Steely Dan: 'You, Me and Dupree' Stole Our Character

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Published July 21, 2006

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Steely Dan: 'You, Me and Dupree' Stole Our Character | Ring Wraps; Cole Cuts

You, Me and Steely Dan

Is the new comedy “You, Me and Dupree” ripped from the lyrics of Steely Dan’s song, “Cousin Dupree”?

The guys who comprise the Dan — Walter Becker and Donald Fagen — apparently think so. They’ve posted a letter on their Web site to actor Luke Wilson, brother of “Dupree” star Owen Wilson, in which they lay out their claim and ask for an apology.

“Cousin Dupree” appeared on the group’s 2001 Grammy award-winning comeback album, “Two Against Nature.” The lyrics are about a young ne’er do well musician who returns home to find his even younger female cousin all grown up. The narrator lusts after her in a very unfamilial way. The song features a great line about “the dreary architecture of my soul.”

In “You, Me and Dupree” — written by novice Mike LeSieur and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, a young man (played by Owen Wilson) — is fired from his job and loses his place to live because he attends the wedding of his best friend (Matt Dillon). The friend and his wife (Kate Hudson) take him in, and the two men bond a lot while the wife is left out in the cold. The friend’s character name is Randy Dupree, hence the Steely Dan connection.

The duo’s letter to Luke Wilson — titled “Hey Luke" — is typed on stationery from the Residential Suites at Longworth, the hotel where Becker and Fagen are staying this week on their summer concert tour.

After identifying themselves as the Grammy-winning creators of such hits as “RIkki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Reelin’ in the Years” (among others), the pair gets to the point.

“What we suspect may have happened is this,” Becker and Fagen write in the letter. “Some hack writer or producer or whatever they call themselves in Malibu or Los Feliz apparently heard our Grammy-winning song, ‘Cousin Dupree,’ on the radio and thought, hey man, this is a cool idea for a character in a movie or something.”

“OK, so the “cousin” idea was no doubt eliminated so as not to offend the fundamentalist ticket buyers in the flyovers. Nevertheless, they like, took our character, this real dog sleeping on the couch and all and put him the middle of some hokey “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” rip off story and then, when it came time to change the character’s name or whatever so people wouldn’t know what a rip the whole thing was, they didn’t even bother to think up a new [bleeping] name for the guy!"

They warn Luke Wilson that their brother Owen “has gotten himself mixed up with some pretty bad Hollywood schlockmeisters and that he may be doing, like, permanent damage to his good creds and whatever reputation for coolness he may still have — let’s face it, ‘Bottle Rocket’ was a ways back already.”

My personal favorite part of the letter reads as follows: “And Luke, think of yourself, man. Do you really want to go down as the brother of the Zal Yanovsky of the 21st century?”

(Hilarious since almost no one but Dennis Miller is likely to get the reference to the former member of the Lovin' Spoonful who died in 2002 at age 58. But I’m not even sure this is who they mean. The guys may be thinking of creepy “Red Shoes Diary” actor-director Zalman King, whom Owen actually resembles.)

The only redress Becker and Fagen suggest for now is that Owen Wilson come to one of their California concerts and apologize to the group’s fans.

In exchange, they offer to load him up with Steely Dan merchandise. There’s also a veiled threat of sending a large Russian who resembles a Navy SEAL and knows nothing of the Wilsons’ work to make things right if Owen declines Steely Dan’s invitation.

Stay tuned...

Ring Wraps; Cole Cuts

Ringo Starr wrapped up his annual concert tour last night at Radio City Music Hall with jumping jacks and a few surprises.

For one: Edgar Winter turns out to be a helluva sax player. His mesmerizing rendition of his 1973 instrumental hit “Frankenstein” saw him master sax, keyboards, guitar and drums while Sheila E., Rod Argent and several members of his Ringo’s All-Starr Band helped out to finish the job.

Argent performed a solo version of his Zombies hit “Time of the Season” that was equally show-stopping, and Sheila E. showed off her dazzling drum skills on her old hit “The Glamorous Life.”

Steve van Zandt jumped on stage to help the gang finish the show on “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Ringo himself was a lively presence, if not always on key, but it was great to hear “Photograph,” “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Boys.”

But for some reason, he’s jettisoned the rest of his own set — “Octopus’s Garden,” “Good Night,” “Oh My My” and other songs he’s associated with — in favor of some more irritating flashbacks to the '80s and '90s.

We did spot Paul Shaffer in the audience with his family, however, and Sam “Soul Man” Moore, not to mention Ringo’s wife Barbara Bach and her sister Marjorie, rocking out like two teens in a front row....

I have to laugh about all the attention being heaped now on singer Samantha Cole, the original — as it were — teen girlfriend of Christie Brinkley’s soon-to-be ex Peter Cook.

Every press outlet is writing about Cole like they discovered her. Indeed, it was this reporter who wrote about Cole and Cook some 10 years ago, and we re-broke the story a few days ago before anyone else. Cole has since picked up the ball and run with it, selling her story to the tabs. We got it for free, thanks!....

Earlier this week I wrote about the cutting-edge R&B group Outkast turning down Oprah and how partners Andre 3000 and Big Boi seem to have different agendas at this point.

Turns out the two friends have separate flacks. Our pal Arnold Robinson called to say that Outkast is in step and that everyone’s getting along fine. Their movie “Idlewild” opens August 25, and should be the “Purple Rain” of hip-hop....

The world remains in balance this weekend, as Pamela Anderson announces her “remarriage” to Kid Rock (note to Pam — it’s just marriage unless you’ve already been married to him), while Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra split.

These four comprise the absolute minutiae of low-level celebrity, but it’s hot, it’s humid and slow out there. Congrats to all four.

Add in Denise Richards and, well, historians will have a great time placing all this in context with the lesser events of 2006 like global warming, Mideast wars and African famine....

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