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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Spiegelman Leaving New Yorker. Yes, Again. Cartoonist-and-so-much-more Art Spiegelman is leaving The New Yorker, as he has several times before, citing differences with the direction the venerable magazine has taken since 9/11. Spiegelman, who has never hesitated to express unpopular ideas in his work, praises editor David Remnick, but says that "the place I'm coming from is just much more agitated than The New Yorker's tone. The assumptions and attitudes [I have] are not part of The Times Op-Ed page of acceptable discourse." New York Observer 12/31/02

Can We Freeze Her Assets Until She Finishes The Next Book? Harry Potter may not measure up to Lord of the Rings on the big screen, but J.R.R. Tolkien isn't alive to rake in the residuals, and J.K. Rowling is, with the consequence that Rowling is now officially the highest-paid woman in the U.K. (And the Brits count Madonna as one of theirs, so you know we're talking serious money!) Rowling, who was last seen trying to stall for more time to finish the latest Potter installment by auctioning off an index card, reportedly made $77 million in 2002. Washington Post (AP) 12/31/02

  • Previously: Potter Clue Sells For Heavy Price A 93-word teaser describing the next installment of the Harry Potter series and written on a notecard by JK Rowling was sold at auction for £28,680 in London this week. "The fan site www.the.leaky.cauldron.org managed to raise £15,240 to buy the card, but were outbid by an anonymous US bidder." BBC 12/12/02
Monday, December 30, 2002

Brazilian Pop Star Takes Government Culture Job When Brazil's new government takes office on Wednesday, its culture portfolio will be held by one of the country's biggest pop stars for the last 35 years, the singer-songwriter and guitarist Gilberto Gil." The appointment, to say the least, is controversial. "The challenger of the establishment will now experience things from the other side." The New York Times 12/31/02

Who We Lost Here's the AP's list of A&E notables who passed away in 2002. Charlotte Observer (AP) 12/30/02

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Rowling Tops Income List JK Rowling was the UK's highest-earning woman in 2002, earning £48 million "through the phenomenal success of her creation in book sales and the subsequent cinema box office hits." That's about six times more than Queen Elizabeth. Sydney Morning Herald 12/30/02

Business Titan Quits Museum George David has quit as president of the board of Connecticut's Wadsworth Atheneum. "He is one of the corporate world's top executives [CEO of United Technologies], running a business that has thousands of employees, tens of billions of dollars in assets and a global reach of staggering proportions. In short, David is a master of his universe who took a personal interest in a state arts treasure, wanting it to grow in profound ways, to be a major player in the world art arena. He put his money - and his company's money - behind that vision. But David didn't feel he had the unanimous support of the Atheneum board he led for the last four years, a leadership position that was seemingly his for as long as he wanted it..." Hartford Courant 12/29/02

JK Rowling's Kindness To A Dying Girl JK Rowling is famously protective of her privacy. But when the mother of a little girl dying of cancer wrote to the author telling Rowling of her daughter's love of Harry Potter, Rowling contected the girl and struck up a friendship, even revealing details of her next book to the girl before she died. The Observer (UK) 12/29/02

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Produce This! Famously Fired Actor Returns To Broadway It's been eight months since actor Henry Goodman wqas fired after taking over Nathan Lane's role in "The Producers." "One minute, I was in the shower singing, thinking, `I just played to 60,000 people in a month, nobody's asked for their money back, this thing is cooking. I knew I was different from Nathan, but I didn't know difference was a sackable offense." Now, after months of soul-searching, he's back on Broadway in a big way... The New York Times 12/22/02

Remembering a Visionary Of American Opera "John Crosby, who died Dec. 15 at age 76, after a brief illness, was one of the great visionaries of American opera. Back in the 1950s he imagined a summer opera festival in what struck plenty of people as the very last place on Earth. He borrowed money from his father, a New York lawyer, to buy a 76-acre ranch on a hilltop just north of Santa Fe, N.M. And in July 1957, in a primitive hillside amphitheater, he inaugurated Santa Fe Opera by conducting 'Madama Butterfly'." Dallas Morning News 12/22/02

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Mistry Gets Some U.S. Support More than a month has gone by since Canadian author Rohinton Mistry cancelled the remainder of his U.S. book tour after being repeatedly singled out for "security searches" at American airports. In the U.S., it didn't cause much of a stir, but in Canada, there was national outrage at the lengths to which the U.S. appears to be going to enhance "national security." Now, a San Francisco bookstore which had scheduled a Mistry reading has gone ahead with the event, with local authors reading from Mistry's work, in an effort to bring more attention to the author's protest. San Francisco Chronicle 12/19/02

Greece's Own Maria Callas "Featuring personal effects and props belonging to Maria Callas, Athens Tuesday opened a museum dedicated to the New York-born opera legend, the first of its kind in the country... Although she took Greek citizenship only in 1966, aged 43, her enormous global success and heart-rending interpretations of tragic roles, combined with her liaison with the shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis — another Greek success story — have made Callas a symbol of Greek national pride." Andante (Agence France-Presse) 12/19/02

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Jonathan Franzen's Inner Child (Get Over It) "As with so many of his generation, Franzen is conflicted about conflict. Arguing is what grownups do when they are mad (Mommy, Daddy, don't fight); and swagger doesn't play well on the current scene, which has partly converted into a Generation X recovery ward for the depressed, medicated, and formerly addicted children of divorce. He is not a masochist, he is a shrewd passive-aggressive (aren't they all?), courting sympathy by constantly telling us where he hurts and fastening reader interest on himself, regardless of the issue or controversy..." The New Republic 11/27/02

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

John Crosby, 76 John Crosby, the musical entrepreneur who "founded the Santa Fe Opera in 1957 and built it into one of the country's most important opera companies during his 44 seasons as its general director," died Sunday. "At a time when there were few summer music festivals in the United States, he started a summer opera series that, although far from the urban centers where classical music flourished, quickly drew audiences from around the world." New York Times 12/17/02

Monday, December 16, 2002

Portrait of the Philanthropist Alberto Vilar, the world's most famous arts patron over the past few years, but under criticism for not living up to some of his pledges, says "he can easily give away $50-million a year", and "is on record as saying he is good for his pledges. Some of his Amerindo funds have suffered in the depressed stock market. He has also been in poor health. In his interview with this paper, he says he has had four surgeries in the past two years for herniated discs in his lower back. 'I was at home for one year immobilized,' he says. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/12/02

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Getting To Know The Chairman-In-Waiting Poet Dana Gioia is awaiting confirmation as new chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Born in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, Gioia is the son (and oldest of four children) of an Italian father who was a cabdriver and kids shoe store owner, and a Mexican mother who worked as a telephone company operator. Gioia was the first member of his family to attend college, receiving a B.A. from Stanford University." He won't say much now about arts policy before he's confirmed by the US Senate. But: "It's a cliché to say art should be provocative, just as it's a falsehood to say that art should not be provocative." San Diego Union-Tribune 12/13/02

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Bellesiles Stripped of Prize Historian Michael Bellesiles has been vilified by the political right, ostracized by his colleagues, and forced out of his professorship since charges of falsified research in his controversial book on America's "gun culture" hit the front pages several months back. Now, Columbia University is stripping Bellesiles of the prestigious Bancroft Prize it awarded him when the book was originally published. For the record, Bellesiles continues to stand by his research. Washington Post (AP) 12/14/02

  • Previously: BELLESILES RESIGNS FROM EMORY: "Historian Michael A. Bellesiles, author of a controversial 2000 book on gun ownership in early America, resigned from Emory University in Atlanta yesterday after a devastating indictment of his research was made by an outside committee of scholars... Mainstream scholars raised questions [in 2001] about research Bellesiles did into probate records. His credibility problems were compounded when he said that he had lost all of his research notes in a flood at Emory." Boston Globe 10/26/02

Charming Man In A Thankless Job Given the current belt-tightening climate, director of the UK's National Gallery is hardly the plum position it ought to be. And Charles Saumarez Smith is under tremendous pressure not only to preserve the institution itself, but to match the success of his predecessor, the legendary Neil MacGregor. On top of that, the Getty Museum in L.A. recently swiped a priceless Raphael right out from under the National's nose. What's a director to do? The Telegraph (UK) 12/14/02

The Hometown Boy Nobody Knows The struggle of American conductors to be taken seriously in America is well-documented, but what about British-born maestros looking for work at home? Meet Donald Runnicles: orchestras and critics in Europe and North America rave about him, and yet few British orchestras have ever worked under him. A crash course may be in order, however, as Runnicles is widely rumored to be a finalist to succeed Leonard Slatkin at the head of the BBC Symphony. The Guardian (UK) 12/11/02

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

"Walter The Ripper" Doesn't Have Quite The Same Ring To It Novelist Patricia Cornwell knows who Jack the Ripper was. Or she says she does. Others may disagree, ('others' being defined in this case as 'every criminologist in the UK,') but Cornwell insists that British painter Walter Sickert can be conclusively linked to the notorious killing spree in late-19th century London through letters and other written material previously dismissed as hoaxes. Chicago Tribune 12/11/02

Monday, December 9, 2002

Kennedy People The Kennedy Center Honors staged its 25th annual gala Sunday. This year's honorees are actors Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones, dancer Chita Rivera, singer-songwriter Paul Simon and conductor James Levine. Washington Post 12/09/02

Turner Winner Unfazed Just who is Keith Tyson, this year's Turner Prize winner? For one thing, he's unfazed by controversy: “The Turner is an important prize precisely because it keeps interest frothing away at the top end. And to ask ‘Is that art?’ is pointless. If you went to a Mercury Music Prize, you wouldn’t say: ‘Is a country-and-western album better than a punk album?’ You wouldn’t ask: ‘Is it music?’ You would just think: ‘It’s not my kind of music.’ What do I feel? How do I respond to it? Is it interesting? Those are the questions to ask.” The Times (UK) 12/10/02

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Troupe Forced To Resign Quincy Troupe, who was forced out of his appointment as California's first Poet Laureate this fall after it was discovered he had misrepresented his credentials on his resume, has had to resign his teaching post at the University of California, San Diego. "I very much regret my lapse in judgment and the problems it has created for my department and the broader UCSD community," Troupe said. SFGate.com 12/03/02

  • Troupe Faces Reporters Troupe told a colleague last week that "he decided to step down after the university decided to suspend him for a year without pay or benefits." Troupe told reporters that he is a person who faces up to his mistakes, but while some of Troupe's supporters were angry that the university didn't stick up for the poet, others seemed relieved that the affair is over. "I am relieved he chose to do the honorable thing by resigning. He's a great poet, but he needs to be a great poet somewhere else." San Diego Union-Tribune 12/04/02

  • Previously: ART OVER RESUME: Poet Quincy Troupe lied on his resume about having graduated from college, and when it was discovered, lost his appointment as poet laureate of California. Now there is pressure to remove him from his teaching job at the University of California, San Diego. But lost in the furor is a proper appreciation of his contribution to San Diego's cultural life, writes the arts staff of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Since his arrival in San Diego in 1991, Troupe has proved so popular a professor, so prolific an author and so generous a contributor to the city's quality of life, that no one – including the UCSD administration that hires in the arts based on performance, not paperwork – could possibly care whether he ever received an undergraduate degree. His deception was unnecessary; the cachet of a B.A. played little if any role in his success." San Diego Union-Tribune 11/01/02

Confronting Hungary On The Nobel Stage Many writers have penned fiction based on their memories of the Holocaust. But for Hungarian-born writer Imre Kortesz, this year's Nobel Prizewinner for literature, those memories, and the healing of time passed, have led him to a different view of those horrible days than that shared by many of his contemporaries. Kortesz, who now considers Germany his home, describes the Holocaust not as an assault on Jews by Germany, but as a tragic and catastrophic failure on the part of all of Europe. Germany, says Kortesz, has come to terms with its guilt in a way that many European countries, his native Hungary in particular, have not. The New York Times 12/04/02

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Michelangelo The Miser "Michelangelo, who painted the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel and designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, passed himself off as poor but was actually too miserly to show his huge wealth... [An art historian] has unearthed two of Michelangelo's bank accounts and numerous deeds of purchase that show the prolific painter, sculptor and architect was worth about 50,000 gold ducats when he died in 1564, more than many princes and dukes of his time." Los Angeles Times (Reuters) 12/03/02

The Iron Lady Of Russian Museums Irina Antonova has been director of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow for 41 years. "Such longevity would be remarkable anywhere — even in the United States Senate — but Russia is a particular case. Mrs. Antonova's career at the Pushkin, which began one month before the end of World War II, has survived Stalinism, democracy and everything in between, including unresolved disputes over looted and lost art." The New York Times 12/03/02

Monday, December 2, 2002

Finding A Way Through Music Matt Savage is 10 years old, and he plays the piano well enough that he turns heads in New Orleans, where he lives. He's playing jazz in concerts around the world. But he isn't just a prodigy, he's also autistic, and "when he was younger, had great difficulty communicating, did not like to be touched and - most incredibly for a musician - couldn’t stand the sound of music or of household noises like a blender or a vacuum cleaner" Jerusalem Report 11/02

Power To The Pub Lady Sandra Esquilant's East End London pub has been a gathering place for a generation of BritArt conceptual artists. Now, "for her role as a homely mother confessor to the angry generation of British conceptual artists, has won the improbable reward of 80th place in a list of the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art." The Telegraph (UK) 12/02/02

FBI Tracked Greene For 40 years, the FBI had author Graham Greene under surveillance, according to documents recently obtained by The Guardian newspaper. US officials went to "extraordinary lengths" to track Greene, believing he was anti-American. " 'Unsurprisingly, Greene's views on the United States government policies and actions are not flattering,' a cable to Washington said after the novelist gave an interview about Latin America in 1984." The Guardian 12/02/02

Wolcott To Franzen - Get Over Yourself Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections sold more than 2 million copies last year. James Wolcott thinks that for that reason and many others, Franzen should stop whining. "Franzen's book presents the portrait of a man who can't leave being alone well enough alone. For someone who repeatedly strikes a Garbo pose in print, he puts a lot of low-key effort into refining his identity." The New Republic 12/02/02

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