Published January 22, 2003
I broke the news a couple of weeks ago that Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the King and Priscilla, would be releasing her first album on April 8. What would the songs be about, we wondered? Certainly a couple of them concern Elvis, according to available lyrics.
But at least one song will preach the Scientology cause that tries to stop parents from giving their children drugs like Ritalin to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. Scientology wages a constant war against psychiatry in general, hoping to attract alienated young people before they can be treated by doctors.
Presley's title track, "To Whom It May Concern," is about just this.
Presley's official web site is linked to a charity called the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which promotes the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. CCHR has 23 listings at guidestar.org for tax free chapters. Its main chapter, in Los Angeles, has a substantial war chest to fight against psychiatry. Fellow Scientologists Kirstie Alley and Juliette Lewis are featured in pictures with Presley at rallies protesting against psychiatry.
Two years ago, Lewis turned up on a Creative Coalition panel of celebrities discussing violence in the media and their influence on kids, but she blamed psychotropic drugs for the problems affecting children.
Both Lisa Marie and her mother, Priscilla, are longtime members of Scientology, which requires hefty annual donations from its members. One wonders how much of Elvis Presley's estate has gone to Scientology and whether his millions of fans have any idea where their money has gone. Scientology seems to be in direct conflict with Elvis Presley's own personal credo, which was "Shake, rattle and roll" with a barbiturate twist.
The Director's Guild of America released its nominees for 2002 yesterday and guess what? They got it right — completely right.
The DGA nominated Martin Scorsese, Rob Marshall, Peter Jackson, Roman Polanski, and Stephen Daldry respectively for Gangs of New York, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist, and The Hours.
In the process, they skipped excellent work by Todd Haynes, Alexander Payne, Denzel Washington, Steven Spielberg, and Pedro Almodovar. But there are only five slots, and this is what it boils down to.
I predict the DGA choices will be mimicked by the Oscars in the director and best picture categories.
For the five unnominated directors and their studios, this is no doubt a disappointment, but award campaigns are skillful things and shouldn't be taken lightly.
For some reason, for example, Fox Searchlight seems powerless to mount a successful campaign for Antwone Fisher. I just don't get it. This is a wonderful movie, and I wish it were getting more attention.
Similarly, Focus Features seems to have somehow fumbled the ball on Far from Heaven. How did this happen? The movie is a tour de force, a real work of art that I pray will find a permanent place in film libraries.
But it's been out-played by The Hours, something I feared would happen. It was one Julianne Moore movie or the other, and The Hours blew it away.
Don't think that Miramax is so perfect at Oscar campaigns, either. Frida, The Quiet American, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind have gotten lost in the Chicago/Gangs of New York surge.
The former three are exceptional, innovative and memorable. But they did not catch fire. Confessions establishes Sam Rockwell as an A-plus actor. It's the coolest movie of the year, but it's about to head into oblivion.
As for Frida and Quiet American, at least they may carry their lead actors into the Oscar race. Salma Hayek and Michael Caine look assured of nominations, and Alfred Molina may also make it in from Frida. That will have to be good enough.
No one seems very excited about it, but the record business tanked for a second week in a row last week. The top ten albums failed to sell a total of 750,000 albums, missing the mark by almost 20,000 units.
The top two albums were from Grammy nominees Norah Jones and Avril Lavigne. The surprise No. 3 entry, a chart debut, was the soundtrack to the movie Chicago. Now that the movie has won the Golden Globe and is headed for an Oscar, the CD should really be a hit. But it was the only new CD on the chart in some time.
I watched a report on our very own Fox News Channel the other night about the record business, but I think there's a misunderstanding about what's wrong in the industry now.
Here is the problem in a nutshell: Number crunchers are running the business. Music men and women are not.
The music has no soul. It's all surface. It's disposable. It's not the kind of music that is so heart wrenching or important that you have to own it. It's just passive entertainment, and therefore worth stealing — but not worth paying for.
I wrote today's column in a lovely Internet cafe in Los Angeles, while FM hit radio played in the background. Nearly all the songs the station played were screeched, not sung, and the music was programmed, not performed. It was torture.
Ironically, the one song that left an impact was Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait." You remember Cole, don't you? She was a big star five years ago. Then her record company abandoned her in favor of lip-synching teens.
I wonder if they're smart enough to regret that now.