News In Brief

'I don't think there has ever been a trial in the history of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence which is as important as this one.' - US Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania, on the impending impeachment proceedings.

'COMPCIERGE,' S'IL VOUS PLAIT What to do? You've just checked into a hotel, have some urgent work to do, but can't solve a "little" computer problem. Well, try asking for the "compcierge." At several of Chicago's leading hotels - including the Ritz Carlton, the Chicago Marriott, and the Drake - the folks at the concierge desk are reportedly ready to help solve such snafus. Joe Tesfai, who has added the role of compcierge to his duties at the Ritz, says it now takes about 10 percent of his time.

WHALE OF A READ Some 150 Herman Melville fans embarked Sunday on an epic adventure: the third annual 25-hour oral reading of "Moby Dick" at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass. Melville was inspired to write the novel - which was published 150 years ago - after signing on as a member of the crew on a whaling voyage out of New Bedford. No word on how many stayed to hear the entire book.

THE DAYS LIST: Holiday box office reflects a preference for family films As expected, it was family fare that drew audiences to movie theaters during the New Year's holiday. The Robin Williams movie "Patch Adams" took the No. 1 spot for a second consecutive weekend, even though it was roundly panned by critics for being overly sappy. "Stepmom," which also took critical lumps, was second, followed by the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan comedy, "You've Got Mail." The take for the top weekend films was down only slightly from the same weekend last year, despite the harsh wintry weather. Reported grosses at North American theaters Jan. 1-3 (in millions): 1. "Patch Adams" $19.1 2. "Stepmom" 14.6 3. "You've Got Mail" 14.2 4. "The Prince of Egypt" 11.2 5. "A Bug's Life" 8.8 6. "Mighty Joe Young" 8.1 7. "The Faculty" 7.5 8. "Enemy of the State" 4.8 9. "Star Trek: Insurrection" 4.7 10. "Shakespeare in Love" 3.2 - Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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