Entertainment behind the scenes
Perhaps the world of opera could learn a thing or two about marketing to the masses. Long seen as the bastion of wealthy, ageing patrons and obsessive fans, opera houses say they are trying to reach out to a wider audience by bringing down ticket prices and beaming performances on to giant screens and into cinemas.
The Sun tabloid in Britain has an alternative approach — make opera sexy. After the doors of the notoriously pricey Royal Opera House were thrown open to Sun readers last year for a cut-price performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, a similar offer has been announced for Bizet’s “Carmen” on October 3. All tickets will be priced between 7.50 and 30 pounds ($12-50), a far cry from regular prices of up to 230 pounds per seat, not including the exclusive boxes.
Its description of Carmen sounds like an advertisement for a night out at a lap dance club: “Georges Bizet’s brilliant but tragic French opera, set in Seville around 1830, is packed with trollops, treachery, filthy vices and fabulous voices.” It goes on to describe Carmen as a “slapper”, a less-than-complimentary term describing a woman of, shall we say, easy virtue.
And here is what the most widely read British daily newspaper had to say about Don Giovanni: “More than 2,000 of you were treated to a night of blood, betrayal, ghosts and topless totty in the story about a bed-hopping stud who is dragged to hell for his wicked ways.”
Hallelujah, indeed. Leonard Cohen, in all his sartorial splendor, will kick off the second and final leg of his North American tour in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 17.
After years of adulation over the hilarity of their genre-spawning rockumentary This is Spinal Tap, screenwriter Christopher Guest and the other actors of the much-loved spoof band Spinal Tap decided it was time to pay a visit to the prehistoric monument behind one of the hit movie’s funniest scenes – Stonehenge.
News of the visit comes courtesy of Canadian indie rock outfit Metric, who, like Spinal Tap, were fresh off a performance at Britain’s Glastonbury music festival when they made a pit stop to check out the landmark.
Mel Gibson just released his latest movie. Well, actually, it’s a music video he directed for his pregnant 39-year-old girlfriend, Russian singer/pianist Oksana Grigorieva.
“Say My Name” is the first video from her upcoming debut album, “Beautiful Heartache,” which will be released through Gibson’s Icon Records label. The clip can be downloaded from her Web site, along with a new track “Flying Upside Down.”
So Susan Boyle DIDN’T win “Britain’s Got Talent”. After the show turned her into a household name in more countries than I could list, the 48-year-old came second in Saturday’s final, surprisingly losing out to street dancers Diversity. Now don’t get me wrong. Diversity were impressive, and the choreography was as good as the execution on the night. It’s just that the momentum behind Boyle, one of the biggest Internet stars in history, was so great that it had been widely assumed she would walk off with the cheque for 100,000 pounds and the headlines on Sunday.
It was not to be, but this is unlikely to be the end of the road for Boyle. A lucrative recording contract is surely only days away as labels, notably Simon Cowell’s very own Syco, seek to trade in on her global fame, fine voice and anti-celebrity appeal. Some might feel that losing out to Diversity could be a blessing in disguise for a woman who has struggled to cope with the demands her instant celebrity has brought. She threatened to walk out of the show, had an altercation with journalists and reports said she had to be taken to a “safe house” in the days leading to the final to escape the limelight. Perhaps coming second will give her a little space and time to recover from what judge Cowell rightly called “a weird seven weeks”.
Kylie Minogue’s music may not be to everyone’s taste, but she put on an impressive show late last night at a charity bash in Cannes. Sponsored by Chopard, the party suffered the same fate as other soirees at the film festival this year – the A-list was unusually short. That said, it was fun for the hundreds of mere mortals who did turn up.
In the blissfully uncrowded VIP area the Dom Perignon flowed freely all night, or at least until about 2 a.m. but by then it didn’t matter too much. Colleagues of mine who will remain nameless were quaffing from large tumblers — a crime against champagne if you ask me, but then, they didn’t seem to care what I thought.
All aboard the “Love Train” in Beverly Hills. Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, the soul music Svengalis who wrote and produced the O’Jays’ peace anthem and about 3,000 other timeless tunes, received a lifetime achievement award at a star-studded black-tie dinner on Tuesday.
The pair picked up the Icon Award from BMI, a performing rights group that collects royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. Other awards went to pop singer Colbie Caillat and country star Taylor Swift, the co-writers of some of BMI’s biggest songs of the past year.
Plane crashes are usually bad for rock ‘n’ roll careers, as Buddy Holly or Ronnie Van Zant would testify if they could. But a fatal crash last September proved to a blessing for the estranged members of California pop-punk trio Blink-182 who broke up four years ago after a smash chart-topping run.
Drummer Travis Barker was critically injured when his charter plane crashed on takeoff in South Carolina, as was celebrity disc jockey Adam (“DJ AM”) Goldstein. The two pilots and two other passengers perished in the fiery crash, whose cause is still under investigation.
The tragedy was “absolutely” the catalyst for the band members to patch up their differences, said singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge, whose 2005 departure triggered the announcement of an “indefinite hiatus.”
“I never saw us all coming back together because I started a new life and those guys did as well,” he told Reuters at a tour party in Hollywood on Monday night as a Mariachi band played Blink-182 tunes like “Josie” and “Dammit.”
“But when that happened, I personally wanted to be there when Travis played drums again. I wanted to do it with him. And here we are now.”
DeLonge, Barker and singer/bassist Mark Hoppus will kick off their amphitheater tour on July 24 in Las Vegas. It is scheduled to run through Oct. 3 in Atlantic City. Weezer and Fall Out Boy are also on the lineup.
DeLonge said Blink-182 has started recording tracks for the band’s first album since a self-titled release in 2003, but the sessions are now taking a back seat to tour preparations. He hoped some new material would come out once the band hits the road.
The threesome ceased all communication during their hiatus, not even sending Christmas cards or emails. “We lost control of the machine (to external business pressures), so we kinda lost control of the communication between the three of us,” DeLonge said.
“When we got together and wanted to complain about whose fault it was was, it was really obvious it was nobody’s fault. Everybody was saying the truth from their perspective. I guess that’s the agony of the whole thing, but also the irony.”
The main difference now is that the members are clearly in charge. “No one can make any decisions unless the three of us get in a room and say, Cool,” he said.
The threesome may all be family men in their 30s, but they say their teen-oriented musical tales of hijinks still seem relevant.
“I thought it would be funny playing these songs about being a teenager but it really fit fine. As I sing the songs I remember how I felt when I wrote them, and I’m hoping that people remember how they felt when they heard ‘em the first time, hearing them again. So I think it’s going to be good,” DeLonge said.
A British TV talent show has uncovered an unlikely star in the form of Susan Boyle, an unemployed 47-year-old from West Lothian in Scotland. In the mould of tenor Paul Potts, the winner of the show two years ago who went on to top the charts, Boyle is now the bookies’ favourite to win the 2009 edition of “Britain’s Got Talent” after she wowed judges and audience members alike on Saturday with an assured performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables”.A video clip of the performance on Youtube has already been watched nearly six million times, and, according to broadcaster ITV, Boyle was applauded on Easter Sunday by friends in the congregation of the church she attends. “It was incredible. Although we sing in church not a lot of them know how good I was, so it was a bit of a shock for them”, she said.The straight-talking contender, who told viewers she had “never been kissed”, clearly impressed the judges, including Simon Cowell, and is expected to win the top prize — a chance to perform before Prince Charles at the prestigious Royal Variety show, win a cheque for 100,000 pounds, and, perhaps most importantly, get a crack a stardom.”The whole village is cheering me on,” Boyle said. “West Lothian would wish me well, I hope, that is the kind of community it is. And I will be doing my best. Before I left, they told me, ‘If you can behave yourself and stop your carry on, you will do well. You can sing okay’ Who am I to let them down?”