- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Backing Polanski

Top film directors across the world rallied around Roman Polanksi on Monday, declaring themselves “astonished” at the arrest of the filmmaker over a 1977 underage sex case.

According to Agence France-Presse, Michael Mann, Wim Wenders and Pedro Almodovar were among more than 70 film-industry figures who signed a petition in protest at the detention of the Polish-French director Saturday in Zurich.

“We demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski,” urged the petition, which was coordinated from France by SACD, an organization which represents performance and visual artists.

Names were piling up on the petition late Monday, AFP said. The list included directors Julian Schnabel, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Walter Salles and Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton.

Mr. Polanski, who directed “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist,” was detained as he arrived to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich film festival.

The director, 76, pleaded guilty three decades ago to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. His lawyer said Monday he had refused to be extradited from Switzerland to the United States. He fled the U.S in 1978 before sentencing on a charge in the underage sex case and has never returned - even missing an Academy Award for “The Pianist” in 2003.

Mourning Lucy

Lucy Vodden, who provided the inspiration for the Beatles‘ classic song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” died Sept. 22 after a long battle with lupus. She was 46.

Her death was announced Monday by St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, where she had been treated for the chronic disease for more than five years, and by her husband, Ross Vodden.

Mrs. Vodden’s connection to the Beatles dates back to her early days, when she made friends with schoolmate Julian Lennon, John Lennon’s son, Associated Press reports. Julian Lennon, then 4 years old, came home from school with a drawing one day, showed it to his father, and said it was “Lucy in the sky With Diamonds.”

At the time, John Lennon was gathering material for his contributions to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” a landmark album released to worldwide acclaim in 1967. Rock music critics thought the song’s title was a veiled reference to LSD, but John Lennon always claimed the phrase came from his son.

Agog over Gaga

Lady Gaga is already famous, but she’s being honored as Billboard’s “Rising Star” at the trade publication’s annual Women in Music event this week.

Lady Gaga’s debut CD “The Fame” has sold more than 1 million copies since its release late last year, and she’s had two No. 1 singles with “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.” In November, she kicks off a joint tour with Kanye West, Associated Press reports.

Lady Gaga will be honored along with Beyonce on Friday. Beyonce was named “Woman of the Year.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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