Jake Hooker, the musician who co-wrote classic track I Love Rock 'N' Roll, has died, aged 61. The guitarist/songwriter passed away in Malibu, California on Monday (04Aug14) just days after the birth of his first grandchild.
His actress ex-wife Lorna Luft, daughter of iconic performer Judy Garland, says in a statement, "After a weekend of such joy with the birth of our granddaughter... I have learned that Jordan's grandfather, my former husband Jake Hooker, passed away... Jake was an accomplished musician and the father of my children. We are heartbroken. I have no other plans but to grieve with my children and be grateful for the gift that is our precious Jordan, my mother's first great grandchild. We ask that you respect our privacy during this most difficult time."
Hooker, who was born Jerry Mamberg, began his career by forming the band Arrows with his friend Alan Merrill. They scored a number of chart successes, and their track I Love Rock 'n' Roll later became a huge international hit when it was covered by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts in 1982.
Arrows hosted their own music show in the U.K. featuring guests including Marc Bolan and The Bay City Rollers, before splitting in 1977.
Hooker later retired from music and moved to California after marrying Luft, but the union, which produced two children, ended in divorce in 1993.
Hollywood veteran Mickey Rooney has died, aged 93. The actor passed away on Sunday (06Apr14). The cause of his death has not been released.
Rooney's career spanned over nine decades. He started acting as a child and accumulated over 300 credits, including a series of films he made as America's boy next door, Andy Hardy.
In the 1938 film Love Finds Andy Hardy, he appeared opposite Judy Garland, who went on to become his frequent co-star. The following year they appeared in the movie musical Babes in Arms, which earned Rooney an Oscar nomination.
He accumulated three more Academy Award nominations for his roles in The Human Comedy (1943), The Bold and the Brave (1956) and The Black Stallion (1979).
His other film credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, National Velvet, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Requiem for a Heavyweight.
Rooney also racked up a number of television appearances over the years, and fronted The Mickey Rooney Show in the 1950s and Mickey in the 1960s.
In 1981, he won his first Emmy Award for his portrayal of a mentally ill man in TV movie Bill.
He also was handed two honorary Oscars in 1938 and 1983, and two Golden Globe Awards.
One of the first tributes posted on Twitter.com on Sunday night (06Apr14) came from Alec Baldwin, who wrote, "An old pal of mine is gone. One of Hollywood's rare gentlemen and a bientot (see you later) to Mickey Rooney."
The veteran's final years were marred by ill health and family squabbles over his fortune - in 2011 he was granted a temporary restraining order against his stepson Christopher Aber, amid claims he was being financially abused by unnamed family members.
Rooney's financial affairs were handed over to lawyers following the legal drama, which inspired the actor to champion legislation to protect the elderly.
Last year (13), the veteran star sold his house of many years and separated from his eighth wife Jan. He leaves behind his last wife and eight children.
Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway has dismissed rumours suggesting her long-awaited Judy Garland biopic has been shelved indefinitely. The Les Miserables star has been working on a film about the late screen legend since 2009, but the project has suffered numerous delays over the last few years.
Work on the project, based on biographer Gerald Clarke's 2001 book Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland, was due to begin in 2012 but never materialised, prompting rumours the project had been cancelled.
However, Hathaway has now spoken out to insist she is still working on the film, but the process is taking a long time.
She tells U.K. morning TV show Lorraine, "I've actually been trying to get a Judy Garland biopic off the ground for about five years now and it's slow going. I'm very much at the baby stage of learning how to have an idea, put it together, put it together with the right people, find the right screenwriter, get the right draft and take it to the right filmmaker. It's a learning process. I'm hoping it happens. I have a nice idea for it. Fingers crossed for that one."
Hathaway plans to play The Wizard of Oz star in the film. Garland died in 1969, aged 47.
Walt Disney Studios
The recent release of Lana Del Rey's delightfully creepy cover of "Once Upon A Dream" got me ruminating on hypothetical Disney covers. Of course, many exist already: Demi Lovato's "Let it Go," Christina Aguilera's "Reflection," and my personal favorite, Fiona Apple's "Sally's Song." But lucky for us, there are still plenty of Disney songs in need of high-profile covers. Here are a few to get you started:
"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," as sung by Lorde
This old-school Disney tune (Cinderella, 1950) evokes the sound of retro crooners like Judy Garland and Cass Elliot, but who could take a fresh spin on it these days? Lorde. Her signature rasp would contrast nicely with the champagne-bubble optimism of the song.
"Feed the Birds," as sung by Regina Spektor
Come on, wouldn't it be cool? Spektor's voice is so mercurial; she seems to flit seamlessly between opposite sides of the emotional spectrum in an instant – at turns both melancholy and euphoric. Her ultra-expressive style and her clear-as-a-bell voice fit this song to a T.
"Gaston," as sung by Nathan Fillion
From his turn as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, we know that no one plays a self-involved bravissimo-filled beefcake quite like Fillion – he'd make a perfect Gaston, and I'd pay hard cash to see him do it.
"I Won't Say I'm In Love," as sung by Florence Welch
Florence Welch may just be too cool for Disney. But, if she were to do a cover, I'd love to see her do some sort of love ballad. Her rock-tinged voice could make even the dorkiest Disney song sound cool, and I'd love to hear her croon out Hercules fan-favorite "I Won't Say I'm In Love." She's certainly got the attitude to play Meg!
What Disney covers do you want to see? Share in the comments!
Whether you loved it, hated it, or just enjoyed making fun of it, there's no denying that last week's Sound of Music, Live! television special on NBC drew a lot of attention and some massive ratings. And all of those people watching and live-tweeting have inspired the network to make it an annual holiday tradition. That's right: there will now be a live musical on television every year, for better or for worse. NBC already has a few new productions they're currently circling, and although it's still too early to reveal any clues about what audiences can expect next year, they have promised that they're looking for something that's family-friendly and has enough familiar songs to appease everyone.
With those strict criteria in mind, we've come up with five options for musicals we'd love to see NBC turn into a live television special, and five they should avoid at all costs.
Funny Girl Since it's likely that NBC will turn to some classic movie musicals in order to find inspiration for their next production, we suggest they step away from the obvious choice of My Fair Lady and instead go with Funny Girl, the musical that made Barbra Striesand a household name. There's plenty of familiar songs to catch people's attention and the story will appeal to older audiences who are familiar with the movie, or younger audiences who grew up watching it. If they're interested in enticing a younger audience, all they would have to do is cast Lea Michele, whose Glee character Rachel Berry is currently playing the part, and who is a shoo-in for the lead if the production ever returns to Broadway. Besides, if there's anyone in the world who is set to inherit Streisand's legacy, it's Michele, and this would be the perfect place to establish herself as a mini-Barbra.
Thoroughly Modern MillieAlthough the movie might be less familiar to most audiences than Funny Girl, the musical, which was originally produced in 2002, has become a staple of high school theater departments across the country. This connection would allow the network to draw a younger audience, who are familiar with the production, but the 1920s setting and jazz-age inspired music won't turn off an older audience either. And even though the songs might not be as well-known as the score of The Sound of Music, it's catchy and up-beat enough to stick in your head for weeks afterward. For star power, NBC could go with Sutton Foster, who originated and won a Tony Award for the role when it was on Broadway, as her stint on the beloved but canceled Bunheads would draw a decent sized audience who are eager to see more from Foster.
Wicked Sure, they could choose The Wizard of Oz, which has become part of a holiday tradition for many people already, but let's face it: without Judy Garland, the show's kind of boring. Instead, the network should go with Wicked, which has become somewhat of a modern classic. It's entertaining enough for children, complex enough for adults, and has become a pop culture phenomenon and the biggest hit musical Broadway has seen in quite some time, all of which would translate to massive ratings for NBC. Sure, the set would be a bit complicated, but nothing draws in viewers like the risk of a fly rig malfunctioning live on air. Plus, if the network managed to get Idina Menzel or Kristin Chenoweth to reprise their roles, there's no way anyone would watch anything else that night.
Little Shop of HorrorsThis choice might be a little less family-friendly than some of our other suggestions, but despite the threat of a man-eating plant, Little Shop of Horrors has cross-generational appeal, and its score has the familiarity that NBC is looking for in a musical. The danger and sentient plants will appeal to children, and the story is well known and well-loved by older viewers, so it really wouldn't be as risky for NBC as they might think. Plus, all they would have to do is cast Neil Patrick Harris as Seymour, and the ratings would come flooding in.
Guys and DollsAnother classic that would work for NBC would be Guys and Dolls. Like Millie, it's a staple of theaters across the country, and the score contains songs that have become famous in their own right. This one might be harder to entice a younger audience to watch, as it lacks some of the flashier elements that would keep children entertained, but that could easily be solved by casting Hugh Jackman. Ideally, Jackman would play Sky Masterson, which would allow him to work his charm on both Sarah Brown and the audience, but he could also pull off a fantastic Nathan Detroit — especially if he had a talented, comedic actress to play off of. Perhaps Lauren Graham could reprise her role as Miss Adelaide?
Spring AwakeningYou might think we're crazy for including a rock musical that includes profanity, nudity, suicide, and back-alley abortions, but if NBC decided to appeal to a younger audience, there's a chance they could follow in the footsteps of 90210 and decide to mount a production of Spring Awakening. After all, it was Lea Michele's breakthrough theater role, and if they managed to bring back the original cast — which included Frozen's Jonathan Groff, Skylar Astin from Pitch Perfect, and The Newsroom star John Gallgher Jr. — then high ratings would be guaranteed. But there's no way that a television network would manage to put on this show effectively, since they would have to change about 95 percent of it.
Mary PoppinsWith Saving Mr. Banks hitting theaters soon, NBC might decide to capitalize off of the renewed interested in Mary Poppins and put on the musical next year. While it's a great choice for them, being a much loved film with familiar songs, characters and stories, we don't think it's such a good idea. Firstly, Disney would never grant them the rights, as that would mean handing over massive ratings to a rival network. But, more importantly, if there's one thing we all learned from The Sound of Music it's this: don't ever attempt to recreate a role made famous by Julie Andrews.
AnnieYes, it's a classic, and yes, everyone knows at least two songs from the show and are able to belt them out at the drop of a hat. But do you really want to spend a whole three hours watching precocious children sing and dance on screen while your obnoxious little cousins do the same in your living room, and everyone around you acts like it's the cutest thing they've ever seen even though it's clearly terrible? No, we didn't think so.
The Phantom of the OperaDespite currently being the longest-running show on Broadway, which proves its universal appeal, and the fact that it would look almost as amazing onscreen as it does in the theater, Phantom is a terrible idea for a television special. Why? Because in addition to encouraging plenty of people to romanticize a relationship that consists entirely of stalking and kidnapping, after about two songs, it feels as if you're just listening to a three-hour funeral march. Plus, there are very few people who are both famous enough to draw in an audience and talented enough to sing that score without it being a complete train wreck.
CatsThis year, give your family the gift that keeps on giving: the trauma that results from watching a bunch of adults wearing skintight leotards and face paint crawl around in some moodily-lit garbage cans to a score that it both incredibly boring and obnoxiously catchy. We'll sit this one out, thanks.
Singer Liza Minnelli ignored the pain of a broken wrist and gifted her friends with a live performance at their baby shower on Sunday (20Oct13), according to a U.S. report. The Cabaret star, who will serve as godmother to the unnamed couple's baby, performed a 30-minute set, complete with a piano player, for the expectant parents and guests at a party in New York City.
A source tells the New York Daily News, "It was such a great New York moment, something you won't forget. Liza practically came out from behind the couch and started putting on her whole show."
Last week (begs14Oct13), Minnelli took to the stage, while still recovering from her wrist injury, to raise funds for research into breast cancer, which her sister Lorna Luft is currently battling.
Katy Perry has received a formal apology from veteran U.S. broadcaster Barbara Walters after the pop star was scolded for showing up late to a special TV interview in 2011. The I Kissed a Girl hitmaker recently revealed she had risked the wrath of the revered reporter after running behind schedule for the meeting, which occurred just weeks before her then-husband Russell Brand filed for divorce to end their one-year marriage.
She told Billboard magazine, "When I got there, I apologised immediately, but then she said to me, 'You know, I've only ever waited for one other person this long, and you know who that person was? Judy Garland. You know how she turned out, right?'
"I was like, 'Oh, snap! Yes, b**ch!' I think it's the coolest thing that Barbara Walters shaded (trashed) me."
Perry, who had kept her relationship woes a secret during the media chat, went on to admit that she should have pulled out of the Top 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011 interview altogether because she was facing such a tough time in her private life.
Her confessions have now prompted Walters to reach out to Perry to express her sympathies as she had no idea how much pressure the pop star had been under.
Addressing the singer's comments on her U.S. talk show The View on Monday (30Sep13), Walters said, "Katy, if I made you feel at all unhappy, during a time when you were obviously unhappy, and I didn't know, I'm sorry, but you can't always know!"
Lady Gaga channelled Judy Garland's iconic portrayal of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz for a live performance on U.S. TV on Monday morning (09Sep13). The singer started her performance on Good Morning America by singing the 1939 film's famous anthem Over the Rainbow, dressed in a black wig, blue gingham dress, red sparkly shoes and clutching a small dog in a basket.
She was surrounded by dancers dressed as the film's characters the tin man, the scarecrow and the cowardly lion, who joined in with her as she broke into a rendition of her new single Applause on a stage which was made up as the yellow brick road.
Another dancer performed as one of the film's iconic winged monkeys, while Gaga made a quick change into a pink costume with a blonde wig, clutching a magic wand in reference to the movie's good witch character, Glinda. She then peeled off the outfit for a showdown with the Wicked Witch of the West.
After a fourth costume change during the short set, Gaga finished the show in another blue and white outfit, complete with an oversized bow on her head, telling the GMA host, "I'm so happy to be here - there's no place like Good Morning America!"
Before the performance, Gaga asked all the members of the audience to wear special hats designed to look like poppies.
Celebrated TV art director Charles Lisanby has passed away at the age of 89. Lisanby died on 23 August (13) at his Los Angeles home due to complications from a fall.
Starting his career working on sets on Broadway, Lisanby became a pioneer in colour television scenic design, and was art director on The Garry Moore Show, as well as designing sets for shows led by stars including Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Dolly Parton.
He also art directed the Academy Awards telecasts and worked on the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984. He won three Emmy Awards during his career.
Lisanby was inducted into the U.S. Television Academy's Hall of Fame in 2010, making him the first art director to boast the illustrious honour.
Singer Fantasia Barrino is preparing to make her return to Broadway in a new jazz-age musical set during the height of Duke Ellington's reign at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem, New York. The Grammy Award-winning star will lead the cast in After Midnight, five years after she trod the boards as the lead role in a musical version of The Color Purple.
Vocalists and dancers will perform the greatest jazz standards to the sounds of Wynton Marsalis' handpicked 17-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, while a narrative comprised of Langston Hughes poetry sets the scenes.
Barrino will be the first in a rotating roster of guest star headliners who will be taking on the hits of Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Previews for After Midnight begin on 18 October (13) at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and Barrino will headline the show until next February (14).