Aretha Franklin, Condoleezza Rice to Perform at Charity Event

Tuesday, 06 Jul 2010 03:20 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Aretha Franklin, Condoleezza Rice to Perform at Charity Event
2. Larry King Replacement Has Hollywood Abuzz
3. Hollywood Screenwriters Squeezed by the Obama Economy
4. Did Lindsay Lohan Get Punched Over Boy Trouble?
5. Why Elena Kagan Makes Hollywood Nervous
 

1. Aretha Franklin, Condoleezza Rice to Perform at Charity Event

Two talented women are set to perform together at a charity concert: One is the Queen of Soul, the other, a rock star of diplomacy.

On July 27, at Philadelphia's Mann Center for the Performing Arts, attendees will be treated to legendary rhythm and blues artist Aretha Franklin singing her iconic tunes, which include the all-time greats “Respect” and “Natural Woman.”

She will be accompanied on piano by none other than former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice is a classically trained pianist.

Franklin is scheduled to sing a selection of classical arias. Condoleezza will accompany her on those as well as some songs from Aretha’s new album, “A Woman Falling Out of Love.” Rice will perform some select Mozart pieces, too.

The bill will include the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Rossen Milanov.

According to the Mann Center’s website, the event is billed as “an evening of classics and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” The show will benefit programs supporting urban youth and education initiatives.

Franklin, who performed at President Obama’s inauguration, is quoted in a released statement, saying, “Since I sing the arias, I thought that we could do something, a bipartisan effort for our favorite charities.”


2. Larry King Replacement Has Hollywood Abuzz

CNN talk-show host Larry King recently announced his plans to pass his suspenders on to a new host. Speculation immediately began over whose trousers or skirt they’d end up on.

King claims he has no say in the decision, but he has indicated a preference for his replacement. During an interview with CBS News, he said, “If it was up to me I’d have Ryan Seacrest do it.”

Some names of other individuals who are supposedly being considered to take King’s place are positively unappealing.

“View” co-host and HLN rabid-left personality Joy Behar’s name has surfaced. She occasionally sits in for Larry and essentially turns the show into a bad Rosie O’Donnell video blog.

Katie Couric’s name has been bandied about, too. The fear is that Her Perkiness will bring to CNN what she has brought to “The CBS Evening News” — low ratings.

Other King hopefuls include shock jock Howard Stern, HBO “Real Time” ranter Bill Maher, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan.

CNN sources have indicated negotiations with Morgan are already in progress.

Former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell said that he has given Morgan an assist in nabbing King’s crown. Cowell told Extra that Morgan was “under contract to us on ‘America's Got Talent,’ so he called me, and we helped sort of broker the deal.”

Cowell let it out of the bag that he “knew about this weeks ago.”

Adding to the mystery, CNN President Jon Klein told Broadcasting and Cable that the cable network’s execs “never have negotiated” with Piers Morgan.


3. Hollywood Screenwriters Squeezed by the Obama Economy

The entertainment business is feeling the effects of the Democratic Party’s policies.

Revenue declines have led to lower offers for A-list stars and changes in the deferred compensation for actors and directors.

These days celebrities have to let studios recoup costs before the stars get their take.

Studios are also cutting down on the number of movies that they release annually, and consequently they’re buying a smaller number of scripts. Some of the independent companies that would fill the void for writers when studios cut back have closed up shop.

It’s no surprise that the Writers Guild of America, West (WGA, West) recently reported that there are fewer jobs for screenwriters these days.

The level of employed writers has fallen 11 percent in the last three years, dipping to the lowest level in six years.

The Obama replay of the economic malaise of Jimmy Carter has also resulted in a change in the way screenwriters are employed by studios and production companies. Much like actors are accustomed to doing, screenwriters must now pitch their work in “cattle calls” in which scores of writers vie for a job and producers pick the lucky winners.

Screenwriters now have to contend with offers that don’t include compensation for rewrites, i.e., so-called “one-step” agreements.

Instead of chatting up ideas over lunch or writing a one-line summary on a napkin, today’s scribes in their quest to secure a gig are required to turn in extensive treatments with significant amounts of detail.

The union, WGA, West, alleges that studios are exploiting the economic conditions to gain an unfair advantage over writers.

One studio, Warner Bros., has stopped forcing writers to enter into “one-step” transactions.

Are we seeing the emergence of a new studio system?


4. Did Lindsay Lohan Get Punched Over Boy Trouble?

A cocktail waitress reportedly punched Lindsay Lohan in the face at Lindsay’s recent 24th birthday bash at a West Hollywood club called Voyeur.

The waitress allegedly put her fist in Lindsay’s face after she saw Lindsay talking with her ex-boyfriend, rugby player Danny Cipriani.

Word of the incident surfaced via the Internet when the actress tweeted, “A waitress just hit me — punched me for no reason.”

Waitress Jasmine Waltz denied striking Lohan. “All I have to say is that disturbed little train wreck is delusional," Waltz told Access Hollywood. “I didn't hit her,” Waltz added. “But I'd like to.”

Voyeur, incidentally, is the same Hollywood hotspot that made headlines when a Republican National Committee member was fired for hosting a gathering there and sticking the RNC with a $2,000 booze tab for a supposed sexually themed party.

The purported walloping waitress may lose her job over the incident. If she does, she might try her fist at “Jersey Shore.”


5. Why Elena Kagan Makes Hollywood Nervous

The embarrassing excuse for a hearing that our representatives recently held for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is now over.

It appears as though it’s a lock for the non-judge to get her own seat on the highest court in the land.

Interestingly, though, Hollywood is a bit apprehensive over the Supreme Court wannabe.

Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee never got around to covering some of the key legal issues that weigh heavy on the minds of Hollywood executives and artists. Too busy sidestepping and yukking it up, I guess.

Hollywood’s nervousness comes from Kagan’s thin-yet-revealing record on a subject near and dear to entertainment industry hearts: copyright law.

In the late 1980s, Kagan was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She wrote a memo urging the Supreme Court to accept the appeal of a lower court case decision.

The case was one in which author J.D. Salinger had successfully stopped the publication of an unauthorized biography that had quoted at length from his letters. A lower court, the 2nd Circuit, had summarily rejected the fair use defense that the publisher of the unauthorized Salinger biography had asserted.

As owners of intellectual property, members of the Hollywood community loved the lower court’s decision. But Kagan slammed the ruling while trying to persuade the High Court to give the appeal a hearing.

Kagan also had a previous gig as dean at Harvard Law School. While she was there she made a speech in which she expressed her admiration for the school’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

But the Berkman Center happens to be quite hostile to Hollywood, and the feeling is mutual. It typifies the academic view that seeks to limit copyright protection.

The Center was founded by Harvard law professor Charles Nesson. Nesson defended Internet pirate Joel Tenenbaum in an infringement suit, which was filed by multiple entertainment companies. The professor was unsuccessful in the case.

Another instance in which Kagan heightened Hollywood tension happened in 2009. In her current capacity as solicitor general, she filed a brief asking the Supreme Court not to hear a case in which major Hollywood studios were pitted against Cablevision. The case was about the cable company’s proposed use of what has been termed “remote-storage DVR.”

Kagan asked the Supreme Court to let stand a lower court ruling, which severely limited the rights of owners of creative intellectual property to demand permission to use their property.

With Hollywood in the fight of its life over Internet piracy, Kagan’s positions aren’t providing much in the way of Tinseltown comfort.

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