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Archive for Sunday, March 20, 2005

People

March 20, 2005

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Mandela hosts star-studded concert to raise AIDS awareness, funding

George, South Africa (ap) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela, playing host to his second AIDS awareness concert on Saturday, told a crowd of 20,000 that women bear the brunt of the AIDS pandemic that has infected some 25 million people in Africa.

The disease "carries the face of women," whether through infection or caring for those who are ill with the deadly virus, said the 86-year-old Mandela.

Mandela, who lost his eldest son to the disease earlier this year, compared the plight of women coping with AIDS to the isolation he felt when imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island for fighting against white racist rule.

"Today there are millions of women in Africa living on their own Robben Islands, struggling against terrible odds, alone and often without much hope," he said.

"Tonight you and I can say we are here to help give you hope and strength," he said to rapturous applause at the 46664 concert, named for his prisoner number. He sponsored a first AIDS conference in 1993 in Cape Town. The Saturday benefit, he said, raised $1.6 million.

Master of ceremonies Will Smith said he agreed to a personal request from Mandela to be an ambassador for the 46664 campaign.

"I have made movies and music," said the star of "Men in Black" and "Independence Day."

"I felt like that's not enough. I want to fight and I want to struggle," he said.

In South Africa, statistics show women and girls are six times more likely to be infected with the AIDS virus than men. A staggering 38 percent of pregnant women are infected in the worst-hit province of Kwazulu-Natal.

"In Africa more people are wiped out by AIDS every year than in the entire Asian tsunami disaster," said former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox.

Star after star appealed to men to take responsibility and stop unsafe sex -- and to women to stand up for their rights.

"I want you to use your power to stay alive," shouted Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith's wife.

Blake juror promotes album

Los Angeles -- A juror who helped acquit actor Robert Blake of killing his wife is promoting a six-song recording he produced during Blake's trial.

Roberto Emerick, 30, publicized his album, "Judgment Day," during an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" soon after the acquittal. Emerick said he has received hate mail from critics who accuse him of making money off Bonny Lee Bakley's death.

"This was a stress management thing for me. This is how I was able to cope with the pressures of being a juror and not having anyone to tell about it," he said Friday.

Emerick said he and his rock band, Mission in the Hills, recorded songs before he was summoned for jury duty. As the trial wore on, he realized he needed an outlet to express his feelings. Emerick said he rewrote and recorded new songs that focused on the trial.

The album's title track looks at what Blake might have been thinking as he waited for jurors to reach their verdict.

Jackman's back for Tonys

New York -- Hugh Jackman will be the host of the Tony Awards ceremony on June 5, for the third year in a row, reports the New York Times.

Jackman won a Tony last year for best actor in a musical in "The Boy From Oz," his Broadway debut. The awards are presented by the League of American Theaters and Producers and the American Theater Wing.

Theater to honor playwright

Ann Arbor, Mich. -- The University of Michigan regents have approved the design for the 250-seat Arthur Miller Theatre, honoring the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and 1938 graduate who died last month.

The theater will be part of a new $42.8-million Walgreen Drama Center at the Ann Arbor school, which will open in 2007.

Miller, who died Feb. 10 at age 89, attended Michigan during the height of the Depression and said he did so because it cost only $65 a year. During spring break in 1936 he holed up in his room and completed his first play, "The Grass Still Grows," in a few days.

Miller won the Pulitzer Prize for "Death of a Salesman" in 1949.

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