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Children's Theatre gets gift from a 'King'

A LION'S SHARE Tony Award-winner Julie Taymor hasn't forgotten her roots. The Newton native whose costume designs and direction of "The Lion King" made her a star has given the Boston Children's Theatre a "very generous donation," according to the theater's publicist. The contribution comes as the Boston Children's Theatre is putting on "Cinderella" at the C. Walsh Theatre at Suffolk University (The show runs through Dec. 30.) Turns out Taymor, a BC Theatre alum, played Cinderella when she was a girl.

 

SALUTING THE SHRIVERS His sister Maria Shriver gets all the press. (After all, she is married to Hollywood action hero turned California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.) But Tim Shriver still gets the occasional nod of recognition. On behalf of his famous family, Shriver, the CEO of Special Olympics, last week accepted the "Heroes Among Us" award from the Boston Celtics. Special Olympics, which serves over 1 million athletes with disabilities, was started in 1968 by Shriver's mom, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

BREAKING NEWS Congrats to Sara Underwood, coanchor with Ted Wayman of "Nightcast at 10" on UPN38. Underwood and her hubby, Boston Herald sportswriter Michael Felger, are expecting their first child.

LOOK AT ME As part of a promotion with Sprint, the lovely Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003, stopped by the West Roxbury VA hospital yesterday. Using gadgets provided by Sprint, hospital patients took digital pictures and videos with the Lawrence native and then e-mailed the images to their friends and family, some of whom are serving overseas in the military.

OUCH! They call themselves the worst band in Boston, and after witnessing their biennial Christmas show Saturday at ZuZu!, we're inclined to agree. Mente, whose members include former Clinton speechwriter Ted Widmer (stage name Edward Van Mente) and Kim Deal's ex-husband, John Murphy (stage name Ron Bacardi), were hilariously bad, playing too fast and too loud while singing songs about Bobby Orr and, yes, scrod ("scrodliness is next to godliness!")

NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON'T His appearance at yesterday's holiday luncheon at Anthony's Pier 4 for more than 100 National Guard families may have been Lou Merloni's last in Boston for awhile. (The infielder from Framingham wasn't offered a contract by the Sox over the weekend, so he'll play elsewhere, if at all, next year.) Anthony's owner Michael Athanas said he wanted to host the families because he'd served in the National Guard.

PICTURE THIS If artist Susan Miller-Havens's portrait of former Cambridge mayor Alice Wolf is half as nice as the press release announcing its unveiling at City Hall, we'll be impressed. The three-page release on letter stock stationary arrived in a slick black folder with a resume and a CD marked "slides of Alice Wolf mayoral portrait." The artist, whose talents appear to include PR, once painted a life-size portrait of Hall-of-Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, which is in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

STORYTELLERS Mayor Tom Menino's literacy initiative has released a CD of Boston celebs reading children's stories. No kidding. The CD, available at select book and record stores, includes Red Sox shortstop-for-now Nomar Garciaparra reading "Monkey See, Monkey Do," former New Kid Joey McIntyre reading "Jack and the Beanstalk," Celtics' main man Paul Pierce reading "The Gingerbread Man," Senator Ted Kennedy doing "The Blind Man and the Hunter," and Steven Tyler's rendition of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." All proceeds from the CD go to ReadBoston.

Richard Dyer of the Globe staff contributed to this column. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

Stargazing

* Clay Aiken, runner-up on TV's "American Idol," graduated over the weekend from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Wearing the customary black robe and mortarboard, Aiken received a bachelor of arts degree, which he may not need since he's become a multiplatinum recording star. As Aiken shook Chancellor James Woodward's hand, he received applause and a few boos.

* Domestic diva Martha Stewart tells Larry King tonight that this is the "saddest holiday ever" as a result of the securities-fraud charges against her. In a taped conversation airing on "Larry King Live," Stewart says, "You have no idea how much worry and sadness and grief it causes." Stewart's criminal trial on the fraud and conspiracy charges related to the stock-trading scandal begins Jan. 12.

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