The other shoe finally has dropped in the Trump affair. A Manhattan judge yesterday granted Donald and Ivana Trump a divorce, officially ending their 13-year marriage. Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob approved the divorce, which Ivana Trump had requested, and stated that her decision was "based on Mr. Trump's cruel and inhuman treatment such as made it unfaith or improper to continue to be married." The references were to Donald Trump's very public romance with Marla Maples. Ivana, helped by her lawyer, left the courtroom in tears and without comment after the brief hearing. The Donald, who did not attend the court session, issued a short statement: "I wish Ivana the best. I have no doubt that she will do very well in the years to come."
His lawyer, Jay Goldberg, said, "Today we've cleared the way for the real issue: division of property." A trial to decide the validity of a reported prenuptial agreement, as well as to determine the custody of the couple's three children and to divide the Trumps' many noncommercial properties, has been set for April 11. In court papers filed earlier this year, Mrs. Trump asked for half of Mr. Trump's estimated $5 billion, but recent reports have set the real estate magnate's wealth at well under $1 billion.
Maples' family, meanwhile, expects her to be the new Mrs. Trump before the year is out. A cousin told the New York Daily News that Maples has been sporting a $1,200 gold band that Trump gave her "saying that when he divorced Ivana, he'd marry her."
Solzhenitsyn: Nyet to Book Prize Alexander Solzhenitsyn, living in exile since his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974, was awarded the Russian state literature prize yesterday, but the author has declined to accept it. The government of Russia, the largest of the 15 Soviet republics, awarded the prize for Solzhenitsyn's multivolume account of Stalin's prison camp system, "The Gulag Archipelago." The work, which appeared in the West in the mid-'70s, has only recently been published in the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn, in a response to the awards committee, wrote that while he conveyed his gratitude to the committee members for their "unanimous attitude to the book," "I would consider it unthinkable and impossible to accept a State award for this book -- while the majority of our people have still not had the opportunity to obtain and read it." He also condemned the Soviet government's treatment of former zeks, or camp interns, and said that "the phenomenon of the Gulag has not been overcome either legally or morally." In closing, the reclusive Vermont resident said: "This book is about the suffering of millions and I cannot reap an honor from it."
The Mileage of Andrew Lloyd Webber It's been a busy couple of days for the cast of "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber," which opened last night at the National Theatre. After closing a week-long run in St. Louis on Sunday, the ensemble flew to Los Angeles to appear in a surprise command performance by the composer for Warner Bros.' 52nd-anniversary dinner. The gala at the Century Plaza Hotel drew such big names as Barbra Streisand, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. They were among others listening to Lloyd Webber himself at the piano, accompanying Sarah Brightman, from whom he was divorced last month, in selections from "The Phantom of the Opera" and other of his hits. (It appears the couple meant it when they said they could maintain a professional working relationship.) After the performance, the cast boarded a private jet to Washington, arriving early Monday morning, giving the performers barely enough time for a nap before heading over to the National.
Chuck Conconi is off this week. His column will resume Monday.