Artist Wrapped Up in His Work

--American artist Christo has begun preliminary work on wrapping the historic Pont Neuf-- Paris’ oldest bridge, although the name means “New Bridge"-- with 430,000 square feet of silky sandstone-colored cloth. Bulgarian-born Christo, 50, best known for wrapping the Australian coastline, the Chicago Museum of Modern Art and 11 of Florida’s Bay Biscayne islands in pink plastic, has been planning the $2.6-million project since 1976. He said that turning the bridge, which is about 400 years old, into a giant wrapped package would make it “a work of art itself.” The folds of the silky, pale cloth, he said, are particularly suited to highlighting the bridge’s sculptured form. The actual wrapping is expected to take about three days and will start Sept. 21. The bridge will remain wrapped for about two weeks, but car, boat and pedestrian traffic will not be hindered.

--CBS news anchorman Dan Rather paid tribute to pioneering CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow on the 20th anniversary of his death. “I don’t have to tell you what a heritage Ed Murrow left to broadcast journalism,” Rather told a banquet of the Radio-Television News Directors Assn. in Nashville Wednesday night. “CBS News over its half century has been shaped by many great men and women . . . but, if there is one influence that we are most conscious of, it is the lengthened shadow of Murrow,” Rather said.

--Anyone who would like to debate anti-ERA crusader Phyllis Schlafly should contact the Wyoming chapter of her organization, the American Eagle Forum. Schlafly is scheduled to appear at a forum conference in Casper on Sept. 28 and the local president, Gwen Hamilton, says the liberal elements are afraid to take her on. Those rejecting the chance to go mouth to mouth with Schlafly allegedly include two state legislators and an editorial writer, who said he had a family commitment.

--Nebraska Gov. Robert Kerrey said he has only one piece of advice for country music star Willie Nelson concerning the Sept. 22 Farm Aid benefit concert in Champaign, Ill. “Don’t give the money to politicians,” Kerrey said he had told Nelson after the entertainer performed at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln. The publicity Nelson is bringing to farm problems is worth more than the $10 million Nelson expects to raise at the Farm Aid benefit, Kerrey said.

--Actress Elizabeth Taylor, in Deauville, France, for the American Film Festival, says she admires the new generation of directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. “I have every intention of playing E. T. in the remake,” the 53-year-old actress said at a news conference.