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PEOPLE - February 2002

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Thursday February 28

GOODWIN OFF NEWSHOUR: Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has acknowledged using other writers' work "without sufficient attribution." She's left - or been dropped from - the PBS newshour program. The University of Delaware has cancelled an invitation to speak at commencement. Isn't that enough punishment? Maybe not. Boston Globe 02/28/02

Sunday February 24

HOW GOOD WAS STEINBECK? The debate has raged for decades, from the East-centric halls of Academia to the small towns of the plains. Was John Steinbeck one of the great writers of the last 200 years, or a good-not-great writer of only regional interest? Whichever side you come down on, you've probably never considered for a moment that the opposite opinion might be the case. But there are compelling arguments for each conclusion. Dallas Morning News 02/24/02

  • BELATED TRIBUTE: At the time it was written, The Grapes of Wrath did not do wonders for John Steinbeck's image in his California hometown, as the book painted locals as foul-mouthed, abusive extortionists and brutal oppressors of the Okie protagonists. But time heals many wounds, and this month, the 100th anniversary of Steinbeck's birth will see him honored in the same town that once reviled him. The Age (Melbourne) 02/22/02

HUGHES' HALLUCINOGENIC REVELATIONS: "IN 1999, a week into filming [a] television series about Australia, the art critic Robert Hughes was involved in a near-fatal car crash. During the five weeks that he lay in a coma in intensive-care, Hughes became intimately acquainted with the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. He was visited by a series of powerful hallucinations more concrete than dreams, more intense than the LSD experiences that he had sampled when he was younger, in which the Spanish painter appeared to be inflicting a prolonged torture on him." The Telegraph (UK) 02/23/02

THAT'S ALL, FOLKS: "Oscar-winning cartoon animator Chuck Jones, who brought to life a host of cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, has died in California of heart failure. He was 89." BBC 02/23/02

MTT'S SECOND (THIRD?) CAREER: "As a conductor, pianist and teacher, Michael Tilson Thomas already boasts a musical resume full enough for two. But in recent years, Bay Area audiences have watched him come into his own as a composer, too. On Wednesday night, Thomas will unveil his most substantial composition, a cycle of Emily Dickinson settings." San Francisco Chronicle 02/24/02

THE SCREECH RECONSIDERED: Mention the name "Yoko Ono" around any fan of the Beatles (and really, who isn't one?) and you are likely to get a somewhat violent reaction. But while Ms. Ono will likely go down in history as the woman who broke up the greatest rock 'n roll band of all time, some critics contend that her legacy should be as one of the 20th century's greatest artists. From music to film to visual arts, Yoko has always been, it seems, several steps ahead of the rest of the art world. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/23/02

Friday February 22

LUCILLE LUND, 89: "Lucille Lund, an actress who appeared in dozens of films in the 1930's with stars like the Three Stooges, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, died at her home here last Friday. She was 89. The actress, who co-starred in more than 30 films, is perhaps best known for playing the dual roles of Karloff's wife and stepdaughter in The Black Cat." The New York Times 02/22/02

Wednesday February 20

LEVINE'S PLAN TO SAVE THE INDUSTRY: James Levine believes that chamber music holds the answer to classical music's problems. If the symphony orchestra is a slow and massive battleship, the string quartet is a quick, powerful PT boat, and the newly designated Boston Symphony music director says that the adventurous spirit and adaptibility of chamber music must be adopted by the orchestral world if the industry is to survive another century. Boston Globe 02/20/02

THAT WACKY MAYOR: "Sometimes the ways of Mel Lastman are just too bizarre to be explained. Earlier this week, the befuddled mayor [of Toronto] made headlines by going to Ottawa and demanding the federal government write a big cheque for the Toronto opera house. No doubt many people in the arts world will feel grateful to Lastman for fearlessly speaking out... The only problem is that at this point his passionate plea is utterly irrelevant." Toronto Star 02/20/02

CANADIAN ARTIST DIES: "The painter Paterson Ewen died [this past weekend] in his London, Ont., home, his system succumbing at last to the combined effects of his many years of alcohol abuse and the heavy medications that kept body and soul together through decades of emotional suffering and relentless striving... Ewen's trademark works were large panels of plywood gouged with a router and then roughly worked over with pigment to describe sweeping vistas animated by cosmic events." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/20/02

Tuesday February 19

GUNTER WAND, 90: German conductor GŁnter Wand, former conductor of the BBC Orchestra has died at 90. "He insisted on a minimum of eight rehearsals for a standard programme, a luxury that only a broadcasting organisation could afford to offer. His rehearsals were meticulous and much appreciated by the orchestra, who respected him as part of a vanishing tradition." The Guardian (UK) 02/16/02

GUARDING GERSHWIN: "Such is the continuing demand for Gershwin's music that the estate brings in an estimated income of between $5 and $10 million a year. Rhapsody in Blue is its biggest earner, I Got Rhythm the most recorded." The estate's heirs zealously guard their family legacy.  "When we took it over in the 1980s, it was not being well minded: Ira had been very passive and trusted everyone." The Telegraph (UK) 02/19/02

Sunday February 17

CHAILLY'S REASONS: Ever since Riccardo Chailly's announcement that he would be leaving the music directorship of the Concertgebow for a less prestigious post in Leipzig, critics and musicians alike have been asking what would cause anyone to do such a thing. As it turns out, Chailly is one of those musicians for whom prestige is far less important than the passion he has for his profession. What a concept. Toronto Star 02/16/02

SAWALLISCH ILL: "Philadelphia Orchestra music director Wolfgang Sawallisch has undergone a 'minor surgical procedure,' according to an orchestra spokeswoman, forcing the cancellation of a string of concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Sawallisch is in Germany, the spokeswoman said, but she did not know whether he was hospitalized." Philadelphia Inquirer 02/17/02

MENOTTI'S GIFT: "In 1936 this Italian composer wrote what has become the most-performed opera in America. He founded the renowned Spoleto music festival and moved to a stately home in Scotland in the 1970s, where his plan for an arts centre for young talent has foundered in the face of indifference." Why can't Gian Carlo Menotti get more respect? The Guardian (UK) 02/16/02

WHO'S AFRAID OF GETTING OLD? It's been 40 years since Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Edward Albee is officially a septuagenarian, a period of life when many playwrights are content to fade into the background. Not Albee - two new plays will have their New York openings in the next month, and the general consensus is that the writer is having his most prolific and successful period at a time of life when so many others have little left to say. The New York Times 02/17/02

HOW TO SUCCEED IN COMPOSITION BY REALLY TRYING: In an age when even fans of new music generally shun such ear-bending techniques as quarter-tones and minimalist repetition in favor of a new reassertion of melody and theme, a composer who embraces the inaccessible as firmly and unapologetically as Gyorgi Ligeti would seem to be in danger of falling by the wayside. But there is a quality to Ligeti's composition, a dangerous yet inviting subtext, that has kept audiences and musicians alike coming back for more. "New England is in the midst of an unofficial Ligeti festival, as it often is; Ligeti's new works tend to enter the standard repertoire with little delay." Boston Globe 02/17/02

Friday February 15

111-YEAR OLD NYC ARTIST DIES: "Theresa Bernstein, an influential painter and writer whose career spanned nearly 90 years, died Wednesday. She was 111. Bernstein gained recognition in the early 1900s as one of the first female realists, a school of art that depicted often gritty portrayals of people living everyday lives... Also an activist, Bernstein was a founding member of the Society of Independent Artists, a group begun in 1916 to sponsor regular exhibits of contemporary art without juries or prizes." National Post (CP) 02/15/02

Thursday February 14

SECURING LANGSTON HUGHES' LEGACY: One of Langston Hughes' goals was to establish himself as a major figure in 20th-Century literature. "There was a sense of triumph in the air as more than 500 scholars and other enthusiasts gathered at the University of Kansas to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hughes's birth and to embrace his legacy. In speeches, films, concerts, art shows and poetry readings, they proclaimed him a visionary whose clarion voice spanned the heart of the 20th century from the Harlem Renaissance to the civil rights movement." The New York Times 02/14/02

Wednesday February 13

CRITICAL DISCONNECT: Last week author Caleb Carr sent an "enraged" letter to complaining about reviews of his book. He "bitterly attacked reviewer Laura Miller and New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani, implying that they should stick to writing about 'bad women's fiction'." Not surprisingly, the comments didn't go well with readers, and now Carr has apologised. "Meanwhile, has pulled Carr's self-review of Lessons of Terror. The author had given himself the highest rating, five stars, and stated, 'Several reviews have made claims concerning my credibility that are, quite simply, libelous, and will be dealt with soon'." Baltimore Sun (AP) 02/13/02

ANOTHER HISTORIAN INVESTIGATED: Emory University is investigating the work of its award-winning historian Michael Bellesiles. Bellesiles "won last year's prestigious Bancroft Prize, the most coveted award in the field of American history, for his book The Arming of America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. But the book drew intense criticism from researchers who said they could not find the data upon which he said he based his thesis." Chicago Tribune 02/13/02

SORRY ABOUT GENE: NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross has had 3000 e-mails about her interview with Kiss musician Gene Simmons. "I got a thank-you note, and even a sympathy card: 'Sorry you had to spend time in Simmons' presence'." Philadelphia Inquirer 02/12/02

Monday February 11

ALL ABOUT EVE: "For 25 years, Eve Ensler was a fairly obscure downtown playwright, ambitious but thwarted, anguished by bad reviews and tortured by injustices personal and global. Most of that changed three years ago, with the breakaway success of The Vagina Monologues, a series of bawdy, straight-talking narratives about women's sexual triumphs and traumas. Since then, the play has been produced on every continent and in countless communities; it is as pervasive as Our Town, as political as 'Take Back the Night.'' New York Times Magazine 02/10/02

SWEARING AT "SILLY" PRIZES: Madonna has been admonished by BBC TV Channel 4 for swearing on live television as she presented the Turner Prize. "Channel 4 said its trust in Madonna had been abused. During the ceremony Madonna claimed awards shows were 'silly'. Channel 4 had put special precautions in place because of the singer's reputation for shocking and she had been cautioned about how she should behave." BBC 02/11/02

Sunday February 10

WHO'S WHO OF SHAKESPEARE: Who was Shakespeare? The question is a hot one right now. The leading contender? Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. "In 2000, a Massachusetts scholar successfully defended a dissertation based on the premise that de Vere wrote the Shakespeare canon. Hailed as a Rosetta stone of Oxford theory, the 500-page doctoral thesis discusses, among other things, the history of Oxford's life as reflected in the plays, and correspondences between the works of Shakespeare and verses de Vere marked in his copy of the Geneva Bible." The New York Times 02/10/02

ZUKERMAN RE-SIGNS: Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra has re-signed Pinchas Zukerman as its music director. "The Israeli-born violinist and conductor, who joined the Ottawa-based NACO in 1998, will stay on till the end of the 2005-2006 season, with an option for another year." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/09/02

Friday February 8

GRASS WON'T KEEP OFF THE TABOOS: "German novelist Guenter Grass has broken two national taboos this week, calling for the publication of Hitler's Mein Kampf, and raising the delicate subject of German wartime refugees fleeing from the Red Army. He called for basic information on National Socialism to be made available, and for public discussion of the phenomenon. He said that would help young people who may be fascinated with Nazism, but do not understand the reality behind it." BBC 02/08/02

Wednesday February 6

NORMAN MAILER'S LITERARY HEIR: No such animal. "You get very selfish about writing as you get older," he says. "You've got only so much energy and you want to save it for your own work. I'm much more interested in being able to do my own work than bringing a wonderful new writer into existence. Because my feeling is that if he or she is truly a wonderful new writer, they're going to come into existence on their own." The Guardian (UK) 02/05/02

GROSS-OUT: Terry Gross, known as one of America's more thoughtful broadcast interviewers, invited Gene Simmons of the band Kiss on her show. The exchange got a bit heated - not your typical public radio exchange: Gross: "I'd like to think the personality you presented on our show today is a persona that you've affected as a member of Kiss, but that you're not nearly as obnoxious when you're at home or with friends." Simmons: "Fair enough, and I'd like to think that the boring lady who's talking to me now is a lot sexier and more interesting than the one's who's doing NPR, studious and reserved." New York Post 02/06/02

Monday February 4

PINTER ILL: Playwright Harold Pinter has been diagnosed with cancer. "The 71-year-old was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus last month and is undergoing chemotherapy." The Guardian (UK) 02/01/02

VONK STOPS CONCERT: St. Louis Symphony conductor Hans Vonk stopped his musicians in mid-performance Friday night and had to be helped off the stage. "Vonk, 60, revealed last month that he was suffering from a relapse of Guillain-Barre syndrome. He resumed conducting Friday after a break of about 45 minutes." St. Louis Post-Distpatch 02/02/02

GERMANY'S MOST IMPORTANT INTELLECTUALS? In the US, people have been debating Richard Posner's list of the "100 most important intellectuals" which he based on how many media mentions each had. Now the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has compiled its list of the 100 most important German intellectuals, based on their hits on Google. Who's No. 1? Gunther Grass. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/04/02

Sunday February 3

FAMILY BUSINESS: When Michael Stern (son of violinist Isaac) was starting out his career as a conductor, his father told an interviewer it was "unlikely" his sone would have a performing career. Paavo Jarvi (son of conductor Neeme) says trying to make a career as a conductor is tougher when you have a famous parent in the business. "People are rightly suspicious of nepotism and family connections, and that is something I can understand.'' Miami Herald 02/03/02

THE MAN BEHIND MARK MORRIS: Behind every great artist there's a manager. Barry Alterman plts Mark Morris's course. "Barry meets people that I don't meet, he knows producers that I've met and maybe can't even remember the names of, and he's on the phone with them all the time, encouraging, cajoling." The New York Times 02/03/02