Gwyneth's Hubby: Viva La Lawsuit

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Published February 04, 2009

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Gwyneth’s Hubby: Viva La Lawsuit | Julian Lennon: Had to Wait 15 Years for $$$ | Bruce Loses Some (Sales) Magic | The Pink Panther Strikes Again

Gwyneth’s Hubby: Viva La Lawsuit

You know that Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband, Chris Martin, is nominated for a bunch of Grammys this Sunday with his group Coldplay. Their song, "Viva La Vida," is tipped to win big as is the album it comes from.

But Martin and his bandmates may be looking over their shoulders this Grammy weekend. The reason is that a lawyer representing musician Joe Satriani is sending teams of process servers all over town to hand them a plagiarism lawsuit.

Now, don’t shoot the messenger here: Satriani is claiming that Coldplay lifted his 2004 instrumental, "I Just Wanna Fly," for the basic melody of "Viva La Vida." Coldplay disputes this, and has issued a rebuke on their website.

But that hasn’t stopped Satriani or his attorney Howard King of King Paterno et al. The firm claims that Coldplay has dodged being served, and that the Grammys are the easiest forum at which to strike while the iron is hot.

King says, "We have warned their British lawyers that we have hired a fleet of process servers lined up to dog the band everywhere they go this weekend in the hopes of serving them."

King even promises to have camera crews roaming around with the process servers to get the whole thing on tape.

What’s Coldplay’s way out of this mess? Maybe the easiest thing would be to just accept service and let a court decide what happened with "Viva La Vida."

Julian Lennon: Had To Wait 15 Years For $$$

Last week I told you that brothers Julian and Sean Lennon were set to perform at a UN event in New York on February 26th.

Well, this must have been some kind of affront for the brothers. Sean’s mother’s lawyer sent us a letter denying it. And Julian let loose with quite a bit of bile on his MySpace page attacking this reporter and FOX News. You’d think I’d said the men were into kiddie porn or uniting to defend a murderer.

More to the point: Yoko Ono’s lawyer, Peter Shukat, told us something we didn’t know. He said in his letter that Julian Lennon had been receiving money from his father’s estate since 1995. I had only been told, repeatedly, that Julian was constantly fighting with Ono for money.

But the 1995 date is important. John Lennon was killed on December 8, 1980. That means for fifteen years Julian did not receive anything from his father’s estate — or not until he was 32 years old. Shukat did not elaborate on why it took so long for John Lennon’s eldest son to inherit money from the arguably the most famous of all rock’s singer songwriters.

And even though Julian took some nasty swipes at this column, let’s give him credit: he actually logged a couple of hit singles and a good album back in 1984-85 and made his own money rather than wait around for Ono and Shukat to do the right thing.

This also may explain why Julian recently sold his interest in a couple of John Lennon’s songs to Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave Publishing.

Anyway, it’s too bad the Lennons aren’t doing something for the United Nations. But something tells me the vehemence of their denials means there’s more discord in that group than they’re saying.

Bruce Loses Some (Sales) Magic

Bruce Springsteen’s mighty performance on the Super Bowl may have sold CDs of his new "Working on a Dream" — but we won’t know until next Monday.

By the time Bruce and pals took the stage in Tampa, the first week numbers for "Working" were all set in stone. It turns out that Bruce finished at number 1, but his CD sales were a little anemic at 212,000. In October 2007, the "Magic" first week number was about 336,000.

The differential says nothing about "Working" or Bruce, but about the economy and, of course, the ailing record biz. Springsteen, in this new environment, remains a king. The rest of the chart — Beyonce, Nickelback, Taylor Swift — sold just a fraction of the Boss’s numbers.

One album that’s growing in sales is Jamie Foxx’s "Intuition." Released more than six weeks ago, Intuition is now in the top five and picking up fans. A lot of the credit has to go to Breon Prescott, the music man who works with Foxx. He’s got a magic touch!

The Pink Panther Strikes Again

The Pink Panther is back. The new movie, opening Friday, is called Pink Panther 2, although there were many Pink Panther movies before the ostensible "#1" — all made by the great Blake Edwards and starring, for the most part, the irreplaceable late genius Peter Sellers as bumbling Inspector Clouseau — starting in 1963.

Since 2006, Steve Martin — brilliant, erudite, gifted at physical comedy—has been Clouseau. His first "Panther" made $80 million but it was sort of a dud. Lots of great talnets like Kevin Kline, Beyonce, Roger Rees — but no chemistry or magic. The movie just sat there like a lox.

I’m happy to report that the 2nd installment with Steve Martin is a big improvement. Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer are back (who knew they were even in the first one). But this time Martin and director Harald Zwart have a much better screenplay and some cool cameos: Lily Tomlin, Jeremy Irons, John Cleese, Andy Garcia, and Alfred Molina are all in it to varying degrees, and each is marvelous.

There’s a lot of different things going on in "Pink Panther 2" including Steve Martin doing Charlie Chaplin, director Zwart pretending he’s remaking Stanley Kramer’s "It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and nearly everyone intentionally speaking with a different bad foreign accent—except of course Jean Reno, who’s actually French.

Somehow it all works. The Chaplin stuff is especially good, with a couple of amazing physical sequences — one of wine bottles being tossed around a room, another of Steve with a "Great Dictator" mustache, dancing on a globe. Martin also prances around as a masked matador and throws in just enough of his own shtick that this short comedy actually provides a lot of laughs. My only complaint was that Christophe Beck’s music sounded a lot like the "Mission: Impossible" theme repurposed. Otherwise, Henry Mancini’s famed "Pink Panther" theme is omnipresent.

Was there a premiere? It seemed like it. There was a big screening at the Ziegfeld, with a red carpet and a huge covered tent because of the inclement weather. As a nod to the movie’s convoluted plot, the folks from Sony/Columbia caused what’s known in film as a "diversion" and told everyone there was no after party. They were really having a semi secret one at the Plaza Hotel’s Rose Room. It was a neat idea, because you had to really want to find out who knew what if you wanted to go.

Instead, we went uptown to Elaine’s, where "Sex and the City" star Chris Noth, dressed in a nice pinstriped suit, dropped in – he’s homesick for New York since moving to Hollywood. Conan O’Brien’s popular exec producer Jeff Ross was there with wife Missy, soaking up New York before they also head to L.A. so Jeff can run the "Tonight" show with Conan. Toward the back of the room, "Sopranos" star Dominic Chianese — Uncle Junior — was telling friends he’s also going ‘westward ho!’ for a couple of months to meet all the casting directors and agents who’ve been clamoring to hire him.

P.S. There’s no proof of a recession at Elaine’s. On Monday night Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman came in with a crowd of actors and friends. Next Tuesday, February 10th, photographer Patrick McMullan is being feted there by Interview magazine for his 20 years of service — with celebs from Liza Minnelli to Debbie Harry. The next night — shhhhh! — February 11th — is supposed to be an informal birthday celebration for living legend Elaine Kaufman. If it’s anything like last year’s anniversary party, my advice is make a reservation now!

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