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The Insider, Oct. 11 

Soft opening

Money — and time — have been no object in Warren Stephens' top-to-bottom renovation of the Capital Hotel. Opening dates have been pushed back repeatedly.

But look for activity soon. A meeting of state bar association presidents was booked into the hotel long ago for this weekend. And the hotel will fulfill the commitment. Local people have been working furiously to get things in order to greet the group.

General manager Joe Rantisi confirms that the hotel will fulfill the commitment, but signs will be posted saying the hotel is being used for a private function, so the general public won't be able to try the restaurants and bar just yet, much less book a room. The “magic date” for opening is now Nov. 19, Rantisi said.

More art for park

A private donor bought two sculptures during the weekend's Sculpture at the River Market show and sale and donated them to the city for installation in the Riverfront Adventure Park.

City Director Dean Kumpuris, a promoter of the show, which sent a proportion of sales to a non-profit organization to maintain Riverfront Park, revealed the purchases but not the purchaser.

The sculptures will join a third, a gift by the late banker Jack Fleischauer, at the new playground, which is under construction. That sculpture, “Together,” is by Mark Leichliter, whose work can be seen in front of the Little Rock Airport.

Susan of Arkansas

We chatted briefly this week with Susan McDougal, famous for her defiance of Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr and her journey through some of the country's roughest lockups for women.

She tells us that Charlize Theron has been formally signed to portray her in a biopic now in development. Theron's presence means the movie should be “bankable,” McDougal says. That is, it should attract the financing necessary to produce a major movie.

McDougal said the plot line likely will expand beyond her personal story to include of key figures in the Clinton White House during the scandal years. The hope, she says, is that the movie could be released before the 2008 election. Paul Haggis (“Crash”) is leading the project.

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