People talk 9B

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Mayor O'Malley a natural for the part

BALTIMORE -- Mayor Martin O'Malley says his role in a new John Travolta film, "Ladder 49," wasn't much of a stretch -- he played the part of a mayor.

"I never came out of character," O'Malley said.

His one day of work Thursday garnered him membership in the Screen Actors Guild and a $650 paycheck. O'Malley said he will donate the money to the Baltimore fire department's foundation.

In the scene, O'Malley's character bestows awards on two firefighters -- played by Joaquin Phoenix and Robert Patrick -- who rescued a child.

Whether O'Malley makes it to the big screen depends on editing. The film is scheduled to wrap in Baltimore on July 3.

"He took direction very well," said director Jay Russell. "He's very comfortable in front of the camera."

But Russell added: "He shouldn't give up his day job."

Playing dress-up suits Iowa's Gov. Vilsack

DES MOINES, Iowa -- In the past, Gov. Tom Vilsack dressed as the Mad Hatter from "Alice in Wonderland," the scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz," the crocodile from "Peter Pan" and Winnie the Pooh.

Today he'll be Robin Hood's sidekick Friar Tuck -- preferring a cleric's garb to tights, said his wife, Christie Vilsack, who will dress as Maid Marian for an annual literacy promotion event at the governor's mansion.

Each year, Tom Vilsack participates in the event, in which his wife selects a children's book and asks him to join her in dressing up as one of the book's characters.

In 2001, when the governor dressed as the crocodile, he was photographed as a father tried to hand him his crying child.

"I don't think he'll scare anybody this year," Christie Vilsack said.-- From wire reports

Carson's Nebraska home still up for bid

NORFOLK, Neb. -- A dozen bids made on an Internet auction site for Johnny Carson's boyhood home were rejected by owners because they were too low.

The home of the former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" has been for sale on eBay for a month.

The highest of 12 bids was $154,400, only $4,400 above what owners Jim Pruett and Rick Runge paid for the house.

"I'm not going to give up after 30 days," Pruett said.

Pruett said the house will again be listed on the auction site in hopes of a higher bid. They also may try their luck with a real estate agent.

He also will contact the city about buying the house, possibly for a museum, or the University of Nebraska.

Carson attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before getting his start in broadcasting at an Omaha radio station.

Pruett and Runge bought the house in March. They put the home on virtual market after it was refurbished.

A royal run for charity

AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan's Queen Rania ran in a charity fund-raising event to show her support for a new U.S.-led effort to forge peace in the Middle East.

Rania finished third among more than 100 women that participated in the 10-kilometer run Friday through Amman.

The run was organized for the benefit of the Society for Care of Neurological Patients, which provides financial assistance for patients.

Rania's office said she participated in the run to show her "dedication and commitment" to peace. The runners all wore shirts printed with the word "peace."

Her husband, King Abdullah, will host a summit Tuesday that will bring together President Bush, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Jazz festival pays tribute to Chick Corea

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico is honoring Chick Corea at its annual jazz festival, which runs through Sunday.

The 13th edition of the Puerto Rico Jazzfest, which began Thursday, is a tribute to the 61-year-old pianist-composer for his contributions to jazz and his connections to Latin culture, organizers said.

"Chick's blood is warmed by the Latin rhythms," festival producer Luis Alvarez said this week during a news conference with the artists.

Corea differed. "It's difficult to explain music by blood. It's more easy to explain music by spirit. It could be anything coming from anybody at any time."

The festival is being held at the Tito Puente Amphitheater in San Juan. Other performers include saxophonist-clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, trombonist William Cepeda, vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Makoto Ozone.


SAN FRANCISCO -- After five years without a permanent music director, the San Francisco Ballet has hired Andrew Mogrelia to conduct its orchestra.

Mogrelia, who has a long history with several dance companies, was one of six guest conductors who led the ballet's orchestra this season, the ballet said Thursday.

Mogrelia, 44, a native of Wales, is the former conductor in residence at the Birmingham Conservatoire in Britain. He also has conducted for the American Ballet Theatre and national ballet companies in England and the Netherlands.

The appointment comes after a long audition process that began when Denis de Coteau stepped down in 1998 because of failing health.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- To paraphrase his hit song "Shaft" -- who's the soul singer with two songs restored to the concert film "Wattstax"?

Hayes. Isaac Hayes.

His performances of "Theme From 'Shaft"' and "Soulsville" were eliminated from the final version of "Wattstax" in 1973 due to a copyright dispute. But the finale footage has been replaced for a 30th-anniversary version, which is set for a limited theatrical run starting June 6.

The film was originally billed as the "black Woodstock," edited from a seven-hour concert for the benefit of the Watts Summer Festival held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in August 1972. More than 110,000 people were in attendance, according to the movie's producers.

Other artists who performed were the Staple Sisters, the Bar-Kays, Albert King and Rufus Thomas.

"Wattstax," which celebrated the music of Stax Records, features concert footage interspersed with commentary from comedian Richard Pryor.

"Wattstax: The Special Edition" will also feature remastered picture and sound.

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PETERBOROUGH, N.H. (AP) -- The MacDowell Colony has awarded its Edward MacDowell Medal to choreographer-dancer Merce Cunningham.

The prestigious award goes annually to an artist who's made an outstanding contribution to the arts. Cunningham, 84, has choreographed more than 150 dances for his Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and he's created works for the New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre and the Paris Opera Ballet.

Cunningham will receive the award Aug. 17 at The MacDowell Colony, it was announced Wednesday. The Peterborough retreat provides a private location for more than 240 writers, composers, artists, photographers and filmmakers to pursue their creative work.

Medal Day is the one day of the year when the artist colony is open to the public.

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