THE ARTSOne Small Step for Museum-Kind: Lunar...

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One Small Step for Museum-Kind: Lunar maps carried aboard Apollo 11’s 1969 moon mission and the original $25,000 check presented to Charles A. Lindbergh for his completion of the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris in 1927 are the first objects to arrive in Los Angeles for the Smithsonian Institution’s 150th anniversary traveling exhibition, which will be on display Feb. 9-March 7 at the Convention Center. The objects reached LAX Wednesday and will be part of what the Smithsonian is calling the biggest museum exhibition since “King Tut hit the road.” The show will include 350 rare historical, cultural and scientific artifacts culled from the Smithsonian’s 16 Washington museums.


American Cash Woes in Paris: The American Center in Paris, a non-governmental organization that has promoted American culture in the French capital for 65 years, will close Feb. 12 and attempt to sell off its Frank Gehry-designed headquarters--an ultra-modern, $41-million showcase on the eastern edge of the city that opened to much fanfare just 19 months ago. The center said it was left cash-strapped after paying for the structure and lost several promised corporate sponsorships because of hard economic times, so it could not meet the building’s $6-million annual operating cost. Meanwhile, the center’s board said the organization would continue to exist “in another form” and that proceeds from the building’s sale would be used “to support a variety of cultural and educational activities and programs, including direct grants.”


Oh, Those Knees: “20/20" host Hugh Downs will become the subject of one of the newsmagazine’s stories when he undergoes joint replacement in both knees in a Boston hospital Saturday. Downs, 74, was filmed Monday in his hometown of Phoenix while he talked with his physician, who said Downs will be able to “show other senior citizens that this is doable surgery and that it can work right now.” Downs, who injured his knees while racing down stairs 16 years ago, said he agreed to the report after learning that about 150,000 people have such surgery each year. Downs expects to miss only the Feb. 2 broadcast; the segment will air on the ABC show in late February.



Grisham Ends Latest Chapter: John Grisham, whose books have formed the basis for hit movies including “The Firm” and “The Pelican Brief,” said he was “tickled to death” after winning his first courtroom case in seven years Wednesday. In a three-day civil trial, Grisham persuaded a jury that Illinois Central Railroad was responsible for the death of brakeman John Wayne King, who was crushed between two rail cars. The jury awarded King’s widow, Barbara, $683,500. The attorney-turned-author had set aside work on his next novel, “Runaway Jury,” to return to the courtroom and said that the trial could become fodder for a novel someday. But while he’s returning to his writing for now, he wouldn’t rule out taking another case, saying: “I might wake up 10 years from now and get tired of writing books and decide to start suing people again.”


All’s Well That Ends Well: Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein on Thursday returned to the scene of his altercation Tuesday over the Sundance Film Festival hit “Shine,” saying that he hoped this time he would not be asked to leave a Park City, Utah, restaurant. Weinstein had gotten into a shouting match there with representatives of Pandora, the company handling “Shine’s” international sales, after his company was beaten out of American distribution rights to the Australian film by Fine Line Features. Noting that he wished he’d met with producer Jane Scott “48 hours earlier” and that the loss was his “own damn fault,” Weinstein announced that Miramax would get a piece of the sought-after picture after all, since Miramax International and Buena Vista International had secured foreign distribution rights. Meanwhile, Miramax did acquire North American rights to another Sundance film, “Walking and Talking,” a female-bonding comedy starring Catherine Keener and Anne Heche.


Pumpkins Fill the Palace: Ticket vouchers for the Smashing Pumpkins’ concerts next Friday through Feb. 4 at the Palace were sold out within hours of going on sale on short notice Wednesday night, a Palace spokeswoman said Thursday. Each voucher may be exchanged for a ticket upon entry into the theater the nights of the shows. Photo ID must be presented. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for the 7:30 shows, which will feature two full sets by the Pumpkins. The band has been using the same system, designed to discourage ticket-scalping, on its series of small-hall concerts in U.S. cities.


Looking for new late-night fare? You’ll soon find “The Three Stooges” on cable’s Family Channel on weeknights. The classic slapstick shorts premiere on the network with a seven-hour “Three Stooges Marathon” from noon to 7 p.m. on Feb. 29, settling that same night into the show’s new regular time slot of 11 p.m.-midnight. . . . “Picket Fences” star Fyvush Finkel will perform in concert with his son Elliot Finkel on Saturday at the Friars Club of California in Beverly Hills. Steve Allen will emcee the 6:30 p.m. event, which includes dinner. Tickets are $65.