- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Berenice Bejo, co-star of the hit French silent movie “The Artist,” is to host the Cannes Film Festival’s opening and closing ceremonies next month, the event’s chairman told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.

Gilles Jacob confirmed reports that the 35-year-old actress, who won a Cesar Award at home as well as an Oscar nomination for her part in the black-and-white movie, will be mistress of ceremonies in the Riviera city May 16 and 27.

Cannes organizers are to announce the 20-odd films in the official competition at a news conference in Paris on Thursday, with just less than a month to go before the world’s top movie showcase.

Mr. Jacob had planned to announce Ms. Bejo’s role Thursday, but Twitter had been abuzz since the French newspaper Le Parisien reported she could host the event.

“This kind of announcement would normally be made by institutions, rather than by agents,” he said.

“But her smile is sure to win everyone over,” he added, insisting he was not upset by the leak.

The French actress - who was born in Argentina and speaks fluent Spanish as well as English - is married to “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius. The film dominated this year’s Oscars with five awards, including best picture.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing concerts in Russia

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of world-renowned conductor Riccardo Muti is performing in Russia for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Muti and the U.S. ambassador described the visit as part of President Obama’s efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia.

He said Chicago, the hometown of the U.S. president, has become “one of the symbols where all the people in the world look, hoping that the world … can reach a future of peace and mutual understanding.”

The orchestra Wednesday was to perform the first of two concerts at the Moscow Conservatory and then travel to St. Petersburg for a single concert Saturday.

About half of the musicians were with the orchestra when it last performed in Moscow in November 1990.

Mraz keeping dark tunes under wraps, for now

Don’t let Jason Mraz’s optimistic demeanor fool you: He can be dark, and he’s got songs to prove it. You just may never hear them.

The singer-songwriter, known for feel-good hits such as “I’m Yours” and “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry),” said he has recorded heavier tunes that remain on his laptop. He chooses not to share them with fans, partly because he doesn’t want to tour with a collection of sad songs.

In the process of creating the positive tunes, he said he comes up with the depressing ones first.

“I have to get a lot of out me first before I can get to that place … where I can choose to celebrate life,” he said. “It’s those celebrating songs that end up on the album.”

Mr. Mraz, 34, said he would like release his melancholy material but is still searching for the right way to present it.

He has an 8-year-old song that he calls both “beautiful” and “heavy,” and he’s reworking it so that it may one day see the light of day.

“I’d rather uplift and inspire, and you can also do that in darker tunes,” he said. “I have to carefully place those and I feel the fewer, the better.”

Security guard arrested in Tom Petty guitar theft

It was a heartbreaker for Tom Petty and the band when someone stole five of their precious guitars from a soundstage, but it was music to their ears when police in Southern California announced Tuesday that the instruments had been recovered and a security guard was under arrest.

Police identified the arrested man as Daryl Emmette Washington, 51, of Los Angeles, a private security guard at the Culver Studios lot.

Police Chief Don Pedersen said the break in the case came when the suspect sold one of the guitars at a Hollywood pawnshop for $250.

“Mr. Petty would have joined us, but he’s preparing for a concert in Denver,” said Chief Pedersen, who described the stolen guitars as collectively worth $100,000.

A message seeking comment from the band’s publicist, Jim Merlis, was not immediately returned.

The instruments were reported stolen April 12 from Culver Studios, a sprawling complex of sound stages west of downtown Los Angeles where Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had been rehearsing for an upcoming tour.

On its website, the band offered a “no questions asked” $7,500 reward for information leading to the return of the instruments.

Kitty Kelley to write text for Kennedy photo book

Kitty Kelley’s next book project will be “heartwarming,” her publisher promises.

The author of gossipy best-sellers about Frank Sinatra, Jacqueline Kennedy and others is providing the text to “Capturing Camelot,” a collection of photographs by her friend Stanley Tretick.

Tretick, who died in 1999, covered the White House for Look magazine while John F. Kennedy was in office. He took many pictures of the president and his children that helped define JFK’s image as a family man.

Thomas Dunne Books is releasing “Capturing Camelot” in November. The publisher announced Wednesday that Ms. Kelly, who manages Tretick’s estate, would contribute an “insightful, heartwarming essay” about the photographer and the president.

Compiled from Web and wire reports