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Kapos: Lucas mourns ‘smart, talented, colorful’ Carrie Fisher

Actress Carrie Fisher and director George Lucas pose at the 33rd AFI Life Achievement Award after party at the Highlands on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, California.

Actress Carrie Fisher and director George Lucas in June 2005. | Getty

George Lucas, the filmmaker who produced “Star Wars,” expressed grief about Carrie Fisher’s death.

“Carrie and I have been friends most of our adult lives,” Lucas said in a statement through a spokeswoman. “She was extremely smart; a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved.”

Lucas cast Fisher in his original “Star Wars” trilogy that made her a symbol of “Star Wars” pop culture.

She grumbled about the skimpy costumes and an uncomfortable hair bun that brought her fame. “George Lucas ruined my life,” she wrote in her memoir. That view, maybe tongue in cheek, softened over the years. The two shared the stage and embraced as the film series was honored over the years.

Lucas, who lives in Chicago these days with his wife, Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson, and their young daughter, has only praise for the actress who played Princess Leia.

“In Star Wars she was our great and powerful princess – feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think,” he wrote. “My heart and prayers are with Billie, Debbie and all Carrie’s family, friends and fans. She will be missed by all.”

Billie Lourd is Fisher’s daughter; actress Debbie Reynolds is her mom.

Roeper: From her teen debut on, Carrie Fisher talent was obvious
‘Star Wars’ actress Carrie Fisher has died; she was 60

Comments about campaign cash cause a stir

Justice Lloyd Karmeier is sworn in as the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.

Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier got tongues wagging when he addressed PACs during a speech at the annual Illinois State Bar Association dinner. | AP file photo

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier wove humor and good research in a speech headlining the annual Illinois State Bar Association dinner.

Along with talking about the history of the event that brings together lawyers and judges, he addressed political action committees.

That got tongues wagging given his campaign contributions are being questioned in an ongoing court case.

The justice said the Campaign for 2016 PAC “jeopardized” the integrity of the judiciary when it tried to unseat him in 2014. He accused the PAC of waging an “unjust” and expensive campaign for “personal, political or financial interests,” according to a copy of the speech.

Trial attorney Bob Clifford took issue with the comments, saying he and others don’t hide from their support of organizations they care about. He says that can’t be said of Karmeier, whose campaign got “dark money” from the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee. That PAC funneled nearly $1 million into Karmeier’s campaign, helping him stay in his job by the slimmest of margins.

“Interesting that he doesn’t address that,” Clifford said of Karmeier’s PAC money. “You can’t have it both ways.”

A spokesman for the court said Karmeier had no comment.

Clifford represents plaintiffs in a long-running case involving, not so coincidentally, Karmeier’s campaign funding.

In 2004, customers of State Farm Insurance filed suit claiming Karmeier took campaign cash from the insurance firm to get elected to the state’s highest court.

Their class action complaint says that in exchange for that support, Karmeier voted against upholding a $1 billion verdict that required State Farm to pay policy holders for using cheap auto parts when making repairs.

No trial date has been set.

Last year, Karmeier made news for writing the lengthy decision that struck down pension reform, ruling it unconstitutional.

A leader in fighting poverty

Atul Tandon

Atul Tandon | Provided photo

A former New York banker with a Jesuit education and a good sense of humor is now leading a Chicago nonprofit.

Atul Tandon was recently named U.S. CEO of Opportunity International, which has a $60 million global budget and works in developing nations to help people work their way out of poverty.

Tandon grew up in modest means in India but saw that country’s slums. His parents made education a priority and sent him, as a youngster, to a Jesuit school a few thousand miles away to study.

He calls his education a “guiding light in my service to the poor.”

Tandon went on to study business and economics in college and launched a financial services business in India before working at Citibank. In 2000, after 13 years in banking in India and New York, he moved into nonprofits, working at World Vision and United Way Worldwide before starting at Opportunity.

He points to World Bank numbers that show 767 million people in 2013 lived on less than $1.90 a day, a drop from 1990 when 1.85 billion lived on that amount.

“We will see the end of extreme poverty in the next 12 to 15 years,” he says. “To be able to say that makes my hair start to grow again.”

Passion on stage and on the page

Kim Schultz

Kim Schultz | Provided photo

Kim Schultz speaks passionately about generosity in her role as the Ghost of Christmas Present in Goodman Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”

In real life, she’s written an equally impassioned book about Iraqi refugees.

Three Days in Damascus” (Palewell Press) tells the story of Schultz traveling through Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to interview refugees for a writing project. She fell in love in the process.

The book is available in bookstores. “A Christmas Carol” runs through Dec 31.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.