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Quick Takes: Twain House sentencing

November 23, 2011

A woman has been sentenced to 31/2 years in prison for embezzling more than $1 million from the Mark Twain House and Museum, a crime that added to the financial woes of the Hartford, Conn., landmark that had been struggling to pay its bills.

Donna Gregor, a 58-year-old longtime museum employee, stole the money between 2002 and 2010. She faced up to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty in August to wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

The officials who run the gingerbread Gothic home on Farmington Avenue said they were happy to put the case behind them. The thefts occurred during a time when the Twain House was in dire financial straits, trying to repay millions in bank loans from expansions and struggling to meet its yearly budget.

"We are grateful that … justice has been served," the museum said on its website. "We want to assure our friends that stringent controls are in place and our financial condition is sound and we thank them for their continued interest and support."

—Associated Press

Bachmann gets cold reception

Jimmy Fallon's house band the Roots didn't have a warm welcome for Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann when she appeared on the NBC show early Tuesday.

As Bachmann strode on to the stage at Fallon's "Late Night," the NBC show's band played a snippet of a 1985 Fishbone song called "Lyin' Ass Bitch."

The song begins with a distinctive "la la la la la la la la la" refrain — the only words audible before Bachmann, smiling and waving to the audience, sat down.

The song itself, about a relationship gone wrong, isn't political. Among its cleanest lyrics: "She always says she needs you, but you know she really don't care."

Bachmann's campaign had no immediate comment.

Fallon joked on Twitter that Roots bandleader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson was grounded. The show itself didn't have any comment.

—Associated Press

Stallone behind 'Rocky's' scenes

Sylvester Stallone is getting back in the ring with Rocky Balboa one more time — but not as a star. The actor is co-producing "Rocky: The Musical," based on the Oscar-winning 1976 movie that launched his career.

The musical is set to open in Hamburg, Germany, in November 2012.

Inspired by the box office success of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," Stallone and company are reframing the underdog boxing story as a love story between Rocky and Adrian.

Tony-award winner Thomas Meehan ("The Producers") will write the book, while "Ragtime" lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty will handle the songs. "Rocky" purists shouldn't fear: Hits from the films, including "Gonna Fly Now" and "Eye of the Tiger," will be included in the show.

—Patrick Kevin Day

First lady backs poetry program

First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a new arts program to pick five student poets from U.S. high schools who will spend one year promoting poetry through readings, workshops and other activities.

The National Student Poets program is backed by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, of which the first lady is honorary chair, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a partnership with nonprofit group, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

The five National Student Poets will be chosen from a pool of teenagers who have already received a national Scholastic Art & Writing Award for poetry.

They will be announced in summer 2012, and will each receive academic awards of $5,000. They will serve as literary ambassadors in their communities and encourage children to develop writing and creative skills.


'Portlandia' plans six-city tour

To help promote Season 2 of their IFC comedy "Portlandia," stars and series creators Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are going on a six-city tour that will mix clips with live music and tales from the set.

"Portlandia: The Tour" will carefully choose its spots, landing only in hipster havens such as Brooklyn and New York's Bowery Ballroom, San Francisco's Mezzanine, the Hideout in Chicago and Los Angeles' Echoplex in Echo Park (on Jan. 17). It will start in the very town it gently lampoons, launching on Dec. 27 at Portland's Hollywood Theater.

"Portlandia" jabs its finger gingerly in the Pacific Northwest town's eye, with characters describing it as "a city where young people go to retire" and a place where "the dream of the '90s is alive." Its inhabitants are free to nurture their slacker tendencies, hide-and-seek obsessions and clowning aspirations. The new season starts Jan. 6.

—T.L. Stanley

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