- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003

Pond-crossing promotion

Associated Press

Best-selling singer Dido introduced her new album yesterday, playing the first of a planned pair of trans-Atlantic shows in London and then jetting to New York for a second performance.

Dido was promoting “Life for Rent,” which went on sale in British stores yesterday and hits U.S. shelves today. The album already has reached No. 1 on Amazon.com’s British music site and hit third on the U.S. site.



She played an hourlong acoustic set for fans yesterday morning in the Virgin music store on London’s Oxford Street before leaving for Heathrow airport.

Then she took a chartered plane to New York, where she planned to play later in the day at a Virgin store in Manhattan’s Union Square.

Dido, 30, sang three songs from her new album, including the current hit “White Flag,” along with a rendition of “Thank You,” from her debut album.

“I’ve been waiting and waiting for this day, and it’s a little bit surreal,” she said. “It’s so much fun, it’s making me giggle. I feel like a princess today.”

Iraqi arts

The reconstruction of Iraq isn’t just about bricks and mortar; after decades of tyranny, the nation’s cultural life needs rebuilding, too.

To that end, Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser traveled to the war-torn nation with Patricia S. Harrison, a State Department cultural ambassador, to discuss ways to boost Iraqi artists.

“It’s a very diverse group,” Mr. Kaiser told The Washington Times. “I was surprised at how vital the contemporary arts was.”

The delegation met last week with the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra to consider a cultural exchange program. The first step: a joint concert with maestro Leonard Slatkin, the National Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma.

The concert will be held at the Kennedy Center in December, Mr. Kaiser said.

“Iraqi people need a lot of healing; they need art now, even more than they have in the past,” he said. “Art is a wonderful way to learn about each other’s cultures. It starts a dialogue.”

Viva Italia

Both Claudia Cardinale and Roberto Benigni, stars of Italian screen, are expected in Washington for an Italian film festival next month.

Speaking at a press conference recently at Cafe Milano, festival creator Pascal Vicedomini, secretary general of the Capri in the World Institute, promised a broad range of work for festival screening.

Ms. Cardinale will attend the Washington Italia Film & Music Festival being held for the second year to celebrate Italy’s achievements in cinema. From Oct. 22 to 26, two dozen or more screenings will be shown to the public free of charge at Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge.

Mr. Benigni has committed only for the annual National Italian American Foundation gala on Oct. 25. As part of the festival, a symposium on the general subject of that country’s film is planned — in Italian — on the afternoon of Oct. 24 at Catholic University.

The festival also plans a tribute to famed producer Dino di Laurentis, still active at age 84 and busy working with director Baz Luhrmann on “Alexander the Great.”

Great curse

The curse of Great White continues. The ‘80s metal band associated with a deadly Rhode Island nightclub fire has spread its bad juju to the highways.

Drummer Derrick Pontier was involved in a three-vehicle accident Saturday a few hours before a concert in Allentown, Pa., according to the Associated Press.

He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and was released.

PoIice said an oncoming car crossed the center line and crashed into Mr. Pontier’s vehicle. That driver was listed in critical condition. Mr. Pontier’s car slammed into another vehicle, and the condition of that driver wasn’t known.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff, wire and Web reports.

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