Vanna Play?: Ben Franklin—Ben on the Bench, that is —gets to hang with plenty of famous people. Over the years, he’s schmoozed with visiting dignitaries from Desmond Tutu to Bill Cosby. And just a few weeks ago, Dr. Bono stopped by to swap notes. On a recent sunny morning, Ben enjoyed some female company, in the shapely form of Vanna White. Not that the two got much privacy, what with the film crew, the cue-card holder, the sound man and the hangers-on.

Vanna et al were in town to shoot segments for three episodes of “Wheel of Fortune” to be taped in the Wachovia Center July 16-18.

Hamming it up with “America’s first multi-tasker,” Vanna cautioned, “Ben, don’t move a muscle…the bonus round is next.” Campus life continued unabated—students rattled by with moving carts piled high with mattresses, facilities vans plied up and down Locust Walk—as Vanna began her fifth take: “We’re not history yet, there’s more Wheel after this!”

This was their second day in town. The previous day’s venues included the Liberty Bell and Geno’s Steaks, where Vanna learned how to make a cheesesteak. “I was flipping meat for a while instead of letters,” said the ever-smiling host.

Would-be Wheel players take note: the Wheelmobile will be in town June 10 to pick a few lucky contestants. Find out more at

Beautiful day: Commencement 2004 wasn’t the first time Bono set foot in Franklin Field. Seven years ago he emerged from a 40-foot-high revolving plastic lemon wearing a mirror ball suit to take the stage with his U2 bandmates. “I guess it was at that point when your Trustees decided to give me their highest honor,” he remarked to the Class of ’04. “Doctor of Laws. Wow! I know it’s an honor—and it really is an honor—but are you sure? . . . All I can think about is the laws I’ve broken. …I’m here getting a doctorate, getting respectable, getting in the good graces of the powers that be. I hope it sends you students a powerful message: Crime does pay.”

The rock star and activist, who was slapped with FCC fines for uttering an expletive at last year’s Golden Globe awards, assured parents and graduates “the only four letter word I’m going to use today is P-E-N-N. ”

“ The coolest speaker ever” (according to President Judith Rodin CW’66) stressed that we must use our resources to halt hunger and disease in Africa, even though “the going rate for change is not cheap. Big ideas are expensive. The University has had its share of big ideas. Benjamin Franklin had a few, so did Justice Brennen and in my opinion, so does Judith Rodin. What a gorgeous girl.”

Correction: In the May 13 Buzz item “Waking life,” the student researcher awarded a Penn Humanities Forum Undergraduate Fellowship is Molly G. Cahill C’07, not Cahil, and the name of the drug she is studying is Provigil (named Modafinil by the French company that discovered it). It is not an over-the-counter drug. She will study its effects for the 2004-05 Humanities Forum on Sleep and Dreams.

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Originally published on June 10, 2004