People in the news, April 9, 2007
Apr 8, 2007 at 11:21 AM
NEW YORK - Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton wasn't exactly flattered when a friend first suggested she'd be perfect for the part of Harry Potter's first female nemesis, Dolores Umbridge. "I read the book, and Umbridge is described as a short, ugly, toadlike woman," Staunton told Newsweek. "I thought, ‘Oh, thanks very much.'" But Staunton ended up playing the villainess as an "apple-cheeked schoolmarm - drenched in pink angora," the magazine says. In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth movie based on the J.K. Rowling series, Umbridge is a new teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry bent on restricting free thought. Staunton, who was nominated for a best-actress Academy Award for playing Vera Drake in the eponymous 2004 movie, says the Potter role is no joke. "You may think that it's just a bunch of hand-waving, but there's a lot of proper acting going on," she said. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is to be released July 13.
CHICAGO - The notion of cultural purity is a dead end, said famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who was born in Paris to Chinese parents and came to the United States as a child prodigy.
Ma's internationally recruited Silk Road Ensemble involves instruments such as Indian sitars, Islamic ouds, and Chinese erhu, suona and pipa and has filled museums with works from Azerbaijan, Iran, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
"I have this theory that I share with (Art Institute of Chicago president) Jim Cuno," Ma told The Associated Press. "It's that nothing great was ever produced in isolation."
Ma says his study of history at Harvard led him to realize that Eastern and Western cultures are not self-contained, but have mixed since at least the time of Alexander the Great.