- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Back to school

British rock star Sting, a schoolteacher way back when, surprised students in a music composition class at the University of Illinois at Chicago Monday, barging in with MTV cameras for a talk and jam session.

The students, who had been told their regular class was going to be filmed for a promotional video for the university, erupted into cheers as Sting and his band entered through a side door, Reuters News Agency reports.

Sting kicked off the “lecture” with the Police hit “Message in a Bottle” and later took questions, discussing unusual time signatures, music influences and composition techniques.

“A blank page terrifies me; that’s why I tour so much,” Sting said of his songwriting experience. “The more I figure out about music, the more I realize I haven’t a clue.”

Brando’s pricey digs

An island in French Polynesia, once owned by the late Marlon Brando, is set to become a $40 million, 30-bungalow luxury resort, according to the BBC. It’s to be called, simply, the Brando.

Mr. Brando bought Tetiaroa, the 150-acre atoll, in 1965 after filming “Mutiny on the Bounty” nearby.

According to the report, development company Tahiti Beachcomber wants to open the Brando by 2008.

Jo Ann Corrales, Mr. Brando’s ex-business manager, has balked at the plan, claiming the actor left part of the island to singer Michael Jackson (who probably could use the money right about now).

The island’s only current inhabitant is Mr. Brando’s son, Teihotu, one of his children with ex-wife Tarita Teriipia.

Mr. Brando “wanted a place where his friends could escape the paparazzi and find some inner peace,” Richard Bailey, chief executive of Tahiti Beachcomber, told the BBC.

His kind of town

Embattled maestro Riccardo Muti, the recently resigned music director of Milan’s La Scala opera house, says he is considering an offer from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

“They have asked me to consider their offer,” Mr. Muti told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica yesterday. “Since we are dealing with one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, I greatly appreciated their invitation.”

“For now, I don’t want to make other statements,” Mr. Muti added, noting that the Chicago orchestra’s current music director, Daniel Barenboim, is due to leave his post next year.

Bad vibrations

Mark Wahlberg took a few elliptical swipes at rapper and “8 Mile” actor Eminem and “Good Will Hunting” screenwriters Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in an interview with Details magazine for overidealizing their hardscrabble backgrounds.

The 33-year-old actor — who, incidentally, is working alongside Mr. Damon in Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming film, “The Departed,” says: “My childhood wasn’t like some ‘8 Mile’ [thing] where you go and have a rap-off. Or like ‘West Side Story,’ where you all start dancing….

“If I make a film about my upbringing, it’s going to be about more than a … kid doing math, like in ‘Good Will Hunting,’ you know what I mean?”

Fame inflation

We thought real estate was scarce in Los Angeles. We were wrong. Ryan Seacrest is getting a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame today.

However, the “American Idol” host is being honored not for his stint on the popular reality-TV contest, but for achievements in radio broadcasting, an industry in which he has worked since age 16. Mr. Seacrest doubles as host of “American Top 40,” the national radio countdown he inherited from Casey Kasem, and the weekday morning drive show on Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM.

Larry King and Merv Griffin will be on hand as guest speakers at the ceremony.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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