IT'S BEEN nearly 33 years since Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering police officer Daniel Faulkner, and although the case has been a hot-button issue because of the trial's fairness and death-penalty sentence, it has come to the fore again in one of the most unlikely places: "The Voice."
As Nick Vadala reported on Philly.com, Philadelphia street performer Anthony Riley has left the show, despite an amazing chair-turning audition that landed him Pharrell Williams as coach.
Pharrell made the announcement on Monday night's episode, saying that Riley would not be returning for "personal reasons."
So what was the reason?
Gossip sites - and who can believe them? - say that Riley left the show because he refused to sing in a Knockout Round battle against popular Pittsburgher Mia Z.
The more conspiracy-minded side of the Internet, said Vadala, says that after Riley tweeted a Battle Round dedication to Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners, Riley himself may have become too hot a button for NBC's popular singing competition.
Jolie health scare
A number of years ago, after Tattle had had surgeries a few years apart, we joked that the medical profession was taking us apart 3 centimeters at a time.
For Angelina Jolie, the process has been more drastic.
The actress-activist revealed yesterday that she has undergone more preventive surgery, having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in hopes of reducing her risk of cancer.
Writing in the New York Times, Angelina, 39, said a recent blood test showed a possible early sign of cancer. The news was a blow to the star who had already had a double mastectomy.
"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt," she wrote. "I told myself to stay calm, to be strong and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren."
Jolie said that although having the gene mutation alone was not a reason to resort to surgery - other medical options were possible - her family history influenced her decision to have further surgery now. The surgery puts a woman in menopause, and Jolie wrote she was researching alternative medicine and hormone-replacement treatment.
* It's not uncommon for universities to give honorary degrees to presidents, so President Josiah Bartlet will get an honorary degree from the University of Dayton.
Actually, Martin Sheen will.
Bartlet is, of course, the fictional president portrayed by Sheen on "The West Wing," and the actor will be honored in recognition of his activism for peace, social justice and human rights with a doctor of humane letters degree at graduation ceremonies on May 3 at the University of Dayton Arena.
Born Ramon Estevez, Sheen grew up near the Catholic university and attended the Catholic Chaminade High School but wanted to pursue his acting career. He has said that the Marianist teachings he was exposed to helped shape his social beliefs.
* Brandy will make her Broadway debut next month as Roxie Hart in "Chicago." Producers said yesterday that she will start April 28 at the Ambassador Theatre.
* Wizard World's latest talent announcement is a biggie. Screen legend Burt Reynolds, 79, will make his Wizard World Comic Con debut in Philadelphia, when he appears at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on May 9.
Also announced: Allen Iverson, WWE wrestlers Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton and Sting, and WWE Diva Paige.
Info at wizardworld.com; click on Philadelphia.
- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.