Songster Mao makes a great leap forward

Mao may be dead and Deng Xiaoping, at 91, may not be long for this world, but Chinese revolutionary thought lives on. The Great Helmsman's only grandson, Mao Xinyu, plans to release a recording of songs ''cherishing the memory of his grand- father''.

"He sang a song at a symposium on Mao Tse-tung's thought, and people were surprised at his singing ability," a producer from the China Record Company, Zeng Jianxiong, told the Xinhua news agency.

But the young Mao, who works in the hotel business, claims he doesn't want to become a singing star. Still, he has been rehearsing daily and plans to record the album next month. It is due for release by 26 December, to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Chairman's birth.

Shao Hua, Mao's daughter-in-law and Mao Xinyu's mother, has followed a more militaristic path. She has been promoted to major-general in the People's Liberation Army. The wife of Mao's second son, Mao Anqing, she is deputy director of the department of military encyclopaedic research at the army's Academy of Military Sciences. "I will forever remember dad's teachings: study hard, work hard and do more to contribute to the development of the people and the army,'' she said.

In Israel to present two concerts, Stevie Wonder would like to find his former nanny. Gaby Lalouche, the mayor of Dimona in the Negev desert, told army radio that the singer supports the Black Hebrews sect, who have been settling near Dimona for the last two decades. The Chicago-based group believes it is descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, and includes the woman who changed a baby's nappies when he really was Little Stevie.

"When I was very young, before my mother had accepted that I was visually impaired, she wanted to bring me to the Holy City in hopes I would get my sight," Wonder said.

Another singer, Nina Simone, had noisy teenagers in her sights last month while gardening at her villa in southern France. She was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence and fined 23,000 francs (pounds 3,000) for shooting buckshot at the pair, who were in the swimming pool at the villa next door to Simone's house in Bouc-Bel-Air in Provence. The singer says she twice asked the youths to make less noise, and when they failed to do so, she fired, slightly injuring a 15-year-old boy.

Norodom Sihanouk isn't well known in the West as a film-maker, but that may change now that the King of Cambodia has been awarded a bronze medal at the St Petersburg Film Festival. The King was honoured for An Ambition Reduced to Ashes, a short feature about a prince with magical powers who loses them because of his love for a woman. Sihanouk says he loves film- making as Churchill loved painting. He has been producing, directing, writing and acting in films since the 1950s.