MTV's 'Rock Band' Will Feature Beatles Songs | 'Laura Bush' Makes A 'Porno' | Rosie Gets A Broadway Theater | 'Mad Men' Contract Kerfuffle | Blackberry Goes Bold; Mark-Linn Baker Sings
MTV's 'Rock Band' Will Feature Beatles Songs
Big Beatles announcement Thursday morning. The group is licensing key songs to MTV Games' "Rock Band" video game. The announcement will be for a "Rock Band" game set to appear for Christmas 2009. Sources tell me that Paul McCartney has already seen a demo of it, and approves.
The word is that this "Rock Band" game will "blow away" all the others. It should include classics like "Revolution," "Helter Skelter," and "Hey Jude." The Beatles never license their master recordings for anything, especially movies or TV. Putting together "Rock Band" with their songs is a coup for MTV's Judy McGrath and Van Toffler, and shows that Apple Corps' Jeff Jones is set to bring the Beatles into the 21st century.
But again, don't expect an announcement about downloading any time soon. The Beatles make a fortune off sales of their CDs. So far it's worked for them to say away from things like ITunes and other services. And it may stay that way for some time to come.
‘Laura Bush’ Makes A ‘Porno’
There’s something about Elizabeth: You think you’re doing a double take, but the actress playing Laura Bush in “W” and Seth Rogen’s love interest in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is one and the same. That’s Elizabeth Banks: talented, gorgeous, articulate and keeping it low key.
You do not see Elizabeth in the tabloids. By Angelina standards, she hardly exists. But look at her as Laura Bush: she gives the First Lady a huge dose of humanity and believability. Did she watch many of her interviews? Elizabeth rolled her eyes when I asked her this recently. “Hundreds,” she said.
Now she plays Miri in Kevin Smith’s new hilarious comedy opening on Friday. (She’s also in the lesser “Role Models,” giving her an October hat trick.)
“Zack and Miri” should be a monster hit, an unexpected venture into the mainstream by Smith, helped tremendously by the ubiquitous Rogen. But the Judd Apatow actor is not alone in making his porno. It’s Banks who once makes the entire absurd premise possible. You see, Zack and Miri’s efforts to make a porno really results in their own real life romantic comedy.
There are some terrific cameos in this comedy, too, especially those of Brandon Routh and Justin Long as an unlikely gay couple.
And don’t think “Zack and Miri” is at all pornographic. Smith got the MPAA to lower the rating on it just by making a couple of little snips. Nothing is lost, and there won’t be a DVD, he tells me, with lots of extras. What you see is there, and it’s a hoot. But for the unexpurgated version of the movie’s trailer, check out Smith’s website at www.viewaskew.com. But really, how off the wall is this movie? Not so much when you realize that Miri is short for Miriam, aka the beloved real life mother of the film’s producer and distributor.
Rosie Gets A Broadway Theater
So: Rosie O’Donnell’s live show on NBC has gotten itself a Broadway house. It’s just as I told you: Rosie’s show on November 26th is the test for a weekly, live variety show a la Ed Sullivan.
And the theater is: the Shubert. While I love the Nederlanders and Jujamacyns, it’s absolutely true that the Shubert name carries clout and history.
Rosie is in the midst of booking all kinds of acts for this first show. You can guess there will be superstars galore. Advice to big names in New York: don’t go away this Thanksgiving. Stick around. The audience is going to be stocked with familiar faces, and you could be one of them.
Just a guess: Madonna on stage, Tom Cruise in audience. Some music acts could be Cyndi Lauper (genius), or Indigo Girls. If Tony Bennett isn’t busy, put him on.
Rosie, by the way, has addressed the terrible triple murder in Jennifer Hudson’s family on her blog. It’s something I’ve been thinking about the last few days. She’s got it right. Here’s what she has to say:
“the family tragedy of jennifer hudson/no words will do/ a grief 2 hard 2 comprehend"
Guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination - injuring and killing women every day in the United States. A gun is the weapon most commonly used in domestic homicides. In fact, more than three times as many women are murdered by guns used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are killed by strangers’ guns, knives or other weapons combined. Contrary to many public perceptions, many women who are murdered are killed not by strangers but by men they know.
• Nearly one-third of all women murdered in the United States in recent years were murdered by a current or former intimate partner. In 2000, 1,247 women, more than three a day, were killed by their intimate partners.
• Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds of were killed by their intimate partners.
• Access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons, according to a recent study. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.
• In 2002, 54 percent of female homicide victims were shot and killed with a gun. peace in peace out”
‘Mad Men’ Contract Kerfuffle
“Mad Men” has also already entered the culture and lexicon because of series creator Matthew Weiner’s extremely personal attention to it. It’s his vision. Without him, there is no show. Fans of “Mad Men” only want to see what Weiner has planned for the audience and the characters. Bringing in some producer from “West Wing” or “Law & Order” (I’m being hypothetical here) isn’t worth it.
Last week and this morning, this column reported that the main actors don't have contracts, either. This turned out to a miscommunication. In fact, the actors who signed on originally—Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elizabeth Moss, Vincent Cartheiser, and Christina Hendicks—are indeed locked in to six-year agreements. The show's network AMC and studio Lion's Gate must be enormously happy about that. Hamm and Moss are already in huge demand elsewhere.
However, some familiar and popular "Mad Men" players are in the middle of negotiations right now. Emmy nominated John Slattery apparently never had a deal because he was also working on "Desperate Housewives" when "Mad Men" began. Mark Moses, who plays Duck, is also not signed, and Robert Morse, who plays the owner of the ad agency, as well is considered a guest star. There are probably several other semi-regulars who don't know their status right now.
“Mad Men” put AMC on the map as a revived network. Three more seasons would be fascinating and build AMC a whole new life. (They kind of got aced out of playing classic movies 24/7 when Turner Classic Movies stood them down.) There's a real fear that "Mad Men" won't be back, but in all likelihood, it will. As one manager of a series regular told me today, "I fully expect the show, and Weiner, will return."
Editor's Note: This version corrects an earlier version reporting several major players did not have third-season contracts.
Blackberry Goes Bold; Mark-Linn Baker Sings
Blackberry is taking the IPhone into a head-on death match this week with its new Bold device. Over the weekend I ran into matchbox twenty manager Michael Lippman and son Nick, each of whom somehow already had one. Last night, at the launch party in Manhattan, actress Julianne Moore and director husband Bart Freundlich came in to check out the goods, as did billionaire raconteur Ron Burkle. Did you know that Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary was one of the first people to score a Blackberry Pearl when it came out a couple of years ago? Undoubtedly he and Madonna already have the new Bold. Me, I’m sticking with the Curve until my carrier gets the Bold. So far AT&T has the first string. …
… Remember Mark Linn-Baker? He was the star of one of my favorite movies, “My Favorite Year.” Then he was Belki’s straight man on the awful comedy “Perfect Strangers.” But his heart is on Broadway. Last night he opened at City Center in “Romantic Poetry,” a tuneful, funny ensemble musical written by John Patrick Shanley (“Moonstruck”) with songs by “Dreamgirls” composer Henry Krieger. Kim Cattrall, her boyfriend Alan Wyse sat behind me, and brought comedian Mario Cantone. During the intermission, I jokingly asked Mario to say something funny.
“No!” he declared. “Alright, for $25 thousand dollars!” …
By the way, this cast is good, watch for Krieger to suggest knock out players Jerry Dixon and Patina Renea Miller to join “Dreamgirls” when it’s revived on Broadway. …
… Is it possible that Labelle’s first album since 1976, the really great “Back to Now,” sold only 10,000 copies last week in its debut? This is shameful. But perhaps a little elbow grease—or some kind of grease—would have helped. This reunion recording has had minimal marketing or fanfare from Verve Records. Where is the verve, anyway? Group member Nona Hendryx penned many of these tremendous new R&B classics. If you’re young and want to hear real soul, forget Rihanna. Download or buy “Back to Now.”