Matt Damon shot to fame in the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting” as a gifted janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now, he has been selected to deliver the university’s 2016 commencement address.

MIT announced Thursday that the Academy Award-winning actor, filmmaker, social activist and Cambridge native will address graduates on June 3.

Damon said in a statement that it’s an honor to be named commencement speaker “at a school that I couldn’t have gotten into.”

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said Damon has “made us think about our world in new ways, and through his service, he has made it a better place.”

Anish Punjabi, president of MIT’s Class of 2016, said Damon has inspired students by teaching that the world needs more well-rounded leaders.

Kirk Douglas helps build care center

Actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, have donated $15 million toward a Motion Picture Television Fund campus in Woodland Hills, Calif., to help build a care center for Hollywood industry members suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the center will be named after Douglas and is expected to cost $35 million in total. Officials announced Wednesday — Douglas’ 99th birthday — that his gift will kick the design and planning of the new facility into high gear. Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. He changed his name to Kirk Douglas as he started his acting career. The cleft-chin leading man went on to receive three Academy Award nominations and starred in such Hollywood classics as “Spartacus” and “Lust for Life.”


Madonna does pop up concert in Paris

Pop star Madonna staged an impromptu concert at Paris’ Republique plaza to honor victims of the Nov. 13 attacks in which 130 people died. The singer, who had just finished her show in Paris on Wednesday evening, tweeted to her fans: “Im singing some songs in place de la republique. Meet me there now.” Accompanied by a guitarist, she performed songs including John Lennon’s “Imagine” — a song that became an unofficial anthem in the aftermath of the attacks. The iconic statue at Republique, transformed into an informal memorial since the attacks, is piled with flowers and candles left by passers-by.


Some place new to chew at: Celebrity chef Michael Symon, co-host of ABC’s “The Chew” TV show, will open an Italian restaurant at Atlantic City’s Borgata casino next fall. Symon joins fellow Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Geoffrey Zakarian and legendary chef Wolfgang Puck among the celebrity chefs with eateries at the casino. Symon made his TV debut on the Food Network in 1998 with appearances on “Sara’s Secrets” with Sara Moulton; “Ready, Set, Cook,” and “Food Nation with Bobby Flay,” before hosting more than 100 episodes of “The Melting Pot.” In January 2012, his show “Symon’s Suppers,” premiered on the Cooking Channel, and in September 2011 he joined the cast of “The Chew” as one of the show’s five hosts.


marathon read: More than 1,300 Russians are reading Leo Tolstoy’s notoriously lengthy novel “War and Peace” aloud in a 60-hour marathon on national television. The public readings, prerecorded at locations all over Russia, from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to remote Arctic islands, have been coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter and feature Russians from all walks of life, from gas workers to cosmonauts — and Tolstoy’s descendants. The event runs over four days and finishes Friday. Tolstoy took six years to complete “War and Peace,” which was rewritten 26 times.

News Services