Three mobsters planning to pass off fake Picassos and Chagalls were caught be police. “Prosecutors said the defendants planned to sell the fakes through an upscale Manhattan gallery for $32 million. Federal agents, using wiretaps and an informant, disrupted the alleged scheme and no paintings were sold.” – CNN


Most movies about artists are high on the corn factor, with few capturing the sense of the person or the understanding of their work. Ed Harris’ new movie of Jackson Pollock is different. “What we’re witnessing isn’t a succession of exploding cars, but an utterly convincing release of pure feeling deployed with the concentration and discipline of a natural athlete executing an unparalleled feat after years of preparation. There’s also an added element of magic, of conjuring, as something emerges out of nothing, and the blank canvas at Pollock’s feet is transformed into a thickening, swirling, emotionally charged tangle of color.” – New York Times


Admittedly, there have been skeptics of Placido Domingo’s ability to take Los Angeles Opera into the big time. “History has not been kind to superstar performers recast in management roles, in opera and in other fields as well. But Domingo’s first major moves here since taking office, as noted in not one but two press conferences a couple of weeks ago, have been particularly shrewd in addressing some of the most-discussed company weaknesses. – LA Weekly


Yo-Yo Ma is “exuberance incarnate, arguably the finest, certainly the most dynamic cellist on the international circuit.” And yet he still spends half of every concert tucked in the back of the orchestra playing as one of the section cellists. “It would make him the world’s most expensive rank-and-file orchestral cellist but for the fact that, as he says, ‘I come free after the interval. You know, there’s nothing like the thrill of sitting at the back of the cellos, close to the basses, wind and brass.’” – The Telegraph (UK)


Delegates to an international cultural conference in Greece have decided to form the International Network for Cultural Diversity. The organization will endeavor to protect local cultures. “We want this to be a legal and enforceable agreement that will give countries the ability to support culture and diversity and to stand up to trade measures that are infringing on their cultural sovereignty.” – CBC 09/29/00


The handwriting of the ancient queen Cleopatra has been discovered on papyrus stored in a mummy in Berlin. “Cleopatra’s signature can be found in just one word: ‘genestho,’ which means ‘Make it so!’ It is the formula for the royal authorization, and had to be added by the ruler’s own hand.” – Discovery 09/29/00


Currently one of Europe’s most celebrated choreographers, Angelin Preljocaj sees the political in the poetic and his revisionist “Romeo and Juliet,” soon to premiere in London, is no exception. “We are plunged into a future-world in which the streets have become war zones policed by leather-clad cybercops and Romeo doesn’t just hop over Juliet’s garden wall, he first has to slit the throat of one of her machine gun-toting bodyguards.” – London Times


Fiberglass cows and moose and even corn invaded the streets of American cities this summer. “Yet all the colorful animals and vegetables and cartoon characters are raising questions on the nature of public art, with critics branding the new works as kitsch that avoids controversy. Still, the works are drawing more praise than censure, and the trend continues to grow.” – Christian Science Monitor