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Barkhad Abdi may have found the follow-up to his feature film debut, "Captain Phillips."
The Minneapolis Oscar nominee is reportedly in negotiations to star as a South African marathon champion in the historical drama "The Place That Hits The Sun."
The movie is a biography of legendary Zulu distance runner Willie Mtolo, and his friendship with Ray de Vries, a white bar owner. Their unlikely relationship transcended South Africa's apartheid policy of racial separation.
Before 1991 Mtolo and other South African runners were not allowed to compete internationally because of sanctions resulting from its apartheid policies. Mtolo won the 1992 New York Marathon, outdistancing his rivals and running alone the final 3.2 miles.
Producer Noel Pearson (of the Oscar-nominated Daniel Day-Lewis drama "My Left Foot") is developing the project for his Ferndale Films.
Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola have decided to get a divorce
Wurzer confirmed the separation by e-mail Tuesday after posting a short notice on Facebook. The couple, who have been married for 20 years, will continue to co-host "Almanac," TPT's long-running news program.
Eskola was a high-profile reporter for WCCO radio before leaving in 2010. Wurzer continues to work mornings at MPR.
In her e-mail, Wurzer said "all is well between Eric and me. We have the full support of TPT."
Wurzer and Eskola started co-hosting the Friday night show in 1994, the same year they got married.
Photo: From left to right: Eric Eskola, Tom Emmer, Mark Dayton, Cathy Wurzer and Tom Horner in 2010 "Almanac" debate. Photo by Jeff Wheeler
Cultural preservation expert Cori Wegener
With the George Clooney film "Monuments Men" now in theaters, the topic of cultural preservation in war zones and other disaster areas (manmade or natural) is a hot topic. The Clooney film tracks a group of art historians, restorers and aesthetes charged with saving cultural treasures in Europe, Japan and elsewhere during WWII.
The need for such skills remains, especially in the Middle East which is about equally rich in archeological artifacts and violent conflicts. Former Minneapolis Institute of Arts assistant curator Cori Wegener, a U.S. army vet, was an "Arts, Monuments, and Archives Officer" stationed in Iraq for 11 months during 2003-04 following the looting of the national museum and other cultural repositories there. She now bringsl that experience to bear as a cultural heritage preservation officer in the Office of the Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture at the Smthsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. A major in the U.S. Army Reserves, she retired from the service in 2004 after 21 years.
Wegener will talk about her experiences at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 in the O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, 2115 Summit Av., University of St. Thomas campus, St. Paul. The event is free. For accessibility information call 651-962-6315.
Musicians performed Friday at Orchestra Hall./Photos David Joles
The weekend of events at the Minnesota Orchestra proves that healing takes time. Yes, Orchestra Hall was sold out Friday and nearly so on Saturday. And let it be stated unequivocally: everyone was glad to see the musicians back on stage making music in their house.
However, it was easy to see the divisions that linger from the 16-month lockout. Save Our Symphony Minnesota had distributed bright green “Homer Hankies” and patrons waved them furiously inside the hall. Green was the color of the musicians’ buttons, posters, t-shirts, posters and lawn signs during the lockout. This seemed an unmistakable gesture of support for the musicians and at the same time a reminder to the board and administration that they are being watched.
When Gordon Sprenger, the newly elected board chairman, took the stage at intermission with musician Douglas Wright, he was immediately met on Friday night with a few shouts of “Bring Back Osmo!” referring to the former music director Osmo Vanska. On Saturday night, the crowd was more raucous and emphatic with its challenge to Sprenger. In both cases, Sprenger acknowledged the sentiment but made no commitment other than to say, “We’re on it.”
There was at least one shout Saturday of “Fire Henson,” which reveals a deeper drama that is taking place within the organization. The unstated tension that exists between Vanska and CEO Michael Henson came out into the open when Vanska told MPR music host Brian Newhouse in a conversation Saturday that he feels Henson should resign. The statement became public and by the end of the night, Sprenger – who likely had hoped he’d get a chance to preach harmony and collaboration on this first weekend – found himself issuing a statement saying he was disappointed that Vanska had gone public with his opinions. Those comments will have an impact on delicate negotiations that were already going on within the board.
A contingent of fans who supported the musicians during the lockout feel Henson was the villain in the long lockout and want him fired. In large measure, they are drawing on popular support for Vanska (which is undeniably deep and substantial) as a lever to get Henson out the door – based on the notion that the price for Vanska’s return would be Henson’s departure. Vanska’s statement Saturday removed any doubts of where his head is at, even though he did not state it in "Him or Me" terms.
The board, however, clearly does not enjoy having the thinly veiled conflict (actually Osmo removed the veil) between its two most-public figures being turned into an ultimatum. This isn’t said to discount the validity or the sincerity of the opposition, only to state a fact of nonprofit leadership and human nature. The board is made up of volunteers who give large amounts of money to the orchestra, who endured 18 months under the critical public microscope and are now being told, “Fire this guy and hire this guy.”
Supporters of the musicians could legitimately respond, “Tough bounce, you deserve it for what you put your musicians through.”
And with those dynamics, the Minnesota Orchestra appears to be an institution at war with itself. How do you move forward under those circumstances?
Osmo Vänskä conducting the Minnesota Orchestra. Photo by Tom Wallace.
The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and countless of its patrons have repeatedly stressed that they want Osmo Vänskä back as their leader. Vänskä himself has said via Facebook he woud like to be asked back. Common sentiment among those in the know is that for Vänskä to return, MOA president Michael Henson must go. Now Vänskä has made at least an indirect statement to the same effect by publicly endorsing -- again on Facebook -- a blogger's "open letter" to new MOA board chair Gordon Sprenger listing reasons why, in his view, Henson must be dismissed, among them lack of outside support and musician hostility.
Scott Chamberlain, who blogs about the orchestra at Mask of the Flower Prince, posted the letter yesterday. Vänskä "liked" a link to the post on Chamberlain's Facebook page, and on another page linking to the blog, he wrote "Well said, again and again! Thanks Scott!"
Sprenger's comments in a recent interview on Minnesota Public Radio seem to indicate where he is throwing his support. He praised Henson, calling him a "very, very good leader for the orchestra," and noted that Vänskä "did resign during this time."
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