Known as an American history buff, Steven Spielberg has had a long fascination with Abraham Lincoln. He had been mulling over a project about the 16th president for years when he met Doris Kerns Goodwin in 2000 while she was working on her book "Team of Rivals," published in 2005.

After the filmmaker found out what she was writing, he followed her progress and optioned it for a film before it was published. But to turn a historical biography of more than 700 pages into a film required its own dexterity. For that, Spielberg tapped Tony Kushner, who had received an Oscar nomination for the director's "Munich" (2005).

Spielberg and Kushner plowed ahead with the story of Lincoln, but it took awhile to get the right actor to play him. The director first approached Daniel Day-Lewis eight years ago. At first, the notoriously selective actor turned him down. After finally agreeing to play Lincoln, Day-Lewis read Goodwin's book. "I think that really became the platform for me, as it had been for Steven and Tony. There is a living being to be discovered there, and she makes that beautifully clear in her book," says the actor, who spent a year preparing for the role. Spielberg's historical drama, "Lincoln," opens in theaters on Friday.

Country singer thankful to be alive

Country singer Sammy Kershaw is thankful to be alive after his tour bus was struck by another vehicle. It happened last Friday in Nocona, Texas. The impact caused major damage to the bus, and the car was totaled. The driver of the car was hospitalized with injuries. Kershaw and the nine members of his band and crew were shaken and sore but not seriously hurt. In a statement, Kershaw says, "Buses and cars can be replaced, but people can't." No one died, but Kershaw says it could've gone the other way. He believes they had "a guardian angel." He has not canceled any concerts.

FELIX DENIED: An Austrian court has rejected an appeal by supersonic skydiver Felix Baumgartner against a conviction and fine for punching a truck driver. The case stems from a 2010 incident in Baumgartner's home city of Salzburg in which a motorist and a Greek truck driver got into an argument. A lower court in April found that Baumgartner took the motorist's side and hit the truck driver in the face. Baumgartner denied hitting the truck driver, but he was fined nearly $2,000 for bodily harm. In explaining Tuesday's ruling, an appeals judge said that "there was no self-defense situation" on Baumgartner's part.