People: Patterson, Alexander team up on Ali book

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Patterson, Alexander team up on Ali book

Authors James Patterson and Kwame Alexander are teaming up on a book for young people about Muhammad Ali.

"Becoming Muhammad Ali" is being called a "biographical novel" by the rival imprints JIMMY Paterson Books and HMH Books for Young Readers, which will jointly publish the book and announced it Monday. "Becoming Muhammad Ali" comes out Oct. 5.

The book is authorized by the late boxer's estate and by his widow, Lonnie Ali, who said in a statement, "Muhammad would be proud to know that this story will be a source of inspiration for kids everywhere."

Patterson and Alexander will use poetry and prose to tell of Ali's childhood in Louisville, Kentucky, when he was named Cassius Clay.

"I'm thrilled to be partnering with Kwame in honoring the life of a legend," Patterson said in a statement. "Few people know Muhammad Ali as Cassius Clay, and his journey to becoming Ali is truly inspiring. It'll show young kids the importance of perseverance in pursuing their dreams and most importantly, to never give up."

Added Alexander, who recalled reading Ali's memoir "The Greatest" as a child: "I couldn't put the book down. So, when Jim called and said we should write a novel together, about Ali, it was like coming full circle."

JIMMY Patterson Books is an imprint of Hachette Book Group and HMH Books for Young Readers is part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

DiDonato, Beczala sing opera from apartment

Joyce DiDonato and Piotr Beczala made sure the show went on, albeit in an unusual format and venue — from the living room of DiDonato's New York City apartment.

The American mezzo-soprano and Polish tenor had been scheduled to star in Massenet's "Werther" at the Metropolitan Opera starting Monday. The Met's shutdown because of the coronavirus outbreak caused the cancellation of the first five of six scheduled performances through March 31.

Accompanied by Met assistant conductor Howard Watkins at the piano and principal harp Emmanuel Ceysson, the pair performed excerpts for nearly 90 minutes Sunday that were streamed live on DiDonato's Facebook and Instagram pages.

Given that many artists have lost at least two months of income because of force majeure provisions in their contracts, they used the livestream to ask for donations for the American Guild of Musical Artists relief fund and Artist Relief Tree.

Beczala, singing the title role, was in a suit and open collar shirt, and DiDonato, as Charlotte, wore a black dress.

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"Since we can't sing on Monday night, we thought let's get together in this salon, like they used to do in the old days, which we might have to do in the new days, too," she said.

"Just two of us," Beczala interjected.

"Who needs baritones and sopranos?" she added.

He grabbed a flower from a vase atop the upright piano, and they danced in the first act.

"Technically, this is not a Metropolitan Opera live in HD," she said. "This is literally an iPhone and a laptop."

Spanish King renounces inheritance

Spain's King Felipe VI has renounced any future personal inheritance he could receive from his father, King Emerit Juan Carlos I, over the alleged financial irregularities involving the former monarch, the country's royal house announced Sunday.

The royal house said in a statement that in addition to renouncing his inheritance, Felipe is stripping Juan Carlos of his annual stipend. In 2018, the former monarch received 194,232 euros ($216,000).

The decision comes amid an ongoing investigation by Swiss prosecutors into an offshore account allegedly operated for Juan Carlos. The account allegedly received 88 million euros ($100 million) from Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah in 2008, which prosecutors believe could be kickback payments, according to the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve.

On Saturday, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Felipe was named as a beneficiary of an offshore fund that controls the Swiss account with an alleged 65 million euro gift ($72 million) from Saudi Arabia given to his father when he was on the throne.

Juan Carlos, 82, became king in November 1975 and reigned until his abdication in June 2014.

Felipe, 52, denied any knowledge of the fund in Sunday's statement.

Today's birthdays: Actor Patrick Duffy is 71. Actor Kurt Russell is 69. Actor Mark Boone Jr. ("Sons of Anarchy") is 65. Actor Rob Lowe is 56. "The NFL on CBS" reporter Tracy Wolfson is 45. Singer-TV personality Tamar Braxton ("Braxton Family Values") is 43. TV personality Rob Kardashian ("Keeping Up With the Kardashians") is 33. Actor John Boyega ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens") is 28. Actor Flynn Morrison ("Last Man Standing") is 15.

— The Associated Press


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