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G.H. Harding

MADONNA’S FINALLY ENOUGH LOVE — We finally received a copy, through Rhino of Madonna’s deluxe-set Finally Enough Love-50 Number Ones. There’s no question that its a monster of a set; certainly chronicling Madonna’s out-sized career, but the set also posed a few intriguing questions.

A glorious review from Rock and Roll Globe: Has anyone been remixed more than Madonna?

Think about how many records she’s released since her first, “Everybody,” almost exactly 40 years ago (October 6, 1982, to be precise). And the fact that remixing has existed for the entirety of her career. And that she’s a dance/pop artist first and foremost, naturally prone to remixing.

There’s a few of her ballads that didn’t receive official remixes, sure – but the vast majority of her singles have. So many, in fact, that Madonna’s hit Billboard’s Dance Club Play chart 67 times, and 64 of those trips have resulted in top tens. And of those 64, an astounding 50 have topped the chart. (All three numbers are records by far, along with her 75 cumulative weeks at #1; additionally, no artist has topped any single Billboard survey as many times.)

To celebrate the occasion, and also to mark both the 40th anniversary of her first single and the 35th of her first remix album (1987’s You Can Dance), we now get the compilation Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones, featuring single-edited versions of each one of these 50 chart-toppers across three CDs. Early on, her dance hits weren’t actually remixed, but sometimes just extended – as in the case of her first #1 on the dance chart, “Holiday” and “Lucky Star” were listed jointly as “LP Cuts,” a common practice on the chart at the time. Club DJs simply played the songs straight off the album! These two songs spent 5 weeks at #1, a run matched in her catalog only by 2000’s “Music.” Oddly, only “Holiday,” but not “Lucky Star,” appears on Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones. [I include the album’s subtitle because a more compact 16-track version, just titled Finally Enough Love, was released in June.]

What also doesn’t help is the choices of whose remixes to include: both Offer Nissim and Tracy Young get three selections apiece, for example. Offer Nissim’s mixes are alright, but tend to get very samey (spoiler alert: he really likes hard drums). Similarly, Young’s work is solid, but why not mix things up and give us some different contributors? (That said, her Tracy Young Dangerous Mix of “Crave” is deliciously breezy, and features an indefatigable bassline.) Then there’s “Give Me All Your Luvin,’” which is featured in its Party Rock Remix by, I wish I was kidding, LMFAO.

(Remember them?) It’s as clunky and stupid as their own singles – and worse yet, the thrusting, kinetic Laidback Luke mix of the same track was right there waiting to be used! (Blame Madonna herself, who reportedly curated the selections here.)

To be fair, I’m picky when it comes to these things. Shep Pettibone’s fingerprints are all over the selections here, especially on the first disc (“Into the Groove,” “Like A Prayer,” “Express Yourself,” “Keep It Together,” “Vogue,” and “Fever” all appear via his remixes), and I’m not mad at all – and would frankly welcome even more from the man who I think is one of the all-time greatest to ever remix a record. His take on “Groove” (originally featured on Madonna’s epochal 1987 remix album You Can Dance) in particular is the one I consider definitive; the edit featured here doesn’t defang any of its power.

The other chief problem with this collection is the simple fact that the remixes – and dance chart #1s – have been coming fast and furious this century, and a lot of these songs just aren’t that good. Starting with 2003’s American Life, I’ll argue that Madonna’s only made one good-to-great album in the past two decades (2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor), and the last 12 remixes featured here are of songs originally on Hard Candy, MDNA, Rebel Heart, and Madame X – a stretch of work that I don’t think anyone would call her strongest. Conversely, however, even if you take her classic 80’s work out of the equation, there’s a lot of killers here.

Madonna’s 90’s-into-00’s can stand up against almost any pop artist’s catalog: from “Vogue,” of course, through “Erotica” (featured in Masters at Work’s legitimately sexy Underground Club Mix), to “Secret” and “Bedtime Story” (both remixed by Junior Vasquez), onto the classic Ray of Light singles, Music’s “What It Feels Like for a Girl” (presented here in its breathtaking Above & Beyond Club Radio Edit), culminating with the Dance Floor classics, remixed by the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Stuart Price, and Axwell. I mean, whew.

To be honest, I prefer the original mix or release of each and every one of these songs. One of my favorites, “Into The Groove” from 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan on this set, was a totally different mix than the one I first heard and feel in love with.

The other thing I noticed as I carefully made my way through the tracks is that those early records of hers …as good as they were at the time, don’t seem to hold up. I was there at The Funhouse; 12 West; Danceteria and Paradise Garage and her records were legend at the time … it’s just all these years later, so much has changed.

It’s an enormous set and breathtaking undertaking; but well worth it. As I said when her tour was announced, only visual and videos from those early days were referenced and even this 3-CD set features an early Madonna-photo. She was iconic back then … and, we’ll see if she still is.

THE BELZ RANG SILENT —  Richard Belzer passed this past weekend.  I first saw him at Rick Newman’s legendary club Catch A Rising Star on First Avenue eons ago. He was simply hilarious, Snarky for sure, but funny. He appeared onSaturday Night Live; The Groove Tube and always left an indelible impression.

Always outfitted in black, TV discovered him when he launched the character of John Munch in Barry Levinson and Tom Fonatna’s cannily brilliant Homicide; Live On The Street. It was just a sensational show and really stood among the past great cop shows like  Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. A crossover with Dick Wolff’s Law & Order, with Jerry Orbach, was just stellar. Orbach’s character dated Munch’ ex-wife and the hi jinks ensued. Together theysolved the crime, but there was an underlying dynamic that was just brilliant between the two.

Wolff in fact has said that the union was so good, he immediately wanted to introduce the character into one of his “newer”: shows Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Per the Hollywood Reporter: Munch made his first appearance in 1993 on the first episode of Homicide and his last in 2016 on Law & Order: SVU. In between those two NBC dramas, Belzer played the detective on eight other series, and his hold on the character lasted longer than James Arness’ on Gunsmoke and Kelsey Grammer’s on Cheers and Frasier. Certainly one of the most memorable cops in TV history, Munch — based on a real-life Baltimore detective — was a highly intelligent, doggedly diligent investigator who believed in conspiracy theories, distrusted the system and pursued justice through a jaded eye. He’d often resort to dry, acerbic wisecracks to make his point: “I’m a homicide detective. The only time I wonder why is when they tell me the truth,” went a typical Munch retort.

In a 2016 interview for the website The Interviews: An Oral History of Television, Homicide executive producer Barry Levinson recalled listening to Belzer on The Howard Stern Show and liking him for Munch. “We were looking at some other actors, and when I heard him, I said, ‘Why don’t we find out about Richard Belzer?”

Levinson said. “I like the rhythm of the way he talks. And that’s how that happened.”The pencil-thin Belzer portrayed Munch on all seven seasons of the NBC series. When it ended in 1999, the actor wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to the role. He had appeared as Munch on NBC’s Law & Order three times from 1996-99 and thought he might be a good fit on that show. “When Homicide was canceled, I was in France with my wife and she said, ‘Let’s open a bottle of champagne and toast: You did this character for seven years,’” Belzer recounted in the 2009 book Law & Irder: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion. “And then I remembered that Benjamin Bratt was leaving  L&O, and so I called my manager and said, ‘Call Dick Wolff — maybe Munch can become [Det. Lennie] Briscoe’s partner’ —- because we had teamed for the crossover. So he called and Dick said, ‘What a great idea, but I’ve already cast Jesse Martin to be the new guy [opposite Jerry Orbach].’”

Wolf, however, was in the process of developing a Law & Order spinoff to focus on the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit, the division that investigates sexually based crimes. He wanted Munch for that. When Law & Order: SVU debuted in September 1999, Munch had relocated from Baltimore to New York to join forces with Det. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). Capt. Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) was brought over from Law & Order to head the squad. Munch’s sardonic demeanor turned out to be perfect for the grim tone of the series, and Belzer stayed 14 seasons. The character announced his retirement from the NYPD in 2014, but Munch returned a couple years later for the 17th-season episode “Fashionable Crimes.”

I’d often bump into Belzer at The Friars club in NY with Orbach back in the day. He was a real NY-guy. Huge, huge loss.

Ronald Dahl

SHORT TAKES — This whole brouhaha over the re-writing of some of Ronald Dahl’s books (Matilda; James and the Giant Peach; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is, in my opinion, just absurd. Let me explain it best this way: I am not a fan of the director’s cut or a song being remixed to death. For me, I want to hear a piece of art (movie, TV show, record) exactly the same way I first heard it the first time and the way it was when the artist created it and released it. One of my favorite movies is Blade Runner: I think I understood it the first time I saw it, but I sure loved everything about it. Then came  the director’s cut; then came the version without the narration. Neither was better than the original version. I recall trying a bit too hard trying to figure out what the difference was and losing track of the story. And, I feel exactly the same way about this Ronald Dahl-situation. It’s blatant censorship. Art is a very personal choice and what you get out of it is also very personal. Sad for sure …  Sighting: PR-pasha David Salidor and staff at Dimmer Summer on Smith Street in Brooklyn Heights …

Sara Gore

Micky Dolenz, in NYC next week for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday the 27th, also will be on NY: Live Wednesday interviewed by the terrific Sara Gore.

Saw one of oddest movies I’ve ever seen this past weekend, The Outfit, with Mark Rylance and Zoey Deutsch. Eerily creepy, it seemed like a David Mamet-play at times. Rylance is just stunning as a tailor? Maybe, maybe not. I’d definitely recommend it … Lenny’s, the Brooklyn-pizza shop where John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, gets his pizza in the opening moments of the 1977 film, closed this weekend after 70 years. Talk about staying power. I wonder if club promoter turned manager turned politician Vito Bruno still owns the original dance floor from the movie?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 30: Wes Bentley attends the Premiere Party For Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” Season 2 at Lombardi House on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

And, from Yellowstone’s Wes Bentley:  ‘If you think this has a happy ending, you’re not paying attention.’” Ominous, right?

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Jason Elzy; Plastic EP; Jeff Smith; Andrew Saffir; Paul Yasso; Mary Q.; Marion Perkins; Angela Tarantino; Nancy Andrews; Bruce Grakal; Vinny Napolitano; Keren Red; Andrew Saffir; Guy Pearce; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Jeff Smith; 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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FOLEY’S FUN — I watched Axel F: Beverly Hills Cop the other night and though everyone looked dreadfully old, I rather enjoyed in. Murphy was 23 when the first one came out in 1984 and was a massive hit; 40 years later, the demand is perhaps not the same, but I was surprised by how much of the original music was repeated in this one: from The Pointer Sisters on down to Bob Seger; it was almost like a walk down memory lane.

Kevin Bacon, as a corrupt police captain, is the big bad here and while he was good, he was nowhere near as bad as Stephen Berkof as Victor Maitland in the original. Face it, the badder the bad-guy is, the more it works. It was great seeing the original cast back; I love Paul Reiser, Judge Reinhold and John Ashton, but newcomers Taylour Paige, who essays Foley’s daughter, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt bring real gravitas to the screen. Levitt continues to impress every time I see him. I predict he’ll find that one big role and will be a major, major star.

The script by Will Beall; Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten is pretty bland, although one line that Murphy says to Paige is a killer:  I’ve been a father as long as you’ve been a daughter.

Don Simpson

If you’ve seen the trailer and it evoked similar feelings as the one in 1984, it’s because the studio brought back the original editor to do the new trailer. Smart move for sure. Also impressive was adding the name of producer ‘Don Simpson’ in the opening credits. Much missed.

TRUMP BIDNESS — After the weekend’s events with Trump, what can you say. He survived and the ;photos and videos have been used and viewed hundreds of times. We don’t even talk about a replacement for Biden anymore?

There still are some that say it was staged, but were the injured part of the plan too?. Even for me, that’s a bit cyclical.

I lived through the Kennedy (both); King; Wallace; Reagan and Scalise events and they were just terrible.

Still you’ve got give Trump credit for pushing on …. right?

SHORT TAKES — Hard to believe LIVE AID was 39 years ago last weekend. We we’re there, actually sitting in the row where they stopped to hose the crowd down. Was a terribly hot day at JFK Stadium. My main memory was Clapton, The Cars and Hall & Oates and of course, all of Phil Collins. Quite a day …

Have you seen this latest video from Ringo Starr? “Gonna Need Someone”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r0NthMLvtQ And that’s Nick Valensi (the Strokes) on guitar. Song was written by Linda Perry and from Ringo’s current EP Crooked Boy Sign Of The Times: LA’s famed Record Plant is closing after 55 years as one of the industry’s most in-demand recording studios. Hotel California and Rumours were recorded there. New York’s Record Plant closed their doors in 1987. Check this out from MIXhttps://www.mixonline.com/business/renowned-record-plant-studio-shutters?utm_term=2B400D4A-A644-43F4-980A-3A38D94AC1E6&utm_medium=email&utm_content=F16B421C-44D3-4A98-81C2-A992E5552E7D&utm_source=SmartBrief …

Jonathan Wolfson just sent us the new Daryl Hall album, D. Review next time …

Palm Restaurant

PR-pasha David Salidor’s book on the infamous Palm restaurant is due in September … Happy Bday Angelo Babbaro; Ron Shuter and Bill Evans. RIP Richard Simmons; Dr. Ruth; James B. Sikking; and Shannen Doherty.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Al Roker; Bruce Grakal; John Billings; Jane Blunkell; Chris Gilman; Peter Shendell; Barry Fisch; Eppy; Vinny Rich; Anthoiny Noto; Anthony Pomes; Matt Crutch; Lush Ice; Belinda Carlisle; Gary Gershoff; Steve Walter; Chubby O’Brien; Pat Walsh; Mike Shanley; and ZIGGY!

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ALEC BALDWIN — I’ve had my own issues with Alec Baldwin for years; then, literally on a dime, it all turned around and I found him to be pretty compassionate, intelligent and a nice guy. What happened in Santa Fe on the Rust set was an unspeakable tragedy, and his trial was halted yesterday and the case was dismissed due to evidence not being given to the Baldwin-team. The Santa Fe prosecutor Kari Morrisey seemingly told two different stories on the stand and outside the court room. She is, without a doubt, toast.

Baldwin is still liable for civil suits, but this case is gone and he cannot be tried again. A win for sure, but the questions still remain: who brought live ammo onto the Rust-set. Clearly that may never, ever be determined.

Baldwin’s a good guy with a short fuse, but this situation, once and for all, is done.

Mirage

SHORT TAKES — Hard to believe the Las Vegas Mirage is closing … after 35 years. Opened in 1983 it was a great hotel and hosted The Beatles’ Love show. I have stayed there numerous times and loved it. The new owner will build a Hard Rock hotel there, with a HUGE guitar in front. Yet again changing the skyline of that town. It’ll open in 2027 …

Lyndsey Parker

Lyndsey Parker is a terrific writer. Her new site, Lyndsanity just posted a great interview with Micky Dolenz about his direction of the video “Love Is Dangerous” from Noel – masterminded by the Mael Brothers in 1979. Great piece, check it out here:  https://www.lyndsanity.com/music/micky-dolenz-on-directing-long-lost-dancing-is-dangerous-video-for-sparks-protege-noel-its-pretty-weird-huh/?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTAAAR2W-9c0OfpLdT3WVy52ZWliQu7XTVoVjaYREbiUMSAUcdgJatcsL547X8c_aem_8St7LVBDI_U5Qp-ZJ5lxQA

… Hard to believe there are only 8 episodes left of CBS’ Blue Bloods. Salary concerns killed this show and it’s a shame as it was really superb for 15 years. Bad move on CBS’ part …

Zach Martin

Veteran-broadcaster Denny Somach joins Zach Martin’s NEW HD radio – https://newhdmedia.com/rock-and-roll-for-grownups-debut-denny-somach/?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTEAAR1j_BeyvWnRksk6pRN7IUtWK-kzu5G35zKqcjBUjVJOJ3w_b4IVFjDE6UI_aem_hW0aEBIVaHEwpJXVTItulA

Benny Harrison

Whatever happened to Benny Harrison’s album Pages? It was a great one. Heard an early advance and loved it …And, (via Deadline)

Stevie Nicks

There are special guest stars, and then there’s extra-special guest stars. Which is what Harry Styles what is as he joined Stevie Nicks at her July 12 concert in the UK for versions of her hits “Stop Draggin’ My heart Around” and “Landslide.” Styles played guitar on stage and held up on the Tom Petty/Lindsey Buckingham vocal parts. It was familiar turf, as Styles has joined Nicks on stage several times in the past. Nicks was appearing at the BST Hyde Park concert series on Friday. Nicks told the audience in London that she asked Styles to help her in commemorating what would have been her late Fleetwood Mac bandmate Christine McVie’s 81st birthday … RIP Dr. Ruth!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Nancy Ruth; Mark Bego; Freda Payne; Jerry Brandt; Kent & Laura Denmark; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; David Kramer; Terry Jastrow; Steve Immerman; Jordan Immerman; Tony Seidl; Roy Trakin; Markos Papadatos; Sparks; Pat Prince; Cindy Adams; Tony LoBianco; Tone Scott; David Adelson; Joel Denver; Pat Prince; and SADIE!

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JON BON HISTORY —- (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) Bon Jovi’s new album Forever certainly didn’t live up to its name on the charts. As noted by Forbes, after debuting at No. 5 in its first week of release, the album fell all the way out of the Billboard 200 album sales chart the following week. Unless it returns in the future, Forever will be the first Bon Jovi studio album to only last one week in the Top 200.The band’s previous album, 2020’s pandemic-delayed 2020, only notched two weeks on the chart. It debuted at No. 19, then fell 126 spots the following week before departing for good.

With their touring future in doubt due to singer Jon Bon Jovi’s medical issues, the band promoted Forever with a multi-pronged media campaign that included the release of the documentary series Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi story. The series showed Bon Jovi being diagnosed with loose vocal cords after he was unable to perform up to his usual standards on the band’s most recent tour, then undergoing surgery and a rigorous recovery program.

Last month, Bon Jovi confirmed that he was still unable to mount a full-scale tour in support of Forever. “It’s a work in progress,” he told The Guardian. “There’s no miracle. I just wish there was a fucking light switch. I’m more than capable of singing again. The bar is now: can I do two and half hours a night, four nights a week? The answer is no.”

The band did play a surprise five-song set to celebrate the opening of their frontman’s new Nashville bar and restaurant JBJ’s on June 7, performing Forever’s debut single “Legendary” in addition to classics such as “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Born to Be My Baby.”

With all the media on their Hulu-doc series, new album and almost incessant one-on-one interviews, the new album was either going to be a hit … or a miss. Sad for sure … I hope they don’t blame this on Richard Sambora!

Melrose Place

SHORT TAKES — 32 years since Melrose Place? I was never a fan but some of the original cast have reunited for – what else?

Micky Dolenz

A podcast … From Gold Radio in the UK:  https://www.goldradiouk.com/artists/the-monkees/micky-dolenz-age-wife-children-songs/ … Spent a few days in Waterbury, Connecticut and watched a lot of tennis. Beautiful up there. Stunning in fact …

Race

Congrats to radio-personality Race Taylor on inking a new contract-extension with WCBS-FM. Well deserved …

F1

Here’s the trailer for Brad Pitt’s next film F1


Looks good, but didn’t we just see this covered in James Mangold’s terrific Ford vs. Ferrari? It’ll be out in June 2025 …  

Billy Bob Thornton

Boy, I could have predicted this: Via Deadline – Paramount + has announced the premiere date for its latest Taylor Sheridan drama, Landman, starring Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton, will premiere Sunday, November 17. The series will launch with two episodes, and subsequent episodes of the 10-episode long first season will be available weekly on Sundays. Set in the proverbial boomtowns of West Texas, – the show is a tale of fortune seeking in the world of oil rigs. Based on the 11-part podcast “Boomtown,” the series is an upstairs/downstairs story of roughnecks and wildcat billionaires fueling a boom so big, it’s reshaping our climate, our economy and our geopolitics … Finished watching The Veil on Hulu with Elizabeth Moss. Sort of an on-the-road mystery. Moss is great, but the plot is a tad murky. B + … And for all you Papaya King fans (me included) in NYC: https://gothamist.com/news/beloved-hot-dog-hotspot-papaya-king-reopens-on-upper-east-side … 

RIP Joe Egan from Stealers Wheel.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steven J. Immerman; Tony Seidl; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Pat Walsh; Mark Bego; Lamar Fike; Feda Payne; Kent & Laura Denmark; Nancy Ruth; The Church; Teresa Knox; Myles Smith; Chuck Scarborough; Joe Scarborough; Alison Steele; Carol Miller; Dan Ingram; Anthony Pomes; Brad Balfour; and ZIGGY!

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TOWNE GONE — A few months back I watched the Robert Towne-written movie Chinatown and had exactly the same reaction as when I first watched it in 1974 – simply the best movie of all-time. Well, I still feel that way, although there are a dozen or so other movies that I would now put in that hallowed category.

Version 1.0.0

Towne passed on Friday and leaves just a splendid treasury of his work. Be it Tequila Sunrise or Without Limits or The Firm or Days of Thunder, Towne’s unique perspective and writing-style was pretty awesome.

Robert Towne

Check out Deadline’s take on Towne: https://variety.com/2024/film/news/robert-towne-dead-chinatown-1236059676/?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTEAAR3I2OAHgnXtKBODQUzXpIr-YzCHJYvPFDW6wrOp6HdEJUx-PQ5JfntN-Hk_aem_Rb9xsnahLuGqZLfRjIpyzA

Dave Mason

SHORT TAKES — Interesting review of the long-delayed Dave Mason bio, Only You and I Know, by Goldmine’s Lee Zimmerman. Check it out here: https://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/dave-mason-memoir-reveals-a-talented-artist-with-a-strong-willed-personality Still wondering if Mason’s former-manager, and Svengali, Jason Cooper (aka The Moke) is discussed at all.

I well remember a show at Long Island’s Calderone Concert Hall, where Cooper passed around a jar of party favors – twice in the dressing room. It was indeed a great show which I watched from the side of the stage! He bolstered Mason’s career to it’s highest degree ever. Can’t wait to read this one … Biden will now not do any work after 8:00 PM? I don’t know, but this sounds a tad crazy, right? And desperate … Remember The Singhs? Randy Alexander did the PR for them. They played a bunch of NY-gigs and then sort of disappeared.

Next thing we heard; their new album Science Fiction was produced by Tony Visconti. Then, nada. Here’s a press release from 2013 formally announcing the album. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/science-fiction-the-new-tony-visconti-produced-album-from-boston-area-based-band-the-singhs-is-set-for-release-june-4-via-redstar-entertainment-206756061.html

They actually released a great album in 2008, Supersaturated. Bad management? Dunno, but they were a sensational band. Creative, inventive, it seemed they had it all …

Watched Apple’s Dark Matters and sort of loved it, although as it went on it got way too confusing. Based on the Blake Crouch book, it was really pretty spectacular. Australia’s Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly were fantastic. If you’re a sci-fi fan, I’d say  it’s a must see … Happy Bday Danny Goldberg; Ron Fleeger; and Perry Michael Simon.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — David Duchovny; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Tone Scott; Paul Cooper; Tony Seidl; Brad Balfour; Matt Lauer; Harry Burton; Lainey Wilson; Lyndsey Parker; Tony King; Brett Summers; Jane Blunkell; Steven J. Immerman; Lora Evans; Dan Zelinski; Norena Barbella; Ken Dashow; Barry Fisch; Wayne Avers; Victor Kastel; and BELLA.

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ASIA CALLING — (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) Geoff Downes will lead a reformed lineup of Asia on a tour celebrating the group’s platinum 1982 debut. Also featured on the multi-act bill are Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash, Focus, Curved Air and emcee Roger Dean, the artist who created Asia’s album covers.

Geoff Downes

The Heat of the Moment Tour will hit 21 North American cities in July.

Downes says the idea for this tour emerged from the Extraordinary Life Memorial Concert, 2023’s tribute to his late Asia bandmate John Wetton. That “really reminded me how much Asia’s music belongs on the stage,” Downes said in an official statement. “The response to it all was literally spine-tingling.”

Among the featured musicians at the tribute show was guitarist John Mitchell, who worked with Wetton and Downes in Icon and the John Wetton Band. He’ll join Downes in a new Asia lineup that also includes drummer Virgil Donati and bassist and vocalist Harry Whitley. Donati was part of a memorable reunion of the prog-rock band UK with Wetton.

“With the addition of Virgil Donati and John Mitchell … this is almost going full circle bearing in mind their previous close collaborations with John,” Downes added. “Completing this circle is also the amazing Harry Whitley, who absolutely floored the audience with his incredible vocal interpretation of the Asia songs that John and I so lovingly wrote over the years.”

Focus is set to release a new album later this year. The band is still led by Thijs van Leer, and features ’70s-era drummer Pierre Van Der Linden. Sonja Kristina likewise remains with Curved Air, and will again be appearing with longtime guitarist Kirby Gregory. Turner has been touring as “Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash” for about a decade now.

Asia was co-founded by Downes, who’s appeared in every iteration of the group. Downes, Wetton and fellow original members Steve Howe and Carl Palmer were only initially together from 1981-83, when Wetton left. Howe departed a year later and the original four didn’t reunite until a final run between 2006-13.

Palmer now leads an Emerson Lake and Palmer offshoot band, while Howe has remained in Yes with Downes. Wetton died in 2017.

“I am convinced that John’s spirit is with us as we set out on this new adventure,” Downes said. “After all, it is the Year of the Dragon – just as it was in 1982, when we released our first Asia album. It’s as though it was meant to be.”

Prog-rock lives on for sure. Great music survives. Asia’s first album, in 1982, was an instant classic. I hope to catch this tour.

SHORT TAKES —- (via Deadline) Air Supply doc on its way – https://deadline.com/2024/07/air-supply-movie-all-out-of-love-1235998355/ … Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga did not have a great first weekend. It’ll go to Warners/MAX for sure … Wise words from today’s Showbiz 411/Roger Friedman: “It’s July 1st. The year is half over, and the Oscar prognosticators must be getting nervous. There is little on the docket so far that would qualify for Best Picture. So far, the only real nominee would be “Dune Part Two.” It’s a long shot, but Richard Linklater’s excellent “Hit Man” could well be be a qualifier. But “Challengers,” “Civil War,” “Fall Guy,” and so on are not the stuff of Best Picture. Think about: last year at this time, we knew about “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” and “Killers of the Flower Moon,” at least. “Past Lives” was released on June 2, 2023. This summer brings a few maybe’s, but nothing anyone has raved about. A24 will make a push out of “Sing Sing,” but I’ve heard mixed things. July is otherwise a wasteland as we wait for “Deadpool vs. Wolverine” to be a financial hit. August isn’t much more promising, but I’m looking forward to Zoe Kravit’s “Blink Twice,” Nathan Silver’s “Between the Temples,” Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice,” Jon Watts’s “Wolfs,” and Ethan Berger’s “The Line.” But are these box office hits or actual Oscar movies? October 1st will kick off the big ten week period when we see what’s what. Those include Jesse Eisenberg’s well received Sundance film, “A Real Pain” and Sean Baker’s Cannes winner, “Anora.”

Megalopolis

On a larger scale, there’s the “Joker” sequel, and, of course, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis.” Everyone’s hoping for good things from “Gladiator II,” which has already started campaigning.

Tom hanks Here

Also already releasing PR materials: the major “Here,” reuniting “Forest Gump” players Tom Hanks, Robin Wright with director Robert Zemeckis.

Robert Zemeckis

And that’s when we make the turn into big studio films on the warpath for attention: “Wicked” is the front runner, as well as Best Actress possibilities with Nicole Kidman in “Babygirl” and Amy Adams in “Nightbitch.” And don’t count out June Squibb, very popular in “Thelma.” Any surprises coming? You never know. One studio publicist indicated to me that they had something up their sleeve. We can only hope! I’m curious about “Nickel Boys,” from Searchlight, and “The Piano Lesson,” and Cannes winner, “Emile Perez,” each from Netflix. What are hoping for? A Title hiding in plain sight that turns out to be a winner. Kate Winslet in “Lee”? An all star cast in “Concave,” directed by Edward Berger? Or maybe “The Apprentice” will get released and surprise everyone … And, we’re back in a week – HAPPY 4TH!

David Duchovny

ENQUOTE: On David Duchovny possibly discovering Angelina Jolie: David has one of the biggest egos in a profession with huge egos. Angela is the daughter of an Oscar-winning actor; everyone knew who she was. David thinks he’s a good singer too, BTW.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Tony King; D.C. LaRue; Mark Bego; Nancy Ruth; Dennis Wheeler; Jane Blunkell; John Billings; Wayne Avers; Tyrone Bijan;  Dan Zelinski; Carol Ross; Tommy James; Reid Scott; Elliot Mintz; Joe Loris; Don Wardell; Anne Adams; Billy Smith; Bruce Grakal; Harry Weinger; Andy Skurow; Ton Seidl; and SADIE!

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