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.
United Artists via Everett Collection
The Beatles' influence has touched every inch of modern pop music, leaving an indelible mark on film and television... which is pretty good for four working-class mop tops from Liverpool. Director Ron Howard will be the next to immortalize the band onscreen, in a new documentary that will explore the group's early years, when they still toured their music across the globe. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison will contribute to the feature, which will trace the band's humble beginnings at the Caven Club in Liverpool, their tours through Germany, all the way through the group's final public performance in San Francisco's Candlestick park. But before we get around to seeing Howard's tribute to the Beatles, we're inclined to look back upon some of the best musical contributions they made to movies and TV.
Bowling for ColumbineThe last half of the John Lennon-penned "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," which may or may not be about heroin, serves as the perfect soundtrack for Michael Moore's anti-gun manifesto Bowling for Columbine. It's used in a terrifying sequence that shows just how gun crazy some Americans are, and as the song ramps up, the sequence escalates to a violent and unnerving conclusion that still has us wincing all these years later.
"Baby, You're a Rich Man" in The Social NetworkWhat better way to end a biopic about one of the richest men in the universe than this cut from Magical Mystery Tour. It's so fitting, it's almost like it was made expressly to cap off David Fincher's tale of billion dollar grudges.
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" in HelpWe couldn't, in good faith, compile a list of the best Beatles moments in film and television without including a sequence from the Fab Four's own filmography. We chose "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" the film Help for sheer oddness of the sequence. Plus, it's just a great song in general.
"In My Life" in Little ManhattanThe best thing about the Beatles is how timeless their music is. "In My Life," a song about losing and gaining friendships through the slippage of time, is the perfect piece of music to accompany the story about a preteen losing his first love in modern day New York.
"A Little Help From My Friends" on The Wonder YearsJohn Cocker's throaty rendition of "A Little Help from My Friends" graces the title sequence of The Wonder Years, and it may be the best cover song ever recorded. It's even better than the original Beatles tune, and it just makes The Wonder Years a better show. Nowadays, we can't even look at Fred Savage without hearing Cocker's raspy croon blasting through our heads at full volume.
"Come Together" in A Bronx TaleIn a scene from Robert De Niro's directoral debut, a pair of Italian mafiosos rough up a couple of unruly bikers that stop into their bar while "Come Together" spills out of a jukebox. Thanks to the '60s aesthetic, the song is a perfect addition to the scene.
"Hey Jude" in The Royal TenenbaumsFilmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese are often celebrated for their use of pop music in film, but Wes Anderson's musical touches in his work are just as poignant. His use of a beautifully orchestrated version of "Hey Jude" in 2001's The Royal Tenanbaums is a perfect example of this.
"Twist and Shout" in Ferris Bueller's Day OffWe're still not sure if Ferris Bueller is really a wizard, or if it was just the power of music, but the teen somehow brings the entirety of downtown Chicago to a grinding halt for the musical number to end all musical numbers.
Hollywood director Ron Howard is to shoot a new movie about The Beatles. The documentary will trace the Fab Four's career from their early days performing in their native Liverpool, England to their final official concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California in 1966.
The band's surviving members, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, are onboard as producers along with John Lennon and George Harrison's widows, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.
Howard says of the project, "My 10th birthday was all about me getting a Beatle wig. While my knowledge isn't encyclopaedic, I'm a lifelong fan and I'm fascinated by what they've meant."
The film is slated to hit movie theatres in late 2015.
Country hitmakers John Anderson, Paul Craft, Tom Douglas and Gretchen Peters are set to be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The four musicians will be feted by officials at the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) at the Music City Center in the Tennessee capital in October (14).
Pat Alger, Chairman of the NSAI Board of Directors, says, "Here in Nashville where the music industry has always been built on a foundation of great songs written by legendary songwriters, each year only a few are elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
"This year we are very pleased to welcome the class of 2014: Tom Douglas and Gretchen Peters in the songwriter category; Paul Craft in the veteran songwriter category and John Anderson as our songwriter/artist."
Douglas is known for penning songs for Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw and Miranda Lambert, who scored huge success with The House That Built Me, while Peters wrote McBride's Independence Day and The Chill Of An Early Fall for George Strait.
Craft famously created Ray Stevens' novelty smash It's Me Again, Margaret and singer/songwriter Anderson is famed for tracks like Swingin, Seminole Wind and Shuttin' Detroit Down, which he co-wrote for John Rich.
Last year's (13) honourees included Alabama star Randy Owen and singer Jeffrey Steele.
Moviemaker Richard Lester has opened up about his time shooting films with The Beatles in the 1960s, branding Sir Paul McCartney too enthusiastic to act. The Superman II director helmed the Fab Four's first big screen outing in A Hard Day's Night in 1964 and he went on to work with them again the following year (65) on Help!
Now he has given his verdict on the rock stars' abilities in front of camera, praising George Harrison and Ringo Starr but suggesting McCartney was wise to stick to his music career.
Lester tells NME magazine, "(Harrison) didn't try to do too much, but always hit it right in the middle. (McCartney) was so enthusiastic he perhaps tried too hard. (Lennon) had some cutting words for me at times."
The director said there were concerns among the crew when Starr was tasked to shoot a solo scene but he was delighted when the drummer played his role perfectly.
A Hard Day's Night has been digitally restored and remixed to mark its 50th anniversary, and will be re-released on DVD and Blu-ray later this month (Jul14).
Paul Weller has joined former The Verve rocker Simon Tong in the studio for a collaboration. The former The Jam frontman teamed up with Tong, who left The Verve in 1999, to perform on a single by his band Erland And The Carnival.
Weller played guitar and sang backing vocals on the track called Quiet Love, which will appear on the group's new album Closing Time.
Speaking about the tune, Tong says, "It has a slight George Harrison feel, and it helped sway us to add strings to the album."
Weller is not the first high-profile musician Tong has worked with - he temporarily joined Blur to replace guitarist Graham Coxon and later worked with frontman Damon Albarn in Gorillaz and in supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen.
Actress Piper Perabo has become a voice for refugees around the world thanks to her latest role with the International Rescue Committee. The Coyote Ugly star has been named an IRC Voice for the World's Most Vulnerable, and joins celebrities like Rashida Jones, John Legend and Morena Baccarin among the organisation's celebrity supporters.
As part of her new role, Perabo will raise awareness of "the needs of refugees and people who have been displaced by conflict, religious persecution or political oppression around the world".
She says, "I have tremendous admiration for the work the IRC does both in the United States and around the world. Whether it's assisting refugees who have been forced to flee the Syrian conflict or guiding refugee youth through the New York public school system, their work is important, impactful and transforms lives. I am excited and honoured to join the IRC's team."
Perabo first learned about the IRC from a relative who serves as a caseworker for the organisation's refugee resettlement program in Boise, Idaho.
The IRC was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein. Since then, the organisation has enjoyed the support of many high profile artists, including Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Paul McCartney and Paul Newman.
Sir Paul McCartney has bounced back from his shock hospitalisation last month (May14) to celebrate his birthday with friends at a dinner in London. The Beatles legend cancelled the Asian leg of his world tour in May (14) after he was hospitalised in Japan with a virus. He flew home to London a week later to recover and was subsequently pictured looking frail and sickly.
McCartney also postponed the first dates on his U.S. tour, which was due to start in June (14), to give himself more time to rest.
However, he was pictured looking well and in high spirits when he headed for dinner at The Ivy restaurant in the British capital with his wife Nancy Shevell and a host of celebrity pals on Tuesday (17June14), the evening before his 72nd birthday.
He was joined by Ringo Starr's wife Barbara Bach, George Harrison's widow Olivia and the Eagles musicians Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey and their wives.
McCartney is scheduled to resume his Out There tour in Albany, New York on 5 July (14).
The history of iconic British rockers The Beatles is to be charted in a new TV series, according to a U.S. report. Bosses at America's NBC network have allegedly recruited The Tudors creator and producer Michael Hirst to write a new series which will tell the story of John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr's rise to global superstardom.
The programme, which is still in the early stages of development, will see Hirst re-team with his fellow The Tudors executive producers Ben Silverman and Teri Weinberg, and NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, who gave The Tudors the go-ahead when he ran the Showtime network, reports Deadline.com.
Fox Searchlight via Everett Collection
Ever since the rumors started swirling several months ago, the Internet has been waiting impatiently for a Star Wars VII casting announcement that included Oscar winner and instant style icon Lupita Nyong'o. They finally got that wish on Monday morning, when StarWars.com revealed that she would be joining the cast along with Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie. The pair join an impressive cast for the latest installment of the franchise, with acclaimed actors like Oscar Isaac, Max Von Sydow and John Boyega all playing significant roles. However, when it comes to buzz, they all pale in comparison to Nyong'o, who has won over both critics and fans since her breakout performance last year in 12 Years a Slave.
Casting an Academy Award winner is a big deal for a major blockbuster like Episode VII, but Nyong'o is far from the first winner to journey to a galaxy far, far away. Since the first film was released in 1977, the Star Wars franchise has featured several Oscar winners and nominees on both sides of the camera, and seen several of its alum take home the award later on. In honor of Nyong'o's casting, we've rounded up all of the actors, writers, directors and editors who fall in the middle of the Venn Diagram of "Oscar winners and nominees" and "involved in the Star Wars universe."
Academy Award Wins
PRE-STAR WARS: -Nyong'o, who won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 12 Years a Slave at this year's awards, is the third actor who has taken home an Oscar before starring in one of the Star Wars films, and the fifth team member to hold the distinction. -Alec Guinness won Best Actor in 1957 for his work in The Bridge on the River Kwai, before he played everyone's favorite Jedi Master and mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi. He later earned an Oscar nomination for the part. -Composer John Williams, who has been nominated for a total of 49 Oscars, won his first for Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Score Song in 1971 for Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, he's won four more, including Best Original Score in 1977 for Star Wars. -Ben Burtt had established himself as a talented editor with two Best Sound Editing Oscars in 1982 and 1989 before he edited The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
POST-STAR WARS: -James Earl Jones, who provided the iconic voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films received an Honorary Oscar in 2011.-Natalie Portman won Best Actress for playing Nina Sayers in Black Swan in 2010, five years after her final installment of the trilogy was released. -Director Sofia Coppola played one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens in The Phantom Menace, and then went on to win Best Original Screenplay in 2003 for her film Lost in Translation. She was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture that year.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Academy Award Nominations
PRE-STAR WARS: -Before he created the franchise that eventually became Star Wars, George Lucas made American Graffitti, and was nominated for Best Director and Best original Screenplay in 1972 for his hard work. Five years later, he was nominated in those same categories for the first installment in the series. -Terence Stamp was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1962 for his work in the film Billy Budd, 30 years before he played Supreme Chancellor Valorum in The Phantom Menace. -His co-star in that film, Samuel L. Jackson, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1994 for his performances as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, a first of many iconic characters. -Marcia Lucas received an Oscar nomination in 1974 for Best Editing alongside Verna Fields for American Graffiti, before winning the same award three years later for Star Wars, with Richard Chew and Paul Hirsch. -Liam Neeson was nominated for Best Actor in 1993 for his heartbreaking performance in Schindler's List before stepping into the role of Obi Wan's mentor, Qui Gon Jinn in 1999.
POST-STAR WARS: -After he played Han Solo, Harrison Ford was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the 1985 film Witness. -Keira Knightley, who played one of Amidala's handmaidens in one of her first film roles, was nominated for Best Actress in 2005 for her turn as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice. -Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi with Lucas, was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 1984 and 1992 for The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, respectively, and Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture in 1989 for The Accidental Tourist.
Other Awards Of Note
-Three of the key supporting characters in Attack of the Clones were played by actors who were nominated or have won AFI and AACTA awards, the Australian equivalent of the Oscars and the BAFTAs. They are: Rose Byrne, Joel Edgerton, and Jack Thompson. -Ford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and C3PO, R2D2, and Darth Vader have their "footprints" outside of the TCL Chinese Theater. -Christopher Lee, who played Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith has never been nominated for an Oscar, but he has been knighted, made a Commander of Order of the British Empire and a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John, been awarded both the BAFTA and BFI Fellowships, and is a French Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. He was also a war hero, serving as part of the RAF Intelligence and Special Forces during World War II, and was attached to the SAS for a time during his service. He also once climbed Mt. Vesuvius right before it erupted and fronts several heavy metal bands, because he's cooler than the rest of us could ever hope to be.