- - Monday, January 2, 2012

Leopold Hawelka, legendary Viennese cafe owner, dies

Andy Warhol stopped by for a cup of his coffee. So did princes, paupers, playwrights, poets and untold thousands for whom a visit to Vienna was unthinkable without a cup of steaming brew served by the bow-tied little man with the perpetual dancing smile.

In this city of more than 1,900 cafes, Leopold Hawelka was an icon, as much part of Cafe Hawelka as its tables - scarred by burned-out cigarettes, their marble tops worn smooth by the elbows of four generations. He served tourists, the rich and the famous and the neediest of the needy - the ragged Viennese masses who crowded his establishment over a free glass of water to escape the cold of their bombed-out city after World War II.

Mr. Hawelka’s daughter, Herta, said he died in his sleep and “without pain” Thursday at age 100 - leaving behind a legacy as intimately linked with the city as any of its splendid palaces or sumptuous art collections.

Cafe Hawelka was never posh, yet while costly makeovers left other cafes soulless, Hawelka’s grew in charm with each layer of patina laid down over the more than 70 years of ungentrified existence that left it little changed from the bleak postwar days.

Though his visits grew increasingly rare as he neared 100, Mr. Hawelka left no doubt who was in charge when he did drop by.

“He remains our director-general,” said grandson Michael Hawelka earlier this year. “Whenever he is here, he’s the boss.”

It was this sense of tradition that made Cafe Hawelka special - along with reminiscences from the unassuming owner and his late wife, Josefine. Some of their best stories stretched back to the immediate postwar years, when - split into Soviet, United States, British and French zones - Vienna was the place of intrigue reflected by the film classic “The Third Man.”

Paying tribute to the man and his legacy, Austrian Culture Minister Claudia Schmied described him Thursday as a “legend of coffeehouse culture.”

Michael Jordan engaged to longtime girlfriend

Michael Jordan is engaged to longtime girlfriend Yvette Prieto, a Cuban-American model he has been dating for three years, the Associated Press reports.

Publicist Estee Portnoy confirmed the news, first reported by WCNC in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday.

The Bobcats owner got engaged over Christmas weekend. No wedding date has been set.

This will be Mr. Jordan’s second marriage. He married Juanita Vanoy in September 1989, and they divorced in 2006. They have two sons, Jeffrey Michael and Marcus James, and a daughter, Jasmine.

Actress Patricia Clarkson to lead Carnival parade

Actress Patricia Clarkson will lead the Carnival parade of the Krewe of Muses in her hometown of New Orleans, according to the Associated Press.

The star of the 2010 thriller “Shutter Island” and the 2003 drama “Pieces of April” will step into a whimsical limelight by riding on a red fiber-optic-lit float shaped like a high-heeled shoe.

The Krewe of Muses is an all-women’s organization that parades through New Orleans on Feb. 16.

The krewe traditionally selects an honorary rider who exemplifies a muse from Greek mythology, such as dance, poetry or music. For 2012, the club said it chose Miss Clarkson as its honorary “EveryMuse” because she embodies the spirit of all muses.

Judge sides with studio in dispute over movie profits

Paramount tentatively has prevailed in a legal dispute with a Morgan Stanley-backed film-finance entity that claims it was cheated out of profits from “No Country for Old Men” because of a hefty payment to actor Tommy Lee Jones.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount, which distributed the 2007 best-picture Oscar winner via its Paramount Vantage label, was forced to pay Mr. Jones a $17.5 million box-office bonus when an arbitrator found the studio’s lawyers had made an error in drafting Mr. Jones’ deal to star in the movie. (The lawyers ultimately paid a $2.6 settlement to the studio for the error.)

Morgan Stanley’s Marathon Funding, which had a multipicture financing deal with Paramount that included “No Country,” later cried foul, claiming its arrangement with the now-shuttered Paramount Vantage entitled it to 25 percent of “net distribution revenue” from the movie.

The case went to trial in front of L.A. Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney, who on Dec. 22 issued a tentative ruling siding with the studio. The ruling still must be confirmed, but judges rarely alter their tentative decisions significantly.

Life sentence upheld for rapper C-Murder

A Louisiana appeals court has upheld the murder conviction and life sentence for rapper C-Murder, the Associated Press reports.

C-Murder, whose real name is Corey Miller, was convicted of shooting a teenager to death in 2002.

A three-judge panel from the state’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected Miller’s argument that he didn’t get a fair trial.

In 2009, a jury convicted Miller of second-degree murder for shooting 16-year-old Steve Thomas during a confrontation at a nightclub.

Miller claims the judge who presided over his trial allowed jurors to hear prejudicial and unsubstantiated testimony that he threatened witnesses to the shooting. He also accused prosecutors of systematically eliminating black people from the jury.

The 5th Circuit rejected those arguments.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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