian' says tearful Oprah Winfrey

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(Reuters) - A tearful Oprah Winfrey has denied she is a lesbian, saying that constant rumors about her close relationship with a female friend were irritating "because it means that somebody must think I am lying."

The influential TV talk show host addressed her 20-year relationship with Gayle King, and her ongoing partnership with lover Stedman Graham, in an emotional interview with journalist Barbara Walters to be shown on ABC television on Thursday.

"She is the mother I never had. She is the sister everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves. I don't know a better person," Winfrey said of King, fighting back tears.

"It's making me cry because I'm thinking about how much I probably have never told her that. Tissue please," she added.

King and Winfrey, 56, met while working at a local Baltimore TV station in the 1980s and have been inseparable professionally and personally, sparking much media speculation that they are gay.

"I'm not a lesbian. I'm not even kind of a lesbian," Winfrey told Walters, in an excerpt of the interview released on Wednesday. "And the reason why it irritates me is because it means that somebody must think I'm lying. That's number one. Number two...why would you want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life."

Winfrey, whose daily TV chat show is watched by millions in the United States and 145 other countries, said that businessman Stedman Graham was still her lover and mate after more than 20 years together, despite the fact they are now rarely seen in public together.

"I made a conscious effort around 2003, 2004 to pull back on my public appearances with Stedman," she said.

But denying speculation that the pair had split up, she told Walters he was "the love, the lover, the man, the partner, the mate" of her life.

Winfrey is launching a new cable TV network, OWN, in January in a joint venture with Discovery Communications. She will end her ABC TV talk show in May 2011 after 25 years.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

Michael Jackson's Father Files New Wrongful Death Suit

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(Reuters) - An attorney for the father of Michael Jackson on Tuesday filed a new wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor accused of involuntary manslaughter in the pop singer's death.

The lawsuit by attorney Brian Oxman on behalf of Joe Jackson was filed in California Superior Court against Dr. Conrad Murray and companies with which he is affiliated. It includes the "Thriller" singer's mother Katherine Jackson and his three children as nominal parties.

As with a previous suit that was dismissed by a U.S. court, Joe Jackson claims Murray wrongfully provided the powerful anesthetic propofol and a "polypharmacy" of other drugs to Michael Jackson before the singer's death on June 25, 2009.

The suit also claims Murray asked a security guard to clean the room in which Jackson died of medication before police arrived, among other allegations, according to a copy of the suit obtained by Reuters.

The pop star died at age 50 in Los Angeles only days before he was to begin a series of comeback concerts in London. Murray was hired by concert promoters AEG Live to care for Jackson, but AEG was not named in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles coroner has ruled Jackson's death was caused primarily by two sedatives, propofol and lorazepam, and acute propofol intoxication was the principal cause.

Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Murray with involuntary manslaughter, and the 56 year-old Texas-based doctor pleaded not guilty. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

On the anniversary of his son's death, Joe Jackson filed an original wrongful death suit in U.S. court, but this month a federal judge rejected a portion of the suit and said the remainder would need to be heard in a California state court. Tuesday's filing stems from the federal judge's ruling.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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