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.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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The classic Gene Kelly film An American In Paris is to be turned into a stage play. The 1951 film about an American soldier falling in love in post-war Paris, France, which was inspired by George Gershwin's 1928 orchestral composition of the same name, will premiere in the city late next year (14), with plans to transfer it to Broadway the following year (15).
The show will feature the famous movie's 16-minute ballet sequence featuring Kelly and co-star Lesley Caron, which will be re-imagined by director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.
A 'lost' film starring Canadian actress Mary Pickford is to be restored and given a public showing. The 1911 film Their First Misunderstanding was the first on-screen credit for Pickford, who went on to win two Oscars, but historians who follow the actress' career thought the movie had disappeared never to be seen again.
A carpenter named Peter Massie discovered a copy in a barn in 2006 with six other vintage film reels, and the US Library of Congress is now funding a project to restore it.
The barn had previously been used as a summer camp and it is thought the films had been shown to youngsters on vacation.
Massie donated the films to Keene State College, New Hampshire, where one was identified as a 'lost' Pickford movie.
Keene State College will host the public showing of the film in October (13).
Movie historian Leonard Maltin tells CBS News, "We have a list of all of Mary Pickford's films, but this was among the missing. It's like finding an early George Gershwin, or an unpublished short story by Mark Twain."
Singer/songwriter Carole King has been named the 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year. The You've Got a Friend hitmaker will be the guest of honour at the MusiCares Foundation and The Recording Academy's 24th annual benefit gala, which will take place in Los Angeles on 24 January (14), two nights before the Grammy Awards.
The event will feature tribute performances from Bette Midler, Lady Gaga, Steven Tyler, James Taylor, Jason Mraz and the Dixie Chicks.
Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the MusiCares Foundation and The Recording Academy, says, "Her (King) contributions as a songwriter and performer have truly changed the landscape of pop music, and her philanthropy speaks volumes about her generosity and personal passions.
"We are also grateful to the extraordinary artists who have announced their desire to be a part of what will undoubtedly be a magical and inspiring evening."
It's been a stellar year for King - the veteran star was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April (13), while she made history in May (13) when she became the first woman ever to receive the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last December (12).
The 2013 MusiCares honour, which recognises artists for their creative accomplishments as well as their charitable work, was bestowed upon Bruce Springsteen, while previous recipients include Sir Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Neil Young and Neil Diamond.
MusiCares provides financial aid and medical care to musicians who have fallen on hard times.
U.S. President Barack Obama was on hand to honour the career achievements of Carole King at the White House on Wednesday (22May13) when she became the first ever woman to receive the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The You've Got a Friend hitmaker made history by collecting the Library of Congress award, in recognition of her five decades in music, before a star-studded crowd in Washington, D.C.
President Obama referenced the Oklahoma tornado tragedy, which left 24 people dead on Monday (20May13), but insisted the power of song helps lift the spirits of those in need.
He said, "Eventually, life will go on and new memories will be made. New laughter will come. New songs will be sung. And that's often why we turn to music during trying times, for comfort and for inspiration, and sometimes just for a good diversion."
After being presented with the award, King added, "I'm honoured to be recognised by the Library of Congress as the fifth recipient and first woman as has been stated. I can't say it enough. I am so excited."
Stars including Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sande, and James Taylor all performed in King's honour. She follows in the footsteps of previous recipients Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.
"Carole King will be the first woman to receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress. I feel absolutely honoured to play a part in the celebration of her incredible musical legacy! The white house will be full of beautiful melody very soon!" Scottish soul star Emeli Sande is excited to perform at the White House next week (22May13) among the stars honouring Carole King.
Billy Joel, Gloria Estefan and James Taylor will help to honour legendary singer/songwriter Carole King at the White House next week (begs20May13) when she is feted with the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The You've Got a Friend hitmaker, 71, will make history on Wednesday (22May13) as she becomes the first woman to collect the Library of Congress award from U.S. President Barack Obama, and she will be saluted by number of top stars.
Joel, Estefan and Taylor will also be joined by country singer Trisha Yearwood, Scottish soul sensation Emeli Sande and pop star Jesse McCartney at the Washington, D.C. event.
The ceremony will be streamed live online and will be broadcast on U.S. TV on 28 May (13).
King has been on a career high of late - she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December (12) and was among the Lifetime Achievement honourees at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
The three-time Tony Award winner is one of eight new names to be given the honour at a ceremony at New York's Gershwin Theatre in January (13).
Nunn made his debut in the Big Apple theatre district in 1981 with The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, which won him his first Tony Award. He went on to enjoy success with Cats and Les Miserables.
Playwrights Christopher Durang and Paula Vogel, and performers Betty Buckley and Sam Waterston will be among the next batch of inductees.
Nunn joins fellow Brits Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Ian McKellen in the Theater Hall of Fame.
Hal David — known for hits like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”— died of complications from a stroke at 91 years old Saturday in Los Angeles, Hollywood.com has confirmed.
He certainly will remain a legend in the music industry — David and longtime writing partner Burt Bacharach wrote for famous acts like The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and Dionne Warwick, who collaborated with the duo on many hits, including “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “Walk on By.”
Considering how many Top 40 hits David and Bacharach penned since meeting at New York’s Tin Pan Alley song factory in 1957, it was only a matter of time until Oscar took notice. David — a former president for the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers — picked up nominations for writing Casino Royale’s “The Look of Love” and the title tracks from Alfie and What’s New, Pussycat?, and, in 1970, an Oscar for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”
Even the White House took notice of David’s influence on pop culture. In spring 2012, President Barack Obama rewarded David and Bacharach with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. (“These guys have still got it,” Obama said at the event, which David was unable to attend due to health reasons.)
The duo might have scored their first hit in 1958 with Perry Como’s “Magic Moments” — and broke up in 1973 after poor reviews for their Lost Horizon work sparked a tenuous relationship between the two for a long 19 years — but their collaborations will continue to hit airwaves. Acts like Alicia Keys record Bacharach and David originals today.
Paul Williams, the current President and Chairman of ASCAP, released the following statement to Hollywood.com about the dearly departed songwriter: “Hal David has been a great inspiration to me both as a songwriter, a mentor, and as a leader of ASCAP. As a lyric writer, Hal was simple, concise and poetic --conveying volumes of meaning in fewest possible words and always in service to the music. It is no wonder that so many of his lyrics have become part of our everyday vocabulary and his songs... the backdrop of our lives. ASCAP enjoyed Hal’s devoted service and leadership for nearly four decades as a Board member and six years as President. He was always able to see the big picture when it came to the music business and was one of the most respected and valued voices in our music community. His concern for his fellow ASCAP members was always paramount. To me, he was a faithful friend and supporter, whom I will miss deeply. I know that all of ASCAP’s members join me in mourning his loss.”
[Image Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images]