Tonight, all eyes will indubitably take note of the presence -- or absence -- of singer Whitney Houston at the Arista Records' benefit concert at the Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium. Houston -- who bowed out on the Oscars and skipped a couple of Grammy rehearsals -- is scheduled to perform at the bash, which is doubling as a 25th anniversary celebration of the Arista label. The appearance is to be her first since the blown Oscar gig and comes on the heels of an article in the new People magazine article in which the singer's alleged substance abuse problem is hinted at publicly.
So, to confirm Houston's itinerary tonight (and to be able to hold her to her words later), we placed a cursory call to her people.
"Yes, [Whitney Houston] is planning to perform [at the Arista party]," the assistant for the singer's publicist told Hollywood.com on Friday.
Besides Whitney Houston, the concert is also to features performances by: geriatric rocker Santana, rock mavens Annie Lennox and Patti Smith, elevator musicians Kenny G., Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, not to mention, Sarah McLachlan, Brooks & Dunn, Deborah Cox, Alan Jackson, LFO, Monica, Next, Puff Daddy and Westlife.
The bash, dubbed "25 Years Of #1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration," will air in convenient TV form on May 15 on NBC.
Tonight, all eyes were on the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium to witness the presence -- or absence -- of Whitney Houston at the Arista Records' benefit concert. To cut to the chase: Yes, she showed. (Did a six-song, 20-minute set, even.)
Houston -- who bowed out on the Oscars and skipped a couple of Grammy rehearsals -- was indeed among the performers at the bash, which doubled as a 25th anniversary celebration of the Arista label.
In keeping with her M.O. at being, well, different, Houston bade her audience farewell with the curious: "The record's not over yet, remember."
The appearance was her first since the blown Oscar gig (also to be at the Shrine) and came on the heels of an article in the new People magazine in which the singer's alleged substance abuse problem was hinted at publicly.
In addition to Houston, the concert was to feature performances by geriatric rocker Santana, rock mavens Annie Lennox and Patti Smith, elevator musicians Kenny G., Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, not to mention Sarah McLachlan, Brooks & Dunn, Deborah Cox, Alan Jackson, LFO, Monica, Next, Puff Daddy and Westlife.
The bash, dubbed "25 Years Of #1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration," will air in convenient TV form May 15 on NBC.
Robert "Benjamin" Dickerson longtime figure on Atlanta's underground music scene blended punk rock country and blues as frontman for Smoke and other bands. Filmmakers Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen chronicle the last nine years of his life from Smoke's emotionally charged performances and his work with idol Patti Smith to his 1999 death from AIDS.
Benjamin quietly commands attention in a series of intimate poignant and remarkably open interviews discussing his childhood as a country boy in drag his punk-rock beginnings life as a self-confessed speed freak and his thoughts on death and dying. Through it all a quirky ironic sense of humor shows through ("I just love cops at shows"). In candid shots he serves as a window into the underground music scene and as an observer of life in the shadow of Cabbagetown's long-shuttered cotton mills where "little kids ... go to jail really young whose parents all do inhalants."
The movie opens with a beautifully composed black and white montage set to Benjamin's distinctly Southern rasp. The rest of the 80-minute docupic delivers on the sensory expectations that the opening sets up interleaving interviews candid moments and environmental shots to develop an intimate portrait of the subject. However it is a portrait so alluring that one leaves with only the vaguest sense of the events and chronology behind the film.
And now we know: "Ally McBeal" (the series, if not the character) will not end up with Billy Thomas.
At least that's the way it looks with word that actor Gil Bellows -- Billy to Calista Flockhart's titular heroine -- will depart the hit Fox legal-eagle series at the end of this season.
The network has confirmed that Bellows' Billy Thomas character is to leave the Cage/Fish firm in the spring. But hope lives -- at least when Fox notes that Bellows/Billy will be back on a recurring basis next TV year. No details on how many episodes that gig will entail or under what circumstances the Billy character will be written off.
According to gossip maven Liz Smith, Bellows wants to (what else?) pursue other/different opportunities -- like, um, the movies. The 32-year-old actor recently completed work on the big-screen romantic-drama "Beautiful Joe," with Sharon Stone. To date, his most prominent feature role was in the 1995 wanna-be Woody Allen comedy, "Miami Rhapsody" with Sarah Jessica Parker.
Bellows is a founding cast member of "Ally," which premiered in September 1997. The Liz Smith item notes that the actor originally only signed a one-year contract with the series -- a rarity in an industry where seven-year pacts are the norm. Next fall, "Ally" will begin its fourth season.
In series lore, Billy is the great love of Ally's life -- an entanglement that began in childhood when they, er, sniffed each other. Writing off Billy shouldn't be a big stretch -- the guy wigged out this season, bleaching his hair blond, donning an earring and splitting with wife Georgia (Courtney Thorne-Smith).
The Bellows exit marks the first major defection for the series, ranked No. 29 for the season to date.
"HIGH" TIMES: In-demand Ashley Judd, whose star power was cemented when her name packed in the fannies for the dud that was "Eye of the Beholder," is zeroing in on a "Jagged Edge"-style courtroom drama for one of her next projects, Daily Variety says.
"High Crimes" tells the story of a Harvard Law School professor who defends her husband, accused of mass murder, in a military court. Judd would play the professor. The film is slated to begin production in the fall -- a start date that would give the actress time to finish the romantic comedy "Animal Husbandry."
GOING TO GRACELAND? With (presumably) no more "Scream" movies to cut into her summer vacations, "Friends" star Courteney Cox Arquette is in final talks to play Kurt Russell's love interest in "3000 Miles to Graceland," according to Variety. The Vegas-heist flick also will star Kevin Costner.
"NEXT" NEXT: Steve Carr, who helmed the surprise comedy hit "Next Friday," is being lined up to direct the $25 million Jamie Foxx action comedy "National Security," the Hollywood Reporter says. In true 1980s-style buddy-flick fashion, "National Security" is an odd-couple tale -- this one about a white ex-cop who joins forces with the black man (Foxx) he was unfairly accused of beating.