- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

Writers visit schools

Thirteen of the most notable writers in contemporary literature will be visiting D.C. public and charter schools today before reading original three-minute pieces on the theme of “Revenge” at the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Gala tonight at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The annual benefit raises funds to support the work of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, including its Writers in Schools program.

Among those scheduled to visit schools today is Elizabeth Kostova, whose debut best-seller “The Historian,” a multi-layered thriller, centers around a young American girl’s quest across Europe for the truth about Dracula. Miss Kostova will visit Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest.

Students at IDEA Public Charter School in Northeast get a double treat with Curtis Sittenfeld, best-selling author of “Prep” and “The Man of My Dreams,” and Matthew Klam, whose book “Sam the Cat: and Other Stories” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Other participants at the evening gala include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lisa Fugard, Jim Lehrer, William Henry Lewis, Thomas Mallon, Kyoko Mori, Mary Morris, Sigrid Nunez, Richard Rodriguez, Roger Rosenblatt, Joan Silber, and Deborah Tannen.

Slavery Museum drive

Bill Cosby has called on each American to contribute $8 to help build a national slavery museum near Civil War battlefields.

Mr. Cosby, who already has committed $1 million to the project, joined Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder on Friday in kicking off a new campaign to raise $100 million toward the $200 million price tag for a museum in Fredericksburg, Va.

“The incentive is that they would join in with the rest of the United States of America in saying yes, as an American, I gave $8 to help build something that tells the story,” he said in a teleconference with Mr. Wilder.

In a nation of some 300 million people, even a tepid response would surpass the $100 million goal, Mr. Cosby said.

He admitted this kind of campaign “generally fails badly.”

“But I’m going to try again because I’m going to present this national slavery museum as a jewel that’s missing in a crown.”

The campaign marks the latest attempt at fundraising for the U.S. National Slavery Museum, a project in the works for more than a decade.

Mr. Wilder struggled to find a location before settling on a site near the Rappahannock River, a region where many Civil War battles were fought. He said the museum has about $50 million on hand.

Dancing up a storm

Reports that a taxpayer-funded TV station is paying a huge salary to a granddaughter of former dictator Francisco Franco to take part in a dance show have raised political hackles in Spain.

Spanish media on Saturday reported that television station TVE1 is paying Carmen Martinez-Bordiu “a weekly salary of $61,000” for taking part in a dance competition show called “Look Who’s Dancing.”

State broadcaster RTVE, which runs the channel, declined to comment on the purported payments, although politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have demanded clarification.

The communist Izquierda Unida (IU) party asked RTVE, which receives most of its funding from the state, whether “Franco’s granddaughter is a social reference that corresponds to a public television station’s social and educational objectives.”

The main center-right party Popular Party (PP) asked “how much” the program was costing the public television service, but didn’t mention Ms. Martinez-Bordiu directly.

Ms. Martinez-Bordiu, 55, was married for the second time in July to Spanish entrepreneur Jose Campos, who has become somewhat of a regular on Spanish television interview shows since marrying his famous wife.

Ms. Martinez-Bordiu’s first marriage in 1972, near the end of her grandfather’s rule, was a major event in Spain.

She married Alfonso de Bourbon, a cousin of King Juan Carlos, in a spectacular ceremony with more than 1,000 guests.

RTVE is in serious financial trouble and has debts of $9.6 billion. Under pressure from Spain’s Socialist government, the broadcaster earlier this year approved a restructuring plan that will mean the elimination of 4,150 jobs.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from wire reports.

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