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PEOPLE - August 2002

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Wednesday August 28

GANGING UP ON JK ROWLING (AND OTHER STORIES): Author JK Rowling is celebrated for her rags-to-riches story - that she wrote the first Harry Potter book in a coffee shop while on welfare. It's a classic tale - "too good, it turns out. Yes, Rowling was a single mother with a bad marriage behind her, and yes, she was briefly on the dole. But the coffee shop was owned by her brother-in-law and Rowling was never far from her middle-class origins." The Age (Melbourne) 08/28/02

Tuesday August 27

BACK AND NO LESS PASSIONATE: Playwright Harold Pinter is 71 and has just come through a fight with esophageal cancer. "I found myself in a very dark world which was impossible to interpret. I could not work it out. I was somewhere else, another place altogether, not very pleasant. It is like being plunged into an ocean in which you can't swim. You have no idea how to get out of it. You simply float about, bob about, hit terrible waves. It is all very dark, really. The thing is: here I am." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/02

WILLIAM WARFIELD, 82: Bass-baritone William Warfield, best known for his stirring performances of Porgy in Porgy and Bess, has died in Chicago, after complications due to a broken neck suffered last month. He was 82. The New York Times 08/27/02

Monday August 26

DOROTHY HEWETT, 79: Yesterday morning, Australian literature lost, if not one of its saints, than one of its most cherished and authentic larrikins, when Hewett, poet, playwright and novelist, died, aged 79. The Age (Melbourne) 08/26/02

  • A GREAT AUSTRALIAN: "Dorothy was one of the most inspirational women I know. A great writer and poet with a lifelong commitment to her craft, she never lost her passion for social justice or her courage in supporting left-wing causes. Her sardonic irreverence, intellect, honesty, warm heart, her encyclopedic knowledge of Australian literature and history were some of the qualities that made her a formidable friend, a wonderfully talented writer and a great Australian." Sydney Morning Herald 08/26/02

RATTLE SOUNDS OFF: Conductor Simon Rattle has sounded off about British culture in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit. "About to take up his post as director of the Berlin Philharmonic, [Rattle] has had it with the caterwauling crudities and street-trash vulgarities of British culture. He much prefers the high cultural seriousness of Germany with its great, well-funded orchestras and modernist-minded public. Finally he will be free of those Hogarthian urchins and sluts he singles out as the image of all that is philistine and glib in the arts in Britain - the Britart generation, "artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and the others. I believe that much of this English, very biographically oriented art is bullshit." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/02

Sunday August 25

TOO MUCH PERCUSSION: Composer Ned Rorem has always been an outspoken contrarian. As he turns 80, none of that public persona has changed. "The quality of his recent output suggests that these pieces are likely to be those for which he's most remembered. Yet Rorem wonders if it matters: 'I feel we've got about 10 more years and the whole world will blow up,' he said one recent afternoon, sitting in a park here. 'Or at best, we'll end up loving each other in the most mediocre way, and the music you and I like will be in the remote past'." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/25/02

Wednesday August 21

ONE HELLUVA PRISON CAREER SO FAR: Jail isn't turning out too bad for Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced novelist and former MP, currently serving a four year prison term. Last week he signed a three book deal work millions of pounds. Now he's got himself a new day job - working at a theatre in the town of Lincoln. He started this week, and drove himself to his work-release job in his BMW. "It is still being discussed what he is doing but he will not be writing plays for the theatre." The Guardian (UK) 08/20/02

  • Previously: QUIET TIME TO WRITE: Prison hasn't slowed down author Jeffrey Archer. This week he "signed a three-book deal with Macmillan/St. Martin's reportedly worth millions of pounds - from his jail cell, where he is doing four years for lying on the stand. His agent told the press that, because Archer has 'never been writing better,' he jokes that he's leading a campaign to keep him inside." San Francisco Chronicle 08/17/02

Tuesday August 20

ONE PAUL FOR ANOTHER: The Kennedy Center has replaced Paul McCartney with Paul Simon as a recipient of this year's Kennedy Center Honors. "The unusual substitution was prompted by McCartney's notice to center officials late last week that a personal obligation would keep him from attending the gala weekend in December. Attendance is mandatory at all events, from the tribute program to the White House reception. This was the first time any of the nearly 130 honorees had ever withdrawn after the official public announcement." Washington Post 08/20/02

Monday August 19

WRITING OVER REWARDS: Charles Webb had a big success with his novel The Graduate back in 1962. "With its subversive rejection of materialism and middle-class mores, The Graduate captured the nascent mood of rebellion that was to sweep through the 1960s. But somewhere along the way, Webb's urge to write was swamped by his urge to reject material rewards and disappear. They were set for life. They found this oppressive." So Webb and his wife gave away all their money to live in poverty... The Age (Melbourne) 08/19/02

Sunday August 18

MCCARTNEY OUT: Paul McCartney has pulled out of this year's Kennedy Center Honors, citing a schedule conflict. "The withdrawal, the first in the history of the awards, is a deep disappointment to organizers, who had striven to put together a particularly impressive roster of talent for what will be the 25th anniversary of the ceremony, scheduled for Dec. 8." Washington Post 08/17/02

Friday August 16

LARRY RIVERS, 78: The "irreverent proto-Pop painter and sculptor, jazz saxophonist, writer, poet, teacher and sometime actor and filmmaker" died of cancer. "He helped change the course of American art in the 1950's and 60's, but his virtues as an artist always seemed inextricably bound up with his vices, the combination producing work that could be by turns exhilarating and appalling." The New York Times 08/16/02

GO WEST: Cornel West has had a difficult year. Cancer, marital problems, and controversy at Harvard that pushed him to leave for Princeton. Through it all, West has kept his own style - He "does not do e-mail. He doesn't have a cell phone. He doesn't own a computer. What he writes, he writes longhand. He's eccentric that way or, as he puts it, 'old school' That, too, is why he wears those dark, formal three-piece suits with the vest chain dangling: They conjure the dignity, confidence and humility of the black preachers of his youth." Washington Post 08/11/02

ACTING SENATOR: US Senator Fred Thompson is retiring from the Senate. He's negotiating to join the cast of the TV drama Law & Order this fall. "Thompson, the first sitting senator to have a lead role in a TV series, is slated to play a newly named district attorney and boss of Executive Assistant DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Assistant DA Serena Southerlyn (Elisabeth Rohm)." Washington Post 08/16/02

Thursday August 15

ALBERTO IN LOVE: Alberto Vilar has given $250 million to the arts, and his passion for opera projects is high. But after a difficult surgery and a new fiancee, "he looks on the arts now with a warier eye and to his own happiness as a higher priority." Will marriage slow down his gifts to favored music projects? London Evening Standard 08/14/02

Wednesday August 14

SETTING A STANDARD FOR SHAW: In 23 seasons Christopher Newton made Ontario's Shaw Festival "one of the world's great repertory theatres." Now he's retiring. Toronto Star 08/14/02

THROWING YOURSELF INTO YOUR WORK: "Just before he died, the man who made the Frisbee soar and who was called the father of disc golf said he wanted his ashes to be mixed into new copies of the famous plastic flying disc. And his family hopes these limited-edition Frisbees could be sold to help fund a museum in his honor." San Francisco Chronicle 08/14/02

Tuesday August 13

THE MUSICIANS' MUSICIAN: "Mariss Jansons may not be the most famous maestro on the block. For one thing, his career progression — from Riga to Munich via hard-slog jobs in Cardiff, Oslo and Pittsburgh — suggests a man almost pathologically averse to basking in the limelight of the world’s top musical capitals. But Jansons, who turns 60 next year, is surely the 'musicians’ musician', par excellence. Orchestras revere him for three reasons. He is genuine. He is genial. And he is a genius." The Times (UK) 08/13/02

Thursday August 8

THE PIANIST WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING: Robert Levin may just be the most well-rounded musician in the world. He is 54 years old, and to date, he has been a professor at Harvard, an international music lecturer, one of the world's preeminent early music scholars, an accomplished performer of music from all eras, and the author of a new completion of Mozart's unfinished Requiem which many consider far superior to the original. Why such dizzying diversity? "If you are a chef, and everything you serve French, Italian, Thai tastes the same, you probably aren't a very good chef," he says. The New York Times 08/08/02

Wednesday August 7

CENSOR'S SENTENCE: "One of Turkey's most famous film actresses, Lale Mansur, could face a 15-year prison sentence because of her outspoken views on the country's censorship laws. Mansur, who was Istanbul State Opera's longest-serving prima ballerina before taking up acting, has already received a suspended five-year sentence under Turkey's anti-terrorism laws. She now faces new trials, along with several other artists, relating to the publication of books by banned authors." BBC 08/07/02

SCHAMA SIGNS RECORD DEAL: Simon Schama has signed a £3 million book/TV deal for a series focusing on Anglo-American relations. "The book deal from HarperCollins for the non-UK rights to Mr Schama's books is worth £2 million, thought to be the single biggest advance ever paid for history titles. The BBC, which is paying the remaining £1 million for the British rights to the books and to the two television series, said it thought Prof Schama was worth 'every penny'." The Telegraph (UK) 08/04/02

PREVIN/MUTTER: Conductor Andre Previn and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter have married; it's Previn's fifth marriage, Mutter's second. "The couple, despite their differences in age - he is 72 and she is 39 - have become inseparable over recent months after her performance in Boston of The Previn Violin Concerto, which he composed for her." The Telegraph (UK) 08/06/02

Tuesday August 6

WHY I GIVE: Arts patron Alberto Vilar's fortune has dipped from $5.5 billion to $1.6 billion. But he's still giving money for the arts, and he's annoyed at reports he meddles with the productions he finances. "Let me tell you the way this works. You come to me, the head of the Met, the Kirov, and you say, we're going to do War and Peace and Joe is going to direct it and Joe is going to be the conductor and here are the singers. We have a gentleman's code; I simply say pass or fail, yes or no. If you call that meddling, I'll be happy to be called a meddler any day." Denver Post 08/04/02

DANCE PIONEER DIES: Freidann Parker, co-founder of the Colorado Ballet, has died at the age of 77. Parker and her lifelong business associate and companion, Lillian Covillo, established the Colorado Concert Ballet in 1961 and saw it through a number of incarnations. Today, the Colorado Ballet has a company roster of 30 professional dancers and 30 apprentices. Denver Post 08/06/02

Monday August 5

FAMILY AFFAIR: Sutton and Hunter Foster are the biggest family story on Broadway since the Lupones. "She's the Tony Award-winning singer-actor-dancer who's gone from virtually unknown Millie to Thoroughly Modern Millie. He's the naive but stouthearted hero Bobby Strong in Urinetown: The Musical." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 08/04/02

Sunday August 4

MILLER THE IRONIC: One doesn't tend to think of Arthur Miller as an author of hilarious satire - he's generally perceived as being darker than a festival of film noir drenched in motor oil. So its no great surprise that he would choose a relatively remote location to try his hand at comedy. Miller's latest play combines crucifixion and commercialism in what Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater hopes will be an attention-getting progression in the career of America's arguably most famous playwright. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 08/04/02

Friday August 2

TEACHING WRITING IN THE BACK OF A PIRATE STORE: Dave Eggers' writing career is well established. But these days he's spending most of his time running and supporting a writing program for kids in San Francisco's Mission District. "Open just a couple of months, 826 Valencia is starting to buzz with young people who have heard about the space through word of mouth. They come for the free tutoring and workshops, but often are lured in by the sweetly twisted Disneyland that is the pirate supply store, with its strange little dioramas and hidden trapdoors." San Francisco Chronicle 08/02/02

TOLSTOY GATHERING: It's being billed as the largest-ever gathering of descendants of novelist Leo Tolstoy. "About 90 of 300 known Tolstoy relatives — from Russia, Europe and the United States — will take a train today from Moscow to the writer's estate, 200 kilometres south of Moscow, said the author's great-great-grandson Vladimir Tolstoy." Toronto Star (AP) 08/02/02

Thursday August 1

DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200: Former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman, who was convicted on charges of conspiracy and price-fixing this spring, reported to a Midwest prison this week to begin serving his one-year sentence. Taubman, who is 78, was also fined $7.5 million by the court for his part in the price-fixing scheme, which sparked outrage throughout the art world, and led to much scrutiny for the top auction houses in the U.S. and Britain. Nando Times (AP) 07/31/02