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G.H. HARDING

BOWIE’S STARDUST? — (Via The Sun) Of all Britain’s global music stars, David Bowie‘s life story always looked worthy of a big-budget Hollywood movie.

The Heroes singer not only lived the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle to excess, he was an enigma just waiting to be unravelled on the silver screen.

But with the fifth anniversary of his death this past weekend, the first biopic about Bowie has been upended by a bitter row between the film’s makers and the star’s friends and family.

In Stardust, which is being streamed from next Friday, Johnny Flynn, half-brother of 1990’s Soldier Soldier actor Jerome Flynn, portrays a young Bowie down on his luck.

In the movie the singer’s first US tour in 1971 goes so badly wrong that he ends up playing to an audience of vacuum cleaner salesmen.

It is the kind of triumph-over-adversity tale that turned 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and 2019’s Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton as Elton John, into box office smashes.

But the problem is, while those movies featured hits by their subjects, Stardust does not contain a single Bowie track.

The singer’s son Duncan Jones, himself a film-maker, has attacked the movie on social media and Bowie’s first wife Angie did not want it made — while both refused to license any of his songs for the film.

But Johnny blasted back, saying Stardust was better off without him singing Bowie’s hits.

The small-budget movie has also angered relatives of record label executive Ron Oberman, who died from dementia in 2019 aged 76. In the film he is seen going on a road trip across America with Bowie, then 24.

Ron’s younger brother Michael, who also knew Bowie, reckons the film gets most of its facts wrong. He told The Sun: “There is a good reason why Duncan didn’t like the movie; there is a good reason why Angie wanted to stop it being made. The producers had the chance to get it right and they chose not to.”

Since his death from cancer in 2016, Bowie’s legacy and fortune has continued to grow, selling millions more records and finding new fans.

There have been countless business offers made to his estate, but because he left a £74million fortune his family — including widow Iman — had no need to cash in on his memory.

Bowie never wrote an auto- biography and did not want a biopic to be made about him.

 In interviews he would often hide behind one of his personas, such as bisexual alien Ziggy or the fascist Thin White Duke, from the era of his 1976 album Station To Station.

The singer, who was born David Jones in Brixton, South London, told one journalist: “Don’t expect to find the real me, the David Jones underneath all this.”

The film attempts to explain Bowie’s fondness for using alter egos, by looking back at the history of schizophrenia in his family.

His half-brother Terry Burns was sectioned in a psychiatric hospital and took his own life in 1985 at the age of 47. Three of his aunts had mental health problems, with one diagnosed with schizophrenia and another lobotomized.

Bowie feared it was hereditary and he might also lose touch with reality.

Johnny maintains that Stardust was able to include scenes about mental health problems because it was made independently. He said: “If this were a bigger-budget movie a studio would probably tell you to take that stuff out. That happened with the Queen film, which is why it ended up with its manipulated, emotional finale.”

Johnny, 37, insists that Stardust has more integrity than Bohemian Rhapsody, even though Rami Malek won an Oscar for portraying Freddie Mercury.

He said: “Nobody is interested in me singing David Bowie songs, just like I’m not interested in Rami Malek singing Queen songs.”

Instead, after being refused permission to use Bowie’s material, Johnny simply wrote his own songs for the movie.

Its producers had realized Bowie’s 1971 American tour would be the right moment to set their biopic. The US authorities had banned the singer from performing any of his songs live because he didn’t have the correct work permit. So instead he played cover versions of other acts.

But even though Michael Oberman says he offered to tell the Stardust scriptwriters what happened during that tour, he adds that he was not contacted by the director, Gabriel Range, until after Stardust had finished shooting.

He said: “There was no trip, that never happened. But there were so many good, funny things that did happen which didn’t make it into the movie.”

Photographer Michael, 72, previously a rock journalist, was there when Bowie turned up at the Oberman brothers’ family home in Silver Spring, Maryland, on his first night in the States.

When they went for a meal at a local steakhouse, the waitress looked at the effeminately dressed Bowie strangely and pulled a curtain around their booth so other customers couldn’t see them. Then Bowie went back to Michael’s house, where, despite his reputation for taking illegal substances, he turned down the offer of smoking cannabis in a water pipe, or bong — because he wasn’t into “hash”.

Michael recalled: “David and my brother and one of the bands I was managing called Sky Cobb came back to my house and it was David’s first ever time seeing a bong.”

Even though Bowie was in America to promote his third album The Man Who Sold The World, and had enjoyed a hit with “Space Oddity” in Britain, he was not famous in the States back then — so much so that Sky Cobb had no idea who he was.

Michael is angry that he is shown in the film as not knowing who Bowie is and asking if he is a “novelty act”, even though he had interviewed the singer two years earlier and was a fan.

He believes the depiction of his brother Ron is even worse. He is played by Marc Maron, who at 57 is more than twice Ron’s age in 1971. And in the film he is made out to be a loser publicist who swears all the time, whereas Ron was director of publicity at Mercury Records and never cursed.

For Michael, Johnny does not grasp the essence of Bowie’s true character.

He said: “Johnny Flynn’s version of David being so insecure was not the David I knew.” But while many other details of the film are wrong, some elements are roughly correct.

Bowie really did come back from the 1971 tour inspired to transform himself into the glam rock legend Ziggy Stardust. It happened after Ron gave him a record by an American singer called The Legendary Stardust Cowboy.

And Bowie started recording his most influential album, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, in Nov-ember of that year.

It went gold in the US and propelled Bowie to stardom, not just on the other side of the Atlantic, but worldwide.

There is also an amusing scene where Bowie thinks he has been chatting to the Velvet Underground’s lead singer Lou Reed, unaware that he had left the art rock band by that point.

In fact Bowie was talking to Doug Yule, who had replaced John Cale as bassist in the group.

But Michael thinks that even if Stardust had got everything right, Bowie’s son would still never have given the movie his blessing.

He said: “It wouldn’t matter if Jesus Christ came back to life and wrote the screenplay and it was perfect, Duncan wouldn’t license the music for the film because David didn’t want a film to be made about him.”


Interesting article from The UK’s Sun. If you don’t have the artists’ songs … and, they’re the subject of the movie … that’s a problem. Bohemia Rhapsody used Queen’s music, as did the Elton-biopic … and, more importantly they were sanctioned by the right people.

I knew Ron Oberman and he was a talented individual for sure. Imagine: launching David Bowie!

I’m a huge Bowie-fan and will watch this movie knowing the controversy. I always thought Bowie’s story would make for a great, great movie, but if he didn’t want it, I guess it’s not meant to be.

Here’s Stardust’s trailer: 

LITTLE KNOWN FACT #2 FOR THE MONKEES — (from Forgotten Hits) The single “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” ultimately got Don Kirschner fired as The Monkees music supervisor. In fact, a Canadian single version of “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” had to be pulled off the market. Just as it was being released, The Monkees gained control of their musical output and had final say on what was being released. 

The B-side of the Canadian single was “She Hangs Out,” a song that The Monkees would not “officially” release until nine months later on their Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones album. The single featured a completely different version with a very funky R&B feel to it; The Monkees would eventually re-record this track and release the “pop / doo-de-ron-ron” version we’ve all come to know and love! T

hey instead substituted Mike Nesmith’s composition “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” as the B-side, and that’s the way the single was released all around the world (part of their new deal with Colgems Records guaranteed them say-so on their next release … which had to be a Monkees production! Kirschner’s jumping the gun with the “She Hangs Out” track is what ultimately got him fired!). The R&B version of “She Hangs Out” became a highly sought-after collectible on vinyl; it has since been released on some of their compilation CDs.

 A CHAPMAN WIN — (via SHOWBIZ 411) Pretty much all of hip hop is based on sampling or stealing. Now Nicki Minaj has learned a lesson the hard way.

Minaj, who couldn’t write a lullaby, stole Tracy Chapman’s great song, “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight.” Minaj re appropriated it for something she called “Sorry.” Now she’s REALLY sorry.

Nicki has to pony up $450,000 to Chapman in a settlement. It’s too funny. Chapman is on an infamous no-sample list, but Minaj’s people tried to clear the sample anyway. When they were rejected they left the song off of Minaj’s “Queen” album. But “Sorry” was recorded, and it made it out onto lots of platforms including YouTube.

Chapman says in a statement: “I am glad to have this matter resolved and grateful for this legal outcome which affirms that artists’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists. I was asked in this situation numerous times for permission to use my song; in each instance, politely and in a timely manner, I unequivocally said no. Apparently Ms. Minaj chose not to hear and used my composition despite my clear and express intentions.”

Chapman adds:  “This lawsuit was a last report — pursued in an effort to defend myself and my work and to seek protection for the creative enterprise and expression of songwriters and independent publishers like myself.”

Here’s Minaj’s “Sorry”: 

Here’s Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You”: 

Most contemporary artists do one style of song only. These days, it’s pretty much one-and-done with most new artists. The producers essentially do it all and the vocalist or artist, is just another cog in the wheel.

The only contemporary new artist I can think of who can do it all … is Harry Styles … and, that’s why he’s a success.

SHORT TAKES — This past weekend was the 29th anniversary of Debbie Gibson’s first appearance on Broadway; performing in Les Miserables; Cabaret; and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Congrats … Terrific Willie Geist interview with Rachel Brosnahan from the Marvelous Mrs. Maizel. No mention of the fact that she is the niece of the late-designer Kate Spade and I did not know she was in, and Emmy-nominated, for Netflix’s House Of Cards. Riding around in a double-decker bus, while snowing in NYC, it was excellent …

Boy, Project Grand Slam’s Robert Miller, hit it right on the head when he wrote and released “You Can’t Tell The Truth” about the current President. A former lawyer who has worked for and against Trump, he definitely knew what would happen, even last year. With a pulsating bass and prescient lyrics, the track is on Miller’s first-ever solo album Summer of Love (2020) out January 29 on Cakewalk Records. Check out the track here:  

Micky and Ami Dolenz

Happy Bday Ami Dolenz and RIP Harry ‘Skip’ Kehr!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Kurt Loder; Richard Braciforte; Barry Fisch; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Barry Zelman; Markos Papadatos; Heather Moore; Eppy; Donnie Kehr; Frank Conway; Andrew Krystal; and, BELLA!

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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G.H. Harding

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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