Stephen M. Silverman
November 14, 2003 12:27 PM

EXPANDED: On “World Idol,” a two-part FOX TV special set to air on the evenings of Christmas and New Year’s Day, last year’s “American Idol” champ, Kelly Clarkson, will compete in London with winners from 10 other countries, including Lebanon, South Africa and Poland, reports the Associated Press. Those vying are all winners of the first season of “Idol” in their respective countries — making second-season U.S. winner Ruben Studdard ineligible, the network said. An international panel of judges, made up of one rep from each country, will comment on the performances. Viewers from all over the globe will then have a chance to vote on the winner.

ENGAGED: Robert Downey Jr., 38, proposed last weekend to the producer of his movie “Gothika,” Susan Levin, who wore her engagement ring to the Nov. 10 London premiere of his “The Singing Detective,” PEOPLE reports in its latest issue. No wedding date has been announced. Downey’s divorce from actress Deborah Falconer, with whom he has a son, Indio, 10, is not yet final.

QUOTED: “I’m not going to rule it out.” — Tom Cruise, 40, on Friday’s “Today” show, when asked by Katie Couric if he would marry Penelope Cruz

CHARGED: Country singer Wynonna Judd was charged with driving under the influence early Thursday after a Nashville police officer stopped her speeding Land Rover, reports the Associated Press. According to the arrest report, Judd, 39, allegedly was going 47 mph in a 30 mph zone, and when stopped she smelled of alcohol, had watery eyes and dilated pupils and could not recall the number of drinks she had consumed. The officer said Judd consented to a breath test and registered a blood alcohol level of 0.175 percent, more than double the 0.08 legal limit. She posted the standard $500 bond for a first offense and was released.

COLLABORATED: Drew Barrymore, 28, and veteran TV producer Norman Lear (“All in the Family”), 81, teamed Thursday to launch a $9 million campaign to register one million to two million young voters for next year’s election, reports The New York Times. Their announcement was made at George Washington University, where Lear, who is helping to fund the drive, said: “If you get them voting at 18, they’ll be lifetime voters.”

RETURNED: Rock Hall of Famer Sam Moore, 68, of the legendary ’60s R&B duo Sam and Dave, is stepping back in the limelight, set to appear on the ABC soap “One Life to Live” on Monday. Look for him as a bartender as some of the main characters dance to his “Plenty Good Lovin.'” Moore is also eligible for his first Grammy Award in 36 years (nominations are to be announced Dec. 4). He’s on the nominating ballot for his performance of “When Something is Wrong with My Baby” on the soundtrack to the film “Only the Strong Survive.”

DIED: Penny Singleton, 95, who brought the comic strip character Blondie to life in a popular film series from 1938-50 and was the voice of the mother on TV’s “The Jetsons” in the ’60s, died Wednesday at Sherman Oaks Hospital, two weeks after suffering a stroke, reports AP. She also was active in the American Guild of Variety Artists, the union representing touring performers, chorus girls and other entertainers, and in her role as a union vice president helped lead a strike by the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes in the ’60s. She is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren and a great-grandson.

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