Rowling Calls Teen Reporters

The increasingly reclusive JK Rowling is limiting her contacts with the press. “Rowling has refused to grant interviews to British journalists for two years. Her only contact with the media on the release of the new book will be through ‘cub reporters’ under 16, who will be selected for a ‘press conference’ through competitions. Emerson Spartz, an 18-year-old student from Indiana, was asleep at 9am when his telephone rang. A Scottish voice asked ‘Hello, Emerson? This is Jo. You believe me, don’t you’?”

Sanctions: Iraq Symphony Plays Under Tough Conditions

The Baghdad Symphony is performing, even though life is tough. “The orchestra knows all about survival. The first in the Arab world, it struggled through two wars and economic sanctions under Saddam Hussein. The best talent fled Iraq. Musicians who stayed earned $1 a month and instruments fell into disrepair. Still, the group, somehow, played on. And after Saddam’s fall, life — and salaries — improved. There were also gifts of new instruments and a trip to America — all funded by the former U.S. authority in Iraq — highlighted by a concert in Washington, D.C., attended by President Bush.”

The Big-Box Bookstore Dilemma

“A new bookstore such as the latest Barnes & Noble behemoth — 36,000 square feet spread out across two floors — that opened a week and a half ago in the Chicago Loop neatly encapsulates the 21st Century booksellers’ problem: Is it all about the classics — or the cappuccino? And how can an establishment that sells books — each one a rectangular homage to intellectual independence — be cogs in a bland, homogenous corporate machine that has been accused of mashing smaller independent bookstores into goo?”

Getty Leader’s Grand Appetites

Getty Center chief executive “Barry Munitz is a man of grand appetites, a player among Los Angeles’ elite whose effusive personality and risk-taking management style have won praise even as they have alienated some of the trust’s most respected staff members. During his seven-year stewardship, Munitz has led the Getty through a trying period of change. But he has also pushed the limits on how nonprofit organizations use their resources. Documents show that Munitz has spent lavishly, traveling the world first class at Getty expense, often with his wife, staying at luxury hotels and mixing business with pleasure.”

Autry And Cal Hist Team Up

“The Autry National Center and the California Historical Society have entered into a 100-year partnership designed to enhance exhibitions at the Autry museum in Los Angeles and create a Southern California presence for the San Francisco-based historical society. The plan calls for joint projects that will bring the society’s holdings out of storage and into the public eye.”

Juilliard Piano Teacher, Cliburn Judge Harrassed

Weda Kaplinsky is head of the Juilliard piano faculty. She was also a judge at this year’s Van Cliburn competition, and seven of her students were among the 35 pianists admitted to the competition. For the past several months “Kaplinsky has been the target of an anonymous, orchestrated smear campaign, consisting of harassing e-mail messages, an anonymous letter, Internet postings, ominous late-night phone calls and a threatening statement overheard last week at Bass Hall.”

Congress Considers Deep Cuts In Public Broadcasting Funding

A US Congressional committee has passed major cuts in funding for public radio and TV. “By a voice vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee adopted a measure that would reduce the financing of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the organization that directs taxpayer dollars to public television and radio, to $300 million from $400 million. The subcommittee also eliminated $39 million that stations say they need to convert to digital programming and $50 million for upgrading aging satellite technology that is the backbone of the PBS network.”