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COMEDIAN REMAINS A BEACON OF HOPE

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Bob Hope, who's recuperating at home after a recent bout with pneumonia, is glued to a TV set for the latest developments in last week's terrorist attacks.

"He's absolutely devastated by it. The country is in his heart. I know of no more patriotic person than Bob Hope," spokesman Ward Grant said. "Like the rest of the men and women and children in the United States, he's glued to the television set and the news."

The 98-year-old entertainer, who made a career of entertaining troops during times of war, was hospitalized 12 days at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He returned to his Toluca Lake estate on Sept. 6.

"He's doing fine," Grant said. "The pneumonia's gone. They are building him up little by little."

Meanwhile, Hope and his wife, Dolores, watch for updates on the Sept. 11 attacks.

"In the back of his mind is, 'What can I do about this? A benefit or something?' He's dumbfounded by the situation," Grant said, adding the only help the entertainer can offer now is a bit of advice: "It is time to hug your neighbor and embrace your nation."

, Entertainers shun travel

NEW YORK (AP) -- Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu have withdrawn from their appearances at the Metropolitan Opera this season, including Alagna's performance at Saturday's benefit for victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

The pair did not want to travel to New York from Europe, according to Met general manager Joseph Volpe.

"They were very concerned about flying," Volpe told The New York Times.

The Met has raised more than $2 million for the relief effort, which includes Saturday's sold-out benefit performance, a celebration of Giuseppe Verdi that contains the same program as its opening-night gala on Sept. 24. Placido Domingo and Deborah Voigt are among those scheduled to perform.

Alagna, who married Gheorghiu at the Met five years ago, was to have sung Rodolfo next month in five performances of Puccini's "La Boheme" opposite his wife, who was to have sung Mimi.

Dre steps up

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Rapper-producer Dr. Dre contributed $1 million to Los Angeles radio station KPWR-FM's fund-raising campaign for the victims of last week's terrorist attacks. The station is hoping to raise $1.6 million for the American Red Cross.

The 36-year-old rapper made the donation on Monday.

Other stars who are donating to relief efforts include Britney Spears and Jim Carrey.

Joining Napster

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Napster Inc. has hired a former Netscape executive to oversee membership initiatives as the song-swap company prepares to launch its subscription online music service.

Claire Hough will serve as Napster's vice president of engineering, a newly created position, the company announced Wednesday. Hough will manage the ongoing development of Napster's membership service and will report to the company's chief executive officer, Konrad Hilbers.

Hough spent five years at Netscape Communications, most recently as the vice president and general manager of the directory and security division.

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