- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Leo’s gal pal on coveted SI cover

The world knows a lot more about Bar Refaeli today than it did yesterday, including where her tiny tan line falls.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit unveiled the 23-year-old Israeli, who has been romantically linked to Leonardo DiCaprio, as a first-time cover girl on Tuesday.

This gig, more than top fashion or entertainment magazines, can be career-altering as it puts a model’s face (not to mention, her fantastically toned body) in front of millions of eyeballs, appealing to both men and women, sports fans and fashionistas.

It’s the cover that matters most, says SI group editor Terry McDonell, but each model 19 for this issue gets an equal shot at the cover. Miss Refaeli wears a string bikini by Missoni and the strings on the bikini bottom are being tugged south.

“The cover has to reflect the athleticism and sexiness of the culture. This photo is modern, her hair and swimsuit look natural. You see her freckles. Her body is amazing and she looks intelligent,” Miss McDonell said.

It’s also purposeful, he noted, that the models have healthy, sometimes curvy, figures. “A skinny waif won’t work here.”

Miss McDonell, along with Swimsuit editor Diane Smith and SI creative director Steve Hoffman, sifted through 90,000 photos this year. In consumer testing, it’s inevitable that the raciest one is the favorite, but that’s not the one that lands on the front. “There are marketplace considerations,” Miss McDonell explained. “I want to be at the front of the store, not the back.”

Miss Refaeli told Associated Press that she had the feeling that this particular shot of her in the water on Canouan Island in the Grenadines was her chance to be on the front. “This is the one I felt the most comfortable with,” said Miss Refaeli, who twice before was featured on the inside pages of the magazine. “You have the beach, blue water and a body. That’s it. I liked that the top of the suit was on.”

Museum head chosen

The Smithsonian has named scholar Johnnetta B. Cole as director of its National Museum of African Art. She will start her new job on March 2, succeeding Sharon F. Patton, who left in January.

Ms. Cole currently leads an eponymous institute devoted to diversity in the workplace at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., where she served as college president from 2002 to 2007. Before that, she taught anthropology, women’s studies and African-American studies at Emory University in Atlanta. From 1987 to 1997, Ms. Cole was president of Spelman College in Atlanta, where her appointment generated a $20 million gift from actor Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille.

She has served on the advisory board of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture since its inception and has worked with a number of Smithsonian programs since the mid-1980s.

“Serving as the director of this museum will bring together my passion for African art, respect for an anthropological knowledge of the people and cultures of the African continent and my involvement in the world of education,” Ms. Cole says.

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