Rock icon Billy Joel is set to be honoured with America's prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The Piano Man star has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Library of Congress award, which is named after iconic composer George Gershwin and celebrates the lifetime achievements of a living musical artist.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington says, "Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order. There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again."
"Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them."
A flattered Joel adds, "The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career and the Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me."
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member will be presented with the accolade at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November (14).
Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Carole King, who made history last year (13) as the first woman to ever claim the Gershwin Prize.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris has landed a role in the new American Horror Story series after writing to creator Ryan Murphy and asking for a part.
The former How I Met Your Mother star, who is currently starring on Broadway in Hedwig & the Angry Inch, recently told Entertainment Weekly Radio that he had penned a request note to Murphy, suggesting himself for upcoming series, Freak Show.
He said, "I wrote a letter to Ryan asking if I can be in it, even though I wasn't even available to be in it. To do one that involves any kind of freak, circus nonsense is going to be so unsettling to watch."
Murphy caught wind of the radio chat and has since responded to Harris via Twitter, writing, "@ActuallyNPH of course you can be on Freak Show! I have a role I think you'd love."
Harris previously worked with Murphy in an episode of Glee, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010.
Beyonce is to take up a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nearly 20 years before she is eligible for admission as bosses launch an exhibition dedicated to the pop superstar.
The singer's stage costumes from her 2013 Super Bowl performance will be put on display at the institute's museum in Cleveland, Ohio alongside pieces from music legends including Michael Jackson and David Bowie.
The exhibition will also feature the iconic leotard she wore in her Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) video, an outfit from her Crazy in Love promo and a Givenchy gown worn to the 2012 Met Gala in New York City.
Curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger says of the exhibition, "We felt that (Beyonce) really needed to take her rightful place alongside Aretha Franklin and the Supremes and Janis Joplin."
A spokesperson for Beyonce adds, "For an artist to be able to have a presence where all of her idols and mentors live, it is a big deal. It's very meaningful to an artist when you feel like you've accomplished certain levels and to be asked to be part of this before she's eligible, I think that's really special."
Beyonce will first become eligible for a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 as a member of Destiny's Child, and as a solo artist in 2027. The Beyonce show will debut at the museum on Tuesday (22Jul14).
MGM via Everett Collection
Veteran stage and screen icon Elaine Stritch has died at the age of 89. The actress passed away at her home in Birmingham, Michigan on Thursday (17Jul14).
The star, known for her brash attitude and sharp tongue, began her career with her first stage role in 1944 and made her Broadway debut in Loco just two years later (46).
She went on to become a regular in New York's famous theatre district, featuring in a hit 1952 revival of the musical Pal Joey and landing her first leading Broadway role in Goldilocks in 1958. Her other theatre credits include parts in Noel Coward's Sail Away, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical Company, a role she reprised in 1972 when it opened in London's West End.
She later won high praise for her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty, for which she won a Tony Award in 2001. During the production, in which she recounted her life story, Stritch revealed she had tried and failed to win the role of Dorothy Zbornak in hit TV series The Golden Girls, a job which went instead to Bea Arthur.
Her early TV appearances came on shows like The Growing Paynes, Studio One and the classic British comedy series Two's Company. In more recent years, she appeared in U.S. soap One Life to Live, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Law & Order, while she earned an Emmy Award playing Alec Baldwin's mother on 30 Rock.
Stritch's filmography included parts in the 1957 remake of A Farewell to Arms, The Perfect Furlough, Providence and Woody Allen films September (1987) and Small Time Crooks (2000). She also portrayed Winona Ryder's grandmother in Autumn in New York and Jane Fonda's acerbic mum in 2005's Monster in Law.
The actress, who was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995, bid farewell to fans with her Movin' Over and Out concert series in the Big Apple in April, 2013, before moving to Michigan to spend more time with her family.
Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is hiding a secret smoking habit.
The Dark Knight star, who is a mother to two young daughters, insists she doesn't puff on cigarettes regularly, but often falls "off the wagon" and buys a pack.
She tells Britain's Stylist magazine, "I don't smoke cigarettes officially but now and then I fall off the wagon. I can't keep it up at home. I can't smoke as a mother - it's too much sneaking around... I'm buying cigarettes and I'm like, 'What am I doing? Pull it together!'"
Courtesy Everett Collection
Legendary blues rocker Johnny Winter has died, aged 70.
The veteran musician passed away in Zurich, Switzerland, according to Blabbermouth.net, but no more details about his death were available as WENN went to press.
Motley Crue rocker Nikki Sixx was among the first to pay tribute to the star, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "So bummed to hear about Johnny Winters (sic) passing. I spend (sic) many many years soaking up his music late into the night. #Original #TheBlues."
Winter began his music career as a teenager, landing a record deal at the age of 15 with his band Johnny & the Jammers, and he later released his first solo album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, in 1968. He became a big success with his second record, Johnny Winter, in 1969 and was among the performers at the iconic Woodstock music festival that year.
He continued to enjoy success in the 1970s, and turned to production, heading into the studio with Muddy Waters. Three of the albums they worked on together won Grammy Awards. Winters also received a number of Grammy nominations for his own records, but failed to win.
He is believed to have performed with Jimi Hendrix in a number of jam sessions which became unofficial bootleg recordings after they were stolen from the guitar legend's home after his death.
In later years, Winter was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.
Winter's death comes just weeks before he was due to release a new album, Step Back, which features stars including Eric Clapton, ZZ Top rocker Billy Gibbons and Aerosmith's Joe Perry.
The record is slated to hit shelves in September (14).
Justin Timberlake gave his blessing to a group of Broadway stars who covered his songs in a special cabaret show on Monday night (14Jul14).
The Mirrors hitmaker is currently in the middle of his own The 20/20 Experience World Tour, but took time to send a special delivery to the cast of Broadway Sings Justin Timberlake in New York City.
A post from the official Broadway Sings Twitter.com account featured a photo of a bouquet of four dozen white roses, along with a handwritten note which read, "Break legs! I am very honored (sic). Best, JT."
Broadway stars including Tony Award winner Lena Hall and former Smash actor Andy Mientus were part of the showcase, which included covers of Timberlake's hits such as Cry Me a River, Suit & Tie and a number of 'N Sync tracks.
The concert was sold out, but the cast will take to the stage again next Monday (21Jul14).
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Is there anything as relatable and resonant as the coming-of-age film? Throughout our lives, select few of us will ever save the world, fall in love with a computer, or beat back an ape rebellion in blockbuster fashion. But almost everyone knows what it feels like to grow up. The joys, pain, wonders, and hard truths coupled with growing older are universally felt. The best films in the genre can make us feel like they have a direct line to our souls, and the experience of watching our own truths play out on screen is something special. In celebration of Boyhood, Richard Linklater's childhood epic 12 years in the making, our staff members share their favorite coming of age films, and why they mean so much to them.
The Breakfast Club, Julia EmmanueleI wasn't yet a teenager the first time I watched The Breakfast Club, but I still remember thinking that for the first time in my life, it felt like someone really understood what growing up was like. Whether it was the terror of growing up or their struggles to be who they wanted to be, rather than what their parents expected, or the facades they put up to fit in or keep other people out, I saw some of myself in every one of these characters; I still do, despite all the years that have passed since. And even though it never alleviated my fears about becoming an adult, it did give me five people who felt the same, and that’s been enough.
Thirteen, Cory MahoneyThirteen is probably the scariest movie of 2003. Co-written by 15-year-old Nikki Reed, the film opens with two 13-year-old girls high from huffing and hitting each other. Dealing with topics from teens cutting, partying, and sexual experimentation to parents with addictions and unconventional families (to say the least), the film was at once terrifying and relatable. The memorable lines ("No bra, no panties" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider dropped acid in the park"), like this film, will always remain in my teen memories, whether I want them to or not.
Stand By Me, Jordan SmithThe saddest part in Stand by Me is that after that epic summer day filled with leech attacks, random deer, evil Keifer Sutherland, and boyhood intimacy, Richard Dreyfuss’ voiceover explains how the four main characters couldn’t stay friends forever. How life pulled them in different directions. It’s a brutal lesson to punctuate the film with, but a vital one. Life changes. It always does. It has to. But when you’re young, everything feels like forever. All those little moments and tiny tragedies felt so sacrosanct. I swore I’d know my childhood friends forever. Who knew years later, I’d be fumbling for their names.
City of God, Shannon HoustonWith the incredible non-linear storytelling, the stunning cinematography, and all of the gangsta stuff going down, it’s easy to forget that City of God is really a coming-of-age story. I connected on so many levels with Rocket when I was 17 years old and first saw the movie in theatres. Cleveland isn’t the City of God, but I was a budding artist hoping for a way out. Watching him defy the odds, risk his life, and use his talents as a photographer to tell an incredible story that mainstream journalism couldn't tell was both empowering and inspiring.
The Goonies, Cyndi CappelloI’ll always remember the first time I watched The Goonies. Not only did I have a massive crush on Mikey, but everything about the storyline pulled me in. The older I got and more times I watched it, the more it spoke to me. I kept to myself when I was younger, and seeing the amount of trust the characters had in each other made me want to find relationships like that more than anything. Seeing the bond develop between the variously aged characters from the beginning to end of the film made me realize that you can find friendships in anyone. Thanks to The Goonies, I realized that friends can truly become part of your family.
Breaking Away, Michael ArbeiterAppropriately enough for the theme, Breaking Away is probably the only film recommendation that my mother ever gave to me. Her suggestion of the flick was inspired by my preteen proclivity to speak exclusively in Spanish and Italian phrases around our non-Spanish/Italian-speaking household, but more substantially by the "aimless, big dreaming loser" motif that she knew I'd be able to empathize with. In its paradoxical erratic lull, Breaking Away is one of the best illustrations of the graduation from childhood that we've seen on the big screen... a sweet, sad, answer-less picture that appreciates what it means to have no idea what's next.
Movie stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette were shocked when they watched their new film Boyhood and saw in stark detail how they have aged over the course of 12 years.
Director Richard Linklater's ambitious project involved shooting scenes on an annual basis for 12 years to achieve a realistic ageing effect on its stars. The groundbreaking concept tested the actors' commitment to the role, but it also left them in a stunned silence when the finished work was unveiled at the Sundance Film Festival this year (14) and they saw themselves growing older over the course of the movie.
Hawke tells British magazine Radar, "It was pretty intense. When the movie started, I was like, 'Man, I still look good!'. But by the end... Everybody acts like it's surprising (when humans age), but it's happening all the time to everyone. We act freaked out about it but it's just the reality. The second you buy a car, it's a used car. That's the way we are: this machine is in action. I tried to be proud of it."
Arquette adds, "It was brutal."
R&B star Robin Thicke tackled his critics head-on on Tuesday (01Jul14) after taking part in a Twitter.com chat, which had been bombarded with negative comments.
Bosses at U.S. TV network VH1 faced a backlash on Monday (30Jun14) after attempting to field questions from Twitter users for the Thicke session using the hashtag #AskThicke, but the promotional stunt backfired as detractors used the opportunity to attack the singer instead.
The star's reputation has taken a hit over the past year after he was accused of misogyny over the controversial lyrics to Blurred Lines, which many women's rights campaigners claimed promoted sexual violence, while he faced further criticism over his split from wife Paula Patton earlier this year (14) following allegations of his infidelity.
Critics took advantage of the #AskThicke tag and one Twitter user wrote, "Did you really write a rape anthem as a love song for your wife and are you still wondering why she left you?", while another took aim at Thicke for attempting to woo actress Patton back by naming his new album, Paula, after her and issuing multiple public pleas to her, taunting, "How many times do you expect Paula to forgive your bs (bulls**t)..."
The VH1 Twitter chat still went ahead as planned on Tuesday, with Thicke even addressing some of the more critical comments after declaring, "I'm a big boy. I can handle it."
When one fan asked, "Why didn't you write a whole album for her when you were WITH her?", he replied, "She's always been my muse only this time from a distance".
In response to another asking, "Do you honestly think that what you're doing is going to win Paula back?", he wrote, "I have no idea. I just want the world to know how special she is".
Another tweeter suggested he should give his estranged wife some space - and not write songs about her and name his new album after her. The fan wrote, "If you cherish #Paula as much as you say, why can't you respect her desire for space & time to think & heal?" Thicke responded, "If you listen to the album you wouldn't ask that question."
He was also asked if he's still in touch with the 2 Guns star, and replied, "Yes because our child comes first." The former couple has a four-year-old son, Julian Fuego.