The self-proclaimed King of Pop, Michael Jackson, joined with ex-President Bill Clinton to raise money for the Democratic National Committee's voter registration effort to the tune of $2.7 million. Jacko treated the 1,400 people in the crowd at the Apollo Theater to a brief performance before Slick Willie addressed the adoring throng. Tony Bennett and the punctuation-challenged k.d. lang also performed.
Matt Damon, following in the footsteps of thesps such as Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey and Daryl Hannah, will star in a West End (London) theatrical production. Damon, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix will take over the lead roles from Hayden Christensen (Star Wars), Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin in This Is Our Youth.
Goodness gracious, great balls of fire! Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, 66, is getting divorced for the sixth time. According to a press release, Lewis and his wife of 17 years, Kerrie, have split amicably.
In the Biz
Criminals, beware: Sgt. Joe Friday is making a comeback to the small screen. Dick Wolf, the brains behind TV's successful Law and Order franchise, is reported to write the pilot and serve as executive producer for an updated primetime version of Dragnet.
The producer/director of last year's charity gala America: A Tribute to Heroes and Not Another Teen Movie, Joel Gallen, is in final talks with MGM to handle--and perhaps helm--Romantic Comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gallen is also the creator/producer of the MTV Movie Awards.
The View's Meredith Vieira is the frontrunner to host the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Los Angeles Times reports. Vieira, a former reporter for 60 Minutes, has allegedly been pursued by other networks to boost other struggling projects, most notably CBS' The Early Show.
Peter Jennings may want to rethink his retirement strategy. According to Daily Variety, an insider says Jennings, host of ABC's World News Tonight, should be expecting a drop in pay from his current salary of $10 million per year, although another insider was cited as saying a pay freeze, not cut, would be in effect.
Ozzy is a bona-fide hit! While bat-biting shock-rocker Ozzy Osbourne's music career may be on the wane, his TV career is on the rise. Tuesday's showing of The Osbournes drew 7.8 million viewers, the most ever for an MTV series in its 20-year history. The numbers also give rise to ABC's demise: MTV's viewer tally matched that of Sunday's The Practice re-run.
Speaking of ABC, it seems the alphabet network is ready to test the audience loyalty of surprise hit The Bachelor. Having risen to number 15 among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, ABC is airing a two-hour special on Thursday night, opposite such ratings stalwarts as NBC's Friends and CBS' CSI. Apparently, Enron's bigwigs have found themselves new work as TV execs for ABC.
Four new series--The Elite; I, Detective; Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice; and Body of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman--have been ordered by Court TV for primetime airing, starting this summer. All four revolve around criminal investigations and forensics, the staples of already-popular TV shows Law and Order and CSI.
Pop diva Jewel, full name Jewel Kilcher, sustained a broken collarbone, broken rib and contusions when she was thrown from a horse Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. Atlantic Records co-president Ron Shapiro said Jewel is an experienced rider and was vacationing at her boyfriend's ranch south of Dallas, Texas, when the accident occurred. Jewel will have to cancel a scheduled promotional tour for her new album and may miss a European tour slated to start May 10.
Rockers Alanis Morissette and John Mellencamp have no such health worries. Their respective North American tours were announced to start May 1 and July 3.
Also according to the AP, comedienne and talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell has been awarded the 2002 Montblanc Arts Patronage Award for her tireless efforts in encouraging the public to experience and patronize live theater. Each year, the Montblanc Cultural Foundation awards 10 individuals in 10 countries an honorific of $15,000 for their respective charities, based on their efforts to advance culture and arts.
Madonna took to the stage in Los Angeles Thursday as scheduled, resuming her "Drowned World" tour, The Associated Press reports. The singer performed at the Staples Center after canceling Tuesday's show in light of the terrorist attacks. Tickets for the canceled show will be honored on Saturday. Thursday's 18,000 ticketholders were told to arrive at the concert an hour ahead of time because of heightened security procedures. Other performers also resumed their tours, including the Backstreet Boys, Earth, Wind & Fire and Sade. Aerosmith, Destiny's Child, Jimmy Buffet, Tony Bennett, k.d. lang and Blink-182 kept their tours on hold for the time being.
According to Broadway.com, all Broadway shows resumed performances yesterday. The Roundabout Theatre Company, however, has postponed its Broadway production of Assassins. Roundabout and the show's director, Joe Mantello, believe this is not an appropriate time to present a show, which deals with presidential murder and violence from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald to John Hinckley.
Britney Spears canceled a Thursday media conference to promote her new album. According to AP, Spears had planned a two-day promotional blitz in Sydney, Australia, but felt it was not appropriate to hold a press conference.
AP reports that neither country singer Jo Dee Messina nor her record company is making money from her song, "Bring On the Rain," played recently in Nashville as a response to Tuesday's bombings. Messina, however, feels the relation between her song and the bombings "gives the song an entirely new dimension."
An Internet game entitled WTC Defender has been removed from its hosting Web site, Angelfire.com, according to BBC News. Horrifically, Tuesday's bombings mirrored the plot of the game: players try to avert kamikaze pilots from attacking the World Trade Center. The site has posted an apology, telling its users "the game was not meant to offend anyone."
According to Variety, HBO has discontinued all advertisements concerning its mini-series Band of Brothers. In light of Tuesday's attack on America, HBO will let each of the ten episodes speak for themselves, hopefully sparking the country's morale.
Networks ABC, CBS, and NBC plan to continue commercial-free coverage of Tuesday's terrorist attacks through today, Reuters reports. Fox television, CNN, CNBC and other cable channels will report commercial-free until further notice. Coverage of the tragedy has resulted in the largest advertising hiatus in network television history, with over 60 hours of uninterrupted coverage.
Networks will be left with huge gaps to fill this weekend after the NFL, college football, Major League Baseball, pro golf and NASCAR postponements and cancellations, AP reports. The major networks, including ABC and NBC, as well as all sports networks like ESPN and ESPN2, will instead give time to their news departments or affiliates for further coverage of cleanup operations following Tuesday's terrorist attacks. CBS will air taped sports programming, including Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victory in July.
Hollywood.com staffers Guylaine Cadorette and Stephanie Marcucci contributed to this report.
If Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush had their druthers, then Hollywood would transform from tawdry to tame and maybe go from lascivious to lame. Both presidential candidates say that Hollywood's morality, or lack thereof, needs a big-time change.
But what's odd in this presidential election is that "cleaning up Hollywood" is a moral, family values-type issue in which you'd expect the GOP to focus. However, the Democrats have been much louder than their Republican counterparts on this one.
What's even odder is that while Democrats -- in particular Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. -- have been loud on the Hollywood issue, they've reportedly received $14.7 million in campaign contributions from the television, music and movie industries while Republicans have raised just $9.1 million from those industries for the November election.
So how Gore and Lieberman remain outspoken about Hollywood and its morality while Bush and Dick Cheney lay low on Hollywood is an interesting quirk in what some consider an uninteresting election.
Here's a quick look at the candidates' positions on Hollywood and some recent statements about the entertainment industry by the major candidates.
GORE: SHAPE UP, HOLLYWOOD, BUT DO IT ON YOUR OWN
Gore recently said that he would give the entertainment industry six months to "clean up its act." What he meant was that it's acceptable for Hollywood to set its own moral guidelines, as long as the guidelines are morally reasonable and Hollywood abides by those rules.
"If the industry violates its own rules and actively misleads parents with advertising, then the industry should be held accountable,'' Gore said. "If the industry promises parents that it will not market violent material to children and then proceeds to do so, then the industry's practices could constitute false and deceptive advertising."
LIEBERMAN: SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT, HOLLYWOOD
Some call Lieberman the "conscience of the Senate,'' while others call him a moralizer. In 1998, he and former Secretary of Education William Bennett handed out "Silver Sewer Awards'' to draw attention to the producers of sexually explicit and violent films, music, television programs and video games. Perhaps hypocritically, Lieberman had stock in a few of the organizations that he criticized with these awards.
Lieberman is by far the most outspoken of the four major candidates on Hollywood. On this issue, though, he often speaks in generalizations. But his message remains that Hollywood needs a major change. Lieberman has said that the entertainment industry fosters "a culture of carnage." He said that parents are "locked in a losing competition with the culture to raise our children."
BUSH: PARENTS, SHAPE UP YOUR KIDS AND FORGET ABOUT HOLLYWOOD
Bush is not particularly vocal on Hollywood. In fact, his campaign has issued just three press releases regarding Hollywood, and all have been attacks on Gore. For example, one press release pointed out that the album "Daises of the Galaxy'' by the Eels was passed out at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. And, gasp, this album had a morally corrupt song called "It's a Motherf*****.''
Bush's sentiment toward Hollywood is similar to Lieberman's. The difference with Bush is that he normally stays clear of offering regulations for the entertainment industry. Instead, he pushes for cultural changes and parental guidance as the best ways to regulate Hollywood.
When asked about the entertainment industry, Bush maneuvered the question back to the home and said, "The fundamental question is going to be: 'Can America rededicate itself to parenting as the No. 1 priority for all of us?'"
Cheney: SHAPE UP, HOLLYWOOD. MY WIFE SAYS SO
Tackling Hollywood hasn't been part of Cheney's modus operandi -- so far. As a former secretary of defense, Cheney usually focuses on other issues, especially foreign policy. He leaves the Hollywood critiques to his wife, Lynne Cheney, who is a former chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his beliefs are in line with hers even though he doesn't often talk about them. Lynn Cheney recently testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about marketing violence to children.
"The time has long passed when we can shrug off violence in the entertainment industry by saying it has no effect. It debases and denigrates the culture our children are growing up in, and the leaders of the entertainment industry have to face up to that and understand their responsibilities,'' she said.
A "parental advisory" sticker may warn parents about an album's violent content, but it is not stopping the record industry from targeting such material at young America, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC will send out a "snapshot" report Tuesday which will provide a preliminary review of the marketing practices of the film, movie and recording industries, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The review stems from the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, in Littleton, Colo., during which two teen-agers shot and killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.
After the attack, then-President Clinton asked the FTC to investigate whether the entertainment industry was marketing movies, music and video games with adult themes to children.
Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who heads the Commerce Committee, is now overlooking the report, which will be the first of two follow-ups to a September review of the entertainment industry, Reuters reports.
According to the FTC report, the entertainment industry has made some progress. The report does single out the recording industry for doing virtually nothing to stop marketing violent materials to children, Reuters said.
In a November 1999 interview with MTV, shock-rocker Marilyn Manson said he turned into a "homebound recluse" after the media linked his music to the teen-agers responsible for the Columbine shootings.
Manson, who considered himself the "voice of individuality" in the 1990s, said people tend to associate those who look and behave differently with illegal and immoral activity.
"When I was wrapped up in the post-apocalypse of Columbine, and getting blamed for everything that was violent in the world, it was almost like a sick joke," Manson said.
In May 1999, in a feature story on the Columbine he penned for Rolling Stone Magazine, Manson wrote he examined the America he lived in and he has always tried to show people that "the devil we blame our atrocities on is really just each one of us."
Violence will always exist, said Debbie Bennett, general manager for Slip N Slide records in Miami.
"Honestly, the world is a violent place," she said.
Bennett said that it's not the record industry's jobs to ban a musician's freedom of expression.
"We are not the artist," Bennett said. "We shouldn't tell an artist what he can or cannot do," she said.
If a musician encountered violence, then they should be able to relate their experiences in their work, she said.
"Sometimes music, movies and books are the only things that let us feel like someone else feels like we do," Manson concluded in his Rolling Stone article.
The Recording Industry Association of America, which works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists, also has been criticized for its lack of an industry-wide standard sought by the FTC.
The RIAA encourages cooperation between record labels and their artists to determine what material should carry "parental advisory" labels.
Record labels cannot "dissect a song" or market any violent material, Bennett said, but they will market anything around it.
William J. Bennett, co-director of Empower America and a critic of violence in films, music and video games, recently signed a nonpartisan appeal through the Institute of Communitarian Policy Studies at the George Washington University alongside prominent Americans, such as Sen. McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).
The appeal hopes to develop a voluntary code of conduct to establish standards on excessive violence directed at teens. Those involved believe that by choosing to do good, the entertainment industry will follow.
"We are not advocating censorship or wholesale strictures on artistic creativity," the appeal reads. "We are not asking government to police the media. Rather, we are asking the entertainment industry to assume a decent minimum of responsibility for its own actions and to take some modest steps of self-restraint."
McCain has said he will decide after the FTC report is released whether to hold more hearings on the subject, or whether to wait for a more in-depth report due out in the fall, according to his aides.