WILMINGTON, Del. - Actor Sidney Poitier, a former president of Poland, a network journalist and an author are this year's Common Wealth Awards winners, according to a trust committee member. The awards, created by a Delaware businessman, recognize people who demonstrate both excellence in their fields and serve as an inspiration to others, said Connie Bond Stuart, a committee member and PNC Bank Delaware president. The 28th annual Common Wealth Awards will go to: •Poitier, 80, winner of an Oscar for "Lilies of the Field" in 1963, director of several films and author of two books. •Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who co-founded Poland's Social Democratic Party and helped the country move from communism to democracy. •Cokie Roberts, a veteran journalist on National Public Radio and ABC News. •Author Ian McEwan, a winner of the Booker Prize, one of Britain's highest awards for writers. Recipients will be honored at an April 28 dinner. Each gets $50,000. Past winners include 11 Nobel laureates, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Henry Kissinger and Toni Morrison.
NORFOLK, Va. - The Statler Brothers, who enjoyed a four-decade run as one of the most successful groups in country music, have been named Virginians of the Year by the state's press association.
For years, the Statlers said "thank you" to their hometown by giving free Fourth of July concerts in Staunton.
"It wasn't always easy living in a small town in Virginia," Don Reid said at Friday night's awards ceremony. "But we were always glad we did it that way because if we hadn't, we might not be here tonight, and if we hadn't, not all our children would be Virginia-born, Virginia-reared and Virginia-educated, and that was important to us."
The quartet consists of Reid and his brother Harold, Phil Balsey and Jimmy Fortune, who joined the group in the early 1980s after original member Lew DeWitt quit because of failing health. DeWitt died in 1990.
The group won three Grammy Awards and dozens of other country music accolades during a career that began as the opening act for Johnny Cash and ended with their retirement in 2002. They also hosted a musical-variety show, "The Statler Brothers Show," on The Nashville Network for seven years in the ‘90s.
Emma Watson, a.k.a. Hermione in the Harry Potter films, has signed on for the final two movies, as have Daniel Radcliffe (as Harry) and Rupert Grint (as Ron Weasley).
There had been recent news reports and speculation that Watson was talking about leaving the series to do something else.
Worldwide the four Potter films released so far have sold 3.5 billion in tickets. The fifth, "Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix," is expected to open July 13.
HONG KONG - A filmmaker who won an Oscar for a documentary about orphans of Chinese AIDS patients says Beijing is now more open about the disease after being accused of covering up the 2003 SARS outbreak. "Since 2003, after SARS, they're open about it. I would say they're not doing it for show," said Yang, who won an Oscar last month for her 39-minute documentary, "The Blood of Yingzhou District." China had been accused of covering up the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed 349 people there and 774 worldwide. Ruby Yang said at a talk at the University of Hong Kong late Friday that the Chinese government "put a lot of effort" into public service announcements about AIDS that she helped produce. "Their attitude has changed a lot," she said.
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