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News In Brief

A CAREER STILL ON THE RISE

You loved her when she starred in the pageantry at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Now, you'll be able to love her all over again in a major motion picture. Remember: A crane hoisted winsome young singer Nikki Webster high above the floor of Stadium Australia as she "dreamed" of her country's history for a capacity crowd and global TV audience on opening night of the Games. So impressed was Hollywood that she has been signed to a role in "Vanilla Gorilla," a tale of the bond between an ape in captivity and a girl who befriends it. Filming is to begin in February.

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EMERIL already has a job

Perhaps it was inevitable. So many passengers gripe about airline food that an institution of higher learning in Britain is accepting applications for, apparently, the world's first professorship of in-flight catering. He or she will teach both undergraduate and graduate-level courses at Surrey University, a few miles up the road from London's Gatwick Airport.

Baseball's playoffs and payrolls: a changing mix

For the past five years, the Major League Baseball teams with the biggest payrolls have been virtually the only ones to make it to the postseason. This has prompted calls to overhaul the economic system so all 30 teams have a better chance. But this fall, surprisingly, big spenders haven't dominated. Among the eight teams in the playoffs, three are from the bottom half of baseball's payroll chart. Conversely, some money-flush clubs didn't make the cut, notably the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. The payrolls (in millions) of the postseason teams - as compiled by the commissioner's office and based on rosters as of Aug. 31 - along with the ranking that gives them:

New York Yankees $113.4 (1)

Atlanta Braves 95.0 (2)

New York Mets 89.8 (5)

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St. Louis Cardinals 72.4 (8)

Seattle Mariners 62.6 (9)

San Francisco Giants 54.2 (18)

Chicago White Sox 36.9 (21)

Oakland Athletics 32.7 (25)

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society