Billboard Bits: John Mellencamp, Trisha Yearwood, Vanessa Williams/Gretchen Wilson

King-Mellencamp musical postponed; Yearwood on the Times bestseller list; Williams, Wilson earn belated degrees

The John Mellencamp/Stephen King musical "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," which, as previously reported, was set to open at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in April 2009, has been postponed.

The Alliance said today (May 6) that the project has been delayed because of "unanticipated scheduling problems which could not be resolved in time for the production."

According to a statement, members of the creative team "realized the script would not be ready by spring 2009."

Mellencamp wrote the score, while King wrote the script. Mellencamp previously said the play, which is set in Lake Belle Reve, Miss., in 1957, is about "two brothers; they're 19 years old or 20, maybe 18 or 21, who are very competitive and dislike each other immensely. The father takes them to the family vacation place, a cabin that the boys hadn't been to since they were kids."

The Alliance now plans to present the show during its 2009-2010 season.

-- Susan Visakowitz, N.Y.

Trisha Yearwood has a book on The New York Times bestseller list, and she's as surprised as anybody about it.

"I'm pretty overwhelmed," says the country singer, whose "Georgia Cooking In An Oklahoma Kitchen," featuring family recipes chronicled with help from her mother and sister, is at No. 3 on the Times list of Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous books. "I've done music for 17 years. I have no experience in the publishing world. So we're all pretty blown away."

"Georgia Cooking..." isn't the only Yearwood project heating up the charts these days. "This Is Me You're Talking To," the second single from her latest album, "Heaven, Heartache, And The Power Of Love," is No. 25 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs Chart. It's the second hit from the album, following the title track.

Yearwood says she hasn't hatched any plans yet for a follow-up to "Heaven." "If I even get into the studio before the end of the year I'll be surprised," she says.

-- Gary Graff, Detroit

More than 25 years since leaving Syracuse University, Vanessa Williams is set to get her Bachelor's degree. She is the second singer this week to announce the achievement of a degree many years out of school.

Just yesterday (May 5), country star Gretchen Wilson announced that she had finished her GED.

Wilson, who dropped out of high school in ninth grade, passed her General Educational Development exam in April and will participate in a May 15 graduation ceremony donning cap and gown.

Williams was a musical theater major in Syracuse's drama department from 1981-1983. She was granted the remaining credits for her degree through her industry experience and many stage and screen performances.

Williams, who stars in ABC's "Ugly Betty," will deliver the convocation address Saturday (May 10) to graduates of Syracuse's College of Visual and Performing Arts.

-- Susan Visakowitz, N.Y.


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