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Sunday, March 30, 2003

Evgeny Kissen - Beyond Prodigyhood Evgeny Kissen was the child everyone was talking about in the early 90s. Now he's 31, and "he has avoided the Icarian fate of many prodigies, some of whom have faded into obscurity with aching hands and broken hearts. His key to surviving the transition from wunderkind to adult virtuoso, under the eyes and ears of a public whose fascination often calls for superhuman displays of technical wizardry, was moderation." He limits his concerts to 40-45 a year. Miami Herald 03/30/03

Aussie Playwright Nick Enright, 52 "Nick Enright, one of Australia's leading playwrights, died yesterday. He was 52. A prolific writer for stage, film and television, he was also an actor, director and teacher." Sydney Morning Herald 03/31/03

Varnedoe - Life (And Cancer) After MoMA Kirk Varnedoe epitomized the "stereotype of the contemporary art world in all its unapproachable elan" while he was chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art. But Varendoe left one of the most prominent curatorships in the art world last year. Now he's preparing for lectures, and being treated for inoperable cancer. "I always thought I'd make it through the Mellon Lectures. I always thought I'd be able to do that. But I just don't make any predictions about six months from now."
Washington Post 03/30/03

  • Previously: VARNEDOE LEAVES MOMA: Kirk Varnedoe has been chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art's department of painting and sculpture since 1988. But as MOMA prepares for a major expansion, Varnedoe is leaving the museum to go to Princeton. "Many people regard me as a raging postmodernist, says Mr. Varnedoe, who has also been accused of an emphatic bias against contemporary theory. 'I'm more of a pragmatist than anything else, a Darwinist, I suppose, as opposed to having a teleological vision of a great race of isolated geniuses who pass the baton on to one another'." The New York Times 01/06/02
Saturday, March 29, 2003

Saatchi's Big New Show At the age of 60, Charles Saatchi is embarking on his most ambitious project yet. "Halfway between Tates Britain and Modern, he is opening a new gallery. At 40,000 sq ft, it is larger than any venue he has managed before. In it he will showcase his major trophies - Damien Hirst's shark, Tracey Emin's bed, Jake and Dinos Chapman's vision of hell - and lots more. If he gets only a tenth of the 12 million people who walk along that stretch of river each year he will have increased his audience by 100 per cent. And, with an Ł8 a head entrance fee, the new gallery, which he has leased from a Japanese property company, could pay handsome dividends." The Telegraph (UK) 03/30/03

Why Approval For Polanski The Child Molester? Beth Gillin wonders why Hollywood was applauding Roman Polanski last week when he won an Oscar. "Wait a minute. Did they just give the Academy Award to a child molester? And why are the beautiful people giving him a standing ovation? For many watching the Oscars Sunday, it was an icky moment, marked by obscenely excessive applause. Polanski could not be there to pick up his gold statuette for directing The Pianist, because if he sets foot in this country, he'll be handcuffed and hauled off to prison for up to 50 years." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/30/03

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Iraqi Blogger Goes Silent The weblogger known as "Salam Pax" has a lot of readers worried for him. "For months, the mysterious Blogger of Baghdad, whose pseudonym translates as 'peace' in Arabic and Latin - and who is suspected by some of being a secret agent or a hacker - had chronicled the minutiae of life in a city on the edge of war... On Friday, Pax - a gay man in a repressive society, an atheist in a Muslim land, a lover of democracy but a hater of war - filed a worried dispatch as he awaited the first shock-and-awe assault on the city he cherishes." A short time later, the blog, one of the most widely-read on the web, went dark. So far, no one seems to know if Pax is dead or alive, free or imprisoned, or if he ever really existed at all. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/27/03

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Detective Fiction By Day, Opera By Night By day Donna Leon writes detective novels - 12 so far - and succesful thrillers at that. Successful enough, anyway, to fund her true passion, running a baroque opera company. By night she runs an opera company, largely funded from her life of crime. Not many of her readers know this, but it won't surprise them. Opera seeps into her books - their plots, their atmosphere - like dripping blood. Each one comes prefaced by a few lines of Mozartian libretto - usually from Cosi fan tutte, which for some reason seems to lend itself to the mechanics of murder-mystery even though it's an opera in which no one actually dies." The Telegraph (UK) 03/27/03

A Philanthropist On The Ropes Alberto Vilar, the philanthropist and opera-lover who has donated more than $300 million to arts organizations around the world, has missed mortgage payments on three vacation homes in Colorado, and local banks are foreclosing. Vilar, who was one of the first investors on the high-tech bandwagon of the 1990s, appears not to have gotten off in time to avoid heavy investment losses. In recent months, he has missed payments to several arts organizations to which he had pledges outstanding, and the current overdue mortgage payments reportedly total $2.74 million. Vilar is said to be furious with the banks' decision to foreclose. Denver Post 03/25/03

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Top Programmer Leaves CBC Adrian Mills, who was brought in last year to revamp the CBC's programming, has resigned from the public broadcaster. "Mills' departure was described by one observer as 'reassuring,' and it will certainly be applauded by those listeners who became disgruntled with CBC Radio's dramatic changes under his leadership." Mills had said his mandate was to go after a "younger, more diverse, audience. 'Canada is changing, and society has changed, so CBC Radio needs to make sure it is as relevant to future generations as it was to previous ones." National Post (Canada) 03/25/03

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Harvey's Way Harvey Weinstein is not a popular man in Hollywood. The Miramax cheif is known far and wide in the industry for being completely ruthless, infuriatingly single-minded, and unconcerned with such niceties as rules and taboos. He has been accused of trading favors and even cash for Oscar votes, but no one can deny that the strategy has worked. However, some in the business contend that Weinstein's constant overreaching and bullying PR campains on behalf of mediocre flicks are costing his studio's best films the recognition they deserve. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/23/03

Saatchi's New Showcase Collector and professional recluse Charles Saatchi will open a spectacular new public home for his vast collection of contemporary British art later this year, and early indications are that it will immediately become one of the UK's hottest art destinations. Its proximity to the Tate Modern is also sparking rumors of a not-so-friendly rivalry. But for every visitor who comes for the art, another will come to see if the gallery holds any revelations about the gruff and mysterious Saatchi himself. The Observer (UK) 03/23/03

The Paradox Of John Kim Bell John Kim Bell is a successful conductor, an outspoken advocate for the arts, and a Mohawk from aboriginal Quebec. You would think he'd be a role model in the First Nation community, but in fact, the opposite is true. Bell has a habit of being publicly critical of native leadership, and has sparred with national activists on the issues surrounding aboriginal rights. Adding to the controversy is the fact that Bell often makes sweeping pronouncements about what it will take to lift Canada's native people out of an endless cycle of poverty, contradicting and criticizing native leaders as if he himself had grown up on a reservation and clawed his way to respectability, which he didn't. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/23/03

Friday, March 21, 2003

Holmes To Head Atheneum Willard J. Holmes has been named director of Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum. "Holmes, 54, is deputy director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. His selection ends a five-month search begun after the surprise resignation of director Kate Sellers in October." Hartford Courant 03/21/03

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Alagna And Gheorghiu Leave Met Opera Because Of War The husband-and-wife team of soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Roberto Alagna have canceled their remaining performances of "Faust" at the Metropolitan Opera because of the war in Iraq. "They had war concerns and terrorism concerns." Nando Times (AP) 03/20/03

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

The Decline And Fall Of Wim Wenders Has director Wim Wenders hit bottom? Last week he was fired by his own production company. And "looking back over the past decade and then some, the director's exile from his own business operation seems less an aberration and more the latest bad news in what - the 'Buena Vista' movie aside - has been a relentless decline as a cinematic force." The Guardian (UK) 03/20/03

Portrait of a Patron It's not that most wealthy supporters of classical music don't like new and challenging works. It's just that, well, we all love our Beethoven, don't we, and so many of these young composers nowadays just insist on writing the most horrid, unlistenable stuff, and who wants to throw their money away on that? Kathryn Gould is an exception to the rule. An amateur musician and devoted lover of new music, she is pumping large amounts of her money into an effort to create a 'renaissance of new music' in Northern California. Her efforts will result in multiple high-profile performances of new works by orchestras around the Bay Area, at a time when most organizations are cutting back on commissioning. San Jose Mercury News 03/19/03

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Writers To Get Sheep Permissions Five notable writers will soon have the right to drive sheep through the city's main street. Liverpool city council formally votes at a special meeting tomorrow to honour Alan Bleasdale, Carla Lane, Willy Russell, Jimmy McGovern and Dame Beryl Bainbridge as freemen of the city. It's an honorary title, but it does carry the benefit of the sheep thing. And free rides on ferries... The Guardian (UK) 03/18/03

Monday, March 17, 2003

Caroline Michel Rises To The Top Caroline Michel has just been made managing director and publisher of HarperPress, the literary division of the publishing giant HarperCollins" where she'll be one of the most powerful women in publishing. "She has long since proved her doubters comprehensively wrong. But her new job will nevertheless demand all her promotional skills and should also test the depths of her seemingly bottomless supplies of optimism. To put it bluntly, the glaring problem with HarperCollins, as far as the bien pensants of British literary life are concerned, is that it's owned by Rupert Murdoch." The Observer (UK) 03/16/03

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Suzan-Lori Parks - Confidence To Find Your Own Way Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks' career is rolling at high speed. Last year she became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama for 'Topdog/Underdog.' On May 6, Random House will publish her first novel, 'Getting Mother's Body,' about a family's quest to dig up the jewelry supposedly buried in the grave of one of its members. The first printing is 100,000 copies." And her new play? Her new play has a name that ensures no mainstream paper will ever publish the title.
The New York Times 03/16/03

The Making Of John Adams Composer John Adams, at 56, "is now old enough that the major works of his youth and early maturity are coming into focus as bright, certain lights from a confused and confusing time." Lincoln Center is showcasing Adams with a festival - its first devoted to a living composer. "There will be concerts, films and ballets in four auditoriums as well as the first New York performances of Mr. Adams's most recent dramatic score, the ebullient Christmas opera-oratorio 'El Nińo,' at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Forget about Mostly Mozart: this is Absolutely and Adamantly Adams. The festival should help listeners recognize what makes Mr. Adams's music so special — and what made it so special right from the first." The New York Times 03/16/03

Friday, March 14, 2003

Robert Hughes On Trial Remotely When art critic Robert Hughes goes on trial next month in Australia charged with dangerous driving in a 1999 accident, he won't be in the courtroom. Instead he'll attend through a video link from the US. "Hughes' lawyer proposed the video appearance in January, telling the court it was uncomfortable for Hughes to travel because of injuries suffered in the accident." CourtTV 03/14/03

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Elderfield Appointed MoMA Chief Curator - "Most Significant Curatorial Post In Modern Art" The Museum of Modern Art has appointed John Elderfield as the museum's new chief curator of the department of painting and sculpture. Elderfield "succeeds Kirk Varnedoe, who organized "Matisse Picasso" with him, in what is generally recognized as the most significant curatorial post in modern art. It was first held by Alfred H. Barr Jr., the museum's visionary founding director." The New York Times 03/14/03

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Will It Be Dean Libeskind?...Nahhh Daniel Libeskind is much-rumored to be a candidate for the dean of architecture job at Columbia University. What are his chances? Not good, if fellow architects Steven Holl and Peter Eisenman have anything to do with it... New York Observer 03/12/03

Graphic Details Emerge In Polanski Case TheSmokingGun.com specializes in unearthing incriminating documents about celebrities. The site's latest revelation brings to light graphic testimony, previously sealed and unavailable to the public, from the statutory rape trial of director Roman Polanski, who is nominated for an Oscar this year. Polanski was accused of sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl, and the trial transcripts "include the girl testifying that the pair's illicit romps at Hollywood hot shot Jack Nicholson's house included anal and oral sex." The new information could derail Polanski's comeback bid at the Academy Awards, despite the now-39-year-old victim's insistence that she has forgiven him. New York Post 03/12/03

Barry On Keillor So what's Garrison Keillor really like? Don't ask Dave Barry: "I do know that he's a generous host, and very smart, and he can be funny as hell even when he's not on the radio. But he's not an easy guy to get close to." But Barry says that Keillor is one of the great comic geniuses of the age, and that his 'Humor Processor' is always running. Keillor has had his critics in recent days, but how many comics can produce two full hours of original material a week, every week for almost three decades, and perform it live without a hint of the arduousness of the process? Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Knight Ridder) 03/11/03

Monday, March 10, 2003

Judge Dismisses Writer's Claim For Multi-Million-Dollar "Finder's Fee" A New York judge has dismissed a claim by writer Hector Feliciano, who claimed he should get a "finder's fee" for helping to locate artwork looted by the Nazis in World War II. Feliciano "created an international sensation with his 1994 book, 'The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art,' which focused attention on the missing artworks. He maintained that he was entitled to 17.5 percent of the estimated $39 million value of the paintings, an amount he said was 'consistent with the standard art recovery fee of the industry'." The New York Times 03/10/03

Sunday, March 9, 2003

Millionaire Faces Opera Ball Ban Viennese high society is looking into how to ban millionaire playboy Richard Lugner from the famous annual Opera Ball next year. He outraged organizers this year by inviting Pamela Anderson and "turning the ball into a cheap PR stunt." "Lugner makes few pretensions to join the elite social set that wants him ousted from the ball, the highlight of the city’s social calendar. His packed-out press conferences usually revolve around discussions about the 'great breasts' of the women he plans to invite." Scotland On Sunday 03/09/03

Rushdie - A Glam Life Post-Fatwa As the play adaptation of Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children" comes to the United States after disappointing reviews in London, Rushdie describes life after the fatwa. "In these post-fatwa days, he said, he has an ordinary life. He doesn't need to say that it's ordinary, only compared with his years in hiding." The New York Times 03/09/03

Thursday, March 6, 2003

This Year's National Medal Of Arts Winners: Country singer George Jones, Motown legend Smokey Robinson, Florence Knoll Bassett, the designer and architect; Trisha Brown, the dancer and choreographer; Philippe de Montebello, the art historian and director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Uta Hagen, the actor and teacher; Lawrence Halprin, the landscape architect; the late Al Hirschfeld, the artist and show business caricaturist; and Ming Cho Lee, the set designer and educator. Washington Post 03/07/03

Music & Murder: The Life and Death of a Canadian Composer Twenty years ago this week, French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier was murdered in Paris by a teenage prostitute. "His grisly demise was the mirror opposite of his music, which often sparkles with a delicate and loving grandeur. And it endures. Most of his 48 completed pieces have been recorded... His output heightened Canada's international stature more than any other composer's. Dangerous living fuelled his inspiration, helping polish salacious experience into a diamond in sound. Yet it also proved his undoing." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/06/03

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Studio Libeskind: The Daniel And Nina Show Nina and Daniel Libeskind are a power couple. "The couple, who invite constant comparison to characters from Mike Myers' 'Sprockets' routine, do not look like the shark-suited developers or heavy-lidded bureaucrats who have dominated the downtown-redevelopment story. But in the decade or so since Daniel, the distinguished professor, and Nina, who shares a starring role in Studio Daniel Libeskind as the driving force of its business side, have been designing actual buildings rather than promoting architectural education, they have become a political force to be reckoned with." New York Observer 03/05/03

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

The Woman Behind KaZaa Nikki Hemming is the 36-year-old chief executive officer of Sharman Networks, Kazaa’s parent company. It is based on Sydney’s north shore with a staff of 18. Sharman is being sued by Hollywood and the American music industry for alleged breach of copyright over pirated music and movies. But Kazaa is fighting back, counter-suing household names such as EMI, Sony, Warner and Disney for alleged collusion and anti-competitive conduct." Hemming says she'll win, and that she still buys CDs and goes to the theatre for movies.... The Age (Melbourne) 03/05/03

Monday, March 3, 2003

Atlanta Opera GM Resigns Russell Allen has resigned as general manager of the Atlanta Opera. "Allen suffered a heart attack Aug. 13 and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery two days later. His recuperation time was brief, however, as he was back on the job by the end of September." At;lanta Journal-Constitution 03/04/03

Ronald Lauder - Looted Art Champion Faces Question About Own Collection "As chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder has been a patron of scattered efforts to help Jews reclaim what had been theirs. In testimony before Congress, he called these stolen artworks 'the last prisoners of war.' But in an interview he also conceded that he had artworks in his collection whose provenance was at best ambiguous and at worst unknowable." The New York Times 02/27/03

Sunday, March 2, 2003

Meet Mr. Post-Brustein Robert Woodruff has a tough job - succeeding the legendary Robert Brustein as director of American Reportory Theatre in Cambridge. Some thought the director and the new job might not be a good fit. But "offstage, stripped of the spotlight, the outlaw director comes across as surprisingly regular. For all his Johnny Cash cool, he is equal parts Woody Allen: a slightly neurotic New Yorker overworked and unwilling to rest until every detail is in place. Strip away a few sexy hobbies - riding his BMW motorcycle, hiking to 18,000 feet in Tibet - and Robert Woodruff's life outside the theater begins to sound pretty bland. In fact, there is little in his life that doesn't involve theater." Boston Globe 03/02/03

Checking In With Frank Gehry Architect Frank Gehry's laid-back air "is a large part of the appeal of his architecture. His buildings, assertive and emphatic though they are, are generous and open to the unexpected. The laidback air is also partly fictional, as he has a fierce competitive and creative will that shows no sign of relenting." He's designing a new house for himself in Los Angeles. And he's up for a couple new projects in London. In the meantime there's the new Disney Hall getting set to open in LA... London Evening Standard 02/28/03

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