- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2008

Rourke film wins

“The Wrestler” won the coveted Golden Lion as best picture for Darren Aronofsky on Saturday at the Venice film festival and signaled the return of actor Mickey Rourke from the cinema wilderness.

The film mirrors Mr. Rourke’s real-life experience as a boxer in the early 1990s and his regrets over an acting career that he says he “threw away” 15 years ago, Agence France-Presse reports. In the film, Mr. Rourke plays a has-been professional wrestler.

Mr. Aronofsky dedicated the award “to all the wrestlers we met along the way who are making $200 a night and are willing to sacrifice their bodies and their souls for it.”

He also said, “We need to thank Mickey Rourke for opening up his heart and soul for the camera … and reminding the world what a great talent he is.”

The Silver Lion for best director went to Russia’s Aleksei German Jr. for “Paper Soldier.” France’s Dominique Blanc won best actress for “L’Autre” (“The Other One”) and Italian Silvio Orlando was named best actor for “Il Papa di Giovanna” (“Giovanna’s Father”).

Simpson’s Opry debut

Pop-star-turned-country-singer Jessica Simpson told a crowd during her Grand Ole Opry debut Saturday in Nashville, Tenn., that she burst into tears the first times she heard the song “Remember That” and knew God wanted her to sing it.

“It’s a very personal song for a lot of women,” Miss Simpson told the audience in introducing the track from her new album, “Do You Know,” which hits stores Tuesday. The song deals with abuse and ends with the line, “Take it from me, I’ve stood in your shoes.”

Opera notes

- Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, 36, gave birth to a 7-pound, 13-ounce boy Friday in Vienna, Austria, her New York publicist announced. Her fiance, bass-baritone Erwin Schrott, attended the birth of their son, Tiago Aura Schrott.

Miss Netrebko is set to return to the stage in January in the title role of “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, then perform the same role at New York’s Metropolitan Opera starting Jan. 26.

- Conductor James Levine returns to the podium Sept. 18 to conduct Verdi’s “Requiem” at the Met in honor of the late Luciano Pavarotti. He also is scheduled to conduct the opening nights of the Met and the Boston Symphony Orchestra the following week.

Mr. Levine, 65, had a kidney removed in July because of a malignant tumor. The BSO says no further treatment is needed.

Compiled from wire reports

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