- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2005

‘Narnia’ naysaying

As Disney’s forthcoming movie adaptation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” has gotten caught in culture-war cross hairs, the director and cast apparently are trying to minimize the Christian symbolism of the C.S. Lewis novel, part of the writer’s “Chronicles of Narnia” saga.

Director Andrew Adamson told the BBC News Web site that the movie is “open to the audience to interpret.”

“Faith is in the eye of the beholder,” added Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, who said the book was more “spiritual” than religious.

“You can make a religious allegory out of anything if that’s what you’re interested in,” she insisted.

Diplomatic dialing

Screen siren Marlene Dietrich spent her last years making nuisance phone calls to the great and the good, sometimes in the middle of the night, say members of her family.

The German entertainer’s daughter Maria Riva says her mother made repeated calls to the White House and even Buckingham Palace, often running up monthly phone bills totaling thousands of dollars. Some VIPs even took delight in calling her back. Ronald Reagan boasted that the last call he made from the White House was to Miss Dietrich.

Miss Dietrich’s grandson Peter Riva, 55, told Spiegel magazine that former first lady Nancy Reagan phoned him two days after she and her husband left the White House.

“She said, ‘Ronnie is so happy,’” Mr. Riva recalled. “The last call he made from the White House was with Marlene.”

When Mikhail Gorbachev was imprisoned in his vacation home during the 1991 putsch, Miss Dietrich started a telephone campaign to win his freedom.

“She called up everyone she knew: the French president, the Queen,” Mr. Riva told the magazine.

Miss Dietrich was bedridden from 1979 until her death at age 90 in 1992.

Divinely dapper

He may never make the best-dressed lists, but Pope Benedict XVI is sporting red Prada loafers under his cassock and wearing Gucci shades, Newsweek reports. However, his penchant for designer wear and a move to ditch the papal tailors who have dressed popes for more than 200 years are causing new wrinkles in the Vatican.

Benedict has favored Alessandro Cattaneo, his tailor from his days as a cardinal, and the 20-year-old religious-fashion house of Raniero Mancinelli, which has provided the pope with dazzling new vestments (some with shimmering, sequinlike details). At risk of losing the papal-dress contract are Annibale Gammarelli tailors, who have made papal wear since 1792. They blundered when Benedict had to make his debut blessing in a cassock that was too short, ending just above his ankles, Newsweek says. Subsequent celebratory vestments made by Gammarelli are reported to have made the pope uncomfortable.

The Vatican declined comment on the pope’s attire.

Minding the mines

Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, hosted about 1,000 guests — who dined on a vegan meal, natch — for a dinner to benefit Adopt-a-Minefield, an organization that raises money for international mine clearance.

Mr. McCartney and Tony Bennett provided the entertainment, according to Associated Press, while Jay Leno served as master of ceremonies.

Governments should “listen to the voice of the people” and sign a treaty banning the deadly devices, Mr. McCartney intoned outside at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Other guests included actors Pamela Anderson, Alec Baldwin and Andy Garcia.

True lies

Marion True, a former curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, appeared in a Rome court yesterday to face charges of acquiring stolen artifacts in a trial spotlighting the shady side of the global art trade.

According to Reuters news agency, prosecutors say the case, part of efforts by the Italian government to crack down on the trade of illegally excavated or stolen archaeological treasures, will put pressure on museums worldwide to verify the origin of the artworks they purchase.

“Museums all over the world that have knowingly acquired art in a negligent or fraudulent way must stop doing this,” prosecutor Paolo Giorgio Ferri told reporters.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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