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"The Singing Detective" creator Dennis Potter died today, just a week after his wife Margaret also succumbed to cancer. The British playwright authored "Pennies from Heaven," wrote the screenplay for "Gorky Park" and had just finished two TV plays. Regarding physical pain, much of which he suffered in the final months of his life, Potter once told TIME: "You have to stand outside it and say, 'O.K., destroy me if you must, but I'm going somewhere else.'" Potter was 59.CREATING WORLD-CLASS TV VIEWERS? American kids are flunking their writing tests, says a review by the Education Department's National Assessment of Educational Progress. The report recommends that daily classroom time be dedicated to writing and that parents encourage their kids to both read and write at home. Most eighth-graders spend only two hours a week writing -- and 14 hours in front of the TV. The study looked at writing samples from 30,000 students, all from Grades 4, 8 and 12. The least surprising fact: writing skills declined as the number of TV-viewing hours rose.