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Freeman Works Egypt; HOF for Baker; Wang’s Loss; Zocalo’s Gain

Former Laguna Beach Mayor Paul Freeman will take part in a bigger political challenge this week: He’s part of a U.S. Agency for International Development team of observers in Egypt, where a round of three national elections gets started this week with a vote on a proposed constitution amid the contention that has followed the Arab Spring overthrow of Hosni Mubarak nearly three years ago. Freeman’s team will report on conditions before, during and after the votes, which will include ballots on a new president and legislature later this year. He’s not sure where he’ll be posted this week after initial meetings in Cairo—but he’s also no stranger to such uncertainty after similar stints in Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Afghanistan …

The men’s basketball team at UC Irvine could be on the brink of a breakout, given the pair of 7-footers on its roster, last week’s win in its Big West opener against rival Long Beach State, and other signs of progress under Coach Russell Turner. The program adds some polish to its alumni club, now that C. David Baker—a power forward for the Anteaters in the early 1970s who went on to serve as mayor of Irvine and more recently resided in Newport Beach—has been named president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Baker joins Oklahoma City Thunder Coach Scott Brooks—who played for the Anteaters in the 1980s—as a UCI hoops vet with a national presence …

Baker brings some football chops to his new job: He owned OC’s first entry in the Arena Football League—the short-lived Anaheim Piranhas—and later served as commissioner of the league (see related story on Anaheim’s new franchise, page 1). Baker’s son, Sam, plays for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons …

Vizio’s William Wang looked lean and ready for the final BCS trophy presentation to Florida State after the Jan. 6 national championship game his TV company sponsored through its deal with the Rose Bowl. Wang has been on a diet for the past two years and lost enough weight to offset the infamous 10 pounds that TV cameras are said to add—and another 55 pounds to boot …

Zocalo Public Square has gone and said what a lot of parents wonder when it comes to their kids’ career choices: “People who work in fine arts and literature, music and theater can expect to defend a career choice that was, at the very least, financially unwise,” declares the Santa Monica-based “not-for-profit daily Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.” Zocalo’s follow-up question—“Do the Arts Make Us Better People?”—will be the basis for its first foray into OC, a panel featuring author and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, Getty Trust President and CEO James Cuno, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts President Terrence W. Dwyer. Jori Finkel, a contributor to the New York Times, will moderate. The event is scheduled for Feb. 11 at the Segerstrom Center’s Samueli Theater. No charge, reservations suggested, beer and wine reception to follow. Visit zocalopublicsquare.org for more information …

Worth a look: the creative presentation of the fare on the new menu at Taco Rosa at the Marketplace in Irvine.

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