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People talk 11/28/01

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Warehouse theater director stepping down

Sam Mendes will step down next November as artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse theater after 10 years, during which he turned a 251-seat playhouse into an international powerhouse.

"I just want to be able to have some time off," Mendes, 36, told The Associated Press. "At a certain point, you've done all your favorite plays -- all the things that were in your mind to do -- and you think someone else should have a shot; that's what I feel."

Before he goes, Mendes will direct a repertory season of two classics: Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya," both opening next October. English actor Simon Russell Beale will head both casts, with an ensemble expected to include Nicole Kidman, who has already appeared to much excitement at the Donmar in David Hare's "The Blue Room."

That production is just one of several the theater has transferred successfully to Broadway, where a Donmar-spawned revival of Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" won three Tony Awards two seasons ago. Mendes' Broadway revival of "Cabaret" -- a musical he first staged at the Donmar -- is still running in New York after 3 1/2 years.

Mendes announced his career plans amid separate British press interest in his romance with "Titanic" star Kate Winslet, 26, whom Mendes met when she came to discuss appearing at the Donmar in a play. (For the moment, says the director, she has decided not to do so.)

On the film front, Mendes is putting the finishing touches on his sophomore directing effort, "The Road to Perdition." Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Alfred Molina and Jude Law, the film is expected to have its world premiere in May at the Cannes Festival.

Mendes won a directing Oscar for 1999's "American Beauty."

Loren receives Italian achievement awardSophia Loren paid tribute to Italian director Vittorio De Sica as she and a cast of Italian movie greats gathered at the presidential palace to receive achievement awards named in De Sica's honor.

Loren recalled the first time she met De Sica, director of 1948's "The Bicycle Thief," at Rome's Cinecitta studios.

"I was 15 1/2, and we were in Cinecitta; I was doing a small part in a film, he saw me, looked at me, and said, 'We'll see each other very soon.'

"Perhaps he was thinking of 'The Gold of Naples,"' Loren recalled, referring to her role as a pizza maker in De Sica's 1954 film.

Also receiving honors Monday at the Quirinale palace were directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Franco Zeffirelli and Michelangelo Antonioni, and other masters of Italian cinema.

The awards were presented in a ceremony to honor the 100th anniversary of De Sica's birth. He died in 1974.

"To receive this award has been very moving," Loren, 67, said. "I would have wanted Vittorio by my side."

Frampton sponsoring benefit concertThe Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have prompted Peter Frampton, now a resident of suburban Cincinnati, to sponsor a benefit concert.

The 51-year-old singer will headline the "Cincinnati USA for Relief" concert on Dec. 9 at the Taft Theatre.

Frampton, a native of England, also said he intends to become a U.S. citizen.

"Because of what's happened, everyone feels a little more American since Sept. 11," he said. "I've got the forms to start the process to become an American citizen. I will become one as soon as I can."

Frampton's hits include 1976's "Frampton Comes Alive!" He began his musical career with the British rock band Humble Pie in the late 1960s. Married to Tina Elfers of suburban Cincinnati, he's spent most of his time in the United States in recent years.

"I know we won't raise as much money as some of those other concerts," Frampton said. "That's not the idea." - AP


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