Wyoming Sen. Alan K. Simpson said yesterday that it was "uncharacteristic" of him to have criticized the Kennedy Center without first giving Center chairman Roger L. Stevens a chance to present his side of the story.
During Senate debate on the Center's debt problems last month, Simpson (who was joined by New Jersey Democrat Bill Bradley) criticized the Center for allegedly favoring British playwrights over some Americans and said that Stevens' position "must inevitably lead to serious conflicts of interest."
Stevens, who is now recuperating from a heart attack suffered 10 days ago in San Francisco, subsequently met with Simpson and Bradley, and responded to their charges. Simpson said yesterday that his talk with Stevens has helped him understand the Center's financial structure more fully -- but that his original doubts remain.
"Nothing has dampened my spirtis in probing it further," he said, "but it can be done in a way that is not destined to destroy or humble or impugn."
At Simpson's and Bradley's urging, Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D.N.Y.) has scheduled an informal meeting of Kennedy Center critics -- producers and playwrights -- for October 25. A spokesman for producer Emanuel Azenberg, who has been recruiting people to testify at the meeting, said last week that it might be postponed because of Stevens' illness.