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Smart Talk, March 4 

UA sorority breaks color line

“Stepping,” a dance competition long the province of black fraternities and sororities, was integrated in a big way recently by an all-white sorority from the University of Arkansas, Zeta Tau Alpha. A team of Zeta dancers won the Sprite Step-off, a national competition, worth a $100,000 prize. They were the first white group to win the step-off. Commented the website News One for Black America, “This can be considered another example of how black culture becomes mainstream and becomes appropriated by Caucasian people and becomes a greater part of American culture as a whole.” Many readers of the website weren't happy about the win by a white team, though several said the Zetas outperformed black finalists. Such a controversy arose, in fact, that Coca-Cola rescored the competition and announced five days after the competition that the second-place team, a black group, would share first prize and also get $100,000 in scholarships. The Zetas took it in stride. Team member Alexandra Kosmitis told the Atlanta newspaper, “We are just keeping a positive attitude about it. We are excited to still have $100,000 for our scholarships and we are excited that someone else can have some money to help them out as well.”

The winning routine can be found on YouTube. The finals were held Feb. 20 in Atlanta.


Does not compute

A habitue of a smoky local watering hole reports it now boasts a recruiting poster from UAMS seeking meth users for a study. Our correspondent wrote: “You would think, yeah, logical, it's fertile recruiting ground. But the poster says participants ‘must be in good health.' ”


‘Idol' a financial hit for Kris Allen

The New York Times reports that Conway's Kris Allen, winner of last year's “American Idol,” has been cashing in on his celebrity. According to the newspaper, Allen has received at least $650,000 under contracts he signed to appear on the show. The amount is a minimum. Performance fees and merchandising royalties should make a winner more than $1 million. The winner gets an estimated $100,000 from the show itself and multiples of that amount for recording contracts. Allen, the Times said, got an advance of $350,000 for his first album, exclusive of recording costs. He was also paid $200,000 to promote and participate in an Idol feature at Walt Disney World. He also got an advance on merchandising royalties. There are expenses, of course, including management.

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