Quick Takes

Winfrey has a thing for ‘Earth’ books

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth,” a self-help guide by the author of the million-selling “The Power of Now,” as her latest book club selection.

Winfrey made the announcement Wednesday on her television talk show. The broadcast featured an appearance by her previous pick, novelist Ken Follett, who discussed his historical blockbuster “Pillars of the Earth.”

Tolle is a native of Germany who now lives in Vancouver, Canada. According to his website, he advocates “transcending our ego-based state of consciousness” as a “prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.”

From the Associated Press

Drilling plans spur art protest

Artist Nancy Holt, the widow of artist Robert Smithson, is encouraging others in the arts world to protest plans for exploratory oil drilling in Utah’s Great Salt Lake that may have an impact on her late husband’s 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide environmental artwork “Spiral Jetty.”

The giant “earthwork,” built in 1970 of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake, near Rozel Point, is considered perhaps Smithson’s most important work. Subject to the rise and fall of the lake water level, the work was submerged for three decades, re-emerging in 1999.

After being notified Monday of the drilling plan by Lynn DeFreitas, director of the group Friends of the Great Salt Lake, Holt blasted a group e-mail to artistic colleagues urging them to send letters of protest “to save the beautiful, natural environment around the Spiral Jetty.”

In an interview Wednesday, DeFreitas said that the proposed drilling by Pearl Montana Exploration and Production would not call for drilling directly into the artwork but offshore equipment could cause noise and visual impairment in a relatively pristine area.

John Harja, director of the governor’s public lands office for the State of Utah, confirmed Wednesday that his office had received about 160 e-mails from all over the world, mostly from artists or art facilities, protesting the drilling plans. He said the office had extended its deadline for public comment on the proposal to Feb. 13 and that Pearl Montana Exploration and Production would be taking all comments under advisement.

--Diane Haithman

CBS’ Schieffer to depart with Bush

Veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, who has anchored “Face the Nation” since 1991, says he plans to step down from the Sunday morning political talk show with the inauguration of a new president.

The start of a new administration next January provides a natural transition, he said.

“That’s when I’ll stop doing what I’m doing now,” Schieffer, who turns 71 next month, said in an interview this week. “But I’ll still have some relationship with CBS, at least I hope so.”

Schieffer has talked retirement before. The bladder cancer survivor once planned to step down when he reached 70, but he spent a year and a half filling in as “CBS Evening News” anchor between the exit of Dan Rather and the entrance of Katie Couric.

From the Associated Press

Madonna is top ‘Cash Queen’

Madonna is the richest woman in music.

The 49-year-old entertainer leads’s list of the top 20 “Cash Queens of Music,” earning $72 million between June 2006 and June 2007.

The pop star’s “Confessions” world tour pulled in $260 million, Forbes said. She also made money from album sales, her fashion line with H&M and a deal with NBC to broadcast her concert performance at London’s Wembley Stadium. Barbra Streisand is No. 2 with $60 million, thanks to her comeback tour of North America and Europe.

Celine Dion ranks third with $45 million, largely from her successful “A New Day” show in Las Vegas.

From the Associated Press