- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stewart’s Oscar’s gig

Satirist and talk-show host Jon Stewart is set to host the Oscars next year, likely giving Hollywood’s biggest night out a political flavor in an election year, Agence France-Presse notes.

Mr. Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” hosted the gala ceremony in 2006, most memorably with a montage about homosexual cowboys themed on “Brokeback Mountain,” one of the favorites for best picture that year.

In a statement yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Mr. Stewart was a natural choice to host the glittering gala, where a slew of weighty political films could be in contention.

“Jon was a terrific host for the 78th awards,” said Gil Cates, producer of the Oscars telecast. “He is smart, quick, funny, loves movies and is a great guy. What else could one ask for?”

Mr. Stewart, 44, who takes over from this year’s host, Ellen DeGeneres, said he was “thrilled to be asked to host the Academy Awards for the second time because, as they say, the third time’s a charm.”

Led Zeppelin’s comeback

Led Zeppelin’s rock legends yesterday announced plans for a one-time concert at London’s O2 arena Nov. 26, Associated Press reports.

The three surviving members of the hard-rocking British band will play together for the first time in 19 years in tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, late founder of the Atlantic Records label, who signed the group in 1968.

The rock giants split in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham, who choked on his own vomit following a drinking binge.

Singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones, with Mr. Bonham’s son Jason on drums, will headline the gig.

Signature’s coup

Signature Theatre’s first-ever production of Stephen Sondheim’s seldom-performed “Merrily We Roll Along” opened the company’s 18th season Monday with a special guest in the audience — Anne Kaufman Schneider, daughter of George S. Kaufman, upon whose play the 1981 musical is based. Mr. Kaufman (1889-1961) teamed with Moss Hart for the play. The duo had many well-known dramatic works together, including the classic “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Ms. Schneider, a vigorous 82, has often come to Washington from her home in New York for run-throughs of her father’s plays, especially his musical theater creations. (Arena Stage did “Merrily” some time ago, among his other works.)

“Sondheim is a genius,” she said, hailing the show as a daring but difficult project during the champagne celebration following the performance. Eric Schaeffer, Signature’s artistic director, used a revised 1992 version for the current staging, which he also directed for the Kennedy Center’s 2002 Sondheim Festival. Mr. Sondheim is expected to visit Signature later this month. “Merrily” runs through Oct. 14.

Memorial concert

The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall is the setting for Monday’s public memorial service and music program in honor of late arts patron Gilbert Mead. As philanthropists, Mr. Mead and his widow, Jaylee Mead, gave record amounts to local theaters and other performing-arts institutions. The program, set for 6 p.m. as part of the center’s free Millennium Stage project, will feature some of Mr. Mead’s favorite numbers performed by artists from the Washington area as well as New York and California. Jon Kalbfleisch and George Fulginiti-Shakar are the music directors.

VIP guest

Tonight, the one and only Sean “Diddy” Combs will showcase fashions from his Sean John line at the city’s posh Ibiza nightclub in Northeast. Doors open at 9 p.m., with Diddy expected to arrive at 11.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee, Ann Geracimos and Jenny Mayo from staff and wire reports.

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