What Happened To House Star’s White House Gig?

“‘House’ star Kal Penn’s much-heralded road from the Fox series to the White House seems to have hit a pothole, or at least taken a turn into a cul-de-sac. Despite announcing in mid-April that Penn’s character had been killed off so he could accept a position as an Associate Director at the White House Office of Public Liaison, the actor, who was an early Obama supporter, has … no official start date with the Obama administration.”

Inaugural Philly Arts Festival To Be An April In Paris (With Igor)

“Already funded with a $10 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation, the initial festival is scheduled to run April 7 to May 1, 2011, centered on early-20th-century Parisian artistic life. [New executive director J. Edward] Cambron referred to the programming theme as ‘Stravinsky in Paris’ – this was a period when the composer wrote his great ballet scores – though a variety of figures from that period will be examined, as well as some of their 21st-century counterparts.”

Walcott Will Be U. of Alberta’s Distinguished Scholar

“The Canadian university was clear that it had not reconsidered its decision to appoint [Derek] Walcott to the role, despite making it shortly before claims of sexual harassment against the Caribbean poet were publicised during the elections for the Oxford professor of poetry. The three-year term will see Walcott spending six weeks a year teaching intensive poetry and playwriting courses and mentoring both staff and students.”

Mexico City Museums Suffering In Wake Of Flu Outbreak

“Visits to some of Mexico City’s museums have fallen by as much as 90% since the outbreak of the H1N1 virus last month that prompted a near shutdown of numerous facilities, according to reports in the local media. Owners of some of the privately owned museums in the capital are seeking financial help from the government and say that if attendance doesn’t pick up, they may be forced to take ‘drastic measures’ such as cutting staff by half and opening for only three days a week.”

Couples Can Wed Where Romeo & Juliet (Sort Of) Wooed

“The 13th century mansion of the Cappello family — believed to be the Capulets of William Shakespeare’s tragic play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ — has for years been a place of pilgrimage for lovers worldwide, who have scrawled love messages on its walls. Now, Verona’s town council is offering couples the chance to follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare’s ‘star-crossed lovers’ and see for themselves ‘what light from yonder window breaks.'”

Gala Planning On A Budget Of … Way Less Than Last Year

“Now — in an era of belt-tightening — funding and promoting a grandiose art form is a tricky business. Especially when you have $150,000 less to spend on the ball this year,” as is the case for Washington National Opera’s annual Opera Ball, budgeted this year at $250,000. “The ball planners are trying to make do without anyone’s realizing they are spending a lot less.”

Vandals Hit Rome’s Ara Pacis Museum

“Vandals have splashed red and green paint onto the back wall of the controversial modern museum, the Ara Pacis, in Rome. They also left a toilet outside and several rolls of toilet paper. The museum, designed by the American architect Richard Meier, was opened in 2006…. Many criticised the building, in Rome’s historic centre, as too modern, too large, and out of character.”

Another Thing Theatre Is Good For: Empathy

“W.H. Auden’s famous line about the relative ineffectuality of art … is no doubt correct when it comes to legislative action. But artists have another power, no less far-reaching for being unseen and immeasurable — the ability to broaden our sensibility by inviting us to experience life through another’s eyes.” That’s why the Obamas’ visit to Broadway was particularly apt at a moment when the word “empathy” has the right up in arms.

Taking The Boy Out Of Venezuela — To Sweden

Gustavo Dudamel “is a sensation and pretty much still always a surprise. When he begins as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the fall, he is expected to generate a huge amount of attention, no matter how celebrity-saturated the city. But even a conducting sensation has to learn the music director business somewhere, to say nothing of a broad repertory of pieces. That’s where Gothenburg comes in.”