Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett surprised a group of students in New York City by hosting a masterclass on their final day of school. The duo reunited at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a facility Bennett opened in 2001 in his hometown of Astoria, Queens.
The legendary crooner usually attends the annual graduation ceremony, but is unable to make it to this year's (14) event due to his hectic tour schedule. To make up for his absence, he recruited Gaga to join him for a special performance and masterclass at the school's Tony Bennett Concert Hall on Monday (16Jun14).
Bennett and Gaga began the event by discussing jazz music before answering questions from members of the 700-strong audience. Bennett gushed about his eccentric pop star pal, telling the crowd, "When I first heard Gaga sing, my reaction was that she is going to be bigger than Elvis. "She is so bright and intelligent and she has 'it'. In jazz you either got it, the syncopation, the rhythm, or you don't, and when I heard Gaga I said she's got it!"
The pair then performed for the audience - Bennett sang The Very Thought of You, while Gaga performed a cover of Cole Porter's Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye. They then came together to sing the standard I Can't Give You Anything but Love, while dancing cheek-to-cheek. A student choir gave the final performance of the event with covers of Bennett's Smile and Gaga's hit song Applause.
Bennett and Gaga first collaborated on his Duets II album in 2011, covering The Lady Is A Tramp, and are currently working on a jazz record slated for release later this year (14).
"If I had to say who I thought the best singers were, I'd say first that I don't know there's a definitive answer, as, in my opinion it's subjective, and second that my focus is primarily rock singers. That said, I enjoy Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Dan McCafferty, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Don Henley, Jeff Lynne, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Scott, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and a ton of others... and would rather hear any of them anytime rather than me!" Axl Rose responds to a new online poll which placed his at the top of the world's greatest singers list.
Elvis Presley's grand piano, pool table and soda fountain from his Holmby Hills estate in Los Angeles is set to hit the auction block next month (May14) as actress Debbie Reynolds continues to sell off her memorabilia collection. The three Elvis items have just been added to the upcoming Profiles in History Debbie Reynolds Auction, which is set for 17 and 18 May (14) at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in North Hollywood, California.
Presley's Baldwin piano is expected to be one of the sale's highlights, and should fetch up to $15,000 (£9,375), according to the experts. His vintage carved wood pool table has a pre-sale estimate of $6,000 (£3,750) to $8,000 (£5,000), and bidding on the Anderson & Wagner, Inc. soda fountain will begin at $2,000 (£1,250).
The sale will also feature Charlie Chaplin's signature bowler hat, a The Rat Pack tuxedo ensemble, featuring stage outfits worn by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara bonnet from Gone With the Wind, and Grace Kelly's safari outfit from the 1953 movie Mogambo.
Image Entertainment via Everett Collection
Dean Koontz has really struck a gold mine with the character of Odd Thomas: a young out-of-work fry cook in the fictional Californian town of Pico Mundo who has the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Koontz has written seven novels starring Thomas (using the character more than any other protagonist) as well as a graphic novel. And now, Odd Thomas is setting up to hit the big screen. The film will be based the eponymous first novel to feature Odd Thomas, with Anton Yelchin playing the character and Willem Dafoe playing his friend Chief Wyatt Porter. 50 Cent is listed as a cast member too, which should make it interesting.
What makes Thomas so different from the other heroes from Koontz's books is his humility and willingness to poke fun at himself, and we're hoping this, more than anything, carries through in the film. Read any of the Odd Thomas novels and you'll pick up a definite sense of self-deprecation. He freely admits that he's just an ordinary person trying not to get killed by bad guys while he also tries to better understand his ability. This is why people have really latched onto the character and his girlfriend Stormy (though Koontz still has the trouble of picking good names for the people in his books), and it's an element that needs to be present for a screen adaptation to work.
Another favorite feature of the books: dead celebrities. In the stories, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Alfred Hitchcock show up to see if the young man can discern exactly what it is that killed them and how they can cross over to the other side. I didn't see anybody listed on the cast page for roles like that, so I'm hoping for an uncredited appearance. Not having these people show up would be as bad as leaving the gods out of Troy... and we all know how THAT went.
There have been several stabs at Koontz novels: Phantoms with Rose McGowan, Ben Affleck, and Liev Schreiber. Hideaway with Jeff Goldblum. Sole Survivor with Billy Zane. Something just seemed off with these adaptations on the big screen, though; the spirit of the novels weren't really captured. The characters in those books never seemed to leap off the page the way Thomas does. In fairness, there was a good TV movie adaptation of Intensity, which had a pre-Dr. Cox John C. McGinley as a homicidal murderer who also happened to be a police chief. But we're hoping for "great" with Odd Thomas.
Koontz has not had as much luck in the celluloid world as the person he's most compared to, Stephen King. It hasn't seemed to bother him as he continues to write what seems like two books or more a year. After several years in limbo thanks to dueling production companies, we'd like to see Odd Thomas really take proper form on the big screen.
Odd Thomas hits theaters on February 28.
Singer Darlene Love is set to make history after learning a planned adaptation of her memoir will be the first scripted TV movie made for Oprah Winfrey's U.S. cable network. Love will co-produce My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story alongside Winfrey and Morgan Neville.
Announcing the news on Monday (10Feb14), Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) president Sheri Salata says, "The fantastic life journey of music great Darlene Love is the perfect choice for our first original scripted movie.
"There are a handful of stories brought to the screen of daring American women who walked through fire and back to make their dreams come true and Darlene is one of the heroes on that list. From her first hit song to her darkest days cleaning houses in Beverly Hills to make ends meet, to the triumphant comeback that made rock and roll history, Darlene is a true living legend who worked with many of the greatest talents in music from Elvis Presley and Tom Jones to Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen."
Welsh crooner Sir Tom Jones was warned by Elvis Presley not to cover Frank Sinatra's songs. The Delilah hitmaker was friends with both singers back in his music heyday, and he covered a number of songs previously made famous by Sinatra, including My Way and Fly Me To The Moon, with the blessing of the Rat Pack star.
However, Presley was less enthusiastic about the Welshman's takes on the classic tracks and warned Jones to stay away from the iconic singer's music.
Jones tells British radio station Magic 105.4, ''I knew Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley very well. I did an album of Frank Sinatra type things and Elvis listened and said, 'Tom I heard that thing' and I said... 'Yeah and?' Elvis said, 'We leave that to Frank Sinatra, we don't go there'.''
However, Jones insists Sinatra enjoyed his crooner style and was concerned when he started releasing more rock-orientated music.
He continues, "When I do something a little more rocky, Frank would say: 'Tom, when I go and they (management) ask me who could replace me, I say you! So don't go making records like that!'.''
British singer Robbie Williams has made U.K. pop history by scoring the albums chart's 1,000th number one with his new release, Swings Both Ways. The Angels hitmaker notched up his 11th solo chart-topper, equalling Elvis Presley, 57 years after Frank Sinatra earned the first ever U.K. number one.
The Beatles hold the record for the most releases to hit the top of the albums countdown with 15, although Williams also has four more accolades under his belt from his time as a member of boyband Take That.
Swings Both Ways left Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2 trailing in second place, while Jake Bugg entered at three with Shangri La.
In the singles chart, Lily Allen climbed to the top with her cover of Keane's Somewhere Only We Know, which features in Christmas TV advertisements for leading British retailer John Lewis. She also racked up another hit at nine with her new track Hard Out Here.
Meanwhile, rockers Bastille debuted at two with Of The Night, and Williams' ex-Take That bandmate Gary Barlow landed at three with solo release Let Me Go.
The Rolling Stones have marked the end of their 50th anniversary tour with their 50th hit album in the U.S. - the group's Hyde Park Live has debuted at number 19 on the new Billboard 200. Only Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra have had more top 40 albums.
Vampire Weekend are back at the top of the U.S. album charts after debuting their new album Modern Vampires Of The City at number one. The XL Recordings release becomes the first independently-distributed album to reach number in 2013 and beats country legend George Strait to the top by 14,000 sales. Strait records his 18th top 10 album on the Billboard 200 with Love Is Everything at number two.
Only Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley Bob Dylan have more top 10 albums.
Love Is Everything tops the new U.S. Country Albums chart extending Strait's number one streak to 25 - 10 more than Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
Meanwhile, Demi Lovato makes it a one-two-three week of debuts on the Billboard 200 countdown by entering the chart at three with Demi, while The Great Gatsby soundtrack falls to four and last week's number one - Lady Antebellum's Golden - rounds out the new top five at five.
You may not know Tom Kenny, but you know Tom Kenny. As the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants since 1999 and nearly 300 other acting credits including cartoons, movies, and commercials, Kenny is one of the leading voice actors working in the business. He has an energy and passion for the job — as he tells Hollywood.com, it's not a job for everyone but it's the job for him.
This holiday season, one of Kenny's long-gestating projects is finally realized in the form of the It's A SpongeBob Christmas!, a fully stop-motion Christmas special (a la the classic Rankin and Bass era cartoons) that's airing now on Nickeleodoeon and available on DVD in time for the season. Kenny's enthusiasm for voice over work, music from the '60s and '70s, and general merriment collide in the special, which comes accompanied by a truly fantastic album of the same name, featuring songs written by the actor.
We sat down with Kenny to discuss life with Spongebob for over a decade and writing songs for the special:
How does every job differ from you compared to your consist work as SpongeBob?
Tom Kenny: I approach it like a session drummer would. Or a wrecking crew guy. I identify with those guys so much, those invisibly ubiquitous guys during the '60s and '70s. Everything from film soundtracks to TV theme songs to cartoon soundtracks to Frank SInatra records to Beach Boy records. It's all the same handful of people doing it all. I think that's how my job is.
It's amazing how something you think of as a one-off thing has this timed release. Like commercials, one of those things you did years ago, suddenly is brought up again and again and again. It has to do with kids who are watching things that was just an afternoon in your life. You don't realize that's some kid's main thing. There is some kid whose mind is being blown.
I'm sure you get that at Comic-Con.
Kenny: Everyone has something. And you think, 'Really, that?' For me it's video games. Early video games, like Spyro the Dragon, people who were kids when those games were out, they're older and ... it's a really huge deal.
They bow down to you Wayne's World-style.
Kenny: Yeah, they want inside dope on the recording [laughs]. If you do the math — I did that in 1995 or 1996 — if those people were eight years old, they're in their 20s now coming up to you at Comic-Con saying, 'Dude, I got to meet Spyro, man!'
SpongeBob must get that too.
Kenny: That you expect because it's a big global phenomenon. I go to a remote corner of the world and you'll see some kid with a Spongebob t-shirt on. We were in a mountain village in Italy, way off the beaten track, and the waitress had a Spongebob t-shirt on. Doesn't even speak English. And if she does watch SpongeBob, it's not me. It's some guy using me as a template!
There are a lot of Christmas specials, but unlike the SpongeBob special, I don't recall many with great voice actors in them.
Kenny: Even as a kid when I was growing up, they used celebrities that were too old for the audience. Burl Ives, who? There are snippets of dialogue that stand out — like when Rudolph has that nasal voice when he has the black ball covering up his nose, or the dentist who wanted to be an elf. To my brother and I he had the funniest line for no reason: 'A dentist? Good grief!' And we'd slam the door. We'd do it all the time. But no, not a lot of memorable voice actors.
What's amazing to me is that you can sing in the SpongeBob voice and do so to great lengths in the Christmas special. Is that the hard part of the job?
Kenny: I do a fair amount of singing on SpongeBob and the other shows too. In fact, I wrote a lot of the songs on Spongebob, cowrote with a guy named Andy Paley. We wrote, 'Don't Be a Jerk It's Christmas' and that became the springboard of the special.
We wrote that in 2009 and just kind of handed it out as a gift to people on the show. And I remember it was just at a time when there was just this outburst of a**hole behavior: Michael VIck and his dog fighting thing, Joe Wilson screaming, and it was really grew from all that. Talking about seeds you plant and the whole Spyro thing...
Wow, so this special took years of being angry at the world to come to fruition.
Kenny: [Laughs] Not angry, just ashamed of my species. So Andy and I came up with this story line where there's an element called 'Jerktonium' and if a meteorite of jerktonium lands in your town, it turns everyone into jerks. And Plankton gets ahold of some and bakes it into fruit cakes for everybody and disseminates into an outbreak of jerktonium. A pandemic of jerkiness.
And the album... we had been trying to pitch a Christmas album for some years. Why do the Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Muppets but not SpongeBob — that's crazy. Ironically, we're able to use all those very old school, chameleon studio musicians from the '60s and '70s that I've always idolized. Corky Hale, who is a female harpist who's played with Billie Holiday and Liberace. She's played with Bjork, so she spans generations. James Burton, who was Ricky Nelson's guitarist and later Elvis in Vegas movies. Tommy Morgan who was the harmonica player on Green Acres and every legendary tv theme.
So we got the real guys who made those records sound the way they did. It's pretty cool. It's a fun labor of love. We wrote real songs. Let's do something for kids, write songs that sound like it came from 1961. Sandy's from Texas, and I love Western swing, like a Bob Wills record from 1940.
Looking ahead, I know you're doing another Spongebob movie. Have you begun work on that?
Kenny: No, but I'm excited about it. Not even close though — I know very little about it, but I know the show is on a break form awhile. We just wrapped on some of the episodes before the movie, because the writers get repurposed on to the movie. So it's a break. But we've renegotiated so I don't think the show is ending.
Speaking of sequels, you worked with Michael Bay on the Transformers movies — do you know if you'll be back for the fourth one?
Kenny: [Laughs] I haven't heard but I'm sending him some nice muffins....
Does Bay come in and direct the voice actors?
Kenny: Think about it for a minute: of course. Who is the bigger control freak than Michael Bay? He wouldn't turn that over to anyone. I get the feeling he likes that aspect of it. He likes being in with the voiceover actors. Sometimes his relationships with the on-screen actors aren't... the greatest [laughs]. And I think he likes to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. He likes voice actors. He hangs out with the crew. He goes to bat for his people. He also won't take diva attitudes from anyone. And since voice actors are one step on the ladder above people who set up the Tilt-a-Whirl at the carnival, there's no diva behavior.
Check local listings for It's a SpongeBob Christmas!, running through the holidays on Nickelodeon and pick up the album available now.
[Photo Credit: Nickelodeon]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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