- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Slatkin to leave NSO

Leonard Slatkin, 60, music director of Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra since 1996, yesterday announced his intention to step down from that position at the end of the 2007-08 concert season.

Though the announcement seemed sudden, some suspicion had been aroused in 2000 when he took on the additional post of chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. There, he won plaudits for becoming the first American to lead the orchestra in the “Last Night” concerts of the popular Proms series. He recently left that post, however.

During his tenure at the NSO, Mr. Slatkin dramatically raised the caliber of the once-anemic orchestra, adding superb new musicians, substantially expanding the ensemble’s once-tired repertoire and regularly premiering new works by American composers. He has championed the controversial notion that symphonic film music should be more frequently heard in the concert hall and recently filmed a TV series for the BBC on the migration of serious European composers to Hollywood.

Mr. Slatkin’s and the NSO’s future moves are uncertain. He has recently been a regular guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic, pumping up the rumor mill in the Big Apple. But current Philharmonic music director Lorin Maazel seems firmly ensconced in that orchestra’s top slot.

By T.L. Ponick

Virtual lawsuit

Let’s play a game of geographical connect the dots: Fugitive director Roman Polanksi is trying to sue the New York-based magazine Vanity Fair by using British courts and testifying via video link from France, where he now lives.

Mr. Polanski, who fled this country in 1977 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, could be handed over to the United States if he comes to Britain, the BBC reports, because of an extradition agreement between the two countries.

His beef with Vanity Fair is over an article it published in 2002 claiming that Mr. Polanski seduced a woman while on his way to the funeral of his actress wife, Sharon Tate, who was murdered in 1969.

So far, the defamation suit has been unsuccessful, but Mr. Polanksi’s lawyer, Richard Spearman, recently appealed to the House of Lords, saying, “This leaves the case in a mess and a situation where a defendant can get away with libel scot-free.”

Viva Anjelica

If it were up to Anjelica Huston, more Latin American films would be shown in U.S. theaters.

“A lot of the big American films are just not as interesting to me as the ones made south of the border,” Miss Huston told Associated Press at Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas.

The weeklong event showcased 52 feature films, shorts and documentaries, most of them made in Mexico and South America.

Miss Huston, the daughter of the late director John Huston, said she was especially impressed by the innovative style of filmmakers such as “Y Tu Mama Tambien” director Alfonso Cuaron.

“They’re rebels in many ways,” she said. “Latin American directors are mavericks, like my father was, able to work with limited budgets to create sets and scenes, and put to use new methods and techniques you would never find in a big-budget production.”

Three’s company

Despite vowing never to replace Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the two surviving members of TLC are looking for a temporary fill-in for the rapper who died in a car crash more than two years ago.

Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins have hooked up with UPN for a reality series aimed at finding a new third wheel, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

“We want to find someone with the right chemistry and magic to work with us,” the duo said. “We have been blessed with great success, and this is a chance for our fans to join us as we give someone a chance… to fulfill their dreams.”

Leggo my yoga

Oscar-winning “Pulp Fiction” screenwriter Roger Avary sued Microsoft in California, accusing the software giant of stealing his idea for a virtual yoga studio after it had sought his advice about attracting women to video games.

Mr. Avary is looking for $30 million plus punitive damages and has asked a judge to stop Microsoft and co-defendant ResponDesign, an Oregon game publisher, from selling the yoga game, called “Yourself! Fitness.”

ResponDesign chief Ted Spooner called the claims “completely false,” according to Reuters.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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