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PASSAGES: Music Pioneer Carter Dies

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DIED: Legendary jazz pioneer and big band leader Benny Carter, 95, who helped break barriers for black composers in Hollywood, died Saturday at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, reports Reuters. Carter, who helped compose and arrange such films as “Stormy Weather,” had been hospitalized for about two weeks, complaining of bronchitis and fatigue, said a family friend. “If Benny was not there, we wouldn’t be here,” said composer and arranger Quincy Jones. “We walked through the door on his shoulders. He was a quiet and dignified man. And one of a kind.”

SHED: Former morning news star Bryant Gumbel has lost 55 ibs. since leaving network television last September, reports USA Today. Speaking to reporters, Gumbel, 54, blamed his weight gain on “years of very bad habits. So I mastered those. … I just became sort of a gym rat. I spend two hours in the gym every day … and I try to watch what I eat.”

QUOTED: “I want to do more, probably one a year, and I want to do different types of films, from dramas to action, and my biggest dream is to do a big musical like ‘Moulin Rouge’ or ‘Chicago.’ ” — Beyonce Knowles, 21, to the Associated Press, on the movie career she started with last year’s “Austin Powers in Goldmember”

CAST: Cate Blanchett, 34, will play Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator,” a biopic of Howard Hughes to be directed by Martin Scorsese, according to trade reports. Leonardo DiCaprio will play Hughes; Kate Beckinsale, ’40s siren Ava Gardner; and Gwen Stefani, ’30s bombshell Jean Harlow. Hepburn, who died two weeks ago, had a lengthy illicit affair with the flying millionaire in the late 1930s, “which was strangely around the point of her career when she was completely box-office poison,” Blanchett told the BBC. “Not being a reader of biographies I had no idea the great Katharine Hepburn ever put a foot wrong.”