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Al Franken is taking his radio show on the campaign trail. ``The Al Franken Show'' will broadcast live across the country starting Thursday and ending Oct. 9, making stops in eight cities including Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and Miami. ``It serves a lot of purposes,'' Franken told The Associated Press yesterday. ``The main one is to drive me into the ground before the elections.''

Joaquin Phoenix broke down on the set of his latest movie recently and started banging his head against a wall, reports IMDB.com, because a scene reportedly sparked memories of his brother River Phoenix's tragic death. The star - who was 19 when his brother died of a drug overdose outside the hip Los Angeles nightclub Viper Room in 1993 - is filming the Johnny Cash biopic ``Walk the Line.'' Phoenix reportedly had to be taken away in an ambulance.

Eminem is mocking Madonna. The controversial rapper dressed up in drag for footage he'll probably use in an upcoming video, appearing as the Material Girl as she looked during her Blonde Ambition tour, MSNBC.com reports. In the scene, he wears makeup, a long ponytail, and conical bra.

The son of R&B singer Chaka Khan has been arrested in an investigation of murder, reports the AP. Damien Patrick Holland, 25, was arrested shortly after the Friday night shooting of an 18-year-old man. Holland remained in custody on $1 million bail.

FROM WIRE REPORTS

Dear Annie: My friend, "Jake," has lived with me on and off for the last 16 years. I love him like a brother, and my kids call him Uncle Jake.

In the last two years, Jake has become less of a friend and more of a burden. He has no job, pays no bills, and doesn't offer to help around the house. All he does is eat, sleep, and play on our computer. He has two kids and recently stopped contact with them. The children and his ex moved 200 miles away so she could get work, as he can't pay child support.

I cannot understand how any parent wouldn't fight to see his children and why Jake will not take responsibility for what he has helped create. I don't want to lose him as a friend, but he's wearing on me. If I kick him out, he will move in with his mother. This would solve my problem, but not his. Any ideas?

ILLINOIS FRIEND You are not responsible for Jake's immaturity, but you are enabling him to continue freeloading. It's time to cut the cord. If Mom lets him move in with her, too bad, but it doesn't help the situation for you to be the patsy. Tell him you love him but he needs to grow up -- preferably elsewhere.

Dear Annie: I'm writing about the letter from "Worried in Wyoming," who fears her 14-year-old stepson, "Warren," may be a potential pedophile. As a psychologist trained in this area, I think the teenager seems very troubled. If the boy's current therapist is not trained to deal with such children, Warren should seek help from properly trained professionals. Please suggest that the parents contact the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (www.atsa.com), 4900 S.W. Griffith Drive, Suite 274, Beaverton, OR 97005.

JAMES MANLEY, PhD, Kona, Hawaii Thank you. A few readers also recommended Stop It Now!, an organization with a confidential help line at 888-PREVENT (888-773-8368).

E-mail your questions to annies mailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles CA 90045.

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