LeVarBurton turns back time in latest role

The Associated Press

NORRIS, Tenn. — LeVar Burton knows time travel.

After seven seasons exploring the final frontier as Lt. Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Burton has turned back the clock a few centuries for his latest role.

He plays a minister’s son and doctor’s apprentice in the fact-based CBS series “Christy,” about a teacher who comes to the mountains of Tennessee in 1912.

Filming now at the Museum of Appalachia, Burton recalled his own past, first winning acclaim as the young slave Kunte Kinte in the miniseries “Roots.” The late “Roots” author Alex Haley once lived nearby.

“A day does not go by that someone doesn’t talk about Alex, usually relating a personal experience with him,” Burton said. “It gives me an opportunity to feel close to him.”

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NEW YORK — Singer Amy Grant is happy she’s broken out of her gospel-music shell, but she’s not about to abandon it, either.

“I’ll always sing gospel songs in my concerts,” Grant told the Daily News in an interview published Monday. “They’re too important to leave out.”

Grant’s transition to pop is nearly complete. Her new album, “House of Love,” has several songs with religious references, but when she sings about “him,” she doesn’t necessarily mean “Him.”

Grant, 34, started sing ing gospel at 15. Her hit “Baby, Baby” three years ago helped her new image.

“I’m enjoying the gradual process, and right now, I’m about where I want to be,” Grant told the News.

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CAMARILLO, Calif. — Country music’s Randy Travis cradled his guitar and tapped his foot, but instead of singing about heartbreak, the theme was home loans.

Travis was filming a television commercial Sunday for The CIT Group, a home equity and loan company based in New Jersey. The singer was picked for the ads because of his wholesome image, said CIT executive Randi Brody.

Between takes, makeup artist Gwen Ankenbauer fiddled with Travis’ hair and powdered his cheeks.

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