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Saturday, June 20, 2009

''Public Enemies'' director supports tax incentives

MILWAUKEE - The director of the Johnny Depp movie "Public Enemies" said he would have shot fewer scenes in Wisconsin if there were no tax incentives.

Director Michael Mann said he "aggressively looked to shoot as much stuff in Wisconsin as possible" because of the incentives.

He was in Wisconsin for six weeks, but without the incentives it could have been one week, he said.

The Chicago native and alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison made the comments to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Chicago Friday, the night before journalists screened the movie. Depp and Mann were there along with the movie's other stars Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale.



The film opens nationally July 1. There are fundraising screenings for the movie in Madison, Oshkosh and the Milwaukee area June 30.

Gov. Jim Doyle, who originally supported the current law that went into effect Jan 1. 2008, proposed scrapping it and replacing it with a $500,000 annual grant program. He felt the current program, with no limits on tax rebates and credits, was too rich given the state's projected $5 billion budget shortfall.

The Commerce Department cited the movie many times in its arguments against the program since it received $4.6 million in tax rebates and credits but only generated $5 million in economic activity.

The state Assembly has replaced the program with a more conservative one that limits how much money can be given for qualifying projects. The state Senate and Doyle still have to agree to the changes.

Depp portrays bank robber John Dillinger, whose crime spree ended when FBI agents shot him to death in Chicago in 1934.

A stickler for historical accuracy in his films, Mann said he would not have shot scenes that take place at Little Bohemia in Manitowish Waters anywhere but at the actual location. That's the site of an infamous shootout between the FBI and Dillinger.

"First of all, I was surprised it was still there," Mann said. "Second, I was surprised it hadn't been changed. And third, I was joyous they allowed us to shoot there."

Mann said the production actually shot up the lodge during filming and later restored it. Shooting in the actual location, "informs the work in a huge way. The physical place is a powerful, powerful tool," he said.

He said tax incentives have a similar intangible effect and he called efforts to reduce or eliminate them "short-sighted."




by he associated press

Fire engulfs landmark in Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Police say a major fire has erupted at the landmark Georgia Theatre in Athens that has been a venue for Georgia bands including REM, Widespread Panic and the B-52s.

Witnesses said the fire began around 7 a.m. Friday and was a major blaze. They said the converted movie theater would likely suffer major damage.

Former Athens Mayor Doc Eldridge said he saw a huge plume of black smoke when he arrived at his nearby office in the downtown business district.

In 2008 national touring acts such as the North Mississippi All-Stars, Galactic, Robert Earl Keen, Sister Hazel and Ghostface Killah played at the Georgia Theatre.



by the associated press

Jennifer Aniston dating again


Let the rumors resume! Several weeks after Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper reportedly flirted at a party for her movie "Management," the pair enjoyed a cozy late-night dinner at the romantic Italian restaurant Il Cantinori in Manhattan on Thursday.

"It was a date," says a source. "She is taking it slow. She is obviously looking for love, but is not about to rush into anything."

When the two met up earlier this spring, pals of both dismissed romance rumors. "I am single," Cooper, 34, the star of the box-office smash "The Hangover," recently told PEOPLE, saying that he found the rumors linking himself to Aniston "flattering."

He added that he's looking "for humor, great personality, intelligence, inner and outer beauty" in a woman. The one must? "She has to like my dogs [Samson and Charlotte]. My dogs and I come in a package."

That shouldn't be a problem for Aniston, 40, a canine lover with two dogs of her own, Norman and Dolly. The actress spent most of the spring shooting the romantic comedy "The Baster" in New York, while also getting past her March split with John Mayer.

"Jen is moving on with her life like she always does," says a source. "She seems happy."




from people

Supermodel Bundchen is pregnant

BOSTON (AP) — Is she or isn't she?

People.com is reporting Gisele Bundchen is pregnant. Citing two anonymous sources, the report says Tom Brady's wife is due early next year.

Brady's mother, Galynn, told the Associated Press on Friday that she had no comment on the report. The supermodel's agent at IMG, Anne Nelson, told the AP that she doesn't comment on the personal lives of her clients.

Brady has a son, Jack, with actress Bridget Moynahan.

Late last month, the New England Patriots quarterback said Bundchen was not pregnant. "One is enough," Brady said on May 28. "I have dogs, and that's all I need."

RadarOnline.com previously had reported that Bundchen was telling friends she's pregnant.



by the associated press

'Year One' review


"Year One," to paraphrase the Geico car insurance ads, is humor so simple even a caveman will appreciate it. Correction: Make that only a caveman.

The knuckle-dragging comedy about a pair of primitive hunter-gatherers (Jack Black and Michael Cera) who somehow find themselves wandering through the biblical book of Genesis never rises above, oh, about crotch level. It's unevolved, unapologetic and mostly unfunny.

When the id-driven hunter Zed (Black) and the more sensitive gatherer Oh (Cera) first emerge from the forest primeval, after being expelled from their village for accidentally torching it, whom should they meet but brothers Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd). At that point, it actually looked like this thing might be going somewhere, if only as a loosey-goosey satire of the Old Testament, seen through the eyes of two witnesses who appear to have been born several millenniums before Adam and Eve. But then Rudd, one of the most charming actors working in comedy today, gets his adorable face bashed in.

That's only the first miscalculation from writer-director Harold Ramis, who, with co-writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, has fashioned a movie with grade-school intellectual aspirations, but one that is far too vulgar for all but the oldest teens. One of the crudest PG-13 movies in recent memory, "Year One" had to be edited down from its original R rating, but it's hard to imagine what was trimmed. The film is still full of so many jokes about excretory functions, erections, circumcision, the loss of virginity and sodomy -- yes, our heroes soon find themselves in the city that gave deviant sex a bad name -- that it boggles the mind to think what will be restored when the inevitable uncut version comes out on DVD.

None of this is particularly surprising, considering that "Year One" comes courtesy of Apatow Productions, the company that brought you "Pineapple Express" and other raunch-fests. But what's missing is the sweetness that characterizes the best of those Judd Apatow-sanctioned comedies. For much of the film, Cera looks genuinely embarrassed to be caught on camera subjecting himself -- and us -- to what the script calls for (including a scene in which, chained upside down to a dungeon wall, Oh urinates profusely on his own face). Of this first-century odd couple, only Black throws himself wholeheartedly into the work. Even in a gross-out scene where, in an effort to prove himself the consummate hunter, he analyzes the contents of a lump of feces he finds on the ground the old-fashioned way: by eating it.


But while Oh alone has the good sense to be mortified by these shenanigans, it's the more Neanderthal Zed who's the idea man here. That is, if arranging for Oh and himself to get, er, lucky with Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno Temple), two comely fellow villagers who have been sold into slavery in Sodom, can be called an idea.

It's more of a drive, actually. Base though it may be, it's the single-minded focus that propels "Year One," lurchingly, from one hit-or-miss black-out sketch to another. You'll laugh at some of them, groan at others. If you don't find something funny, give it a minute. Another crass gag will be along shortly, with all the subtlety -- and the lingering soreness -- of a club over the head.


washington post

Bradley Whitford vs Jane Kaczmarek

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After over 16 years of marriage, actors Bradley Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek (KAZ'-mehr-IKH) are divorcing.

Whitford's publicist, Melissa Kates, says the "The West Wing" actor and "Malcom in the Middle" actress are divorcing.

The couple were married in August 1992 and have three children.

Kaczmarek currently stars as a judge on TNT's "Raising the Bar." Whitford starred in a Broadway revival of "Boeing-Boeing" last year




by the associated press

New Acropolis Museum

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Gods, heroes and long-dead mortals stepped off their plinths into the evening sky of Athens on Saturday during the lavish launch of the new Acropolis Museum, a decades-old dream that Greece hopes will also help reclaim a cherished part of its heritage from Britain.

The digital animated display on the museum walls ended years of delays and wrangling over the ultramodern building, set among apartment blocks and elegant neoclassical houses at the foot of the Acropolis hill.

The nearly euro3 million ($4.1 million) opening ceremony was attended by some 400 guests, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, and foreign heads of state and government. Conspicuously, there were no government officials from Britain, which has repeatedly refused to repatriate dozens of 2,500-year-old sculptures from the Parthenon temple that are held in the British Museum.

President Karolos Papoulias said Greeks think of the Acropolis monuments as their "identity and pride," and renewed the demand for the missing marble works, displayed in London for the past 200 years.

"The whole world can now see the most important sculptures from the Parthenon together," Papoulias said. "Some are missing. It is time to heal the wounds on the monument by returning the marbles that belong to it."

Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said the sculptures "will inevitably return," but ruled out Greece acknowledging the British Museum's legal title to the works — as requested by officials in London as a precondition for any loan.

Large crowds watched the heavily policed opening ceremony from nearby cafes, and families gathered on overlooking balconies.

Crouching 300 yards from the Parthenon's slender bones like a skewed stack of glass boxes, the euro130 million ($180 million) museum provides an airy setting for some of the best surviving works of classical sculpture that once adorned the Acropolis.

By day, printed glass panels filter the harsh sunlight while revealing the ancient citadel in the background. The internal lighting projects the battered statues outward at night, contrasting with the floodlit ruins on the low hill.

"We tried ... to be as simple, as clear, as precise as we could be establishing a visual relation between the Parthenon, the museum with the beautiful sculptures and with the archaeological remnants," said the building's designer, French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi.

And with a special glass hall designed to showcase all the surviving Parthenon sculptures in their original alignment, the building is Greece's answer to the argument that it had nowhere to safely house those sawed off the temple in the early 1800s by British diplomat Lord Elgin.

Among the exhibits are small sculptures recently returned from Italy, The Vatican and Germany.

The Parthenon was built at the height of Athens' glory, between 447-432 B.C., in honor of the city's patron goddess, Athena, and is still considered one of the most impressive buildings in the world.

Despite its burning by invading Goths in 267 A.D., conversion into a Christian church in the early 6th century and Ottoman occupation from the 15th century — when it served as a gunpowder store — it survived largely intact until a Venetian cannon shot caused a massive explosion in 1687. Elgin, a Scotsman, removed about half the surviving sculptures between 1801-04, when Greece was an unwilling part of the Ottoman Empire.

The British Museum has repeatedly rejected calls for their return. It says it legally owns the collection it bought from Elgin, who sold it to stave off bankruptcy, and that it is displayed free of charge in an international cultural context.

"I think they belong to all of us. We are all global citizens these days," said British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton.

But on the top floor of the new Acropolis Museum, Greece's counter-argument — that the sculptures were looted from a work of art so important that the surviving pieces should all be exhibited together — is eloquently laid out.

The glass hall with a panoramic view across Athens and the Parthenon itself displays the section of the frieze that Elgin's agents left behind, joined to plaster casts of the 90-odd works in London.

The soft brownish patina of the original marble contrasts starkly with the bright white of the copies: battle scenes are cut jaggedly in half, with the torso and heads of warriors and horses in London and the legs in Athens. The attempt to shock is deliberate.

"It is like looking at a family picture and seeing images of loved ones far away or lost to us," Samaras said.

Greece has promised to compensate the British Museum with visiting exhibitions of major antiquities.

But the museum is much more than a political lever.

With about 150,000 square feet (14,000 square meters) of exhibition space, it holds more than 4,000 ancient works, many of them never displayed before due to lack of space in the cramped old museum that sat atop the Acropolis hill.

Most left the citadel for the first time in late 2007, during a meticulously choreographed operation using a relay of cranes.

Now visitors can walk among freestanding statues and reliefs with surviving traces of paint; view fragments of sculptures and coins still bearing scorch marks from the Persians' sacking of the city in 480 B.C.; gaze through three stories of glass floors straight into the foundations, where construction revealed an entire neighborhood of ancient and early Christian Athens.

The museum opens to visitors Sunday. Entry is at a nominal charge of euro1 ($1.40) until the end of the year, when it will increase to euro5. The first four days are already completely sold out through Internet sales.




by the associated press

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated $1 million to the U.N.

GENEVA (AP) — Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated $1 million to the U.N. refugee agency providing aid to hundreds of thousands uprooted by violence in Pakistan.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says it is grateful for the donation from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. It said Thursday the money will go to alleviating suffering caused by the "most challenging humanitarian crisis of the past decade."

UNHCR says over 2 million Pakistanis have been driven from their homes this year by fighting between government troops and Taliban militants in the northwest of the country.

Jolie has visited refugees in Pakistan on three missions since becoming goodwill ambassador for the agency in 2001. The Oscar-winning actress took Pitt with her on one such visit in 2005.



by the associated press

Monday, June 15, 2009

‘Idol’ hopefuls


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Yes, they were singing in the rain.

Showers and unseasonable cold winds didn’t stop thousands of "American Idol” hopefuls from turning out Sunday for the show’s Season Nine kickoff auditions at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Some showed up early Sunday to grab their place in a line that eventually grew to the length of the stadium and into the parking lot.


Contestants wore high heels, cowboy hats, and sported umbrellas declaring that they were the next big thing.

Besides having talent, courage and perhaps a thick skin, auditioners must also be between the ages of 16 and 28 and eligible to work in the U.S.

Tiffany "Shorty” Dorsey of Walpole, Mass., believed she had all that. While waiting in line for more than four hours, she used gel and other chemicals to fashion her hair. She promised to sing and dance to "Play That Funky Music” for the judges.

"I’m loving it,” the 20-year-old said.



by the associated press

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Top dogs in Hollywood

For the past five years, it seemed that Harrison Ford was happier out of the spotlight than on the silver screen. Since 2000, Ford has appeared in only four movies, none of which made much of an impression at the box office.

That all changed in 2008 when Ford strapped back on his trusty whip and went adventuring again in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the fourth film in the Indiana Jones series. In order to lure Ford out of his semi-retirement, Paramount agreed to a lucrative deal that split almost all of the film's earnings (after the studio made back its production and advertising costs) between Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
As a result of the deal, Ford earned $65 million between June 2008 and June 2009, making him the highest-paid actor on our annual Celebrity 100 list. (Even though the movie was released in May of 2008, Ford didn't earn his money until several months later.)
In Pictures: Hollywood's Top-Earning Actors >>
To figure out earnings, we talked to agents, managers, producers and lawyers to determine what the stars earned as upfront pay on movies they are currently shooting, as well as backend pay earned after a movie hit the theaters. We also looked at any money actors might have earned from doing ads for things like beer, banks and coffee.
Coming in behind Ford with $55 million is Adam Sandler. The funnyman had two successful movies last year, "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" and "Bedtime Stories," plus he earned a big paycheck for the upcoming Judd Apatow movie "Funny People," in which he plays a comedian who thinks he might be dying.
In third is Will Smith, often considered in Hollywood to be the one person who can open any movie in the U.S. and abroad. Critics lambasted his two latest movies, "Hancock" and "Seven Pounds," but they were both still hits -- earning $800 million between them.
Eddie Murphy lands in fourth place on our list despite his disastrous film "Meet Dave." The movie, which was made for an estimated $60 million, earned only $50 million at the worldwide box office.
Rounding out the top five is Nicolas Cage. The tireless worker doesn't earn the same size paychecks as people like Smith and Sandler, but he currently has six movies scheduled to hit theaters in the next two years, including "G-Force," about some very smart hamsters, and a live-action version of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
Conspicuously low on the list (10th place) is Johnny Depp, who last year ranked second with $72 million. This year he earned $27 million. The reason: no pirate movie. Depp is almost always well paid, but he earns a nice chunk of the profits of the Disney series "Pirates of the Caribbean," which have earned a collective $2.6 billion at the worldwide box office.
Coming in at the bottom of our top 20 is Will Ferrell. The former "Saturday Night Live" star has seen a steady decline in box office revenue for his comedies. Things hit bottom this weekend when his remake of the TV show "Land of the Lost" earned just $18 million at the box office.





from the wire

Michael Moore taking on Wall Street

NEW YORK, June 13 (UPI) -- Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore says he examines the U.S. financial collapse in his next feature.

"The movie is not going to be an economics lesson; it's going to be more like a vampire movie," he told USA Today. "Instead of the main characters feasting on the blood of their victims, they feast on the money. And they never seem to get enough of it."

The left-leaning Moore is best known for his feature-length documentaries -- including "Roger and Me" about General Motors Corp. and its effect on Flint, Mich., his hometown; "Fahrenheit 9/11" about the 2001 terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and "Sicko," about the U.S. healthcare system. He won an Oscar for "Bowling for Columbine," which examined U.S. attitudes on guns.

Moore said the Wall Street meltdown looked like a topic made for him because of its effect on the public and the decadence of the boom years.

"I want them to walk out at the end saying 'Wow, that was something!'" he said. "And in this case, maybe they also walk out asking the ushers, 'Um, excuse me. Where are the pitchforks and torches?'"




by United Press International

Chastity Bono having sex change

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chastity Bono is having a sex change to become a man. A spokesman for Bono, born a girl to Sonny and Cher, says he "has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity" and began the sex-change process earlier this year. Publicist Howard Bragman said Bono is proud of his decision and hopes "that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue."

The 40-year-old writer, activist and reality-TV star came out as gay 20 years ago, Bragman said.

In the book "Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming-Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, & Their Families," Bono describes the realization of being "somehow different — specifically different from who my mom expected me to be."

A message left with Cher's representatives was not immediately returned Thursday.

Bono's second book, "The End of Innocence: A Memoir," details how relationships with Joan, a lover, and Sonny and Cher changed after coming out.

In 1995, Bono posed for the cover of the gay magazine The Advocate and began working for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).




by the associated press

Michael Douglas " AFI tribute "







It's overwhelming," Michael Douglas said about receiving a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.
The Academy Award-winning actor and producer was toasted Thursday night by friends, directors, actors and his dad, Kirk Douglas, during the 37th AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles. The event will air on TV Land at 9 p.m. ET/PT July 19.

"I keep running over the list (of past winners) to make sure I'm of that same arc," he said from the red carpet. "It's a reality check. I'm not a person who is reflective, but it's given me a chance to think about stuff."

Douglas was a producer of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which won a best-picture Oscar, and he received the best-actor prize for starring in Wall Street.

Douglas's wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, said they are looking for a project in which to co-star, "but we wouldn't play husband and wife. I think that's a bit weird and a little voyeuristic."


Before the dinner and show began, Kathleen Turner, Douglas's co-star in Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile and War of the Roses, said "He's smart, he's funny. He's grown up in the business and he's kept his cool. He's a good actor, he's an excellent producer, so yes, we have to celebrate him."

As for their collaborations, she added, "We liked each other. We respected each other. We were both smart and we were funny."

Among those toasting Douglas from the stage were Oliver Stone, Annette Bening, Tobey Maguire, Sharon Stone and Jack Nicholson.

"I can only hope by the end of the evening that Michael will be impressed by himself, as I am by myself," joked Warren Beatty, who was last year's recipient.

Tears brimmed in Douglas's eyes as he listened to his legendary dad talk about his career. The emotions quickly switched to laughter as his 92-year-old father told jokes from the stage.

"I'm a little bit confused. I'm too young to have a son getting a lifetime achievement award," said his dad. "When he was in college, he said he was going to be a lawyer. That made me very happy because every Jewish father wants his son to be a lawyer. I'm proud of my son, Michael. I don't really tell him that often. I'm so proud of what he's done for the motion picture field and what he's done to help people."

The younger Douglas offered his own zingers.

"This puts things in perspective," he said as he took his award from Nicholson. "Back when I started, Jack was dating women his own age."

from the usa today

On Track


If you live in a dense and complicated city, you can see despair at the bottom of your orange juice glass. How many farmers, truckers and shopkeepers does it take to get that juice on your breakfast table? What would happen if the diesel guy, the road crew, the toll taker or the fruit picker slept through the alarm clock? Cities intensify our wonder and terror at the complexity and seeming frailty of human society. If you tugged at just one little thread, would the whole thing unravel?


"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," a remake of the gritty and darkly comic 1974 film starring Walter Matthau, is about the controlled chaos of New York, a city that barely works. At its best, when the dialogue is sharp and captures the everyone's-a-comedian banter of the Big Apple at its lippiest, the film shows how the New York Show still goes on the air, every morning, despite itself. Play your role, defend your turf, pay no mind to those other 8 million actors, and somehow it all works.

The new film, directed by Tony Scott ("Enemy of the State," "Days of Thunder," "Top Gun"), captures some of the grand venality of New York that made the original so much fun. As the lead hijacker of a No. 6 subway train that left the Pelham station at 1:23 p.m., John Travolta is in high manic mode, seething and unpredictable, violent and charismatic. The best moments of this film are his conversations with Denzel Washington, who plays the Matthau role, but with an important difference: The original character was a transit police lieutenant, whereas Washington plays a disgraced subway official and former dispatcher who is accidentally thrust into a leading role when a train stops where it shouldn't.

If the film stayed there -- if it focused on the psychology of an ordinary guy with a blot on his record and a crazy man who sees his own darkness in everyone he meets -- it might be a good film. But this is a Tony Scott film, which means it is animated by a restless, absurd need for excess, for energy and speed and rapid, manic, dizzying camera work. And it has the usual Tony Scott tics, the misogyny and male solipsism. Women are reduced to bit players, passive, needy intrusions on the world of male jousting, annoying chicks who demand professions of love even as the world is going up in smoke.


In interviews, Scott has said he was intrigued by the film's challenges: Why would someone hijack a subway train? Isn't that a little unlikely? Isn't it rather foolish to commit a crime in a tunnel, where you can be easily cornered, contained and captured? But alas, rather than solve these problems, Scott has played whack-a-mole with verisimilitude, addressing one implausibility only to find a dozen others emerge with even more absurd implications.

Hijacking a subway train may not seem very lucrative, so the new film introduces a subplot about gaming the financial markets. And while a subway tunnel may be a rather vulnerable spot to stage a spectacular crime, in Scott's version the crooks rig up a WiFi system that gives them a window on the world. And maybe it was a little peculiar that in the original, the film ended with the schlumpy Matthau hunting down the last hijacker with low-key, old-fashioned gumshoe work. After the high energy of twists and turns of a galvanizing crime, it was almost anticlimactic. In Scott's version, we have a car chase with helicopters, crazy traffic jams and an army of cops on the loose.

And Walter Garber, Washington's character, is both less and more than what he was in 1974, which makes his trajectory over the course of the film -- from guy in suit to guy with gun, from ordinary Joe to action hero -- more dramatic and more ridiculous. The best analogy for this comes from the world of opera, where, in the 18th and 19th centuries, stars wielded so much clout that they inevitably warped the drama with demands for extravagant arias. The action sequence -- in this case, Washington hurtling through New York in an SUV -- is the equivalent of that showpiece, a set, formulaic but obligatory display of narcissism. Washington is a better actor than that. He should learn to say no.

But who says no to Tony Scott? Not even Tony Scott can say no to Tony Scott, and alas, the film devolves into self-indulgent silliness, a toxic cocktail of adrenaline and sentiment. You end up asking yourself: How do the few, genuinely fun bits of this movie -- James Gandolfini plays the mayor, with a mix of Michael Bloomberg's money and brains, and Rudy Giuliani's ego and libido -- manage to survive in the midst of so much lousy filmmaking? The answer is a bit like the city itself: If a few decent actors play their roles and defend their turf, it doesn't matter how preposterous the whole proposition is. The show will go on.




from the washington post

Bruce Springsteen's 'hard times'

MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) — Bruce Springsteen astonished the Bonnaroo crowd with a passionate three-hour performance, offering sweat and rock 'n' roll to inspire, he said, in "hard times."

Springsteen was the Saturday night headliner at the Tennessee music festival, where Phish was headlining both Friday and Sunday. It was a rare festival performance for Springsteen, who said it was only the second for him and the E Street Band.

His inexperience didn't show. After all, headlining Bonnaroo is only the third biggest concert Springsteen has played this year after the Super Bowl halftime show and President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Springsteen was running into the crowd — no easy feat on Bonnaroo's massive main stage — before the first song, "Badlands," was through. Throughout the evening, Springsteen would frequently leap into the crowd, whom he asked: "Is there anybody alive at Bonnaroo?"

"We didn't come all the way down to the beautiful Tennessee hills just to rock the house," said Springsteen early in the performance. "We came down here tonight because we want to build a house. That's right. Right here in this field. ... A house of love. A house of hope."

With his full band backing him — including both Max Weinberg and his 18-year-old son, Jay, switching off on drums — Springsteen launched into a performance that he pledged would show "the power of music."

The recession was never far from his mind.

Springsteen's songs of down-and-out characters and blue collar life had particular resonance. With songs like "Jersey Girl," "Johnny 99" and "Youngstown," Springsteen painted the current economic landscape. On "Youngstown" — off his 1995 album "Ghost of Tom Joad" — he sang from the perspective of a coal mine worker: "Once I made you rich/ Rich enough to forget my name."

For the first of several encores, he sang Stephen Foster's Civil War-era "Hard Times Come Again No More," introducing it as a song that has "stayed written" for more than 150 years because of its timelessness.

"You pick up the newspaper and you look out and you seen millions of jobs here in the country lost. Hundreds of thousands of jobs every month," said Springsteen. "If anybody ever told me I'd be part owner of General Motors, I wouldn't believe it.

"But you see things that I never thought I'd see. There's many, many folks struggling out there."

Springsteen brought the show to a climactic finish, playing crowd favorites "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Rosalita (Come out Tonight)" "Glory Days" and "Dancing in the Dark."

Bonnaroo and other mega-festivals today aren't known for political discourse. But Springsteen wasn't the only one with the economy on his mind Saturday.

Jenny Lewis, the singer-songwriter who sometimes fronts the band Rilo Kiley, performed earlier in the day, introduced a new song titled "Big Way," noting that she comes from "a state that's totally bankrupt": California. Lewis sang, "They're gonna get you in a big way."

Lewis was joined on stage for one number ("Carpetbaggers") by Elvis Costello, who also performed solo Saturday.

Other acts Saturday included the Decemberists, Nine Inch Nails, the Mars Volta, Of Montreal, Raphael Saadiq, Booker T, Bon Iver, Robyn Hitchcock and Allen Toussaint. One stage — dubbed "Tennessee Shines" — hosted bluegrass all day with acts such as the David Grisman Quintet and the Del McCoury Band.

After torrential lightning storms Thursday and humidity Friday, Saturday was the sunniest day yet at the eighth annual Bonnaroo, which concludes Sunday night with Phish's second performance.

None got the benefit of the good weather more than Wilco, who played a scintillating sunset performance, running the gamut of their earlier material as well as songs off their upcoming disc, "Wilco (The Album)."

The band played on the main stage before Springsteen, and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy could already feel the Boss's presence.

"If anybody boos us tonight, we have a built in excuse," said Tweedy. "They're just yelling 'Bruuuuuce.'"




by the associated press

Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich doesn't seem to mind being the butt of a theatrical joke.

CHICAGO (AP) — Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich doesn't seem to mind being the butt of a theatrical joke.

Blagojevich got in on the joke Saturday evening, appearing as himself in a comedy show that lampoons the rise and fall of his own political career.

He opened The Second City's "Rod Blagojevich Superstar," a parody of the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," standing on a chair with his arms raised as if he were being crucified.

The show — which portrays Blagojevich as greedy, tactless and hair-obsessed — opened in February and was supposed to end June 14. But production officials extended it to Aug. 9 due to constant sold-out performances.

A full house cheered as Blagojevich, who was removed from office in January and has pleaded not guilty to wide-ranging federal corruption charges, appeared on stage wearing a suit and tie.

"Where were you when I was impeached?" he asked the audience.

Blagojevich is accused of scheming to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and using the muscle of the governor's office to get campaign donations. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Before the nearly hourlong show — which includes duets with an actor portraying U.S. Sen. Roland Burris — the ex-governor told the audience he hadn't seen the production before, but assured them it was a "fictitious account" of his life.

Blagojevich also worked in an endorsement of his wife, Patti, a contestant on NBC's reality show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!"

He asked people to vote for her to remain on the show, which asks viewers to decide which quasi-celebrity should leave a Costa Rican jungle.

NBC had wanted the former governor to compete. But U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, who is presiding over Blagojevich's corruption case, refused to let him leave the country, so his wife joined the cast instead.

"In the tradition of Chicago politics, you can vote ten times," Blagojevich joked. "Vote early and often."

As soon as Blagojevich left the stage, cast members launched into a song that asks, "What kind of idiot sells a Senate seat?"

In the show, Patti Blagojevich was portrayed as cutthroat and foul-mouthed. One of the songs was an expletive-laden version of "I Don't Know How to Love Him."

The former Illinois first lady, who has not been charged with wrongdoing, was famously labeled a "potty mouth" after the FBI said it recorded profanity-laced rants against critics of her husband.

When Blagojevich returned to the stage for the improv portion of the show, he was asked what he thought of the rock opera.

"It's b-------," he said, grinning.

Blagojevich told stories of his time in office. In one, he claimed that while he was governor, he liked to call the Chicago Cubs coaching staff to offer pitching advice.

Actors then used the stories as prompts for skits while Blagojevich watched them unfold.

Blagojevich spokesman Glenn Selig has declined to say how much the former governor would be paid for Saturday's appearance, but said Blagojevich will make a donation to Gilda's Club, a cancer support organization founded by Gilda Radner, a comedian and Second City alumna.

Actor Joey Bland, who portrayed Blagojevich by wearing a black turtleneck and helmet-like black wig, called it "the most surreal day of my life."

A few audience members guffawed as Blagojevich earnestly thanked the cast for making people laugh, but he assured them he was being serious.



by the associated press

Sarah Palin could put David Letterman on top


NEW YORK (AP) — Sarah Palin would no doubt be horrified by the idea, but there's a chance she could become the same boon to David Letterman's career that Hugh Grant was to Jay Leno's.

Grant's 1995 appearance on NBC's "Tonight" show after a prostitution arrest, where Leno famously asked "what were you thinking?," was seen in retrospect as a turning point in the late-night race. It drew a huge audience and propelled Leno to the top of the ratings, a spot he would not relinquish.

Letterman did not court last week's battle with Palin, who called him "perverted" for making a joke about her daughter getting "knocked up" by New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and he said in retrospect the remark was in poor taste.

Palin rebuffed his invitations to appear on the show, but that might not matter. The story had the effect of turning the attention to Letterman at a critical time, during the second week of his new competition with Leno's replacement, Conan O'Brien.

"It will be interesting to see if that can be maintained or whether it is one of those temporary things," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

The final numbers won't be out until later in the week, but there's a strong chance that Letterman could average more viewers than the "Tonight" show in the second week of O'Brien's new 11:35 p.m. job. That hasn't happened since 2005, and the timing is significant: some of Leno's old fans may be more amenable to searching for a new late-night habit during the transition period.

It's difficult to tell whether Letterman received a boost this week because of people interested in what he was going to say about Palin. Strong guests like Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington were a boost, too.

Letterman has referenced the NBC transition in a handful of jokes over the past two weeks, many of them poking fun of himself as much as his rival.

"Conan O'Brien, of course, is the new host of the `Tonight' show,'" Letterman said a week ago. "Did they even look at my audition tape?"

On a top 10 list of Signs it's Time for Kim Jong-Il to retire, was No. 2: "Republic already named his successor, Conan Jong-Il. Topping the list of Surprising Facts about Sonia Sotomayor was: "Demonstrated impeccable judgment by watching Conan."

Despite the competition, no doubt it's hard for Letterman to exhibit the same animosity toward O'Brien as he did toward Leno. O'Brien has openly acknowledged his debt to Letterman, and his subversive anti-talk show style is more reminiscent of what Letterman did in the 1980s than what Letterman is doing today.

Letterman maintains his biting sarcasm, but at age 62 he has evolved into more of a traditional talk show host than his rivals. Thompson said he believes Letterman is more topical than ever, in part a recognition of Jon Stewart's success at Comedy Central. The Letterman of two decades ago attracted attention for dropping watermelons from the roof of a building or wearing a Velcro suit; now he gets it for charged interviews with John McCain or Joaquin Phoenix.

When Letterman did a brief filmed skit last week tied to Washington's new movie, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" it seemed like a quaint throwback; O'Brien does such pre-filmed segments all the time.

"David Letterman's biggest problem is he was brilliant in going against the grain," he said. "David Letterman is now the grain. He's his own toughest act to follow. So that's why it is smart that he has tried to change the game."

Letterman, who went through a life-changing heart surgery and became a father in the past decade, seems committed to the new competition. It was revealed this week that he had agreed to a contract extension that will keep him on the "Late Show" into 2012, and there's no indication that he's looking toward retirement.

His longevity, however, may be his biggest handicap in getting back to the top.

"By and large, late-night comedy is a young wise-guy's business," Thompson said.

The fans who thought he was fabulously hip in the 1980s now have their own teen-agers looking to make their own late-night TV habits. Letterman has a love-him-or-hate him personality, and a transition by one of his competitors isn't likely to change the minds of viewers who made them up years ago. He jokes about all politicians but it's becoming clearer where his sympathies lie — something that Palin and her supporters sensed in their criticisms. NBC has touted O'Brien's show as the fun place to be in late-night, particularly for younger viewers, with the implication that Letterman is a cranky old man.

It would be foolish to count him out.

Palin may have inadvertently given Letterman a platform at a time when it is most valuable; the next few weeks will show how he's been able to use it.



by the associated press

Trent Reznor says Bonnaroo is his last US concert

MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) — Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor said their performance Sunday at the Bonnaroo Music Festival was their last in the country.

The industrial rock group performed in the early morning hours Sunday at the Tennessee festival, shortly after Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band wrapped up.

"It just dawned on me that this is our last show ever in the United States," Reznor said during his band's set. "Don't be sad. I'll keep going. But I think I'm going to lose my ... mind if I keep doing this, and I have to stop."

Nine Inch Nails just completed a U.S. tour with Jane's Addiction. Their summer tour continues in Europe and Asia. The tour, dubbed "Wave Goodbye," was conceived as a farewell tour to mark the 20th anniversary of their first album, "Pretty Hate Machine."


by the associated press

Hundreds honor David Carradine

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hundreds gathered to honor David Carradine at a sprawling hillside cemetery on Saturday during a funeral that was attended by family, former co-stars and other Hollywood friends.

The invitation-only services were held indoors at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills, a 400-acre cemetery laid out adjacent to Los Angeles' Griffith Park.
Mostly gloomy skies prevailed outside, with cold blasts of wind sweeping across the cemetery. The funeral lasted more than two hours and as more than 400 mourners left, clouds parted in the west offering a magnificent sunset.

Guests gathered and hugged outside the hall, where security ensured only invited guests gained entry.

They gathered more than a week after Carradine, 72, was found hanging in a Bangkok hotel room on June 4. Thai authorities continue to investigate his death. A statement released Thursday by a private pathologist said suicide had been ruled out as a cause of death.

Carradine's family stayed out of sight from a small group of reporters and cameras. His burial was private. Brothers Keith and Robert Carradine asked for privacy and understanding while the family mourned in a statement released on Thursday.
Keith Carradine briefly appeared outside before the service and greeted some people before heading back inside.

Among the hundreds of guests were numerous actors, including Michael Madsen, Jane Seymour, Tom Selleck, Frances Fisher, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu, Edward James Olmos, Ali Larter, and James Cromwell. Rob Schneider also attended, carrying a basket of flowers.

Madsen and Liu both starred alongside Carradine in Quentin Tarantino's two-part "Kill Bill" saga. Carradine married his fifth wife, Annie Bierman, at Madsen's home in 2004.

Carradine is perhaps best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine on three seasons of the 1970s hit show "Kung Fu." His role in popular culture was cemented by the time he left the show after three seasons in 1975.
He later went on to star in the cult flick "Death Race 2000" and in Ingmar Bergman's "The Serpent's Egg" in 1977, but by the 1980s his career arc had moved to lower-budget fare.

He continued to foster interests in Asian herbs, exercise and philosophy, and made instructional videos on tai chi and other martial arts.

Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films offered Carradine a career resurgence. His role as the titular character earned Carradine a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor for his role in "Kill Bill — Vol. 2."

Carradine's father, John, was a character actor whose 50-year stage and screen career began during Hollywood's early years.
Some mourners on Saturday opted for bits of Western flair, with some sporting cowboy boots and hats and turquoise jewelry. Keith Carradine wore a bolo tie.

Programs handed out to guests included a photo of a smiling Carradine in a tuxedo on the cover and sketch of the actor on the back, above lyrics to "Midnight Rider" by The Allman Brothers Band.

The program indicated several remembrances by Carradine's family and song selections that included The Beatles' "Let It Be" and Ludwig von Beethoven's "Requiem for a Fallen Hero."



by the associated press

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Could Palin be Letterman's Hugh Grant?


NEW YORK (AP) — Sarah Palin would no doubt be horrified by the idea, but there's a chance she could become the same boon to David Letterman's career that Hugh Grant was to Jay Leno's.

Grant's 1995 appearance on NBC's "Tonight" show after a prostitution arrest, where Leno famously asked "what were you thinking?," was seen in retrospect as a turning point in the late-night race. It drew a huge audience and propelled Leno to the top of the ratings, a spot he would not relinquish.

Letterman did not court last week's battle with Palin, who called him "perverted" for making a joke about her daughter getting "knocked up" by New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and he said in retrospect the remark was in poor taste.

Palin rebuffed his invitations to appear on the show, but that might not matter. The story had the effect of turning the attention to Letterman at a critical time, during the second week of his new competition with Leno's replacement, Conan O'Brien.
"It will be interesting to see if that can be maintained or whether it is one of those temporary things," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

The final numbers won't be out until later in the week, but there's a strong chance that Letterman could average more viewers than the "Tonight" show in the second week of O'Brien's new 11:35 p.m. job. That hasn't happened since 2005, and the timing is significant: some of Leno's old fans may be more amenable to searching for a new late-night habit during the transition period.
It's difficult to tell whether Letterman received a boost this week because of people interested in what he was going to say about Palin. Strong guests like Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington were a boost, too.

Letterman has referenced the NBC transition in a handful of jokes over the past two weeks, many of them poking fun of himself as much as his rival.
"Conan O'Brien, of course, is the new host of the `Tonight' show,'" Letterman said a week ago. "Did they even look at my audition tape?"

On a top 10 list of Signs it's Time for Kim Jong-Il to retire, was No. 2: "Republic already named his successor, Conan Jong-Il. Topping the list of Surprising Facts about Sonia Sotomayor was: "Demonstrated impeccable judgment by watching Conan."
Despite the competition, no doubt it's hard for Letterman to exhibit the same animosity toward O'Brien as he did toward Leno. O'Brien has openly acknowledged his debt to Letterman, and his subversive anti-talk show style is more reminiscent of what Letterman did in the 1980s than what Letterman is doing today.

Letterman maintains his biting sarcasm, but at age 62 he has evolved into more of a traditional talk show host than his rivals. Thompson said he believes Letterman is more topical than ever, in part a recognition of Jon Stewart's success at Comedy Central. The Letterman of two decades ago attracted attention for dropping watermelons from the roof of a building or wearing a Velcro suit; now he gets it for charged interviews with John McCain or Joaquin Phoenix.

When Letterman did a brief filmed skit last week tied to Washington's new movie, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" it seemed like a quaint throwback; O'Brien does such pre-filmed segments all the time.
"David Letterman's biggest problem is he was brilliant in going against the grain," he said. "David Letterman is now the grain. He's his own toughest act to follow. So that's why it is smart that he has tried to change the game."

Letterman, who went through a life-changing heart surgery and became a father in the past decade, seems committed to the new competition. It was revealed this week that he had agreed to a contract extension that will keep him on the "Late Show" into 2012, and there's no indication that he's looking toward retirement.

His longevity, however, may be his biggest handicap in getting back to the top.
"By and large, late-night comedy is a young wise-guy's business," Thompson said.
The fans who thought he was fabulously hip in the 1980s now have their own teen-agers looking to make their own late-night TV habits.

Letterman has a love-him-or-hate him personality, and a transition by one of his competitors isn't likely to change the minds of viewers who made them up years ago. He jokes about all politicians but it's becoming clearer where his sympathies lie — something that Palin and her supporters sensed in their criticisms. NBC has touted O'Brien's show as the fun place to be in late-night, particularly for younger viewers, with the implication that Letterman is a cranky old man.

It would be foolish to count him out.
Palin may have inadvertently given Letterman a platform at a time when it is most valuable; the next few weeks will show how he's been able to use it.

by the asscoiated press

Usher files for divorce

ATLANTA (AP) — R&B singer Usher filed for divorce Friday from Tameka Foster Raymond, less than two years after their glitzy wedding at a Georgia resort.

The 30-year-old Grammy-winning artist, whose real name is Usher Raymond IV, filed the petition in Superior Court in Atlanta. Records posted to the court's Web site did not give any details about the split between the R&B star and his wife, who were married in August 2007.

About 200 people attended the wedding between the two at resort built in the style of a 16th-century-style French chateau on 3,500 hilly acres outside Atlanta.

They have two young sons, 1 1/2-year-old Usher Raymond V and 6-month-old Naviyd Ely Raymond. His wife has three children from a previous marriage.

E-mail and telephone messages to Usher's publicist were not immediately returned.

In a May 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Usher addressed negative feedback from bloggers over his relationship with his wife, who's 8 years older than him and was once his stylist.

"People are so attracted to drama. That's easier to take than a story of righteousness," Usher said at the time.

"I decided to marry this woman, then I decide to be a father to my child," he said. "... It's not like I got caught with a gram of coke in my car or speeding or was caught for murder, so why would I be ridiculed, that's why I don't understand — that's the part that is mind boggling. Why would I be ridiculed for that, even a year later."

Prior to the marriage, Usher had a string of public romances, most notably his three-year relationship with Chilli from TLC.

His hits include "Confessions," "Burn," "You Make Me Wanna" and "Yeah!"

by the associated press

Miss California , may cost her crown


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean says she lost her crown because of a comment she made about gay marriage and not because she had been skipping appearances.

Prejean told Matt Lauer on NBC'S "Today" show Friday that she "absolutely" had been dethroned because of the comment, when she said marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Prejean lost her title Wednesday after California pageant executive director Keith Lewis said Prejean was skipping Miss California USA events while speaking out against gay marriage at unsanctioned appearances.

Lewis said Friday that the pageant would never try to silence its contestants. He says they should be able to voice their opinions as long as they don't violate their contracts.

Prejean was replaced by the Miss California pageant's first runner-up, Miss Malibu Tami Farrell. Farrell has also said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.


by the associated press

800,000 callers phone digital TV

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly 800,000 calls were received by a federal hot line this week from people confused about the nationwide move on Friday to drop analog TV signals and broadcast only in digital.

The Federal Communications Commission said that about 317,450 calls went into the help line, 1-888-CALL-FCC, on Friday alone, the day analog signals were cut off. Another 102,000 came in Saturday by 6 p.m. Eastern time.

The total is still below the 600,000 to 3 million callers that the FCC expected in early March would call on transition day.

The move to all-digital was delayed from Feb. 17, and ramped up efforts at spreading the word is credited with roughly halving the number of unprepared households since then. Nielsen Co. put the number of unready homes at 2.8 million, or 2.5 percent of the total television market, as of last Sunday.

FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps said Saturday that if it were baseball, the digital transition is now closer to home plate.

"We're safe on third right now," he said. He added that thousands of FCC staff would continue to answer phones and help people whose TVs no longer work properly, at least through June.

"We all need a bit of patience and perseverance," he said. "This is a momentous change and it'll take time to get it right."

Dozens of mostly Hispanic TV watchers visited and called the Mercy Center, a community center in the Bronx, N.Y., to get more help. A staff of three has been on hand seven days a week for the last month.

"Up to now, it's been people wanting the equipment," said Judith Criado, the director of education at the center. "Today, everyone who has called has the equipment but they just don't know how to actually see the channels."

About a third of Friday's calls to the FCC were still about federal coupons to pay for digital converter boxes, an indication that at least 100,000 people still didn't have the right equipment to receive digital signals.

Another third of the calls were handled by live agents, and 30 percent of those were about how to operate the converter boxes. The FCC said most of the converter box questions were resolved when callers were told to re-scan the airwaves for digital frequencies.

Over 20 percent of the live calls were about reception issues. Antennas can be fickle, because digital signals travel differently than analog ones.

A weakly received analog channel might be viewable through some static, but channels broadcast in the digital language of ones and zeros are generally all or nothing.

"People just needed to upgrade their antenna or return the lower quality one for stronger antennas," said Debbie Byrd, an FCC staffer who only had three visitors to her Saturday help session at a library in the south-central Los Angeles area.

A majority of the 100 million U.S. households with TV sets were not affected by the drop of analog signals, because they receive them through their cable or satellite company.

As of Saturday, the FCC said 20 TV stations that had been on the air went dark because they had not set up their digital broadcast equipment yet.

The largest volume of calls to the FCC on Friday came from the Chicago area, followed by Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

With 4,000 staffers manning the phones Friday, the average wait time per call was 4.6 minutes.

The FCC said its hot line was on track to receive another 150,000 calls on Saturday.

The National Association of Broadcasters said that 278 stations it surveyed nationwide received 35,500 calls on Friday, and the vast majority were resolved by re-scanning.

Any set hooked up to cable or a satellite dish is unaffected by the end of analog broadcasts, but around 17 million U.S. households rely on antennas. Nielsen Co. said poor and minority households were less likely to be prepared for Friday's analog shutdown, as were households consisting of people younger than 35.

The Commerce Department reported a last-minute rush for the $40 converter box coupons: It received 319,990 requests Thursday, nearly four times the daily average for the past month, and another 428,198 requests on Friday, for about 1.5 million since Monday. In all, the government has mailed coupons for almost 60 million converter boxes. The limit is two coupons per household.

It takes nine business days for a coupon to reach the mailbox.

For some procrastinators, that meant missing some important broadcasts.

Tuyen Luu waited until Friday to apply for a coupon at a nonprofit help center in Houston. By the time it arrives, the NBA finals could be over if the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic on Sunday. "I won't get to see Game 5," Luu said.


by the associated press

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Carradine statements

Full text of statements read Thursday by Keith and Robert Carradine, brothers of late actor David Carradine, and Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist hired by the family to independently examine the body.

___

Keith Carradine:

"First of all, we would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt expressions of love and sympathy for what we are going through. This is a devastating loss for our family and we greatly appreciate the compassion pouring in from all over the world.

We wish to express our gratitude to the government of Thailand and the Lumpini Police Station in Bangkok for their support and cooperation and to the U.S. Department of State for their assistance.

The investigation is ongoing. A second autopsy was performed by Dr. Michael Baden. His initial findings will be addressed in a written statement which will be read in a moment."

___

Robert Carradine:

"Until we have all of the pending results of the investigation we respectfully ask that we be allowed to lay our beloved brother, husband and father, grandfather and great-grandfather to rest in peace and with dignity.

Once the investigation is fully completed and definitive conclusions have been reached, we will address the findings with the public.

Thank you for your understanding during this profoundly painful time."

___

Statement of Dr. Michael Baden, read by David Zutler of Zutler Special Services:

"The autopsy findings and the evidence thus far available demonstrate that Mr. Carradine's death was not the result of suicide. However, to reach a final determination as to the cause and the manner of death we must wait for further information from Thailand as to the scene findings and the completion of the crime laboratory and toxicology studies that are still being performed."



by the associated press

Phil Spector Mug Shot


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A mug shot of Phil Spector released Wednesday reveals that prison has been a hair-raising experience for the legendary music producer. Spector, known for his many elaborate hairstyles over the years, had to abandon his wigs after being sentenced last month to 19 years to life for killing actress Lana Clarkson.

The mug shot, which shows a bald-pated Spector with long stringy hair on the sides, was taken on June 5 as part of the routine intake process in the prison system.

"They took my husband's freedom and dignity. So why not his hair?" said Spector's wife Rachelle, who had previously suggested that her husband's thick mane of hair was his own.

"This is a personal matter," she said. "But in case you don't know, they don't allow for much accessorizing while in prison."

Spector, 69, was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 death of Clarkson at his castle-like home in Alhambra. Spector had two trials with essentially the same evidence. The first ended in a jury deadlock.

He is being processed and evaluated at North Kern State Prison in Delano before being sent to his final prison destination. Regulations forbid wigs and hairpieces unless they are deemed medically necessary.

Gordon Hinkle, deputy press secretary for the Department of Corrections, said the photo was distributed to the media and social networking sites including Twitter because of a department policy aimed at transparency in public information.

Hal Lifson, Spector's publicist, said his client is wearing a Jewish yarmulke — or skull cap — in his cell and is conferring regularly with a prison rabbi and receives kosher food at mealtimes.

In his heyday in the early and mid-1960s, Spector produced dozens of hits, including The Ronette's "Be My Baby," The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Righteous Brothers' classic, "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin.'" Spector also worked on the Beatles album "Let It Be" and John Lennon's album, "Imagine."

His "Wall of Sound" used orchestrations and sometimes dozens of microphones to produce a dense, echoing sound that influenced everyone from The Beach Boys to Bruce Springsteen.


by the associated press

Is the World Crazy over Megan Fox ?







Michael Jackson faces another law-suit

NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey concert promoter has sued entertainer Michael Jackson for $40 million for allegedly breaching a contract to play a reunion concert with other family members.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Allgood Entertainment claims it made a deal with Jackson’s then-manager to produce a reunion concert with the Jackson family this summer and possibly a pay-per-view Jackson family reunion event.

The deal called for Jackson not to perform elsewhere before the event or for at least three months after it.

The lawsuit says Jackson, manager Frank DiLeo and event promoter AEG broke the contract by signing to do a series of concerts in London.



by the associated press

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Carrie Prejean: to do Playboy ?

We just got off the phone with deposed Miss California USA Carrie Prejean -- and she says the pageant was trying to whore her out to Playboy.

Prejean claims pageant honcho Keith Lewis actually asked her last month if she would take two gigs -- appearing on "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" and Playboy. Prejean says Lewis told her Playboy offered $140,000 for her to pose semi-nude. She rejected both offers.

A few minutes ago we talked to Lewis who said he was not pushing her to take either gig -- but merely passing the offers along. Lewis said Prejean had insisted they not turn anything down without running it by her.

Prejean -- who told us she was "shocked" at the news she was fired and learned about it only after we broke the story -- tells us she has been more than cooperative with pageant officials.


Prejean says, "What's behind this I think is a political debate. They don't agree with the stance that I took [on Prop 8]. Shanna [Moakler] is trying to bash me. They don't like me. From day one they wanted me out and they got what they wanted."

Prejean also told us she couldn't believe Donald Trump would say she treated people in the pageant "like s**t." For the record, Trump did tell Harvey Levin that on the phone earlier today. Prejean said if Trump really feels that way she's sorry, adding: "I've shown respect for every party involved, even when they haven't shown it back."

Prejean went on: "I was very respectful of people even when they slandered me and humiliated me. I have not once stooped down to their level."



from tmz

Monday, June 8, 2009

‘Spider-Man movie


Access Hollywood
updated 6:40 p.m. CT, Mon., June 8, 2009
Kirsten Dunst will return as Mary Jane Watson, “Spider-Man 4” producer Todd Black told the New York Post.

The star will rejoin director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker’s love interest in the latest installment in the popular superhero franchise, which is slated for May 6, 2011.

However, don’t expect wedding bells for Mary Jane and Peter — Black told the newspaper that he was unaware of such a subplot. At the close of “Spider-Man 3,” the two had an emotional — but ambiguous — reunion after the film’s events drove the lovers apart.


Additionally, Black hinted at the film’s villain, shooting down online rumors that pegged comic book character Morbius the Living Vampire as the latest member of Spidey’s rogue gallery.

Instead, the producer told the Post that the villain had a significant connection to the Big Apple.

“We’re just coming up with who the villain is now,” he said. “We’ll be shooting in New York again. Trust me, people will appreciate who we pick, because it’ll be a big part of New York.”

In past films, Spider-Man has faced off with the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Venom and Sandman, leaving a number of famous villains who could make their silver screen debut in “Spider-Man 4.”

Among the popular options are Kraven the Hunter, Chameleon, the Hobgoblin, Mysterio, Venom offspring Carnage and the Lizard, whose human alter-ego, Dr. Curt Connors, had a role in the previous two movies.

Another potential foe could be New York crime boss the Kingpin — however, the character appeared in 20th Century Fox’s “Daredevil” and would likely require a rights acquisition by Sony Pictures.

But the crime lord would give the film a New York connection, and would also be Access Hollywood film critic Scott Mantz’s top choice.

“The Kingpin is grounded in reality, and that’s the appeal of Spider-Man,” Mantz said, adding another suggestion to the mix, femme fatale the Black Cat. “I’d like to see the Kingpin and the Black Cat, to stir the pot with Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane.”


from NBC

Pianists

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A blind pianist from Japan and a teenager from China won gold medals Sunday at the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, making history as the first winners from any Asian country.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20, of Japan and Haochen Zhang, 19, of China shared the top prize, only the second time in the 47-year history of the competition that there have been dual winners. Tsujii also made history as the first blind pianist to win.

Yeol Eum Son, 23, of South Korea won the silver medal. All three received $20,000 and will record a CD, among other prizes.

After Tsujii's name was announced and his translator escorted him onto the stage, he wrapped his arms around Cliburn, grinning from ear to ear as the audience gave him a lengthy standing ovation, cheered and whistled. The competition is named for Van Cliburn, an acclaimed pianist from Fort Worth. After winning a prestigious Moscow music competition at the height of the Cold War in 1958, Cliburn quickly gained international fame and millions of fans.

Zhang said he thought it was significant to be, along with Tsujii, the first from Asian countries to win the Cliburn and was "really happy" about it.

The other finalists this year, who each won $10,000, were Di Wu, 24, of China; Evgeni Bozhanov, 24, of Bulgaria; and Mariangela Vacatello, 27, of Italy. All six finalists received three years of managed concert tours, worth about $1 million.

The trend of more Cliburn competitors from Asian countries was noticeable in 2005 — nearly a third of those competing. This year, almost half of the pianists who started the contest two weeks ago are from Asian countries.

Cliburn organizers and others say many in China, Japan and Korea view classical music from the West as prestigious, and it also is part of popular culture there.

Zhang, who turned 19 last week and was the youngest pianist in the competition, said he did not feel more pressure winning at his age.

"For a pianist my age there is nothing more challenging or stressful than the Cliburn competition, and if you're through with the competition then you feel more relaxed," said Zhang, who moved from China at age 15 to study at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music.

Tsujii, who was born blind and started playing the piano at age 2, memorizes music after listening to his teacher's recordings.

He had performed with orchestras, but in the Cliburn semifinals, he had to play with a chamber music quartet, which has no conductor, and had to figure out how to cue the other musicians. He got rave reviews for his Schumann piece that begins with all instruments playing simultaneously in the first movement.

"I want to give my deepest gratitude to the American audiences who have such a warm heart and gave me long-lasting standing ovations. ... It made me so happy," Tsujii, who attends Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo, said through a translator.

The Cliburn contest, which started in 1962, is now held every four years. Cliburn himself is not one of the judges but attends performances and presents awards in Fort Worth.

Olga Kern of Russia and Stanislav Ioudenitch of Uzbekistan shared the top prize in 2001.

A blind pianist competed at the 1973 Cliburn but didn't advance past the preliminary round.



by the associated press

DMX avoids more Ariz. jail time for assault

PHOENIX (AP) — Rapper DMX was sentenced Monday to more than a year of probation, avoiding more time in Arizona jails after spending two years in and out of the state's legal system.

DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, pleaded guilty in May to attempted aggravated assault after authorities said he threw a meal tray at a jail officer. He had been in jail serving a sentence for felony theft, drug possession and animal cruelty and was released in May after nearly 80 days in custody.

In the latest incident, he was sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court to 18 months of supervised probation and ordered to pay various fines and fees. He also was credited with time served and was allowed to serve his probation and undergo a counseling program in Florida, where he planned to return.

"Don't misunderstand me. It's a beautiful state, it's a beautiful city. But the powers that be have it out for me. It kind of taints my view," he said.

Simmons and his lawyer said they were satisfied with the outcome of the plea agreement.

"I think even the court wants the best for him," said attorney Glenn Allen.

Simmons said he planned to work on a new album. The 38-year-old "Year of the Dog ... Again" rapper has also starred in movies such as "Romeo Must Die" and "Exit Wounds."

In 2007, Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies raided his north Phoenix home, where they seized several pit bulls, weapons and marijuana. In 2008, he was arrested for speeding on a Phoenix freeway and Maricopa County authorities later alleged Simmons went to a Scottsdale clinic and gave a false name to receive care with the intent of not paying.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement that he was disappointed by Simmons' sentence Monday, adding: "The fact that the court gave him what amounts to about two weeks' time for assaulting an officer is a farce."



by the associated press

Should Tonys aid 'Billy' and 'Carnage'

NEW YORK (AP) — Tony wins should strengthen even more the box-office appeal of "Billy Elliot" and "God of Carnage," already two of Broadway's biggest hits.

"It's the cherry on top of the sundae," said producer Ken Davenport about the 10 Tonys for "Billy Elliot," including best musical, and the three for "Carnage," including best play.

"I don't think either one of them needed it," Davenport said Monday. "But obviously, it's great to be able to tout it. For a show like 'Billy,' it's not just winning best musical. It's the amount, the volume of awards that mean a lot."

Ten Tonys for "Billy" is "a huge amount and when people see that quantity, they say, 'Wow. Anything that wins 10 has got to be good,'" added Davenport, producer of the off-Broadway hit "Altar Boyz," and the Broadway revivals of "Blithe Spirit" and "Speed-the-Plow."

Between them, the two shows took nearly half of the 27 competitive Tony Awards given out Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall.

Both "Billy Elliot" and "God of Carnage" have been doing excellent business, particularly the four-character, single-set "Carnage," which has often grossed more each week than big musicals. Its cast of James Gandolfini, Tony winner Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis recently re-signed for an additional 10 weeks in the play, which will extend the actors' run into November (after a late summer hiatus).

"Next to Normal," the strongest Tony competitor for "Billy Elliot," managed to take three awards, including two — score and orchestrations — for composer Tom Kitt.

It can now claim in its ads that it has the best new score on Broadway. The double win was especially gratifying for Kitt, whose first Broadway show, "High Fidelity," closed after 13 performances in 2006.

"(Broadway) is my passion, my love," the composer said. "I have been very lucky to be able to do a number of different things. Looking back on the season, I was conducting (the musical) '13' during the first part of the season. I get to work with people on a variety of levels."

"In terms of composing, Brian (Yorkey, lyricist and book writer for 'Next to Normal') and I are hard at work deciding what our next project will be," Kitt said.

The day after the Tonys usually means closing announcements for some shows that go home empty-handed. Already there is one casualty this year.

Producers for Neil LaBute's "reasons to be pretty" said the show will close Sunday after a two-month run. Despite favorable reviews, the play about the unraveling of a relationship has been struggling since opening in April.

Several others, including "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" and "Exit the King" — which stars actor-play winner Geoffrey Rush — will end their runs June 14, but they originally were announced as limited engagements.

Davenport says best-actor Tonys "may not matter much at the box office, but they matter for the people who win, especially Hollywood people, such as Geoffrey Rush, who may want to come back. They are also attractive to other actors and artists who may have thought about doing Broadway."

CBS should be pleased about the three-hour telecast, too. The show, with Neil Patrick Harris as host, was seen by 7.45 million people. Nielsen Media Research said that was a 19 percent increase over last year's awards show, which had 6.27 million viewers.

Nielsen said it was the biggest audience for the Tonys in three years, the second biggest since 2003 when Hugh Jackman was host.

And Harris, a star of the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," received excellent reviews, too.

Said Davenport, "Neil was great. He was confident, he was respectful, he was funny. Hosting is a very interesting job. He seemed to say, 'Let's have some fun.'"


by the associated press

Bret Michaels has a broken nose

NEW YORK (AP) — Bret Michaels performed at the Tony Awards, and all he got was a nose fracture — and a busted lip. According to Michaels' spokeswoman, the rock singer had X-rays taken after getting clocked in the head by a descending set piece at Sunday's Radio City Music Hall ceremony.

Publicist Joann Mignano says Michaels, who performed with his 1980s hair-metal band Poison, fractured his nose and had to get three stitches in his lip. She says he was getting a CAT scan on Monday as a precaution, as he's had a past neck injury.

Although he's "pretty bruised up," Mignano says, Michaels was in good spirits. He wiped off blood with a towel and laughed backstage when host Neil Patrick Harris joked that the singer "gave head banging a whole new meaning."

Michaels took to the stage with Poison during the telecast's opening production number, featuring performances from the season's Broadway musicals.

They performed "Nothin' But a Good Time" with the cast of "Rock of Ages," and as Michaels exited the stage, he smacked into a piece of scenery and was knocked to the ground upon impact. Footage of the accident soon landed online, where Michaels' pratfall seemed to score as much attention as the prestigious ceremony itself.

Michaels had a "great time performing for the Broadway audience," says Mignano, who notes that the star of VH1's "Rock of Love" reality series took photos backstage with theater legends Liza Minnelli and Angela Lansbury.

Michaels, who has gone solo, is touring with his namesake band. Later this month, he'll take Poison on the road for a joint tour with Def Leppard and Cheap Trick.




by the associated press

FBI can observe

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai police said Monday that they would welcome the FBI's assistance in investigating the death of American actor David Carradine, but only as observers in the high-profile case.

Carradine's naked body was discovered last Thursday morning in his luxury suite at Bangkok's Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel. Police initially suspected his death was a suicide, but have since said it may have been accidental suffocation or heart failure after revealing he was found with a rope tied around his wrist, neck and genitals.

The circumstances suggested he might has died as a result of a dangerous sex game, Pornthip Rojanasunand, a prominent Thai forensic pathologist, said last week.

With the uncertainty and conflicting information surrounding the death, Carradine's family in the U.S. went to the FBI last Friday asking for its help investigating the case.

"If the FBI wants to get involved, we will do our best to cooperate," Thai police Maj. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano told reporters, adding that it would have to be in an observer role as mandated by Thai law. "We have nothing to hide."

Sirisak Tiyapan, director-general for International Affairs of Thailand's Attorney General's Office — which would handle any cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies — said his agency had not yet received a request from the FBI to assist in the Carradine case.

U.S. Embassy Spokesman Michael Turner said he couldn't comment on the investigation but did acknowledge that FBI agents attached to the embassy were talking informally about the case with their Thai police counterparts.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said earlier that the agency generally only gets involved in death investigations overseas if a crime is suspected.

After numerous leaks about the crime scene and cause of death, Maj. Gen. Amnuay at Monday's press conference sought to quash further speculation. He refused to comment on the condition Carradine's body was found in or the reports that he died from the dangerous form of sex play known as auto-erotic asphyxiation.

"The previous conclusions on the cause of death were made by people who know nothing about the case," Amnuay told reporters, adding that he had to protect the privacy of Carradine's family.

The actor's family has said they hoped his body would arrive in Los Angeles by Monday, said their attorney, Mark Geragos, but he did not give specifics.

The family will also seek an independent autopsy by famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to determine whether another person could have been involved in causing Carradine's death, Geragos said. Results of an autopsy performed Friday in Bangkok were not expected for at least three weeks.

Carradine flew to Thailand at the end of May and began work on a film titled "Stretch" two days before his death. His friends and associates told CNN's Larry King he had a happy marriage, had recently bought a new car, and had several films lined up after he finished work in Bangkok.

A martial arts practitioner himself, Carradine was best known for the U.S. TV series "Kung Fu," which aired from 1972-75. He played Kwai Chang Caine, an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks and fled China for the American West after killing the emperor's nephew in retaliation for the murder of his kung fu master.

Carradine also appeared in more than 100 feature films with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman and Hal Ashby. He returned to the top in recent years as the title character in Quentin Tarantino's two-part saga "Kill Bill."

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.


by the associated press

Sunday, June 7, 2009

David Carradine death photo on news-paper


Bret Michaels hurt at the Tonys set

NEW YORK (AP) — Bret Michaels ran into some scenery at the Tony Awards.

Michaels, star of the reality show "Rock of Love," took to the stage with his hair-metal band Poison during the telecast's opening production number, featuring performances from the season's Broadway musicals.

They performed "Nothin' But a Good Time" with the cast of "Rock of Ages," and as Michaels exited the stage, a descending set piece smacked him on the head and knocked him — splat! — to the ground.

Tonys spokeswoman Christina Stejskal says the rocker "missed his mark." Though it looked it, he did not break his nose. Stejskal did not immediately know the extent of his injury.

"Rock of Ages" celebrates 1980s hair music and features songs by Journey and other bands. It stars Constantine Maroulis as an aspiring rock star.



by the associated press

'Up' still No. 1 box-office

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two live-action comedies were unable to bring down the animated adventure "Up." Disney and Pixar Animation's "Up" reeled in $44.2 million to remain on top of the box office for the second weekend in a row, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The Warner Bros. bachelor-bash comedy "The Hangover" came in a close second with a $43.3 million debut. Will Ferrell's action comedy for Universal, "Land of the Lost," had to settle for a distant third with a $19.5 million opening.

"Up" was the first movie of Hollywood's busy summer season to take the No. 1 spot for two straight weekends. But overall revenues fell for the second weekend in a row, putting the brakes on what has been shaping up as a record revenue year for the movie business.

The top 12 movies took in $164 million, down 6 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Kung Fu Panda" opened on top with $60.2 million, according to box-office figures compiled by Hollywood.com.

For the year, Hollywood has taken in $4.3 billion, up 12.5 percent from 2008 revenues. But studios have been unable to maintain the red-hot pace of the year's first four months.

"Definitely, things have slowed," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "But there are some potential saviors on the horizon."

Three big sequels — "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" — open within three weeks of one another starting June 24.

With $137.3 million in the bank after just 10 days, "Up" is streaking toward the $200 million mark achieved by such previous Pixar hits as "WALL-E," "Ratatouille," "Cars" and "Toy Story 2."

Revenues for most big movies typically drop 50 percent or more in the second weekend, but the audience for "Up" was down only 35 percent from its opening. That puts it in line with "Finding Nemo," the top-grossing Disney-Pixar animated tale, said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney.

"Up" likely will finish in the top three among Pixar flicks, Viane said. Leading the Pixar slate now are "Finding Nemo" with $339.7 million, "The Incredibles" with $261.4 million and "Monsters, Inc." with $255.8 million.

"The Hangover" features Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis as pals on a wild Las Vegas bachelor party, during which they misplace the groom (Justin Bartha) and run into all manner of misadventures.

Warner Bros. had expected "The Hangover" to finish at No. 3 behind "Up" and "Land of the Lost." But the movie found a broad audience split almost evenly between men and women and those over and under 25, said Dan Fellman, Warner head of distribution.

"Sunday's always good for a hangover," Fellman said.

"The Hangover" was directed by Todd Phillips, whose 2003 comedy "Old School" featured a breakout role for Ferrell.

Yet Ferrell had one of his weaker openings with "Land of the Lost," inspired by the 1970s children's TV show about adventurers hurled back to an age of dinosaurs. Ferrell's new twist generally was trashed by critics as a crude update.

Sony's "Angels & Demons" took in $6.5 million domestically and $22.3 million overseas to hit $409 million overall, the first 2009 release to cross the $400 million mark worldwide.

In narrower release, Fox Searchlight's romantic comedy "My Life in Ruins" had a so-so debut of $3.2 million, coming in at No. 9. The movie stars Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") as a discontented tour guide in Greece who unexpectedly finds love.

Focus Features' road-trip romp "Away We Go" had a strong opening in limited release, pulling in $143,260 in four theaters for a healthy average of $35,815 a cinema.

That compares to an average of $11,588 in 3,818 theaters for "Up," $13,238 in 3,269 cinemas for "The Hangover," $5,545 in 3,521 locations for "Land of the Lost" and $2,771 in 1,164 theaters for "My Life in Ruins."

"Away We Go," starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a couple searching out the best place in North America to raise a family, was directed by Sam Mendes ("American Beauty"). The film expands to more theaters Friday.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Up," $44.2 million.

2. "The Hangover," $43.3 million.

3. "Land of the Lost," $19.5 million.

4. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," $14.7 million.

5. "Star Trek," $8.4 million.

6. "Terminator Salvation," $8.2 million.

7. "Drag Me to Hell," $7.3 million.

8. "Angels & Demons," $6.5 million.

9. "My Life in Ruins," $3.2 million.

10. "Dance Flick," $2 million.



by the associated press

Billy Elliot' wins

NEW YORK (AP) — "Billy Elliot," the big British musical about a coal miner's son who dreams to dance, bowled over Broadway on Sunday, winning 10 Tonys, including best musical and a unique best actor prize for the three young performers who share the title character.

The trio — David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish — traded off thank-yous during their acceptance speech, shyly thanking people associated with the show only by their first name. They also acknowledged siblings and parents. Finally, Kulish told the cheering crowd at Radio City Music Hall: "We want to say to all the kids out there who might want to dance, 'Never give up.'"

"Billy Elliot" collected eight other awards, including director of a musical, book of a musical and choreography, but its composer Elton John was upset for best score. That award was taken by "Next to Normal" — which seemed to stun "Normal" composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Brian Yorkey. Alice Ripley, who portrays battling mental illness in "Next to Normal," received the actress musical prize.

"God of Carnage," Yasmina Reza's savage comedy of manners about two liberal, middle-class couples whose children get into a fight, was named best play and picked up two other major awards, one for its director, Matthew Warchus, and the other for actress Marcia Gay Harden.

Reza, who previously won a best-play Tony for "Art," said: "Maybe you missed my accent; you wanted to hear it again. I'm very grateful for all the people who gave their best for the production."

"The Norman Conquests," Alan Ayckbourn's trilogy, received the revival-play prize, while "Hair," the iconic 1960s rock extravaganza roared to a win in the musical-revival category.

The director/musical award went to Stephen Daldry of "Billy Elliot."

"I have been blessed in my life to spend the majority of last 10 years of my life working on the story of 'Billy Elliot,'" said Daldry, who called it "a long, extraordinary journey."

He said the award belonged to everyone connected to the show and especially to "three great gifts of Broadway, our three little Billys."

"Billy" also received prizes for featured actor (Gregory Jbara), sets, lighting, sound and a tie with "Next to Normal" for best orchestrations, which Kitt shared with Michael Starobin.

Geoffrey Rush's extravagant portrait of a dying monarch in "Exit the King" took the top actor prize.

"I want to thank Manhattan audiences for proving that French existential absurdist tragicomedy rocks," Rush said.

Angela Lansbury received her fifth Tony, this time for her performance as the dotty medium Madame Arcati in a revival of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." Her win in the featured-actress category tied the record for acting prizes held by Julie Harris, who has five plus a special lifetime achievement award given in 2002.

"Who would have thought," the 83-year-old Lansbury began, drowned out by a standing ovation. "Who knew that (at) this time in my life that I should be presented with this lovely, lovely award. I feel deeply grateful."

An emotional Liza Minnelli accepted the prize for special theatrical event for her show "Liza's at The Palace."

"This is exquisite," Minnelli said, asking for a list of people to thank because she didn't think she was going to win. "Lastly, I want to thank my parents and the greatest gift they ever gave me, Kay Thompson," her godmother. Minnelli recreated part of Thompson's club act as part of her Palace entertainment.

Roger Robinson's portrayal of a mystical shamanlike character in "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" was honored with the featured-acting prize.

"It has taken me 46 years to come from that seat, up these steps, to this microphone," said Robinson, who thanked his mother in Bellevue, Wash., "who's 98 years old ... who encouraged me and raised seven children single-handedly."

Featured actress-musical went to Karen Olivo as the spitfire Anita in the revival of "West Side Story."

"I'm completely unprepared for this. ... I just want to dedicate this to everyone who has a dream," Olivo said, thanking the production's 91-year-old director, Arthur Laurents, and then dissolving in tears.

The Tonys twittered this year, with Mark Indelicato of "Ugly Betty" as the night's uber-tweeter from backstage. He offered such timely nuggets as "NPH's (host Neil Patrick Harris) favorite beverage while warming up for the start of Tonys? RED BULL, natch!" Jane Fonda, nominated for lead actress in a play, offered: "The trick is to be Zen about it. Winning is sometimes not the prize."

Bret Michaels injured himself in the show's opening production number when he rocked it out with a number from "Rock of Ages." The extent of his injury was not immediately known.

Broadway had a surprisingly robust 2008-2009 season.

Attendance during the 2008-2009 season slipped a bit (to 12.15 million from 12.27 million the previous year) but not as much as was feared because of the recession. And grosses for plays and musicals actually were a bit higher than a year earlier, setting a record of $943.3 million.

Forty-three shows opened during the season, the highest number of new productions since 50 opened during the 1982-83 season.

The awards were voted on in 27 competitive categories by more than 800 members of the theatrical community, including producers, actors and journalists. The Tonys are presented by the League and the American Theatre Wing, a nonprofit service organization. The Wing founded the Tonys in 1947.



by the associated press