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Jason Beghe: Scientology a 'Con'

Jason Beghe: Scientology a 'Con' | 'Idol' MP3 86'D | Madonna's 'Candy' Gets Leaked | P&G's Inner Soap Opera Continues | Quincy Jones: Cool Invite | Warner M. Group: Mysterious Stock Rise

Jason Beghe: Scientology a 'Con'

When actor Jason Beghe finally explained Scientology to pal David Duchovny, they fell down laughing.

This is one of the many revelations that come out of Beghe’s seven-part video with Mark Bunker on vimeo.com.

Last week, we brought you actor Jason Beghe’s stunning statements about leaving Scientology. They were part of a three-minute teaser video. After 13 years and a million bucks, Beghe finally decided the cult was “dangerous” and left. By that time, he was estranged from family and friends.

Now Jason’s full video interview with Bunker is available at vimeo.com. And this is what he says: The Scientology process of getting clear is, in Jason’s words, a con.

“You believe it, you invest your time and money.” It’s the getting out that’s painful, Jason says, because people don’t want to believe they’ve been conned. “You can’t be a fool, that’s too much to confront.”

But it’s the story about Duchovny, his childhood friend, that really stands out.

“In ninth grade I met this kid, my best friend. ... He came to my class and I said, ‘You and I are going to be friends.’ [That’s] David Duchovny. My best friend. Our relationship was aversely affected [by being in Scientology]. He was very cool but he wasn’t into it. I think his wife … I perceived that she [didn’t like it]. And they were right. He was called a 1-1-SP. It affected our relationship.

“One of the first people I went to see [when I left Scientology] was David. I went over to his house, and we were walking around. We talked about it a little bit. He doesn’t watch 'South Park' and doesn’t know about all this stuff. I explained OT to him,” Beghe said of the high level you can pay to attain in the sect.

“I started explaining to him about Xenu and the loyal officers” — a basic story from L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction. “I couldn’t get a third of the way through the story, and we had our faces on the floor. We were laughing so hard. I mean you couldn’t even talk. It’s so retarded.”

More tomorrow ...

'Idol' MP3 86'D

It was there and now it isn't.

I told you Monday that "American Idol" contestant David Cook's album "Analog Heart" was available for downloading on Amazon's MP3 site. It was so popular that it rocketed to No. 1, beating Mariah Carey's latest release.

Tuesday, however, "Analog Heart" has been digitally removed. It's gone. Although a link remains to see the album cover, the ability to download it has been removed from the site. Additionally, the audio snippets for each song have been removed as well.

What remains are the 91 reviews from enthusiastic Cook fans who did download "Analog Heart" before "American Idol" had it pulled down. One can only wonder what's gone on backstage with Cook and the "Idol" producers, particularly the folks at 19 Entertainment. Cook seemed to be doing an end run around his contract with the show and management group before the contest ended.

Meanwhile, though Carey was playing second fiddle to Cook on Amazon, she's No. 1 this week in the real world. Her "E=MC2" album sold about 500,000 copies last week. It's her biggest first-week sales for a CD since Tommy Mottola said "Cherchez la femme."

Madonna's 'Candy' Gets Leaked

We’re about to be inundated with Madonna. She’s everywhere and it’s only getting worse.

To begin with, her new album, "Hard Candy," set for release on April 29, is already all over the Internet. Maybe it’s planned; I don’t know.

This Thursday, Madonna debuts the documentary her gardener made about Malawian orphans, called “I Am Because We Are.” Next Monday she’s supposedly doing a “private” show at a New York club.

"Hard Candy" is mostly a production of Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes. Williams co-wrote most of the songs on the album with Madonna, putting him in the league of many who’ve come before, from Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard to Mirwais and William Orbit.

The Williams songs are surprisingly bland and plodding, with a few exceptions here and there. The really good stuff comes from Timbaland and Nate Hills, who write songs together that are inspired (or something) by Justin Timberlake.

Timberlake and Madonna, you see, don’t actually compose songs the way, say, Carly Simon and Jimmy Webb do, and have done on Carly’s new album, also to be released on the 29th, called “This Kind of Love.” The former duo express to other writers how they’d like a song to be, and then the latter (Hills and Timbaland) knuckle down. But I digress.

The two Timberlake-land/Madonna collaborations are very good. “Miles Away” is really like a song, with a melody, instrumentation, chorus, etc. It’s almost too good for "Candy." And the single, “4 Minutes to Save the World,” is a catchy concept, if not an actual whole song.

Neither of them, though, holds a candle to the great Madonna heyday of singles like “Like a Prayer,” “Like a Virgin,” “Open Your Heart” or “Express Yourself.”

Madonna mostly gets an A for effort and innovation. I give her credit for even wanting to keep changing, looking for new gigs. It’s not like she’ll make much money from the album, not with all the fees to these writers and producers, not to mention split royalties.

But “Hard Candy” is a good piece of merchandise for her inevitable concert tour this year. At this stage of her career, that’s a lot.

P&G's Inner Soap Opera Continues

Procter & Gamble? Their logo was long associated with the sign of the devil. Criticism from me, they’re not going to care very much.

But this week is the last for Martha Byrne, star of “As the World Turns.” She’s been there for 24 years, since she’s 15. She’s the reason people — young mothers her age — watch. The company forced her out.

Now, over at the company’s other show, “Guiding Light,” currently being filmed like an underground college project, three-time Emmy winner Kim Zimmer, that show’s star since the 1980s, has had enough. She sent this out to her fans, one of whom forwarded it here:

“My absence [from] the show has been greatly noticed!," Kim writes. "Not just by me and you, my fabulous die-hards, but also by my business manager who said to me the other day, as the market keeps falling: 'Is this one day-a-week stuff going to stop anytime soon?'

"My response to him (as I talked myself down) was to say, 'I have no idea what this regime is doing!'

"All I know is that for the first time in my history on this show I am way under my guaranteed number of shows. I don't understand why they would rather pay a character (actor) with such history and connection to what was Guiding Light to not work, than to work said actor their negotiated number of shows a week. But then I'm not the executive director nor am I the 'suit' at P&G who has to put up the money (free money) to an under worked actor.

"I wish I could tell you all that the reason I haven't been on the show was because I was in rehearsals for some fabulous Broadway show or on remote for a great indie film, but the reality is that I've been sitting on my butt wondering why I'm not being written.

"I don't know who the powers that be dislike more, Kim Zimmer or Reva Shayne. That being said, I won't be seen after next week for another two because I took my vacation. So hopefully when I get back they will have come up with a bread crumb to throw my way. ... Sour grapes? Damn Straight!!!!! I love you all and am so glad to have you in my corner.

Happy Anniversary to all of us!

Forever indebted,

Kim”

So, you ask, what are CBS and P&G up to? I haven’t a clue and there’s no one there to ask. But offloading the big-name stars, purposely turning off fans, all of that sounds suspiciously like a plan to get out of the business. I’m just sayin’.

Quincy Jones: Tuesday Night's Cool Invite

There is no one cooler than Quincy Jones. Tuesday night he’ll be feted at the Nokia Theater with a massive musical salute from ASCAP.

Q is getting the Pied Piper Award, the music-licensing agency’s highest kudo. Among the performers at the show will be Tony Bennett, Ashford and Simpson, James Ingram, Al Jarreau, Take 6, Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin and Roberta Flack (if she shows — she missed the memorials to both Ahmet Ertegun and Arif Mardin last year).

Warner M. Group: Mysterious Stock Rise

The big mystery of the record business right now (other than the chaos at SonyBMG) is the rising stock price of Warner M. Group, aka WMG.

The company’s stock price has risen from $4.77 on March 26 to an $8.17 close Monday. It’s remarkable, considering absolutely nothing has changed: The company still has almost no hits.

Indeed, despite a couple of not-terrible-selling releases from Danity Kane and Day 26, two groups featured on MTV’s "Making of the Band," Warner has some big, big flops.

Chief among them is the current album from Gnarls Barkley. The previous Gnarls album, "St. Elsewhere," was a phenomenon. This one just fell into the abyss upon release. Ditto for James Blunt’s follow up to his 2006 smash, “You’re Beautiful.” To be blunt (sorry), neither release did much business.

And that’s all on the Atlantic label. On the Warner label there is … nothing: almost no artist development and not even a big franchise act except for REM. Their “Accelerate,” while excellent, was victim of WMG’s anti-marketing approach. In other words: It was a non-starter.

Coming next week is Madonna, and that should be interesting. “Hard Candy” (see above) is the Kabbalah Queen’s final CD for WMG. Either it will do really well, or WMG will just drop it after one week. My money’s on the latter. We’ll see.

Still, nothing explains the rise in stock price or the trading of shares that’s been taking place over the last few days.

Does someone over there know something we don’t? Undoubtedly. But it has nothing do with music, just money.