Taylor Swift calls 12-year-old fan battling cancer to talk music, tour

CHICAGO — The family of a 12-year-old Chicago girl with cancer says Taylor Swift called her to talk about music, touring and her disease. Ed Beazley said Swift chatted with his daughter, Emily, for about 10 minutes Wednesday night. Emily has non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Friends and family have been appealing to Swift through social media to call Emily, including a video with about 200 children singing and dancing to Swift songs. Emily’s mother, Nadia Beazley, says her daughter had “the biggest smile” and “jumped up and down” after the Grammy Award winner’s call. She says Swift’s manager offered the family tickets and the opportunity to meet the singer at her Detroit concert May 30. The AP sent an email to Swift’s publicists seeking comment early Thursday. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

Tool pranks fans with April Fools’ Day ‘music leak’

Progressive metal band Tool gave the proverbial stinkfist to long-suffering fans in the form of an April Fools' Day prank. It's been nine years and counting since the quartet have released a new album, delayed in part by an insurance lawsuit, and fans who didn't notice the calendar may have fallen for a Facebook posting purporting the leak of a new track. "This music leak is unsettling on many levels," the band wrote on its Facebook page early Wednesday. "First off, it truly sucks to have your unfinished music available on the interweb without your consent. "And second, to have it immediately picked up by someone and released as their own work is infuriating. We don't encourage anyone to listen to this leaked clip because it's far from finished and it will spoil what's to come." The two YouTube links could have seemed like the Holy Grail for a Tool fan — at least until an unsuspecting listener clicked on them. Spoiler alert: both links bring up the up-tempo 2009 Spanish hit, "El Sonidito," from Mexico's Hechizeros Band. The band did leave a tip-off that it was just a big goof, ending it's post with the hashtag, "#marchthirtysecond." Fans may not be in a laughing mood, though, since there's still no sign of the long-gestating follow-up to 2006's "10,000 Days." Drummer Danny Carey told Rolling Stone last July that the band is spending millions to fight its legal case against the insurance company, a legal mess that has been fraught with postponements that have tied up the band's schedule. The whole situation could provide material for a really angry song: the lawsuit stems out of previous litigation filed by a former friend of the band over disputed credit on artwork. "I'm hoping that we have something really solid recorded by the end of the year," Carey told the magazine at the time. "But we'll see how it goes. I thought that last year, too." ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

Julie Andrews to pen second memoir, will tell backstory of ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘The Sound of Music’

Julie Andrews’ next memoir will tell the backstory of “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music” and other beloved works during her years as one of the world’s most popular entertainers. Hachette Books announced Monday that the Oscar-winning actress is working on a follow-up to the 2008 release “Home,” which covers her childhood and early years in show business. The next book, currently untitled, begins in the 1960s and takes readers through her next three decades, including her many hit films and her marriage to director Blake Edwards. The new book is scheduled for September 2017. Andrews recently helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of “The Sound of Music,” one of the most popular movies of all time. Continue Reading

Taylor Swift, Sam Smith dominate nominations for Billboard Music Awards

Taylor Swift’s mega-selling “1989” album has earned her a nomination for top artist at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. Swift’s competition includes Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, One Direction and Katy Perry. Ludacris and Pete Wentz announced some of the nominees Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Swift’s “1989” is a finalist for top Billboard 200 album, where it will battle efforts from Smith, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5 and Pentatonix. Swift is also up for top female artist and top hot 100 song for the hit “Shake It Off.” Smith also earned multiple nominations, including top male artist and top hot 100 song for “Stay With Me.” More finalists will be announced later Tuesday. The show will air live on ABC on May 17 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Ludacris and Chrissy Teigen will host the awards show. Continue Reading

‘Singin’ In the Rain’ filled with laughs, good music in 1952

(Originally published by the Daily News on March 28, 1952. This story was written by Wanda Hale.) Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” together with the Radio Music Hall’s widely famed annual pageant, “Glory of Easter,” is tops in town holiday entertainment for the family trade. “Singin’ in the Rain” is another mighty fine MGM Technicolor musical comedy produced by Arthur Freed whose “An American in Paris” copped seven Academy awards last week, including Best Picture of 1951. Gene Kelly also got an Oscar, special award for achievement in the art of choreography. In this picture, the screen’s greatest dancer contributes some of his art of choreography for the special pleasure of movie audiences. Mr. Freed knows what audiences want and he gives it to them. As usual, in “Singin’ in the Rain” he gives us entertainment, something to look at, a lot to laugh at and good music to listen to, something to lose ourselves in. And something for us old timers to reminisce over in the songs and type of entertainment that looks as though it came out of MGM’s first big talking musical, “Broadway Melody.” The new musical is set in those hectic Hollywood days of the transition from silent to talking films. And the story deals with the frantic scurrying around by a big producer to add sound to a completed but unreleased silent film co-starring the fans’ favorite screen sweethearts, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont. Lockwood’s voice is right for sound. The big headache is brought on by Lamont’s high pitched, baby talk voice and a great deal of the film’s humor comes from the way the studio hurdles this obstacle. Assisting the star are Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Douglas Fowley and Cyd Charisse, each contributing his or her full share in entertainment or plain acting to make Continue Reading

‘Finding Neverland’ review: Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer, Laura Michelle Kelly in Peter Pan musical on Broadway

Matthew Morrison doesn’t push. His ever-genuine and impressively easygoing star turn as writer J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland” is what makes his return to Broadway after six seasons of “Glee” cast such an irresistible spell. Less can be more, and he knows it. If only producer Harvey Weinstein and director Diane Paulus had learned that lesson. To be sure, James Graham, who adapted the story, and Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, who wrote the colorful and melodious score, have come up with much to like in this fictionalized account of the creation of Peter Pan. But Paulus’ staging can — and does — go overboard. A scene about writer’s block assumes the epic scale of “Les Miz.” The show also strains to be adorable, like it’s trying to be a male “Matilda.” One song — set under a table and choreographed by “So You Think You Can Dance” Emmy winner Mia Michaels — echoes the still-running musical about terrorized schoolgirls. Other numbers come out of left field, like when a boy strums a ukulele. It seems less about striking the right chord than about hitting a demographic. The story is familiar: In 1900s London, Barrie (Morrison) struggles to pen a hit to support himself and his social-climbing wife, Mary (Teal Wicks), as impresario Charles Frohman (Kelsey Grammer) keeps the pressure on. Grammer basically plays a windy version of himself, and camps it up in his dual role as Captain Hook. Barrie’s inspiration comes from frolics in the park with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Laura Michelle Kelly), a widow with a bad cough (cue the foreshadow) and her four boys — the youngest who’s named, of course, Peter. Talk of pirates, the hook of Frohman’s cane, the fairy-like flicker of a utensil on a wall all find their way into Barrie’s play. As a tale of the creative process, it’s a bit too literal. “Finding Continue Reading

Top 5 ‘Mad Men’ music moments: Don Draper’s journey from ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’ to ‘My Way’

“Mad Men” has been the story of Don Draper – and an integral part of telling his story has been through music. Some of the most important moments in Don’s life have been scored to '60s-era pop songs, charting his personal journey on the show. With the series taking place over the course of a single decade, the songs also illustrate that "the times they are a-changin'." Here’s a look back at the iconic character’s most memorable musical moments, in chronological order. Don returns to an empty home as Bob Dylan sings “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (“The Wheel,” Season 1, Episode 13) Don is forced to confront that the perfect family life he described in his masterful pitch to Kodak does not fit reality, as he is stricken to come home and realize that Betty and the kids have already departed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Dylan’s portrait of a fractured relationship not only closes out the show’s first season on a melancholy note, but also foreshadows the eventual demise of Don and Betty’s marriage. Fun fact: Even though the season finale takes place in 1960, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” wasn’t released until 1963. Creator Matthew Weiner explained that the anachronism was on purpose due to the fact he wasn’t sure if the show would be renewed for a second season. “I didn’t know if the show would be picked up,” he told the New York Times in 2009. “I was saying: ‘Here’s this song. This is what’s coming.’” Megan serenades Don with “Zou Bisou Bisou” (“A Little Kiss,” Season 5, Episode 1) Megan’s birthday serenade is the moment Don realizes that life with the second Mrs. Draper will be very different from the Continue Reading

Suge Knight murder case: Surviving hit-and-run victim claims he can’t remember details, won’t ‘snitch’ on music mogul

The star witness in Suge Knight's murder case testified Monday he was "extremely mad" but not packing heat when he punched the music mogul during a deadly confrontation at a burger stand in January. Cle (Bone) Sloan was subpoenaed by prosecutors and quickly turned into a hostile witness, saying he wasn't a "snitch" and had almost no memory of the incident that ended with Knight running him and local businessman Terry Carter over with a Ford Raptor truck. Carter, 55, died from his injuries. Partway through his testimony, Sloan pleaded the fifth and only continued once prosecutors granted him immunity. With his limited immunity, the 51-year-old former gang member told Knight's lawyer Matthew Fletcher that Carter would still be alive if not for a missed traffic turn that landed Sloan near Knight at Tam's Burgers in Compton, Calif., on Jan. 29. Sloan claimed he wasn't searching for Knight but was "very upset" because the co-founder of Death Row Records visited the set of the NWA biopic "Straight Outta Compton" earlier that day and dissed him. "To me that's the tragic thing about this whole thing. If I didn't miss that right turn, I don't think we'd be sitting here," he testified under oath at Knight's preliminary hearing. "So if it wasn't for your presence at Tam's, Mr. Carter would be here today?" Fletcher asked. "Correct," Sloan said. In a recorded police interview played in court, Sloan told cops that he asked Knight to leave the "Straight Outta Compton" set about three miles from Tam's because Knight "got the white folks scared." "We got into a shouting match," Sloan said on the recording, referring to the dispute set dispute with Knight. "I'm going to beat your ass," Knight allegedly threatened before a local police presence broke them up, according to Sloan. Sloan told police he demanded Knight leave because Dr. Dre's security team refused to move the Beats by Dre billionaire with Knight nearby. He said the two had bad Continue Reading

Kanye West tweets support for Tidal after removing all Twitter references to Jay Z’s music service

The Tidal has turned. Kanye West is once again promoting his pal Jay Z’s new music service Tidal, after making headlines for scrubbing his Twitter account of all references to it. “The love of music is louder than words,” he tweeted Wednesday night. It was a change of tune for Yeezus, considering that he initially deleted all references to Tidal, including removing the service’s logo as his Twitter avatar. West was one of the many music superstars, along with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Madonna and Nicki Minaj, who attended Tidal’s star-studded launch last month, which is why it didn’t go unnoticed when he removed his original tweets promoting the service. It was unclear why the rapper deleted the messages, but the removal did coincide with news of Tidal's middling launch; it dropped out of iTunes’s Top 700 most-downloaded apps chart this week. Perhaps West’s change of heart has to do with reports that Jay Z and Beyoncé plan to release a joint album exclusively on Tidal, a move that could bolster the flailing company. Continue Reading

Summerstage Festival lineup announced: New York City’s biggest music series opens with Tedeschi-Trucks Band

For its 30th anniversary, New York’s annual Summerstage series will bring more free live music to the city than ever. This season - which kicks off with a no-cost show by the jammy Tedeschi-Trucks Band in Central Park on May 18th - will present over 140 performances of music, dance, comedy and film. The shows will unfold in 14 parks spanning all five boroughs. This year’s schedule represents a 15% growth in shows from last year. Most shows are free, but ten of the performances will charge a fee to benefit the parks. All these will take place in Central Park. Top paid shows include violinist Lindsey Stirling (June 17th), neo-Brit-pop band The Kooks (June 24th), retro Laurel Canyon group The Dawes (July 27th) and breakthrough current alterna-pop band Walk The Moon, on September 24th. The series will also boast hot acts for free like The Felice Brothers, Meshell Ndegeocello (as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival), a 35th anniversary showcase for the city’s top reggea label V.P. Records, the Latin Alternative Music showcase, a tribute show to the music of Carole King, key parts of Brasil Summerfest, and, last - but not least - a show by the great R&B/soul/jazz vocal band Lake Street Dive (Sept. 2). For a complete list of shows, go to SummerStage.org Continue Reading