Michael Buckner/Getty ImagesWhile most people scoffed when The Canyons director Paul Schrader compared its troubled star Lindsay Lohan to silver screen goddess Marilyn Monroe, they do have at least one thing in common – they've both been immortalised in song by Sir Elton John. Indeed, exactly 30 years after he penned "Candle In The Wind" as a tribute to the original Blonde Bombshell, the Rocket Man revealed this week that the closing title track from his new 31st studio album, The Diving Board, was based on watching the Mean Girls star's descent from talented actress to car-crash TMZ regular. Here's a look at five other songs that have been inspired by celebrities.
Alanis Morissette – "You Oughta Know"A tour-de-force of angst-ridden alt-rock, "You Oughta Know" transformed the Canadian from a Tiffany-esque teen pop mall queen to the world's biggest banshee. But few would have expected the subject of her fury to have been such an unassuming figure as Uncle Joey from Full House. Despite his initial denials, Dave Coulier finally admitted in 2008 that he was in fact the man who stamped on Morissette's heart after they dated in the early '90s.
Madonna – "Miles Away"Best-known for possibly the most tacky album cover of all time and a bandwagon jumping collaboration with Timbaland & Timberlake, Madonna's much-maligned 2008 release, Hard Candy, wasn’t always so contrived. Indeed, this gorgeously melancholic electro-ballad was possibly one of the most honest and autobiographical songs of the Material Girl's career as she poured her heart out over the hardships of maintaining a long-distance relationship with now ex-husband Guy Ritchie.
Carly Simon – "You’re So Vain"Long before Taylor Swift turned the concept of 'blind gossip' into an art form, singer-songwriter Carly Simon got all the tabloids talking when she assassinated a former boyfriend's character on "You’re So Vain." Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty and James Taylor's names have all been thrown into the ring as possible suspects. But only Simon and the man who paid $50,000 to discover the answer back in 2003 appears to really know who the guilty party is.
R.E.M. - "Man On The Moon"Seven years before they wrote "The Great Beyond" for the Jim Carrey-starring biopic of the same name, R.E.M. paid tribute to the late cult comedian Andy Kaufmann with this enduring hit from Automatic For The People. Referencing everything from the Taxi star's flawless Elvis impersonation to his work with wrestlers Fred Blassie and Jerry Lawler, the track was named so due to the moon-landing style conspiracy theories surrounding his 1984 death.
Annie – "Me Plus One"Taken from her 2004 debut, Anniemal, "Me Plus One" saw Norwegian starlet Annie narrate the real-life moment when Geri Halliwell locked herself in a car with producer Richard X after discovering that he'd given the song she desperately wanted to record to former S Club 7 member Rachel Stevens instead. Also sampling the barks of the former Spice Girl's dog Harry, this insanely catchy slice of electropop undoubtedly ranks as one of the more bizarre celebrity odes.
MoreKanye West - Financial AdvisorKeep The Day Job: Dylan Pastels At The National Portrait GalleryUnexpected Music Star Reinventions
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
S1E2: Based on the first episode of HBO’s new drama Luck, I think it is no grand leap to assume that the show’s meager ratings will not be seeing a huge spike anytime soon. The subject matter, and the way it is delivered to audiences, is alienating to those not already well versed in the world of horserace gambling. As our TV editor, Kelsea Stahler, pointed out in her review of the pilot, Luck places a heavy focus on the emotionality inherent in horseracing—to the trainers, the jockeys, the gamblers, everybody. But interspersed are jargon-heavy conversations that act to further the plot and set us in a vividly realistic depiction of the scenery. To those of us who are complete strangers to the racetrack, these conversations do more harm than good.
But the second episode, while not completely free of this problem (I won’t exactly call it a flaw, because the show doesn’t seem at all oblivious to what it is doing), is a clear indicator of why HBO might have decided to pick up the series for a second season. We already guessed that Luck’s strongest selling point would be its cast. Film legends like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina lead the list of players in this drama. And even if the premise doesn’t grip you inherently, they will. The cast—and the characters—are exemplary.
“Like the whole state economy, the track is desperate for new streams of revenue. The perfect f**king Trojan Horse.” – Ace
We see Hoffman’s Chester “Ace” Bernstein, just freed from a three-year stint in jail—all because he took the fall for his partner (the yet-unseen Michael Gambon)—getting readily back into the game. But as we learned in the pilot, Bernstein is not the man he used to be. His mind is going. His temper is unkempt. I predict a long, slow demolition of this character from the inside out. This week, Bernstein institutes a meeting with potential investors for his racetrack purchase—but his agitated demeanor is a deterrent to the men. Right by Ace’s side is the wide-eyed thug Gus (Farrina), whose experience with gambling is akin to that of the confused viewer I described above. Ep.2 Clip - Comprende? Although we haven’t seen Gus lose his cool just yet—he actually seems the kindest of the characters we’ve met so far—his one-off comment about plugging Ace’s betrayer Michael (Gambon) and Ace’s description of his assistant as “hot under the collar” might suggest a background in playing rough. It also might suggest a degree of projecting for Ace, whose collar is perpetually on fire. As the duo struggles to find its place back in the underworld, I find their scenes together to be delightfully classic. They’re an old school formula: Rocky and Mugsy. The small, shot-calling brains with the hot temper, and his mild-mannered, milder-minded muscle. A line of dialogue in the pilot makes the pairing really endearing: “I don’t trust anybody. Even myself,” says Bernstein, concluding to Gus: “You get a pass.” Unconditional (and unlikely) friendships amid worlds of deceit and corruption are terrific story devices. I’m looking forward to see how far this one takes us. “I appreciate the good fortune we’ve had, but ball-breaking over my wardrobe is not my idea of fun. And my mental adroitness is dulled by this constant negativity!” – Lonnie In the pilot, the band of Marcus (Kevin Dunn), Jerry (Jason Gedrick), Renzo (Ritchie Coster) and the Ringo the group, Lonnie (Ian Hart), were mostly just noise to wade through due to the heavy amount of technical chitchat about the gambling process. But the second episode boosted them up to a dynamic force, thrusting them at odds with one another due to divergent perspectives on how to handle their newfound riches. Marcus, the unofficial leader of the group and rejecter of all ideas not his own, insists that they all lay low with their intake for the time being, as not to attract any attention. The others succumb to various weaknesses. Jerry, apparently a gambling addict (there has to be at least one in a show like this) spends an inordinate amount of time losing at a poker table to a trash talking high roller. Lonnie lets two women get the better of him—they beat him senseless after he suggests that he’ll be cutting off ties (and funds). There’s something fantastically interesting about this aspect of the series: four men—not friends, not family, not coworkers…four men disconnected by everything except for their partnership in what might well prove to be a problematic financial deal—are bound to one another and forced to wade through the consequences together. Their actions affect each other (as Marcus chants throughout the episode), so they need to keep tabs on one another. When a badly injured Lonnie is delivered to the neighboring motel doors of Marcus and Renzo, the two anxiously take him into the room to tend to him. They’re all in this together, despite having absolutely no emotional connection to one another. Yet. Ep.2 Clip - Ready? “You know what breaking legs sounds like? Branches snapping…” – Walter
But the most wonderful part of the show, as we might have guessed from the first episode, is Nick Nolte’s Walter Smith. A pained, guilt-driven man whose heart bleeds endlessly. He loves horses. He can’t get over the murder of a prized racehorse who cost some business associates a good deal of money. And his heart bleeds (thought slightly less so) for young rider Rosie (Kerry Condon), whom he looks into helping out professionally after he refuses to let her handle the horse he most prizes presently. Smith is a man dipped in such a thick sap of sadness that every word he utters is so valuable. I cannot see this character getting boring, or alienating. He is pure, raw emotion, and his will be the journey—if only one rears—that keeps us adhered to the show cathartically. The remaining characters are interesting in their own right. Richard Kind plays Joey Rathburn, a version of his regular type amped up with more anxiety than he can handle. His business partner, trainer Turo Escalante (John Ortiz) is as hotheaded and distrustful as Bernstein is said to be. He chastises his good-natured jockey, the young Cajun boy Leon Micheaux (Tom Payne) for “flapping his mouth” about his horse’s ability. Escalante values the secrecy of his horse’s abilities in order to keep bets on and barters for him few and far between. When word gets out about the horse’s ability and a cowboy named Mulligan wagers a purchase, Escalante is furious—and Renzo, whose mission was to buy the horse himself, is let down. After the pilot, the second episode of Luck is a refreshing, deeply human piece of work that promises good things for the future of the show. What did you think of the episode? Are those of you with limited knowledge of the gambling world deterred by the show? How about those who know a lot about gambling—is the show getting it right? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter (@MichaelArbeiter).
MGM delays next James Bond movie
MGM announced Thursday it has pushed back its target release date for the 21st James Bond installment from November 2005 until sometime in 2006. A spokesman for the studio told Reuters yesterday failure to line up a director for the film was the reason behind the almost yearlong delay. The announcement comes as a surprise since MGM said in July that a script was finished and the next film was on track to arrive in theaters in November 2005. But for the film to be released in November as planned, production would have to begin early next year, something producers thought was unlikely without a director on board by summer's end. MGM's impending sale to a group of companies led by Sony Corp. is also a factor in the delay, as is the possible casting of a new James Bond, since Irish-born actor Pierce Brosnan told Entertainment Weekly magazine this summer he was through with the franchise. The 51-year-old actor, who has portrayed agent 007 in four films starting with GoldenEye in 1995, has fulfilled his MGM contract but has not been ruled out for a fifth picture. Reuters reports casting decisions will be put off until a director comes on board. Paul McGuigan, who directed Wicker Park and Matthew Vaughn, Guy Ritchie's producing partner for Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are among the filmmakers being discussed for the job.
NBC picks up Joey for full season
NBC said Thursday it has greenlighted the production at least nine more episodes of Matt LeBlanc's Friends spin-off Joey, Reuters reports. The comedy, which co-stars Emmy-wining actress Drea de Matteo, is the first new primetime sitcom to receive a full-season order. Joey has averaged 16.4 million viewers overall in its first three episodes and is the top-rated new comedy on U.S. television so far this season among NBC's target audience of adults aged 18 to 49. The show, which follows LeBlanc's character Joey Tribbiani trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood, debuted in the coveted Thursday night time slot previously inhabited by Friends--just four months the skein ended its decade-long run.
University cancels Michael Moore talk
George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., canceled plans Thursday to have director Michael Moore speak on campus Oct. 28--five days before the presidential election. The Associated Press reports the decision came after a Republican state legislator wrote a letter to the university president protesting the school's plans to pay the Fahrenheit 9/11 helmer $35,000 for his speaking engagement. Moore, however, told The Washington Post he plans to come and speak anyway. "I'm going to show up in support of free speech and free expression," he said. But a spokesman for the school said university officials hadn't discussed with Moore whether they would allow him to speak if he waived his fee.
MTV renews Punk'd for three more seasons
MTV, meanwhile, has renewed Ashton Kutcher's prankster series Punk'd for three more seasons, the AP reports. The first of the hidden-camera prankster show's 24 new episodes will premiere sometime next year. The announcement is a change for the normally guarded host, who in the past has been secretive about the show's plans. In January, Kutcher announced he was shelving the series after only two seasons. "Let's put it this way. I'm getting ready to start shooting two movies, I'm still working on That '70s Show, I'm producing two other shows for MTV and creating a one-hour drama pilot for Fox," Kutcher told the AP at the time. "I don't have the time." But Punk'd returned to MTV three months later.
Shatner pulls prank on Iowan town
William Shatner, aka Capt. James T. Kirk from the '60s series Star Trek, pulled a prank of his own recently. Shatner had been Riverside, Iowa, shooting scenes for what he said was a low-budget sci-fi film. Riverside considers itself the "future birthplace" of Capt. Kirk and holds an annual TrekFest, which includes a parade and public screenings of Star Trek episodes. But when Shatner invited town residents to view scenes he had been directing around town, he instead revealed the filming was for a new reality show on Spike TV about a small town hosting a Hollywood film shoot. The show is set to debut next year. Shatner also announced that he and his co-producers were donating $100,000 to the city to be used for community projects.
Lohan's father ordered to attend anger management classes
Lindsay Lohan's father pleaded guilty Thursday to assault charges and was ordered by a Manhattan Criminal Court judge to attend anger-management classes, Reuters reports. Michael Lohan was accused of beating up a city sanitation worker in December during an argument between the two men on a New York street. According to the criminal complaint, Lohan struck the man "several times about the face with closed fists." Judge Richard Weinberg told Lohan the conviction would be removed from his record when he returns to court Dec. 9 if he completed the anger-management classes successfully. Lohan has also been charged with assault in a separate case stemming from a fight with Lindsay's uncle, Matt Sullivan, on Long Island in May.