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Cake-cutting, exhibit mark Elvis’ birthday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Elvis Presley fans from as far as Japan and Brazil gathered Tuesday in Memphis to sing “Happy Birthday” to the late rock ‘n’ roll icon on the day he would have turned 78.


Hundreds of Elvis devotees watched as 13-year-old Isabella Scott cut a birthday cake on the lawn at Graceland, the singer’s longtime Memphis home. Scott, of Bonifay, Fla., heads an Internet-based Elvis fan club with more than 2,000 members.


The mayors of Memphis and Shelby County also read a proclamation of Elvis Presley Day during the ceremony.


Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss., Jan. 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He was 42 when he died Aug. 16, 1977.


Presley recorded his first song, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Studio in Memphis in 1954 and made the West Tennessee city his primary home until his death.


Luke Bryan to join Blake Shelton as ACMs co-host

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Luke Bryan is joining Blake Shelton to co-host the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards.


The Academy said Tuesday this year’s show will be held April 7 and Brad Paisley will host the ACM Fan Jam, a satellite event held simultaneously with the awards show.


Bryan replaces Reba McEntire.


The 48th annual ACM Awards will be broadcast live on CBS from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.


Depardieu skips drunken driving hearing in France

PARIS (AP) – In the last three days, Gerard Depardieu, 64, met with Vladimir Putin to get Russian citizenship and dashed off to Montenegro. But he didn’t manage to show up at a Paris court hearing Tuesday to face drunken driving charges. His lawyer said he had a vital meeting abroad for a film. The French actor was in Montenegro meeting with the prime minister, it turns out.


The lawyer insisted Depardieu wasn’t trying to dodge justice.


Still, the hearing on a relatively minor charge was elevated to criminal court.


Depardieu’s battles against the French government and French justice began nearly at the same time. In November, he fell off his scooter in Paris and was charged with drunken driving. The following week, the mayor of a Belgian border town announced that the man whose roles in 150 films have all but defined French drama had set up house there to avoid rising French taxes.


The prime minister’s new epithet for Depardieu — “pathetic” — set the actor off again. In an open letter in mid-December, Depardieu said the country he loved was no longer home to him.


“I’m leaving because you believe that success, creativity, in fact, differences should be punished,” he wrote. “I won’t cast a stone at (people) who have cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes or too much alcohol or those who fall asleep on their scooter: I am one of them, as you dear media outlets like so much to repeat.”


On Saturday, he received a Russian passport directly from Putin; on Monday he appeared at the FIFA awards ceremony in Zurich. And on Tuesday he was in Montenegro, apparently looking at property and meeting with the prime minister.


Depardieu’s lawyer Eric de Caumont said his client was not trying to dodge French justice, but was abroad “meeting the producers of a movie,” whose filming in New York will begin in January. He did not elaborate.


Depardieu has previously starred in films such as “Green Card” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.”


Similar excuses are commonly accepted in French court, according to Christopher Mesnooh, another lawyer in Paris who is not linked to the Depardieu case. But missing a second hearing will not get the same understanding, Mesnooh noted.


The drunken driving hearing will now be deferred to a criminal court and he could lose his driving license and could face up to two years in jail, de Caumont said.


It’s not the actor’s first tangle with alcohol. In 1998, Depardieu crashed his motorcycle when his blood-alcohol level was five times over the legal limit, escaping with leg and face injuries.


Depardieu’s former wife said his latest dramas have a deeper cause.


“He has a tempest within him and is deeply unhappy,” Elisabeth Depardieu told RTL in a radio interview. “In leaving (France), I don’t think he’s fully realized what he’s done.”


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