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Madonna Tries to Upstage Elton John

Madonna Tries to Upstage Elton John; Obama Told: Hold On, Don't Play It; Oscar Parties: Who Needs Agents?

Madonna Tries to Upstage Elton John

Sir Elton John is psyched about his own Oscar party tomorrow night at the Pacific Design Center, which looks like it’s going to be, as Clive Davis likes to say, "off the hook." The guest list is a Who’s Who, now including a dozen or so music superstars.

But one who won’t be there is Madonna. She and the Kabbalah crowd (Demi Moore, etc) are having their own after-party on Sunday night at her pal Guy Oseary’s house on Lime Rock near Hidden Hills. It begins exactly at 9:30, a half-hour before Elton and Mary J. Blige are set to take the stage at the Pacific Design Center to raise money for the pop legend’s multimillion-dollar AIDS Foundation that saves lives all over the world.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 2006, Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation distributed only $341,124 to charities. She sent $250,000 to the Kabbalah Center in Hollywood and a mere $31,000 to Elton’s foundation. You can see where her interests lie. And it’s strange, considering Madonna has a strong following in the gay community, whom she depends on to sell concert tickets and CDs.

On the other hand, just from 2001 to 2004, according to its own tax filing, Sir Elton and David Furnish’s group has sent almost $9 million out in charitable gifts and contributions.

So the question will be: Do you want to check out $32 red strings with the Material Girl, or see/hear Elton and Mary J. Blige put on a full, private show where all the money goes to charity? It’s a no-brainer!

Obama Told: Hold On, Don't Play It

Barack Obama’s campaign has been told nicely, but in no uncertain terms: Sam & Dave’s classic soul hit "Hold On! I’m Coming" is not to be played anymore as a campaign theme song.

Sam Moore, one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 1980s (before it became a warped endeavor), has written to Obama’s managers asking them to stop the music.

Moore is not backing Obama -- or any other candidate, for that matter. But he feels that the constant use of his voice and a song as identified with him as, let’s say, "Don’t Stop" was to Fleetwood Mac when Bill Clinton used it in 1992, constitutes an endorsement.

The only difference is that Fleetwood Mac’s permission was asked back then, and they wound up not only endorsing Clinton but reforming and playing for him. No one from Obama’s group asked Moore if it was OK to use his recognizable vocals.

And that, Moore feels, is ironic since he’s a) a black man and b) was an active supporter and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, a touchstone legend of the Obama campaign.

Moore says in his letter to the Obama campaign that since "Hold On!" has been used at rallies, often with the audience changing the words to "Hold on, Obama’s coming!" he’s been peppered with questions from reporters and fans such as: "Why do I want you to be president? Have we met yet? Am I honored that my song was selected to be so important to Obama for President Campaign?"

He continues: "I have had no choice but to set the record straight and I have begun explaining that the song was being performed at your rallies without my permission or my endorsement of you as my choice as a candidate for president and that I was writing this to you asking you to not continue including my material at your events.

"I do wish you well in your quest for the nomination. Having been hit with rocks and water hoses in the streets, in the day with Dr. King as part of his artist appearance and fundraising team, it is thrilling, in my lifetime, to see that our country has matured to the place where it is no longer an impossibility for a man of color to really be considered as a legitimate candidate for the highest office in our land."

But he adds:

"I have not agreed to endorse you for the highest office in our land. I reserve my right to determine who I will support when and if I choose to do so. My vote is a very private matter between myself and the ballot box. My endorsement and support of a candidate, because I do carry some celebrity, makes it quite a different matter changing a private act to a public statement, something I wouldn’t do without considerable thought."

Moore’s request to cease and desist is not the first time a pop star has moved to stop a political candidate from using his material. Recently John Mellencamp did the same thing when the McCain campaign used "Little Pink Houses" and "Our Country" at rallies. This was particularly vexing for Mellencamp since he’s supported Democratic candidates over the years. Same thing for Bruce Springsteen, whose "Born in the USA" was appropriated without permission by Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1984.

Even though Moore is not supporting any candidate, by the way, it should be noted he did perform once with Bill Clinton. The occasion was Dan Aykroyd’s 50th birthday party in 2002. Moore and the late Wilson Pickett were joined by Clinton on saxophone for a version of Moore’s other signature hit, "Soul Man" and Pickett’s "In the Midnight Hour."

Oscar Parties: Who Needs Agents?

Last night’s Oscar festivities included parties hosted by two rival agencies, CAA and Endeavor, at homes of two different agents. But from the looks of things around town, the real action was elsewhere. Over at STK steakhouse, the Creative Coalition and a group called The Supper Club pulled in stars for a sit-down dinner that included "Juno" actress nominee Ellen Page, director Jason Reitman, "Savages" screenwriter Tamara Jenkins and her previously nominated husband, Jim Taylor, as well as Dana Delany, Matthew Modine and writer Lawrence O’Donnell. The stars of "Once" performed a lovely acoustic version of their nominated song, "Falling Slowly" and a Van Morrison song before dinner… Up the hill at Chateau Marmont, the Diamond Information Center gave a little dinner for the luminous Julianne Moore, just because they like her. (Why not? She’s been nominated a few times.) Among the guests was Oscar’s First Lady, Dani Janssen, equally luminous, who usually gives the hottest party on Oscar night for the most exclusive A-list crowd. Not so this year, as Dani decided to join Vanity Fair and take a breather. Her regular guests, she said, have been calling and e-mailing in distress over what to do. These names would include Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson. And what will Dani do? She’s going to a pajama party with friends in the Hollywood Hills…

…Meanwhile, over at Soho House, the joint was jumping because none other than Sir Elton John stopped by to give his blessing and benediction to any further partying. Happily, he approved. There were plenty of interesting people around, all of whom wanted to meet him, including NBC’s lovable Ben Silverman, actors Rob Morrow and Fisher Stevens, designers Kai Milla Morris and Ozwald Boateng, and a raft of Brits from Working Title Films who make loads of hit films and didn’t seem to care about those agency things…