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Rostropovich feted on his 70th birthday

Russian maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the world's great cellists, will be honored on his 70th birthday today at a gala charity concert in Paris hosted by French President Jacques Chirac. The program begins and ends with musical tributes to the cellist by French composer Henri Dutilleux and Russian composer Rodion Schedrin. Among the performers will be violinists Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern and Gidon Kremer, pianist Van Cliburn and conductors Seiji Ozawa, Marcel Landowski and Semyon Bychkov and conductor-composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Rostropovich also was honored by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Wednesday. He received the award "for service to the state and a major contribution to the international development of music," according to Yeltsin's decree quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency. Rostropovich's support for Soviet dissidents, including author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, earned him the wrath of the Kremlin in the early 1970s. He received permission to leave the Soviet Union for two years in 1974, but he refused to return and was stripped of his citizenship in 1978. He was music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington until retiring in 1994 and now spends much of his time in Russia.

Jackson baby pictures

net millions for charity

Michael Jackson beat the tabloids at their own game, selling photographs of his new baby that could fetch $3-million for his children's charity. The National Enquirer paid $2-million for exclusive North American rights to 10 studio-quality photographs of Jackson, his wife, Debbie Rowe, and 5-week-old Prince Michael Jackson Jr. They are the first pictures available in the United States. Rights elsewhere, such as in the British magazine OK!, reportedly could net Jackson another $1-million. OK! published a photo of dad, mom and child this week. Jackson spokesman Bob Jones wouldn't confirm the amount of money, but said it was going to the Heal the World Foundation, set up by Jackson to help children worldwide. Last week, Britain's News of the World published what it called the first picture of Jackson's baby. "That's not him," said National Enquirer executive editor David Perel, who has seen Jackson's official baby pictures. The five-page National Enquirer spread, which includes a question-and-answer interview with the couple, appears in the tabloid next week, Perel said.

In other news Aerosmith's long-delayed album Nine Lives sold nearly 140,000 copies and tops Billboard magazine's chart in the week ended March 23. Last week's No. 1, Scarface's Untouchable, fell to third place.

Charles Manson is expected to represent himself at his parole hearing to be aired live on Court TV at 2:30 p.m. today. Manson, serving life in prison for his 1969 murder wave, has been denied parole eight times.

Joe Piscopo and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes will star in Grease when it reopens on Broadway April 8.

_ Compiled from wire reports