Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Music Notes: Jackson's will and rehearsal pictures turn up, Vibe folds

- Even though his parents have said they believe Michael Jackson died without a valid will, multiple reports are confirming that a will (from 2002) does exist. Meanwhile, Jackson's body will be transported to Neverland Ranch for a public viewing on Friday. A private service is planned for Sunday, while the question of where Jackson will finally be buried is yet to be answered. [CNN, Associated Press via Yahoo]

- See photos from Michael Jackson's rehearsal at the Staples Center, Los Angeles on June 23 here. [Rolling Stone]

- Vibe Magazine has folded. [Gawker]

- R.E.M. will release a four-song EP on July 7, titled Reckoning Songs from the Olympia. The songs, from 1984's Reckoning, were recorded at live gigs in Dublin in July 2007. The band will also release a live double album this fall, simply titled Live at the Olympia. [Pitchfork]

- Andrew Bird and St. Vincent will tour together for a month, starting Sept. 29 in Indianapolis. [Pitchfork]

- Jens Lekman caught the H1N1 virus and realized it while on a plane. He says he's now in quarantine for 10 days. [JensLekman.com]

- Some pictures from Blur's gig at Glastonbury here. [Q]
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Theater News: Spidey Gets Its Mary Jane & Green Goblin, Avenue Q Shutters This Fall

- Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming have been cast as Mary Jane Watson and Norman Osborn (aka the Green Goblin), respectively, in the upcoming Broadway musical Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark. Directed by The Lion King's Julie Taymor, Spider-Man features music by Bono and The Edge. Previews for the new show will begin at the Hilton Theatre on February 25, 2010. Tickets go on sale to the general public on September 12. [Playbill]

Avenue Q, the Tony Award-winning musical that stars a cast of people and puppets, will end its six-year run on September 13. [Associated Press via MSN]

- Film veteran Jerry Lewis will direct a Broadway musical version of The Nutty Professor with the legendary Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes penning the songs.  Lewis co-wrote and starred in the 1963 Nutty Professor film, which is one of his best-known roles. Lewis has appeared on Broadway before, but this will be his first foray into directing a Broadway musical.  The Nutty Professor is expected to open during the 2010-2011 season. [Variety]

- After headlining a production of Parade in Los Angeles, T.R. Knight (the erstwhile Dr. George O'Malley from Grey's Anatomy) will head to Broadway to star in the Stanley Tucci-directed revival of Lend Me a Tenor.  The production is scheduled to open in February 2010. [Entertainment Weekly]
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Meloni and Hargitay Resign with Law and Order: SVU

Law and Order: SVU fans can start breathing again: leads Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay have signed a new two-year contract that will keep both of them on the 10-year-old show.

Negotiations with both actors had gone on for months, broke down in the spring, and started up again a few weeks ago.  Despite not having reached an agreement with the show leads, earlier this year NBC announced that it was renewing the show for another season and made it clear that the show would continue even without Meloni and Hargitay.

The actors, who have both starred in the drama since its debut in 1999, conducted the negotiations as a unit, making similar contract demands.

Award-winning actress Christine Lahti will also be joining the duo next season as a guest star during the first four episodes. [Variety]
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Music Notes: Many Michael Jackson updates, Blur triumph at Glastonbury

- Michael Jackson's final tour rehearsals could see the light of day in a CD/DVD release. The last rehearsal held before the icon's death was filmed in HD video and multi-track audio. [MTV]

- AEG Live, the organization promoting Jackson's now-canceled 50 gigs at London's O2 Arena, has announced that fans who purchased tickets through authorized agents will receive full refunds. These refunds include service fee charges. President/CEO Randy Phillips said the following in a statement: "The world lost a kind soul who just happened to be the greatest entertainer the world has ever known. Since he loved his fans in life, it is incumbent upon us to treat them with the same reverence and respect after his death." [Billboard]

- Jackson was remembered during a heavily revamped BET Awards last night, where an emotional Janet Jackson took the stage and told the audience, "To you, Michael is an icon, to us, Michael is family. And he will forever live in all of our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love, thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much. Thank you so much." [Rolling Stone]

- As of right now, Katherine Jackson — Michael and Janet's mother — has been granted temporary guardianship of his three children. An Aug. 3 hearing is set to determine whether or not she can become the children's permanent guardian. She has not been granted permission to become administrator of the children's estates. [NME]

- Despite some "interesting" reports that were coming out earlier, it looks like Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of Jackson's two eldest children, hasn't really been in touch with anyone. Though her lawyer released a statement on her behalf this weekend, Rowe's whereabouts were listed as "unknown" on court documents. [BBC]

- Naturally, Jackson's music is in heavy rotation everywhere... radio play is up by 1735 percent. Seriously. [NME]

- In some happier music news, Blur played their first major gig last night at UK's Glastonbury Festival, playing some of their most energetic hits, as well as sadder, well-loved tunes like "This is a Low," "The Universal," and "To The End." The general consensus? The band's still got it. [Guardian, SPIN]

- Global licensing issues have shut Pandora (the internet radio site) outside the U.S. [Slashdot]

- You can see the Pixies on an European tour in October. The tour, titled "Doolittle" to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their album of the same name, will go through cities like Dublin, Glasgow and Frankfurt. The band intends to play songs from Doolittle and all its related b-sides. [NME]

- New Jay-Z vid for "D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)." [Pitchfork]
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New on DVD and Blu-Ray (Week of June 30, 2009)

Check out a selection of the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases available this Tuesday . . .

- 12 Rounds (Rated + Unrated) (John Cena, Ashley Scott)
- Do the Right Thing (20th Anniversary Edition) (Spike Lee, Danny Aiello)
- Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience (Two-Disc Extended Edition + Digital Copy) (Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas)
- Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience (Single-Disc Edition) (Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas)
- Two Lovers (Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow)

- Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season (Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, et al.)
- Entourage: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, et al.)
- Eureka: Season 3.0 (Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitefield)
- The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky/Three for Two (Lucille Ball, Dean Martin)
- Parker Lewis Can't Lose: The Complete First Season (Corin Nemec, Billy Jayne)
- Princess Protection Program (Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato)
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl Season 2 (Billie Piper, Iddo Goldbergo)
- Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season (Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa, et al.)

I must admit that I'm completely biased in my choice of video clip for this week's New on DVD and Blu-Ray round-up.  Stargate Atlantis got me completely hooked during its last three seasons and had really hit its stride when TPTB cancelled it last year, at the end of its fifth season. Even though I know the reasons why, I'm still bitter!  The clip below is long (almost four minutes), but showcases one of the best episodes of season five and one of the interpersonal relationships that made Stargate Atlantis much more than a run-of-the-mill, special effects-driven sci-fi show.

- 12 Rounds [Blu-ray] (John Cena, Ashley Scott)
- Do the Right Thing [Blu-ray] (Spike Lee, Danny Aiello)
- Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience (Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ BD Live + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas)
- Seven [Blu-ray] (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow)
- Two Lovers [Blu-ray] (Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow)
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This Week's Music (June 30, 2009)

Welcome back to the weekly new music roundup, where I will try highlighting some of tomorrow's interesting/major music releases.

Lots and lots of Woodstock-related box sets/compilations will come out this week, alongside reissues by Rod Stewart and Twisted Sister.

As far as newer material is concerned, there's new Moby, solo Rob Thomas, and of course Wilco with Wilco (The Album). And there's new material from Spoon, the Get Nuffin EP (or single according to Merge Records), which is available via their label's website.

Meanwhile, check out the video for Moby's "Pale Horses," from his new release Wait For Me, then take a look at some of the other music you can expect to see this week.

Albums, Singles, EPs:
- Jonathan Coulton - Best. Concert. Ever.
- Depeche Mode - Peace (Single)
- Indigo Girls - Poseidon and the Bitter Bug (Vinyl)
- Leslie Mendelson - Swan Feathers
- Moby - Wait For Me; Vinyl
- Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
- Sir Mix-A-Lot - Playlist: The Very Best of Sir Mix-A-Lot
- Spoon - Got Nuffin (Single)
- TLC - Playlist: The Very Best of TLC
- Wilco - Wilco (The Album); Vinyl with Bonus CD
- Wu-Tang Clan - Chamber Music
- Wu-Tang Clan - Playlist: The Very Best of Wu-Tang Clan (Clean); Explicit

Reissues, Box Sets:
- Bjork - Voltaic (Limited Edition, 2CD/2DVD)
- Jefferson Airplane - The Woodstock Experience
- Janis Joplin - The Woodstock Experience (2 CD)
- Santana - The Woodstock Experience (2 CD)
- Sly & The Family Stone - The Woodstock Experience (2CD)
- Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing (2 CD Limited Edition)
- Rod Stewart - A Night on the Town (2 CD Limited Edition)
- Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry (2 CD Deluxe Edition)
- Various Artists - The Woodstock Experience (Limited Edition Box Set)
- Johnny Winter - The Woodstock Experience (2CD)

- Black Crowes - Warpaint Live
- Barbra Streisand: Live in Concert 2006 [Blu-ray]
- Rob Thomas - Something To Be Tour: Live At Red Rocks
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Billy Mays Cause of Death Likely Heart Disease

During a press conference this morning, Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Vernard Adams announced that pitchman Billy Mays died from a pulmonary embolism (a blockage of an artery that runs from the heart to the lungs, often by a blood clot), most likely as a result of heart disease.

The jovial, booming-voiced Mays "had an enlarged heart, a thickening of the wall of the ventricle which takes blood to the heart," reportered the Tampa, FL coroner.

Final autopsy results and an official cause of death will not be known for several weeks.  The initial findings however, seem to rule out head trauma as a cause of death.  Mays was a passenger on a U.S. Airways flight on Saturday that experienced a rough landing when its front tires blew out.  During an interview, Mays had told a local news outlet that he had been hit in the head during the incident, but was fine. [People]
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TV News: Wylie Confirmed for New Spielberg Series, Trek Stars Appear on Leverage

- Looks like Steven Spielberg got what he wanted (and that's a good thing). Noah Wylie has signed on to star in Spielberg's currently untitled alien-invasion series for TNT.  This will be the second time the 15-year ER vet has worked with the famed director. "It is a privilege to be starting a second series with Noah. The first one didn't do too badly," said Spielberg, who helped launch ER. [Hollywood Reporter]

- Jeri Ryan, best known for her role as Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, will have a recurring role in TNT's Leverage. The sophomore drama stars Timothy Hutton as the head of a team of specialists who design elaborate scams to "exact revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize people." [Hollywood Reporter]

- Speaking of Leverage and Star Trek, Wil Wheaton (best known for his role as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation) shot a guest role on an episode of Leverage last week. A profilic blogger and Twitter addict, Wil shared his experiences on set while filming (he had a good time). [Wil Wheaton's Official Blog][Wil Wheaton's Official Twitter]

- TV Guide has posted a quick Q&A with Tim Daly aka Pete Wilder of Private Practice. Daly discusses his take on what he'd like for his character next season and the baby-triangle with Pete, Violet and Sheldon from this past season. [TV Guide]

- Ana Ortiz, who plays Hilda Suarez on Ugly Betty, has a brand new baby girl -- her first child with husband Noah Lebenzon. The couple's daughter weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces and is named Paloma Louise. Congratulations to the new parents! [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]
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Black Eyed Peas - The E.N.D.

This album review comes a bit later than I intended, but sometimes the day job and the need to occassionally sleep has to take precendence!

Talk about truth in advertising:  the title of the Black Eyed Peas' newest album, The E.N.D., is short for "the energy never dies" and that's exactly what you get on track after track.  The E.N.D. is, in short, the album you put on when you and your friends are getting ready to go out to party for a night.  It's music that's guaranteed to get you dancing long before you walk out the front door.

Will.i.am throws every production trick in the book at these 15 tracks, from autotune to 808 drum beats. Different tracks reflect the variety of musical influences that the Peas bring to the table, with the pop dance beats that drive each track being the constant that ties the album together.

Fergie's voice continues to be the most notable one on the album.  The sheer range of vocal qualities that she tackles on any given album never fails to impress me.  On The E.N.D., Fergie transitions seemlessly from  a disco diva on "Meet Me Halfway" to the lazy rap of "Imma Be" to the power pop of "Missing You" to the reggae beats of "Electric City."
Watch the slightly NSFW video for the second single, "I've Gotta Feeling":

There's nothing revolutionary about the cuts on The E.N.D. -- the relentless dance beats can start feeling overwhelming at some points, and overall it's not as strong as Monkey Business and Elephunk. But when it comes to creating an album where the dance floor energy literally never dies, BEP has certainly succeeded.

Check out these cuts: "Imma Be" and "I Gotta Feeling"
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

RIP Billy Mays

Informercial pitchman Billy Mays has died at the age of 50. His wife, Deborah Mays, has said that her husband was feeling unwell when he went to bed on Saturday night. She found him unresponsive this morning at their home and Mays was pronounced dead at 7:45AM.

Authorities do not suspect foul play and and an autopsy will be performed on Monday.

On Saturday, Mays was one of the passengers on a U.S. Airways flight into Tampa that had a rough landing when the plane's front tires blew out. In an interview with the local Fox affiliate, Mays said that he was hit on the head during the landing (either by items falling from the overhead luggage bins or by the luggage bin itself) but that he had "a hard head." It is not yet known whether this incident has any connection to Mays' death.

Mays was a television staple known for his loud, enthusiastic promotion of products including OxiClean, Mighty Putty and the Big City Slider Station. Mays also starred in the Discovery Channel reality series Pitchman with fellow product spokesman Anthony Sullivan. [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Retrovideo Weekend: In Memory of Michael Jackson

Note: I'm back from my vacation and while I meant to post an official Retrovideo Friday post yesterday, I was too jetlagged by the time I was ready to work on it. So I'm doing a special installment called "Retrovideo Weekend" today to mark one of the music world's biggest losses.

This Week's Pick: "Beat It" by Michael Jackson (Year: 1982/1983)

"King of Pop" Michael Jackson died this Thursday, just two months before his fifty-first birthday, leaving the entire world in shock. There's no denying that Jackson became a bit of a polarizing figure during the last 10 to 15 years of his life — his reputation as "Wacko Jacko" overshadowed his musical accomplishments, while a combination of disturbing behavior and criminal allegations turned many against him. Even now in death, half the world seems to be mourning him while the other half is denouncing him.

However, it's a complicated situation. For all his fame and wealth, Jackson — who got his start as a child performer in the Jackson 5 — never had a very happy or normal life. And even though I was never actually a diehard Jackson fan myself, even I can't bring myself to judge the man. But I can, like many, remember him for his music and for his impact on popular culture. Because love him or hate him, Michael Jackson was a big deal whose music reached out to many generations throughout the globe.

My mother — who grew up in India, only a few years younger than Jackson himself — remembers hearing his hits with the Jackson 5. And I, an eighties baby who spent part of her childhood in the Middle East before coming here to the states, can still remember what a huge deal it was when a new Michael Jackson video or album was about to drop. I was vacationing in France when the news of Jackson's death hit, and I currently have a copy of a French-language paper that has "Le Mort de Michael Jackson" as its top story. It is clear that once upon a time, Michael Jackson meant something to everyone — and that's why so many of us care about his death.

So to honor Jackson's music, and to remember some of his more positive accomplishments, I am dedicating this week's Retrovideo post to him by focusing on one of his biggest hits, "Beat It." Featured on his classic 1982 album Thriller, "Beat It" — which is also notable for its Eddie Van Halen guitar solo — was released as a single in 1983. Its music video received a variety of accolades and was eventually inducted into the Music Video Producer's Hall of Fame.

The video was classic Michael Jackson with massive amounts of choreography and a plot drawn from West Side Story. Eighty gang members (and a few professional dancers) took part in the video, which wound up costing $150,000. While it didn't feature the special effects seen in later MJ vids, and while it isn't the epic "Thriller," the "Beat It" video definitely serves as an example of why Jackson's songs and videos excited so many people around the world. This is the musical legacy that Jackson has left behind.

Watch the video for "Beat It" here.
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Friday, June 26, 2009

Film News: Oscars Double Number of "Best Picture" Nominees, Watchmen Director's Cut in Theaters

- Next year's Academy Awards will have a much larger number of nominees in the running for the Best Picture award. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that there will 10 feature films competing in the category, doubling the number of nominees. The number has fluctuated over the decades -- at times there have been as many as 12 films nominated in a single year -- but the last time there were 10 was back in 1943. [Oscars.org]

- Zach Snyder's director's cut of Watchmen will get a limited theatrical release to promote its upcoming release on DVD and Blu-ray. Starting on July 17, four venues in Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York will screen the director's cut for one week. Snyder's cut includes 25 minutes of additional footage. [Variety]

- David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is in talks to direct The Social Network for Columbia Pictures. Penned by Aaron Sorkin (Studio 60, The West Wing), the film focuses "on the evolution of Facebook from its 2004 creation on the Harvard campus by sophomore Mark Zuckerbuerg to a juggernaut with more than 200 million members." [Variety]

- Topher Grace, Emma Roberts and Hector Elizondo have signed on to the ensemble cast of director Garry Marshall's new rom-com flick titled Valentine's Day. Grace, Roberts and Elizondo join Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper and Ashton Kutcher for the film. Valentine's Day centers on five "slightly interconnecting stories playing out on Valentine's Day in Los Angeles." [Hollywood Reporter]

- Initial buzz on an upcoming fall movie, The Road with Viggo Mortenson and Charlize Theron, is positive. The Road centers around a father (Mortensen) walking his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) through a post-apocalyptic America. Hollywood Reporter's Roger Friedman describes the movie as "elegiac and moving, artful and yet suspenseful" and says that Mortensen's performance "stays with you long after leaving the theater." Well, there's a description that'll catch a Pop Wench's interest! [Hollywood Reporter: Showbiz 411]

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Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Track List Announced

Beastie Boys have released the name and complete tracklisting for their upcoming album. Hot Sauce Committee Pt 1 will be available starting September 15 and, in an unusual move from the Beastie Boys, includes two tracks with vocals by guest artists.

Hot Sauce Committee Pt 1 track list:
  1. "Tadlock's Glasses"
  2. "B-Boys In The Cut"
  3. "Make Some Noise"
  4. "Nonstop Disco Powerpack"
  5. "OK"
  6. "Too Many Rappers" (featuring NAS)
  7. "Say It"
  8. "The Bill Harper Collection"
  9. "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" (featuring Santigold)
  10. "Long Burn the Fire"
  11. "Bundt Cake"
  12. "Funky Donkey"
  13. "Lee Majors Come Again"
  14. "Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament"
  15. "Pop Your Balloon"
  16. "Crazy Ass Shit"
  17. "Here's a Little Something for Ya"
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Music News: Headliners Added to Voodoo Experience, Virgin Mobile Festival Free in '09, Pixies Want to Record a New Album

- Eminem, the Flaming Lips, Jane's Addiction and Kiss have been added as headliners to the Voodoo Experience festival line up. Over 150 acts are currently scheduled to perform on eight stages spread throughout the city of New Orleans. Other perfomers include Gogol Bordello, Wolfmother, the Pogues, Ween, Mutemath, Alejandro Escovedo and George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic. [Billboard]

- How's this for a deal? This year's ticket price for the 2009 Virgin Mobile Festival is zero, as in free! Virgin Mobile customers and those who have bought tickets to previous Virgin Mobile festivals have gotten first crack at the 35,000 free tickets via an email alert. Starting on June 27, the general public will be able to order free tickets to the event, which has been rechristened the 2009 Virgin Mobile FreeFest, through ticketmaster.com. Ticketmaster will waive convenience fees for those who pick up their tickets at the festival venue in Columbia, MD or the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Weezer and Blink 182 will headline the August 30th festival. Additional acts include Franz Ferdinand, Public Enemy, Girl Talk, The Bravery and Taking Back Sunday. [Billboard]

- The Pixies are planning to record their first new album since 1991. Pixies' Black Francis has said that he would like the album to tie into a movie, but a stand-alone album might become more appealing if the band continues to play live gigs. [NME.com]

- According to Ray Davies, a new documentary about the Kinks is in the pipeline, but the band doesn't plan to reunite any time soon. [Spinner.com]

- Phish's comeback album will be titled Joy. Phish's Trey Anastasio says that the album "feels more like a live record than a lot of our live records." [Rolling Stone]

- Rob Thomas has announced a 31-date North American tour in support of his upcoming album cradlesong. The tour will start on September 23 in Hollywood, FL and run through mid-November. [Rob Thomas' Official Website]
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NBC Locks Down Fall Premiere Dates

NBC has announced its fall premiere schedule which starts rolling out in mid-September. Current premiere dates are:
  • Sunday, September 13 - Football Night in America, NBC Sunday Night Football
  • Monday, September 14 - The Jay Leno Show
  • Tuesday, September 15 - The Biggest Loser
  • Thursday, September 17 - Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday, Parks and Recreation, The Office, Community
  • Monday, September 21 - Heroes (2-hour premiere)
  • Wednesday, September 23 - Parenthood, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Friday, September 25 - Law & Order, Southland
  • Saturday, September 26 - Dateline NBC, Trauma, Saturday Night Live
  • Thursday, October 15 - 30 Rock
[Hollywood Reporter]
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Pop singer Michael Jackson died today at the age of 50. He was found in a coma by paramedics who responded to an 911 call from his Los Angeles residence this afternoon. Jackson was in full cardiac arrest when medics arrived on scene.

Once the reigning "King of Pop," Jackson started his career in 1966 as part of the Jackson 5 (along with his older brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito) recording #1 R&B hits including "ABC" and "I'll Be There."

Jackson transitioned from the Jackson 5 into a wildly successful solo career. His distinctive dance moves such as the "Moonwalk" and his visually arresting music videos made him a perfect fit for the newly created MTV generation. He became a iconic music superstar in the 1980s, with his album Thriller spawning seven Hot 100 singles on the Billboard charts including hits like "Beat It," "Billie Jean," "Thriller," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Thriller has a 28 times platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and is considered one of the all-time best-selling albums in the world.

[bxA]Jackson co-wrote and performed on the 1985 charity single "We Are the World," which brought together celebrities and musical performers including co-songwriter Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Dan Aykroyd, Bob Geldof and Bette Midler under the U.S.A. for Africa banner to raise funds for famine relief in Africa -- particularly Ethiopia which was suffering from an extreme drought.

In 1987, Jackson released his third solo effort, Bad. The album was another huge hit for the singer with five #1 singles -- "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," "Dirty Diana" and the title track. Bad is currently certified 8 times platinum by the RIAA.

Despite his undeniable worldwide success and work on behalf of many charitable organizations, rumors and stories about the singer's many eccentricities, his rapidly changing facial structure and skin color, and his Neverland compound chipped away at his reputation until the British tabloids' nickname for him -- "Wacko Jacko" -- was in the headlines often than his "King of Pop" appellation.

Jackson twice faced charges of sexual abuse of a child. The first case, which took place in the early '90s, was settled out of court and charges were dropped when the teenage boy stopped cooperating with police. Roughly a decade later, a new set of allegations were made centering around a young boy who appeared with Jackson in the documentary Living with Michael Jackson. The singer was acquitted on all counts in May 2005.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Jackson would be returning to the stage in 50 live concerts at London's O2 arena. The This Is It shows were set to begin July 13, 2009 and continue through 2010 and were seen as the start of a potential comeback for the the music icon.

Jackson is survived by his father, mother, siblings including sister Janet, and three children -- Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., age 12; Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, age 11; and Prince Michael Jackson II, age 7.
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Michael Jackson Is Dead - Confirmed

Los Angeles city and law enforcement sources have confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Michael Jackson was pronounced dead this afternoon after arriving at UCLA Medical Center in a deep coma. [Los Angeles Times]
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Michael Jackson Rushed to Hospital - Now in a Coma

Update: Law enforcement officials have told the Los Angeles Times that Jackson is in a coma.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that singer Michael Jackson was rushed to UCLA Medical Center this afternoon by paramedics.

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at Jackson's current LA residence at approximately 12:26PM this afternoon, and Jackson was not breathing when they arrived. Some reports are saying that Jackson was in cardiac arrest.

According to the LAFD spokesman, the paramedics performed CPR and brought him to the hospital. Jackson's mother and brothers are said to be heading to UCLA to be with the ailing performer.

Formerly dubbed the "King of Pop," Jackson has been rehearsing for a series of 50 sold-out shows at the O2 area in London. Not long ago, it had been announced that additional tickets for certain concert dates were being released for to the public for purchase and that Jackson was training for former Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno to build up his strength and endurance for the shows. [Los Angeles Times][TMZ]
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Breaking: Michael Jackson rushed to the hospital, reported dead

Pop icon Michael Jackson has been taken to the UCLA Medical Center after suffering from cardiac arrest.

CNN affiliate KTLA reports that Jackson was rushed to the hospital after paramedics responded to a call from his home around 12:26 p.m. He was not breathing and paramedics had to perform CPR on him.

It looks like a Jackson family member has also told TMZ that Jackson is in "really bad shape" and that his brothers are headed to the medical center. His father, Joe Jackson, told E! News, "He had a heart attack. He is not okay. His mother is on her way to the hospital now to check on him." [KTLA; TMZ via Brooklyn Vegan, E! Online]

Update: Now TMZ is reporting that Jackson is dead. Major news outlets have yet to confirm this news, but there is a possibility that it could be true. More to come. [TMZ]
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RIP Farrah Fawcett

Actress Farrah Fawcett died this morning at the age of 62 after several years of battling cancer.

Fawcett became an iconic sex symbol in the '70s when she starred with Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith in the television series Charlie's Angels, and her famous swimsuit poster was plastered on the walls of countless teenage and college-age boys' rooms.

Fawcett, who was married to Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors and was billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors at the time, starred in Charlie's Angels for only one season before leaving the show. Fawcett tried to break into the movies, but didn't find success again until coming back to the small screen in made-for-televison movies. She received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of an abused wife in 1984's The Burning Bed.

Fawcett and Majors divorced in 1982, and she had a decades-long relationship with actor Ryan O'Neal, although the two never formally married. The two have one son, Redmond. [Associated Press via MSN]
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Cibrian Joins CSI: Miami Team

Eddie Cibrian is the newest member of the CSI: Miami cast. The thesp has signed on to join the procedural drama as a regular cast member in the upcoming eighth season.

Cibrian's character will be an officer from Hollywood who relocates to Miami and joins Horatio Caine's (David Caruso) team. The character will not replace Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez), whose fate was left in question at the end of last season's finale. Show producers have confirmed that Rodriguez will be returning next season.

Cibrian's name has been in the gossip headlines recently due to allegations that he had an affair with country music singer Leanne Rimes, his costar in the Lifetime cable movie Northern Lights.

Cibrian's previous TV series credits include Third Watch, Invasion, Ugly Betty and The Starter Wife. [TV Guide]
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Film News: Craig Make Take On Paranormal Foes; New Basterds Trailer; Heigl, Efron and Reynolds Tackle New Projects

- Daniel Craig in early talks to star in Dream House as a lead character that would be his biggest departure from "action hero" since taking on the iconic role of James Bond. Described as a psychological thriller, Dream House is about "a man who moves his family to an idyllic small town, only to find his house haunted by its former inhabitants, who were murdered there." [Hollywood Reporter]

- A new trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is online for your Brad Pitt viewing enjoyment. Basterds is set to open in US theaters on August 21, 2009.

- Katherine Heigl will co-executive produce and star in the drama Life as We Know It. The Grey's Anatomy star will play one of "two single people who suddenly become caregivers to an orphaned girl after the parents, their mutual best friends, are killed in an accident." The drama is a change from the comedies such as Knocked Up and 27 Dresses that have turned Heigl into a box office draw. [Hollywood Reporter]

- Zac Efron continues to work on building a career outside of the High School Musical franchise with a new big screen project. Efron is partnering with Juno producers Mandate Pictures and will executive produce and star in a project currently described as a sexy thriller. [Entertainment Weekly]

- Fresh off of his box office successes with The Proposal and Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds has chosen his next career move -- an indie thriller titled Buried. Reynolds will star as a civilian contractor working in Iraq who is kidnapped. When he awakens, the character finds himself buried in a coffin in the desert with nothing but a cell phone, a candle and a knife. Production is set to begin this month in Barcelona. [Variety]
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CBS Fall Premieres

CBS has released its fall premiere schedule and, unlike Fox and The CW, will generally begin airing their new eps during the traditional September premiere week. Current premiere dates are:
  • Thursday, September 17 - Survivor: Samoa
  • Monday, September 21 - How I Met Your Mother, Accidentally on Purpose, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, CSI: Miami
  • Tuesday, September 22 - NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife
  • Wednesday, September 23 - The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Criminal Minds, CSI: NY
  • Thursday, September 24 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Mentalist
  • Friday, September 25 - Ghost Whisperer, Medium, Numb3rs
  • Saturday, September 26 - Crimetime Saturdayi48 Hours Mystery
  • Sunday, September 27 - 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, Cold Case
  • Sunday, October 4 - Three Rivers

[Hollywood Reporter]

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Former Wilco Member's Cause of Death Determined

Following up on news of Jay Bennett's death in May, the corner has stated that the former Wilco keyboardist and guitarist died of an accidental overdose. Bennett ingested a toxic amount of the prescription painkiller fentanyl, which is usually used to treat chronic pain. Not long before his death, Bennett had announced on MySpace that he was about to have hip-replacement surgery. [E! Online]
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TV News: FBI Agent Added to Fringe, Fuller Leaves Heroes Again

- Former Deal or No Deal model Meghan Markle has joined the cast of Fringe as "an attractive, brash and quick-witted junior FBI agent." Hmmm . . . possible love interest/eye candy for Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) during the show's second season? [Hollywood Reporter]

- Bryan Fuller has left Heroes again, citing time constraints since NBC has tapped him to write multiple pilots. Fuller was originally co-executive producer for the comic book action show, but left to work on Pushing Daisies. Fuller had returned to Heroes in 2008 as a consulting producer. He emphasizes that his departure is not due to creative differences with show creator Tim Kring. "We crated some really great arcs for the season that I'm excited to see come to fruition. I love that cast dearly and am sad to go, but the plate -- she was over-flowing," Fuller said. [TV Guide]

- Callum Blue (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) has been added to the cast of Smallville as a regular. Blue will be playing Phantom Zone villian Zod as the CW show enters its ninth season. [E! Online]

- Comedian Martin Lawrence's production company is developing several new series, including an animated comedy for Fox based on Lawrence's experiences growing up in the Washington, DC area. Lawrence is also working on a single-camera interracial family show for Starz and a multicamera family comedy that will probably be shopped to the networks. [Variety]

- Judy Reyes of Scrubs fame is pregnant with her first child and is due in November. Congratulations to her and boyfriend George Valencia! [TV Guide]
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New Museum Celebrating Walt Disney Opening in San Francisco

Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and his grandson Walter E.D. Miller have co-founded a new museum dedicated to teaching the public about the man behind the now-ubiquitous brand name. Scheduled to open on October 1, The Walt Disney Family Museum will be housed in three redesigned and upgraded buildings in the Presidio in San Francisco.

The museum will be comprised of 10 galleries that explore Disney's humble beginnings on a Missouri farm and continue through his success with his revolutionary animation studio in Burbank, California.  The galleries will include numerous personal items including the Academy Award for Snow White (which actually consists of one normal Oscar and seven dwarf-size Oscar statues), listening stations, more than 200 video monitors and interactive displays.

One stand-out part of the museum is born of Disney's love of trains.  When walking down a spiral ramp, visitors will see a train track suspended from the roof that supports the "Lilly Belle," the 1/8 scale-model train that used to run around Disney's home.

While the Walt Disney Co. is collaborating with the Disney family, the museum is an independent project funded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation. The museum is neither owned or run by the Walt Disney Co. [San Francisco Chronicle][The Walt Disney Family Museum]
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Music News: Stop Hitting Each Other, Folks; Gossip Release Date, SF Outside Lands 1-Day Tix On Sale

- Chris Brown pleaded guilty yesterday to assaulting his then-girlfriend Rhianna on the night of the Grammy Awards. As a result of the plea deal, Brown will be sentenced on August 5 to five years probation and six months of community service, along with mandatory domestic violence counseling. The judge also put a stay-away order in place that prohibits both Brown and Rhianna from getting within 50 yards of each other, except at industry events when the buffer zone drops to 10 yards. [Yahoo! Music]

- Black Eyed Peas' manager Polo Molina was arrested by Toronto police on one count of assault after allegedly punching a notorious gossip blogger.  And that sentence was already more space that the story deserves. [E! Online]

- The Gossip will release Music for Men, its first album on a major music label, on October 6. The first single is "Heavy Cross." The full album is streaming online at Spinner. [Paste Magazine]

- The Flaming Lips will offer a free digital EP and a digital download of the concert to ticket buyers for select dates on their upcoming tour. [NME]

- Single-day tickets for San Francisco's Outside Lands Music Festival went on sale June 21. This is the sophomore year for the three-day festival, which takes place at Golden Gate Park. Headliners are Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and Beastie Boys.  Additional acts include M.I.A., Black Eyed Peas, Incubus, Thievery Corporation, Autolux, Q-Tip, Lila Downs, Bat for Lashes, Raphael Saadiq, Ween, Modest Mouse, Lucinda Williams and Calexico. [SF Outside Lands]
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Film News: Weaving Not Signed on for Hobbit--Yet, Pitt Project Shuttered, and a bit of inspiration for your day

- Despite Guillermo del Toro's comments last week about Hugo Weaving signing on to reprise his role as Elrond in the two upcoming Hobbit movies, Weaving has said that he has not yet been contacted about participating in the films.  In an interview with Moviehole.com, the Lord of the Rings actor says, "I haven't actually talked to anyone about it. Doesn't mean I won't be doing it, [I'm] just not onboard yet.. . . It'd be good to get back together with Andy Serkis and Ian McKellan, and whoever else comes back . . ." [Moviehole.net]

- In a surprising move, Columbia Pictures has shuttered production on Steven Soderbergh's Moneyball only a few days before the baseball movie was scheduled to begin shooting. Brad Pitt was slated as the lead in the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book about the Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, who built a playoff-quality team with a surprisingly small payroll. It's reported that Soderbergh's newest version of the script strayed too far from the kind of movie that Columbia's co-chairman Amy Pascal had supported and the exec was no longer comfortable allowing the project to move forward. [Hollywood Reporter]

- Actor and rapper Common (Terminator Salvation, Wanted) will star opposite Queen Latifah in the sports romance movie Just Wright. Latifah will play "a sports trainer who finds herself falling in love with a professional basketball player [Common] while rehabilitating him from a career-threatening injury." [Variety]

Phillip Noyce has been tapped to direct Mixed Blood, an upcoming indie police thriller. Samuel L. Jackson is set to co-star as a police detective in the film, which focuses "on an American fugitive being forced to make violent and terrifying choices to protect his family while drawing the attention of murderers, kidnappers, corrupt cops" and Jackson's character. [Variety]

- Cher has signed on for her first movie role in a decade. The singer and actress will costar with Christina Aguilera in Burlesque. Aguilera "will play an ambitious small-town Iowa girl with a big voice who comes of age in a neo-burlesque club on Sunset Boulevard that's run by Tess (Cher)." Cher's character is a fomer dancer who recognizes Aguilera's talent and tries to give her a chance to succeed. Burlesque will mark the first time Cher will sing onscreen in a film in which she is starring. [Variety]

- In news that makes you feel a little better about the human race, a Southern California girl with terminal cancer got her dying wish when Pixar sent an employee to her home with a copy of Up on DVD so the child could have a private screening. Ten-year-old Colby Curtain fell in love with the animated movie after seeing the previews, but was too ill to be taken to a theater to see the film. After a family friend managed to make contact with Pixar, the studio flew an employee to Southern California with a DVD copy of Up, stuffed toys and a movie poster. Colby was already too ill to open her eyes to watch the movie as it played, but her mother narrated it for her, and Colby indicated that she had enjoyed the movie when her mother asked.  Colby passed away seven hours after having her wish granted. [Orange County Register]
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RIP Ed McMahon

Ed McMahon, the well-known TV personality whose career spanned more than a 50 years, died this morning from "a multitude of health problems" at the age of 86.

McMahon is best known for his famous "Heeeeeeer's Johnny!" introduction line from The Tonight Show. McMahon was Johnny Carson's sidekick for all 30 years that Carson hosted the late night talk show, cheerfully serving as the foil for the comic's humor.

McMahon also hosted the talent show Star Search for 12 years in the '80s and '90s, co-hosted TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark and served as the pitchman for Publishers Clearing House (American Family Publishers). [Hollywood Reporter]
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T.R. Knight Takes to the Stage in LA

TRKnightT.R. Knight has booked his first post-Grey’s Anatomy gig, returning to live theater in the upcoming production of Jason Robert Brown’s Parade in Los Angeles . Knight will play the lead role of Leo Frank. The production will run at the Mark Taper Forum from September 24 through November 15, 2009.

The Center Theatre Group website description of the play reads: “Based on the true story of Leo Frank, convicted for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1913, Parade recounts the press frenzy and public outrage about Frank’s trial, and his wife’s crusade for justice. Amid religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tension, this stirring Tony Award-winning musical explores the endurance of love and hope against all the odds.”

It has been five years since Knight has tread the boards, having previously appeared onstage in productions including Scattergood, Boy and This Lime Tree Bower. [Playbill]
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