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London 2012 'Cultural Olympiad' lineup announced

By Stuart Condie

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 7 2010 6:43 a.m. MST

LONDON — Actress Cate Blanchett, author Toni Morrison and musician Damon Albarn will take part in the 2012 London Olympics.

The trio were in the lineup announced Tuesday for the "Cultural Olympiad" festival that will run during the 2012 Summer Games.

Organizers hope to attract a total of 3 million people to more than 1,000 individual events over 12 weeks from June 21, 2012, until the final day of the Paralympics on Sept. 9.

"Artistic talent from the U.K. and every continent will be part of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration," London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said. "The festival will play a huge part in ensuring everyone can be part of the greatest show on earth."

The festival is designed to encourage those without a direct link to the Olympics or an interest in sport to be involved in London's first Summer Games since 1948.

Accordingly, the events don't necessarily have a sporting aspect.

Blanchett won a supporting actress Oscar in 2005 for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator." The Sydney Theatre Company she runs with her playwright husband will stage a new adaptation of Botho Strauss' 1978 play "Gross und Klein."

Morrison, the American Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author, will collaborate with theater director Peter Sellars and Malian singer Rokia Traore. The music program will feature a new work from Blur frontman Albarn and his collaborator in virtual band Gorillaz, Jamie Hewlett.

The Royal Shakespeare Company will produce The World Shakespeare Festival at venues in Newcastle, London and Stratford-Upon-Avon — Shakespeare's birthplace.

There will also be exhibitions by British artists David Hockney and Lucian Freud, and four specially commissioned short films, including one by Cannes Palm d'Or winner Mike Leigh.

"The caliber of the people announced today — from London, the U.K. and abroad — underlines the ambition of the London 2012 Festival," London Mayor Boris Johnson said. "It will be a series of fantastic events to mark an unforgettable year in London's history."

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