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Today in The Chapel Hill News

Here is a look at today's local headlines:

OBEY CREEK REVISED: Obey Creek is the name of the mixed-use (housing, shopping and office) project proposed for U.S. 15-501 South, across from Southern Village. It would be three to four times larger than East 54. Developer Roger Perry talks about the changes he's making to the plan in today's lead story package.

EAST 54 CONDOS 80 PERCENT SOLD: Perry says don't judge his project based on past developments. Given the recession and still struggling economy, he says East 54 is an "overwhelming success." We did not answer everything we wanted to in today's stories, and we are continuing  to look into the question about whether mixed use projects like East 54 are a net positive or negative on the local economy. It's a tough question.

WINNING COACH LEAVING: Few people are happy in Pittsboro to learn that Russ Frazier will move to Raleigh’s Leesville Road High School next semester. But his father is very pleased. Find out why in sports editor Elliott Warnock's story.

A letter writer says Chapel Hill should end the foreworks show (the reason may surprise you), aging and increasingly infirm riders are complicating bus and van service for Orange County's disabled ... and American Idol top 6 finisher and hometown crooner Anoop Desai (that's him at left, in 1997) returns with a new sound for a show this weekend at Local 506.

Thanks for reading,


'American Idol' auditions come to Charlotte

The last time “American Idol” held auditions in North Carolina -- Greensboro in 2005 -- the state ended up with three singers in that season’s Top 10.

The Tar Heel state will get another chance to load the deck with homegrown talent on June 19, when “Idol” makes an audition pit stop in Charlotte.

Anoop performs on "The Mo'Nique Show"

If you haven't had your Anoop fix in awhile, you'll want to catch "The Monique Show" this week.

The Chapel Hill native will appear on the show Wednesday, November 10, to promote the release of the new music video for his single, "Crazy Love," and also the release of the special deluxe edition of his album "All is Fair," which is available on November 9.

Anoop is scheduled to perform on the show.

"The Mo'Nique Show" airs on BET at 11pm.

Remember Anoop? He's hawking Oreos.

Anoop Desai is still singing for your votes.

The former "American Idol" star from UNC is competing against fellow "Idol" Matt Giraud in an Oreo Cakester dunking debate. Anoop and Matt are hoping fans help settle the dilemma, "to dunk or not to dunk."

Anoop is a dunker, Matt is not. They both wrote and recorded little jingles backing up their points of view, and Oreo wants you to do the same. Write a little Cakester jingle about which way your Oreo goes and you could win a trip to NYC to meet either Anoop or Matt, and have your jingle professionally recorded and aired on national radio.

Anoop Desai's Fair deal

If there's a shortcut to paydirt in the music industry nowadays, it's got to be "American Idol." Just ask Triangle native Anoop Desai, who is still working off the momentum of his finalist showing from this past season.

"It's been very, very positive for me," Desai says of his run on the show. "There's no formula. All of us who got through the first round were very lucky, and we just kept going from there. It does seem like such a long time ago that it happened -- a year ago. I'd tell people, just be prepared for your life to change completely, overnight. It has been a good thing for me."

Desai sings next week at the NC State Fair. For details on that, as well as some talk about deep-fried cuisine, see the interview in Friday's paper.

UNC-CH's Thorp give a virtual address

Today is University Day at UNC Chapel Hill, and Chancellor Holden Thorp has put a twist on the traditional State of the University address that campus leaders here customarily give as part of the day's celebration.

This year, Thorp gave a virtual address. You can click on the 9-minute youtube video below or click here to read the transcript.

The chancellor doesn't break any news in this year's address. Mostly, it's a summary of all that went on in the past year. It emphasizes the budget crisis that sapped $67 million from university coffers, and the Bain report, created by a consultant to help the university streamline its administrative and financial operations.

And it also trumpets some highlights from the past year, like the national championship in basketball, the success of Anoop Desai on American Idol, and the fact that the university produced two Rhodes Scholars.

Not bad.

On the budget issue: Thorp mentions that the economic crisis has led more students to request financial aid in order to get to or stay in college. The university has managed to patch aid packages together for all who needed them; the Carolina Covenant program, which offers full aid funding for students who demonstrate great financial need, has swelled and now accounts for 11 percent of the first-year class.

At 11 this morning, Gov. Beverly Perdue will give the keynote University Day address at Memorial Hall.

Anoop and "Eve's Carolina Way"

A certain Orange County tourism promoter has a serious crush on American almost Idol Anoop Desai.

She sent us this note recently with a postscript Desai attached to the bottom of an earlier e-mail to her, thanking organizers of his enthusiastic homecoming last week. She called it sweet, and it is, but so is her infatuation.

Here is the postscript:

Eve’s Carolina Way

"Study hard and work hard.
Play hard.
Keep an open mind.
Take pride in yourself, in your school, in what you produce,
and the ways you help others.
If you make mistakes, make sure you learn from them.
And never give up--stay strong to the finish."

UNC, Chapel Hill declare Monday "Anoop Day"

"American Idol" finalist Anoop Desai is home in Chapel Hill after a Top 6 finish on the hit TV show.

Desai will meet with fans from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Robert's Lounge at the Franklin Hotel, according to a releease from the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau. Then on Monday both UNC and the town of Chapel Hill have declared “Anoop Day.”

From 5:30 to 7 p.m. a reception will be hosted by the General Alumni Association at the Carolina Club. Chancellor Holden Thorp will express his thanks to Desai on behalf of the university. Doug Dibbert, President of General Alumni Association, will speak on behalf of GAA. The event is open to the public.

“At the reception, his friends and family will speak briefly about Anoop, outlining the ‘Idol’ journey and what a great friend he is to so many,” friend Chris Melly said in the release. 

At 7 p.m., Desai will head to Chapel Hill Town Hall where Mayor Kevin Foy and the Chapel Hill Town Council will present a proclamation declaring May 4 "Anoop Day in Chapel Hill" and hand Desai a key to the city.

Buttons and posters congratulating Anoop have been produced by the Visitors Bureau, a marketing agency funded by Orange County and the town of Chapel Hill.

“These are free and we want all businesses to display these posters and wear the buttons,” said Laurie Paolicelli, director. Residents and business owners may stop by the office at 501 W. Franklin St. for buttons and posters. Or call 968-2060.

Anoop on UNC, Chapel Hill

In case you missed it: Chapel Hill's Anoop Desai, the teen idol/Southern Folklore scholar who just got booted from American Idol answered some questions recently about his hometown.

We ran excerpts of his interview in the Chapel Hill News. In it, Anoop talks about UNC and the big basketball championship as well as his love of his hometown and desire to make the folks here proud.

One snippet: 

Of all the contestants, it seemed to me that you were really the one who had the strongest link to your hometown. You mentioned Eve Carson at one point, the basketball championship, and you said you were looking forward to coming back to Chapel Hill. Why do you think that is?

 I have such a connection to this place, I think, because of the people. My best friends, I made in Chapel Hill. The best experiences of my life, aside from "Idol," have been in Chapel Hill. I love just the aura of our town. I also wanted to make Chapel Hill proud. That was in large part a reason for me auditioning for the show.

Check it out here.

Anoop on Regis and Ellen shows Monday

Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds will appear on Live with Regis & Kelly and on The Ellen Degeneres Show tomorrow (Monday, April 27).

Anoop and Lil Rounds are the most recent contestants kicked off of American Idol, and are scheduled to chat and sing on both shows. 

Live with Regis & Kelly airs here on ABC at 9am, and Ellen airs on NBC at 3pm.

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