The cost of the Coens

I.W. reads the New York Times' items column religiously, but we can't help feeling smug when it stumbles -- like last week, when it said Minnesota was so desperate to land the latest Joel and Ethan Coen film that the Legislature ponied up $500,000. "New Yorkers may be blasé or hostile when it comes to film crews in their streets, but other places are willing to pay for the privilege," the Times sniffed. Hey, those blasé New Yorkers are paying a pretty penny themselves. In fact, the state just sweetened its tax rebate for filmmakers to as much as 35 percent, more than twice what Minnesota offers. So we're guessing New York paid a lot more than a half-mil to snare the Coens' upcoming "Burn After Reading," filmed in NYC last fall with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Tim Campbell

St. Paul to the rescue

When the singer for the E Family band pulled out of its Minneapolis gig on short notice, Sheila E made an S.O.S. call to her longtime pal, St. Paul Peterson. He flew back from the Bahamas -- where he had been gigging with Kenny Loggins -- and had a quick rehearsal. With lyric sheets on a music stand, he took the stage at the Dakota with the Latin jazz ensemble -- even singing a little in Spanish. He and Sheila also ad-libbed on some tunes from their days in Prince's royal court -- her "A Love Bizarre" and the Family's "Screams of Passion," which he tried to sing to her until he got flustered with some of the lyrics. Still, he was such a savior that bandleader and patriarch Pete Escovedo (Sheila's dad) introduced the guest vocalist as "St. Paul Peterson Escovedo."

JON BREAM

Swell company

At a sparsely attended screening of the 1986 cult classic "Parting Glances" on Sunday at the Heights Theatre -- where was everyone, I.W. wondered? -- actor Richard Ganoung, who plays Michael in the film, was on hand to answer questions. The film is the first to be restored by the Los Angeles-based Outfest Legacy Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to preserving gay- and lesbian-themed cinema. Ganoung said that the "Parting Glances" restoration was funded, in part, by two cast members who later hit it big: Steve Buscemi ("Fargo," "The Sopranos") and Kathy Kinney ("The Drew Carey Show"). Ganoung added that he and John Bolger, who played Robert in the film, are hoping to be reunited in a new project.

RICK NELSON

State of the art

Wayzata art mavens Ralph and Peggy Burnet held onto their prestigious seat among ARTnews magazine's top 200 art collectors for the third year in a row. The sole Minnesotans on the list have some of their collection on public view at the Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis. Four new names joined the list's elite Top 10, a subset of the world's most active art buyers. They are Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk, Mexican businessman and telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helú, New York investor Leon Black and his wife, Debra; and Sheikh Saud bin Mohammad bin Ali al-Thani of Qatar. The other Top Tenners are: Edythe L. and Eli Broad, Steven Cohen, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, François Pinault, and Mitchell Rales.

MARY ABBE

Pour me another

Poet and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu appears at St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater tonight to present excerpts from his documentary-in-progress about the Mississippi, "Big River Blues." He'll also use the event to thank us upriver people for our important contributions to the river's unique character: "Mark Twain said, 'By New Orleans, every glass of water in the Mississippi been drunk six times.' He said that in the 19th century. Since then, every glass of water in the Mississippi has been drunk 60 times and they've added booze, cyanide, radioactivity and alcohol. Which is what makes it drinkable."

COLIN COVERT

Picked a fine time, Lucinda

Lucinda Williams has long expressed her love for Minneapolis, but during her sold-out concert Monday at the Minnesota Zoo she shared a not-so-fond memory from the few months she spent here recording her 2001 album, "Essence," at Tom Tucker's defunct MasterMix Studio. "Never spend Christmas Day alone," Williams said, explaining that she's afraid to fly and thus stayed in town while the rest of the recording crew took a holiday break. "I got a hotel apartment thing with a kitchen and just sort of hibernated." She soon learned that every restaurant in town was closed. "Luckily, my lawyer had sent me a gift basket with treats in it," she said. That explains some of the miserable lyrics of the resulting song, "Minneapolis" -- especially, "You're a bad pain in my gut."

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER