WWII Memorial Controversy Continues: The National Capital Planning Commission announced late Thursday that it will hold a public meeting June 14 to review past placement and design decisions for the controversial World War II Memorial, planned for the Mall in Washington. The action is in response to questions raised by the Justice Department about the legality of votes under the commission's former chairman, Harvey Gantt, who was serving a second term without an official appointment when he cast the deciding vote last September to approve the plan. Opponents of the project have long complained about irregularities in the public review process. The commission also said it will hold a public hearing May 3 to establish procedures for the June meeting.
Nimoys Assist L.A. Landmark: Actor Leonard Nimoy and his wife, Susan, have donated $1 million to refurbish the 66-year-old Los Angeles Griffith Observatory. "I think it's of cosmic consequence," said Griffith Observatory Director Edwin C. Krupp. "There's something really appealing about Leonard Nimoy's professional career and being able to bring it into this space." The donation is the first contribution by an individual to the renovation effort, which has acquired about two-thirds of the $63 million it needs from corporations, foundations and public money. The face-lift is scheduled to begin next year and be completed by late 2004. "By observing the sky and pondering our place in the universe, people gain a new perspective on their daily lives," Nimoy said in a statement. "Griffith Observatory gives its visitors that opportunity. It is a Los Angeles icon, one which we need to ensure will be here for generations to come."
From Hamlet to Oscar: A Sotheby's auction Thursday raised $1.65 million for charity on behalf of the late John Gielgud as a bust of the actor and other mementos were auctioned in London. Gielgud had no heirs when he died last year at 96, so the sale of his possessions had been ordered by his executors to benefit charities for actors and animal welfare. Highlights of the auction included: a bust of Gielgud as Hamlet, which sold for $21,450; an oil painting by Sir William Nicholson that sold for $153,750 and a copy of "Hamlet" accompanied by a note saying, "Bequeathed to me in his will by Laurence Olivier," which fetched $38,700. In other celebrity auction news, Christie's said it will sell Bette Davis' Oscar for the 1938 film "Jezebel" at a Hollywood memorabilia auction in July. It is expected to fetch from $150,000 to $250,000.
Live Through This: MTV apologized Thursday to two 14-year-old girls who were sprayed with excrement by performers during the taping of a television program titled "Dude, This Sucks." The teenagers sued MTV in Los Angeles Superior Court this week for infliction of emotional distress, negligence and battery because of the incident, which took place last January at Snow Summit. Monique Garcia and Kelli Sloat were in the audience during a Jan. 21 taping of the show in which the Shower Rangers performed, according to the girls' attorney, Gloria Allred. The show was part of MTV's "Snowed In" weekend special. The two girls, who were 13 at the time, claim they were humiliated when they returned to school following the incident.
Music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic have announced the appointment of Yasuo Shinozaki as assistant conductor, beginning with the 2001 Hollywood Bowl season. In other Philharmonic news, singers Marilyn Horne and Stevie Wonder will be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame at a gala and concert June 29 at the Bowl. . . . The Emmy Award-winning British miniseries "Traffik"--the basis for Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning film "Traffic"--will be released on VHS and DVD June 26. . . . NBC has renewed "Just Shoot Me" for two more seasons, extending the sitcom through a seventh year. Fox has picked up another 22-episode season of its comedy "Titus." . . . Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers don't have any L.A. dates planned, but they will play May 24 and 25 at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Tickets go on sale today. In addition, tickets are on sale for the band's May 30 performance at San Diego State's Open Air Theater. . . . The Walker Art Center unveiled plans for a $90-million expansion and renovation in Minneapolis. The Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, which won the Pritzker Prize earlier this week, collaborated with Minneapolis architects Hammel, Green & Abrahamson. The Swiss pair also designed the celebrated Tate Modern in London.