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G.H. HARDING

ROCK’S SNL — Ratings were up a staggering 77% from last year’s premiere, but what a gawd awful show. The opening skit; featuring Alec Baldwin as you-know-who and Jim Carrey as Joe Biden went on far too long. Carrey was great, but it was more Carrey than Biden if you ask me. Maya Rudolph showed up as Kamala Harris and was, well, just OK. For a brief moment, it seemed all three of them were lost in the headlights as they stared blankly at the cue cards, not sure how to proceed. Kind of a disaster if you ask me. Chris Rock was good, but a bit off his game. The sitting audience consisted all first-responders and that was a nice touch for sure. Rock had one funny joke: Talking about all the COVID-tests he said: “I haven’t had so much stuff up my nose since I shared a dressing room with Chris Farley.” If you remember Farley, it was funny and bittersweet. The skits were just awful and made me wonder how much time during the pandemic did the writers spend on writing it … clearly not enough. Why the ratings bump? well, boredom and frustration over everything surely accounted for that. Watching the last several seasons made me think, what’s happened to creator SNL-chieftain Lorne Michaels? This is the fellow who once offered the Beatles a paltry 3 million dollars (in 1976) to get back together once. Lennon and McCartney actually were going to come down to the live show and accept; and, several episodes later he argued with George Harrison over the amount on-camera. He used to have a flair for off-beat comedy. But, not now. Sad for sure. 46 seasons is a record, but in reality, this show hasn’t been funny for decades. Think Belushi, Aykroyd, Chase, even Murphy … yes, those were the days! 

Led Zeppelin

ZEPPELIN VICTORIOUS — Led Zeppelin’s six year-long copyright battle over their classic 70’s song “Stairway to Heaven” has finally come to an end.

The US Supreme Court refused Monday, to hear the case following a petition filed by the estate of Spirit’s Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) in August.

The legal battle was brought by Randy California’s estate in 2014, accusing Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of copying the opening riff of “Stairway to Heaven” from the Spirit song, “Taurus.”

I’ve heard both songs and IMO there is a similarity. But courts are like a bingo game: you can either suddenly win … or, suddenly lose. That’s why most suits are settled out of court. There’s no telling what could happen.

Truth be told, this was the highest profile case of this type since George Harrison, when he was sued by the “He’s So Fine” writers … as his “My Sweet Lord” was deemed too similar. Harrison even performed in court … to no avail.

Honestly, it’s a crap shoot.

GRAMMY UPDATE — (per Roger Friedman/SHOWBIZ 411) I spoke to Harvey Mason Jr. tonight, he’s the acting head of the Recording Academy while a search committee convenes to find a permanent chief after surviving the Deborah Dugan debacle last winter. The Academy is having its own woes.

A few days ago the Academy laid off 13 full time staffers, including some top people. Nine were from the Academy itself, four from MusiCares, the Grammys’ charitable arm. It wasn’t easy

Mason told me, “It was very hard to part ways with long time members of the Academy.” But he had to do it as part of reorganization that’s been going on all year. For one thing, it will also make things easier for a new CEO to start with a pared down group (It sounds like the search committee is making progress).

The bigger news from the Grammys is harder to swallow for the public and for music lovers, but reality bites this year. The obvious headline is that the Grammys, set for January 31st on CBS, will be presented without a live audience. “That seems to be the track we’re on,” Mason said, because of restrictions at the Staples Center and in Los Angeles. Another track might be to have the show somewhere else, but really, no arena will be inviting in 15,000 strangers this winter. We have to accept what we cannot change.

Also considerably altered will be the MusiCares Person of the Year dinner. A gala for 3,000 people at the Los Angeles Convention Center isn’t possible or feasible. But somehow the event will be presented, probably in a virtual/digital form, because the revenue from it is so important. 

MusiCares takes care of musicians in need of medical help, financial assistance, a wide variety of things. With the pandemic destroying incomes this year, MusiCares must raise as much money as possible. Mason did not tell me who the honoree might be this year. But whoever it is, MusiCares can still put on one of its amazing tribute shows without anyone getting sick.

I’m not worried about the Grammys. The new Executive Producer is Ben Winston, who produces James Corden’s lively and entertaining nightly late night talk show. Winston knows how to make performances pop in this new format. The Grammys and all its ancillary events will soldier on. And the return in 2022 will be all the sweeter.

Meantime, circle your calendar for October 16th on PBS for “Grammy Salute to Legends,” which I’m told is sensational.

Clearly Mason didn’t go on about the Deborah Dugan affair – nor, the Dana Tomarken one. Tomarken ran MusicCares with an iron fist and angered almost everyone in the biz. She took no prisoners. Duggan was quickly and discreetly (somewhat) ushered out the door last year after making disparaging comments about the show and NARAS.

I’d still love to hear her thoughts, but her settlement deal (which may have resulted in those 13 long-terms staffers dispatched) probably would prevent that. I don’t know her and still don’t know what precipitated her statements, but I bet it’s a rich story. Things haven’t been the same at NARAS since.

For my money, I’d still pick producer Joel Diamond as the new head there as I suggested last year. Drummer Mason is a good guy, but clearly in over his head.

Many won’t remember the name Michael Greene (former NARAS chieftain)  associated with NARAS, but that’s some story Feel free to google it.

Ted Zurkowski and Ian McDonald of Honey West

SHORT TAKES — The last post on the Honey West web-site was from September 2019. This was the super group fronted by Ian McDonald and Ted Zurkowski; McDonald from Foreigner and King Crimson, They put out one heck of a debut album (Bad Old World); did some great gigs at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room and Bowery Electric, spearheaded by their ace-PR man Randy Alexander … and, then disappeared.  Management changes ensued … 

Regal Cinemas are shutting down; 536 in the US. Wags say that when the new James Bond-movie was pushed to next year (after two previous moves) they figured that was it. Their Regal E-Walk here in NYC was a superb spot. 45,000 jobs gone in a flash. And, the sad fact is that more theater chains will follow suit. Tragic news for sure …

Joanna Bonaro

Guess Rory McEvoy and Joanna Bonaro’s Good ‘n Screwed is good ‘n screwed for good. Sad. Was a brilliant series … Robert Miller’s brilliant “You Can’t Tell The Truth” track has scored 7700 likes on Facebook and 35,000 views on YouTube. If you ask me, it be a great new song for inclusion on Saturday Night Live. Hey Lorne, give it a chance. The song will appear on a new solo album from Miller called Summer Of Love …  And, Yorkshire Publishing’s Andre Ginnane releases the next two editions in her The Adventures Of Sal series on Friday, October 30: The Pet Playground in the Sky and The Super Hero Mobile.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Mike Greenly; Curtis Urbina; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Rick Eberle; Vic Kastel; Billy Amendola; Wayne Avers; Robert Funaro; Coati Mundi; Andy Furhman; Melissa Davis; and, CHIP! 

G. H. Harding is a four decades insider to the entertainment world. He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production companies and several cable outlets. His anonymity is essential in bringing an unbiased view to his writings on pop culture. He is based in NYC.

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LET IT BE AGAIN — (Via SHOWBIZ 411) I told you yesterday the Beatles are releasing a restored version of “Let it Be,” the film, on Disney Plus. Peter Jackson, who made the “Get Back” series, did the work with his lab of mad scientists. “Let it Be” will begin streaming on May 8th.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot all the footage in 1969 and then made the final film. It played in theaters briefly, then disappeared. The rumor always was that Paul McCartney didn’t like the film. But when Jackson released “Get Back,” those reasons didn’t make sense.

Now the general public will see the film. (I saw it back in the day.) It should be exciting.

“Let It Be” contains footage not featured in the “Get Back” docuseries, bringing viewers into the studio and onto Apple Corps’ London rooftop in January 1969 as The Beatles, joined by Billy Preston, write and record their GRAMMY Award®-winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award®-winning title song, and perform live for the final time as a group.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Michael Lindsay-Hogg says, “’How often do you get to see artists of this stature working together to make what they hear in their heads into songs. And then you get to the roof and you see their excitement, camaraderie and sheer joy in playing together again as a group” …“I was knocked out by what Peter was able to do with ‘Get Back,’ using all the footage I’d shot 50 years previously.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Michael’s movie, ‘Let It Be,’ has been restored and is finally being re-released after being unavailable for decades,” says Peter Jackson. “Over three parts, we showed Michael and The Beatles filming a groundbreaking new documentary, and ‘Let It Be’ is that documentary – the movie they released in 1970.”…“I now think of it all as one epic story, finally completed after five decades. The two projects support and enhance each other: ‘Let It Be’ is the climax of ‘Get Back,’ while ‘Get Back’ provides a vital missing context for ‘Let It Be.’

As much as I liked the Peter Jackson-version, the original still burns in my head. I well remember when it came out – with a greatphoto book I still have on my shelf. When all the chatter began about how much fun they really had come out; I sort of didn’t believe it. Face it, if the Fab Four didn’t like Hogg’s version back then … it never would have come out.

I think there was a backlash of sorts and that’s why the original is finally coming out again, though Jackson ‘s involvement is curious. The first time in 50 years no less!  If you want to see it unvarnished and how it really was … watch it.

DON IS BACK — (Via Deadline) Don Johnson is set to star opposite Joshua Jackson in Dr. Odyssey, a new ABC drama series from Ryan Murphy, which is targeting a fall launch. It hails from 20th Television in association with Ryan Murphy Television.

As is the case with any Ryan Murphy series, no details about the premise are being revealed. As the title suggests, Dr. Odyssey is believed to be a medical procedural. According to sources, it is set on a cruise ship.

Details about Johnson’s character are being kept under wraps.

Dr. Odyssey is written, and executive produced by Murphy, Jon Robin Baitz and Joe Baken. Paris Barclay is directing and executive producing. Eric Paquette, Alexis Martin Woodall, Eric Kovtun, Scott Robertson and Nissa Diederich also executive produce alongside Jackson.

Johnson is known for his roles as Det. Sonny Crockett on the classic 1980s NBC series Miami Vice and as the title character in the 1996 CBS series Nash Bridges, which he also reprised in the 2021 Nash Bridges movie for USA. Recent credits include the Emmy-winning HBO limited series Watchmen, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out and the Book Club feature franchise. He has coming up Book Club 2: The Next Chapter and Rebel Ridge.

Tokyo Vice

SHORT TAKES — Watched the second season of MAX’s Tokyo Vice-toplining Ansel Elgort; Ken Watanabe and Rachel Keller. Was a great run, though the ending seemed somewhat somber. Sure the bad-guy was offed, but it was his wife who did the most damage. Great show. Michael Mann is one of the Executive Producers and you can see his hands on everything … Felix Cavaliere and The Rascals at SONY Hall on May 17 …

(Via Deadline) Financier and producer Participant is shuttering after 20 years. Founder Jeff Skoll alerted staff at 10:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Deadline has confirmed. Sources say Skoll did an audit of the company and wanted to pivot from entertainment. We understand that most of the 100-person staff is being let go except for core employees who will settle out remaining productions and oversee outstanding commitments to the catalog. Participant’s m.o. was to bring content to the world that was socially conscious, read its Oscar Best Picture winners Spotlight from Open Road and Universal’s Green Book, as well as DreamWorks’ Oscar winner Lincoln. All in, Participant counts 135 films, five series, 21 Oscars — including the two Best Pictures, four Best Documentaries and two Best International Features — 18 Primetime Emmys and north of $3.3 billion in global box office

Pam Anderson joins Liam Neeson in a Naked Gun re-boot? Yes indeed …

Ripley

Steve Zaillian’s Ripley on Netflix is a staggeringly spellbinding take on Ripley; the novel by Patricia Highsmith. Not quite the often comedic-romp that was Matt Damon’s take, but rather a very stylish re-construction. Michael Scott as Ripley is pretty awesome and shot in black-and-white, the images are stunning. After the first few episodes that meandered a bit, I’m definitely into it. Very much recommended.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — John Boulos; Manny’s; Al Roker; Roger Friedman; Roy Trakin; Alec Baldwin; Ken Sharp; Surf Ballroom; My Father’s Place; Eppy; Chuck Pulin; Joel Diamond; Billy Amato; Ray Free; Al Teller; Joel Diamond; Robey; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Glenn Friscia; and SADIE!

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Kjersti Long (David Kaptein)

G.H. Harding

GO LONG —- We’ve spoken before of 17-year-old Kjersti Long – on Origin Entertainment/ModSquad (ADA) Records. Her latest single “Sad Song” has become a digital-hit and a new album (her second) is in the works.

She’ll also be in NYC for June’s Tribeca Festival and a prominent agency is stepping up to rep her and her play Relative Space is prepping for an opening in the West End.

Said NEW HD’s Zach Martin: “Kjersti Long, at just 17, stands as a beacon of talent and ambition in the music industry. Her journey from a prodigious debut at the tender age of 11 with the album “Stronger Than You Think I Am” on Broadway Records to becoming a significant influencer on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Kjersti’s career trajectory is nothing short of remarkable​​. Her engagement with her fans and the music community through platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where she has garnered over 50 million views and more than 160,000 new followers, underscores her magnetic appeal and the resonant connection she forges through her music​​.”

She also has a song on the new Vanessa Williams album, “Legs.” Williams’ official video will be out April 26, but here’s an update on her from LifeMinute TV:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD-Okb_T8CM

www.kjerstilong.com


RASCAL-ING AROUND —
(Via Forgotten Hits) Look for a new Rascals box set coming out May 31st.

The 7-disc set encompasses their entire recorded output with Atlantic Records, 1965 – 1971, including mono and stereo copies of their albums, special singles mixes and some previously unreleased tracks.  (I remember shelling out big bucks for an earlier CD edition of this set … but I’ve gotta tell you, this one has got the COOLEST looking cover!!!).

“The Rascals:  It’s Wonderful: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings features 152 remastered songs, including 14 previously unreleased tracks. The first four albums are presented in both stereo and mono, along with significant single edits and foreign language versions. The collection includes a 60-page booklet with detailed notes and rare illustrations from The Rascals archives.

Amazon’s got it for $69.99 (I paid 2 ½ times that much way back when for the original!) so pre-order now.  This is quite the collection!

Interesting that this box set is from the UK-based Cherry Red Records. Founded by Iain McNay in 1978, Cherry Red Records has continued to uphold the same fiercely independent values since day one. Check them out here: https://www.cherryred.co.uk/about

And don’t forget about Felix Cavaliere and Gene Cornish and The Rascals at SONY Hall on May 17.

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Atlantic-Recordings-Rascals/dp/B0CZ3NHLGG?crid=3S8UG8TZCIC3M&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.fcz-QxVsrVNGCoS-EbSPkg.htVhtZLFLUN8n9NrR1H-6rJi5fsjLvQexjIPS6c2Ges&dib_tag=se&keywords=B0CZ3NHLGG&qid=1712320481&s=music&

Micky Dolenz at Troubadour (Stevo Rood)

SHORT TAKES — Check out Tone Scott’s review of Micky Dolenz at LA’s Troubadour in Goldmine: https://www.goldminemag.com/columns/micky-dolenz-songs-and-stories-raises-the-roof-off-the-troubadour-all-for-make-a-wish#gid=ci02dac725a00025c5&pid=thumbnail-3

RIP Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola at 87. Years ago, I was at a screening of Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind Of Charles Swan with Charlie Sheen. I loved the movie and at a post-screening event, I met Francis Ford Coppola, who could not have been more approachable.

He invited me to sit at his table with his wife Eleanor. Both were terrific. She’ll be much-missed by the film community as well. From Deadline: https://deadline.com/2024/04/eleanor-coppola-dead-hearts-of-darkness-francis-coppola-wife-1235883537/Happy Bday Brit Brashear.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Melinda Newman; Barry Fisch; Toby Rasmussen; Roy Trakin; Joel Diamond; Fred Armisen; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Richie Kaczor; Jim Burgess; Tom Scott; Steve Walter; Dan Zelinski; Herb Alpert; Hubert Laws; Eppy; Craig Newman; Jane Blunkell; John Billings; Lora Evans; Andrew Sandoval; Chris Carter; Wen Fernandez; and ZIGGY!

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OJ DOA — Perhaps the Drudge Report (yes, the Drudge Report) had the most fitting headline: Cancer Murders OJ.

Yesterday’s news came as a huge surprise at 11:00 AM. For me, firstly, I couldn’t quite believe it was almost 30 years since that trial. When the verdict came in, I was at The Conservatory restaurant in the long-gone, much missed Mayflower Hotel. It was packed and when the verdict was announced there was a minute or two of dead-silence, then gasps. One of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced.

I wasn’t a huge sports fan -never have been- but I knew a lot about OJ. Face it, he was an icon And when the murders happened; the Bronco-chase; and trial … it was just extraordinary. His rise and fall was an amazing tale. It was also a major story for all the entertainment outlets. Journalists essentially moved to LA for the 9-month trial. It was, to my mind, the first trial of its kind.

CNN showed some of the reactions from then: then audience reaction at the Oprah Winfrey show was a mixed bag. Some cheered as Winfrey stood stone-faced. The reaction of OJ’s lawyers were interesting too; Robert Khardashian looked shell-shocked, while Cochran and Robert Shapiro  hugged OJ.

As Wolf Bltizer just said: these are moments one will never forget.

We think we know what happened … but now, we’ll never know for sure. An american tragedy for sure.

YES Photo by Gottlieb Bros

YES’ PURPLE — (via Ultimate Classic Rock) Deep Purple and Yes will team up for a North American summer tour.

The trek begins on Aug. 14 in Hollywood, Florida, and concludes on Sept. 8 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday.

Deep Purple is in the midst of their 1 More Time tour and simultaneously celebrating 50 years of “Smoke on the Water” (52 years now, to be exact). The band recently released a super deluxe edition of its landmark album Machine Head, which includes classics such as “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star” and “Space Truckin’.”

Yes, meanwhile, will deliver a career-spanning set comprising material through their latest album, 2023’s Mirror to the Sky. The prog legends are also releasing an expanded anniversary box set of their 1994 album Talk next month.

52 years of “Smoke On The Water.” A classic if there ever was one. Every time I hear it on the radio, I start singing along. Talk about staying power! I saw Yes years ago and it was quite the show; with Chris Squire too.

There are a slew of legacy artists out for the summer and deservedly so. They may not generate the ink of a Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez, but their impact is still there.

Hubert Laws

SHORT TAKES — CTI Records. Remember them? It was producer Creed Taylor’s boutique label which released some of the most dynamic and interesting jazz-records in the 70’s and 80’s (SONY owns them now). From Airto to Milt Jackson; Deodato; Bob James; Jim Hall and Hubert Laws, the music was just terrific. Originally distributed by Herb Alpert’s A&M Records, they went independent and continued with some of the best jazz recordings ever. Even before you listened to the music, all the albums had a deluxe-cover; with some startling images. Check this piece out about their album covers from Medium: https://medium.com/@slishpogodi/cti-records-the-best-album-covers-cdac2e16c534 … 50 years of People Magazine. Rumors spread last year that the weekly was on its last legs.

Mia Farrow

Their first issue was in 1974 with Mia Farrow on the cover …

David Kramer

Director David Kramer won for ‘Best Documentary’ at last week’s NYFF event for his Jimi Hendrix: The Documentary. Congratulations

Coopstock

Coopstock is this weekend in Mesa, Arizona. Guests include Micky Dolenz; REO’s Kevin Cronin; Orianthi; Patrick Warburton; and of course, Alice Cooper himself … Hard to believe that director Todd Phillips, who directed The Hangover, did the first Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix. It was just startling in every way and now the follow-up is about to come out with Phoenix and Lady Gaga; introduced as Harley Quinn. One trade already termed it a jukebox musical. Stylish for sure it looks just sensational and is one of the best trailers I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s it is: https://variety.com/2024/film/news/joker-2-trailer-joaquin-phoenix-lady-gaga-1235957692/
… Here’s the trailer of Disney+’s Beach Boys doc.  Directed by Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Rspu3Xoi4 …  And, this week’s New York Magazine cover heralds the history of NYC through its restaurants. I was ready to see Tortilla Flats; La Cote Basque; Schraffts; Mortimers; Trader Vic’s; and Fontana Di Trevi. Turns out, it’s memories from people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who worked at The Coffee Shop and Keith McNally, who shucked oysters at One Fifth. Honestly, I expected a bit more depth. Great idea; lousy execution.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Toni Basil; Mark Bego; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mitch Dolan; Barry Nolan; Robert Lamm; Jacqueline Boyd; Wayne Avers; Tyorne Biljan; Michelle Toscas; Fred Zarr; Abbe Rosenfeld; Shep Pettibone; Tony Darrow; Robert Funaro; Angel Mastrogiorgio; Ellen Smith; Howard Bloom; Jane Berk; Jack Cunningham; and CHIP.

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RINGO’S COUNTRY — (Via Forbes) Ringo Starr had a very busy 2023. He released a new EP, toured, and even reunited with Paul McCartney to produce one last Beatles single, “Now and Then.” One might assume that after so much activity, the 83-year-old might take some time off, but according to the musician himself, he’s still hard at work–and trying something new.

In a video he posted to X (formerly Twitter), Starr shared some very exciting news for his fans. It seems that he’s back in the studio working on new music. That would be enough to tantalize his still-massive following, but the kind of music he’s making is what caught the attention of many.

Starr shared in his video that he was “gonna do a country EP, but as things are unfolding, it’s probably going to be like a real CD—ten tracks.” He then laughed a bit to himself, adding, “Can you believe it? I haven’t done one of them in a long time.”

The beloved drummer last released a full-length album of original material in 2019 when What’s My Name arrived. That set was a minor commercial success, peaking at No. 99 in his home country of the U.K. and No. 127 in the U.S., where he remains very popular to this day.

Since his last album, Starr has been on a streak, releasing a number of EPs, or shorter collections. In the five years since What’s My Name, the drummer has dropped four EPs, as well as a number of singles, live collections, and more. He most recently returned with Rewind Forward, which even saw him collaborating with McCartney again.

For the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a timetable for when fans may get to hear Starr’s take on country. While he may be working on the material, there’s no telling what exactly it will sound like or when he’ll decide to release something.

In addition to a country collection, Starr also detailed yet another project he’s working on. The former Beatle and songwriter and producer Linda Perry have collaborated on another EP, titled Crooked Boy. That set seems to be his focus at the moment, and it will likely be released before any country tunes. About his friend and producer, Starr commented, “She wrote the songs for me. She produced them. She’s a beauty, so musical,” and said that she “has a great vibe.”

Jackie Chan

CHAN ALERT — (Via Deadline) Jackie Chan has reassured fans that he is in good health after a picture of him with gray hair and a beard sparked concerns for his well-being.

The Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, and Tuxedo star turned 70 over the weekend and marked the occasion with a post on Instagram in which he addressed health fears.

“Not so long ago, a lot of friends saw some recent photos of me on the internet, and they were all concerned about my health,” Chan said.

“I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know, don’t worry! It’s just a character appearance for my latest movie. The character requires me to have white hair, white beard and look old.”

The viral photos were from an event where Chan was on stage with a microphone. He was wearing glasses and clutching papers.

Last November, Chan was cast in a new Karate Kid movie. He will play Mr. Han, the kung fu master who helped Jaden Smith fend off bullies in Sony’s 2010 Karate Kid remake.

In his Instagram message, the Hong Kong actor said he has cherished every moment of his 62 years in the entertainment industry. “All I can say is: I love making movies and I love you all,” Chan said.

SHORT TAKES — Last week were several top-secret screenings for the new Francis Ford Coppola movie Megalopolis. Per an article in yesterday’s Hollywood Reporter, many attendees found it impossible to position. I haven’t seen it, but how can you deny the director’s importance? That said, I knew one person who went to one of the screenings and he has yet to render an opinion on it. Check out the Reporter piece: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/megalopolis-francis-ford-coppola-challenges-distribution-1235867556/

Benson Boone

Just caught Benson Boone on Tuesday’s Today Show, performing his song “Beautiful Things.” The 21-year-old reminded me of Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever) during the short interview with Savannah, Hoda and Carson, but the song was pretty good. He gained prominence through his work on Tik Tok and Dan Reynolds’s acknowledgement – from Imagine Dragons. Check him out here: https://www.bensonboone.com/

Micky Dolenz at the Troubadour

Here’s one more great shot of Micky Dolenz’s from his triumphant show at LA’s Troubadour

People of a certain age will well recall John Hughes’ 1985 masterpiece The Breakfast Club. Certain things age well … others don’t. Check out Molly Ringwald’s take on that movie now from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2024/04/molly-ringwald-the-breakfast-club-elements-havent-aged-well-judd-nelson-character-1235877597/comment-page-2/#comments  … Anybody out there remember Lou O’Neill at the NewYork Post back in the day? …

Savannah Sellers

Can’t see to find Chloe Melas on Today anymore. Sad, but she clearly not the right move.; their Savannah Sellers is a much, much better fit …

Watched the Gershwin Awards honoring Elton John and Bernie Taupin on PBS. Brandi Carlisle performing “Madman Across The Water” is just amazing. Great show. Congratulations … More Sly Stallone news. All I can say is, I am NOT surprised: https://deadline.com/2024/04/tulsa-king-casting-director-quits-sylvester-stallone-accused-criticizing-background-actors-1235878860/ … Here’s the trailer for the biopic on Amy Winehouse from Focus Features. Looks pretty good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYzIOBwyhIU  … Happy Bday Robin Platzer!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Terry Jastrow; Dina Pitenis; Mark Bego; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Len Berman; Felix Cavaliere; Jane Blunkell; Pete Bennett; May Pang; Ken Dashow; Craig Newman; Jeffrey Sherman; Stu Fine; Mitch Kanner; Eppy; Al Steckler; Dan Richter; Tony King; Derek Taylor; Tyrone Bijan; Michelle Toscas; and ZIGGY!

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Micky Dolenz and band onstage (photo by Tyrone Biljan)

G.H. Harding

DOLENZ AT THE TROUBADOUR — Doug Weston’s Troubadour club in LA is a most storied venue. Back in the day, that was the club to be at and to play at on Santa Monica Blvd. Elton John’s US debut occurred at the club in 1970 when he was a mere 23. Other acts such as Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Joni Mitchell, Poco, Neil Young, James Taylor, Eagles, Neil Diamond, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, Waylon Jennings, Tom Waits and so many more appeared at the club.

Troubadour (photo by Alison Martino)

Somehow The Monkees never played the club (though Micky Dolenz was in the audience for Elton’s debut back then). They hung out there and Mike Nesmith actually played there under the name of Mike Blessing during his Monkee-auditions.

That all changed Friday night when Micky Dolenz and his 6-piece band with his sister Coco, performed there. It was sold-out (a benefit for Make-A-Wish) and it was indeed history in the making.

The evening began with Dolenz’s sister Coco (it was her birthday) doing a short set with the band. Dolenz entered the stage and began with “That Was Then, This Is Now” and “Last Train To Clarksville.” Dolenz peppered the show with many personal reminiscences and his crack-band shined; especially guitarist Wayne Avers, drummer Rich Dart and bassist John Billings. Dolenz’s voice remains as strong as ever; it’s been said that his is a cross between Freddie Mercury and Roy Orbison, which is a spot-on description.

Dolenz and crew then did “Good Morning, Good Morning” and “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which was preceded by Dolenz’s memories about his time with The Beatles. “Johnny B. Goode” (his Monkees-audition song) and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” followed with the crowd singing along.

Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Elton’s “Your Song” followed, again peppered with Dolenz’s poignant memories.

Make no mistake, The Monkees had just terrific material to work with; songwriters like Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Neil Sedaka, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, but the synthesis of the four of them was pure magic. Dolenz is carrying on that spirit in fine fashion.

Dolenz and band encored with “Gimme Some Lovin’,”No Time” and “I’m A Believer.”

Just a terrific show from start to finish. Bravo!

Seen in the SRO crowd, Alison Martino; Goldmine’s Ken Sharp and Tone Scott; Breakfast with The Beatles’ Chris Carter; Craig Newman from Paladin Artists; Art Rutter; Michelle Grant; Jane Blunkell; Micky’s daughter Ami Dolenz; and Roy Trakin from Variety.

Mario Van Peebles

HOLLY-DAY IS HERE  — (Via Variety) Mario Van Peebles has been tapped to direct “That’ll Be the Day,” the story of how Buddy Holly and other musicians of the late 50’s helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll and influence the wider societal and cultural landscape, including the civil rights movement.

Music has been central to much of Van Peebles’ work, from his 1991 gangster movie “New Jack City” to his work on “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” which he co-executive produced for Hulu. Van Peebles is currently writing a musical stage tribute to his father Melvin Van Peebles, to be performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center later this year.

“America’s tumultuous cultural melting pot has produced transcendent musical talent, including Buddy Holly, who was our first bad ass rock ’n’ roll nerd,” Van Peebles said in a statement.

His 2003 docudrama “Baadasssss!” pays homage to his father’s groundbreaking film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” His latest film, “Outlaw Posse” – a Western starring Edward James Olmos, Whoopi Goldberg, Cedric the Entertainer and John Caroll Lynch – which Van Peebles wrote, directed and starred in – is out now in theaters.

The screenplay was written by Patrick Shanahan and Matthew Benjamin, with additional material written by Van Peebles. The script is based on a story by French and Stephen Easley, general counsel to the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.

Mario has certainly established himself as a creative force, but still, this seems an odd choice. But so was Taylor Hackford for Ray and that was a masterpiece.

SHORT TAKES — Woody Allen says in Graydon Carter’s Airmail: “The whole business has changed, and not in an appealing way. All the romance of film-making is gone.” Sad if his next film Coup de Chance, his 50th feature, is his last. Mired in personal tribulations, Allen was indeed canceled. Me, I wasn’t there and still haven’t made up my mind. But, boy, what a filmmaker. Sad news for sure …

Steve Kmetko

Remember Steve Kmetko? One of the first major entertainment journalists. He was on E and Entertainment Tonight and then unceremoniously dropped. On a podcast (Still Here Hollywood) with Amy Yasbeck, he reveals all. I knew Steve and his canceling was not done the right way at all. Check it out here: https://podtail.com/en/podcast/still-here-hollywood/ … And, Colin Farrell’s new Apple TV+ show

Sugar

Sugar is a visual delight. The logline begins with “an enigmatic detective” Hey, aren’t they all? It’s a bit of Chinatown and Mad Men. Light on story, but a heavenly look.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Wayne Avers; Tyrone Bijan; Jane Blunkell; Tone Scott; Chris Carter; Barry Fisch; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Jules Asner; Amanda Naylor; Michael DesBarres; Jacqueline Boyd; Jim Kerr; Maria Milito; Dan Zelinski; Eppy; Ken Kohl; Kent and Laura Denmark; Mitchell Coleman; Lush Ice; Barry Schiff; Tony King; Jodi Ritzen; and ZIGGY!

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