Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bewitching Waldorf-Astoria

There's no grander destination in New York than the Waldorf-Astoria. Monday evening, Feb. 23, I went with my editor Paul Heine and R&R's Washington Bureau Chief Jeffrey Yorke to a black-tie ceremony for the Broadcasters Foundation Golden Mike Awards, where Martina McBride and Melba Moore performed.Um, I'm not really nibbling Miss Moore's ear here; I'm actually telling her how stunning she looks.Moore's stunning performance...Martina McBride takes the stage.My editor Paul Heine on the right. At left is Philly broadcaster Jerry Lee.

The Way Jeans Are Supposed To FIt

Part III... Country singer Steve Azar, whose new single is "You're My Life." Thank you, sir!

Lunacy @ Lunasa, February 27, 2009

Mercy me, it was one hell of a wild and wondrous evening.Michael, looking rather handsome, and gorgeous Elaine.Gang, part II!The ever fabu Ellyn Harris, a longtime ally and friend, with K'tina.My fabulous co-worker Allie-icious, another casualty of the workforce this week.My beloved work wife Kristina.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lionel Richie: 30 Years In

Thirty Years In, Lionel Richie Maintains Chart Dominance

By Chuck Taylor
“Hello” may be among Lionel Richie’s signature No. 1 songs, but truth be told, for more than 30 years, the singer/songwriter has not so much as paused for a “bye for now” over the airwaves. The five-time Grammy recipient and Oscar winner has been a chart fixture at pop, R&B, AC and dance—beginning in 1974 as a founding member of the Commodores, then as a solo act and producer from 1981 on—with a consistency seldom seem in the music business.

A quick count: six R&B chart-toppers with the group, then five No. 1 Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs—and at adult contemporary, 11 No. 1s that have scored a staggering total of 51 weeks riding the chart’s crest, including “Endless Love” (with Diana Ross), “Truly,” “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Say You, Say Me.”

Now, the title track and first single from Richie’s upcoming “Just Go,” due May 19 on Island, has catapulted into the top 20 at AC in only three weeks, a rare feat at a radio format known for dragging its feet when it comes to chart momentum. The song is also churning at adult R&B, at No. 31 this issue.

“What freaking year is this?” Richie asks, laughing. “This opens up a wonderful feeling of ‘I remember this.’ Times like these make it all the more exciting. In a way, this feels better now than it did with ‘Brickhouse,’” the Commodores’ top 5 1977 hit.

Collaborating with the artist on the new album are contemporary hitmakers The-Dream, Tricky Stewart and on the playful reggae-splashed single, Akon. The latter pair were aligned by executive producer L.A. Reid. “You never know how these things are going to go, but we could have recorded a whole side of the album,” Richie says. “I am used to being the control guy—the writer, producer, arranger and singer. But Akon understands melody, he’s a storyteller. We wrote this song in two-and-a-half hours. It was a lovefest. I told him, you are Lionel Richie 2009.”

Meanwhile, Steve Bartels, president/COO of Island Def Jam Music Group, maintains faith in Richie’s timelessness. “He’s an incredible entertainer who stays close to his fans by touring the world with a body of contemporary hits. He’s a world-class promoter in his own right with a voice that is instantly recognizable. He obviously has upper-demo reach, but his appeal is diverse, across many formats.”

Richie’s own recipe for longevity? “If you’ve got a good tune, you’ve got a couple of years to work it. If you’ve got a song, you can have a career. Songs stick,” he says. “Somewhere along the line, parents played my records over and over again for their children. Now their kids are showing up. It’s college time all over again, which is amazing.”

In addition, long-term success requires adapting to an ever-evolving industry. “There’s a difference between the music business and the business of music. You can go to bed tonight with a No. 1 record and wake up tomorrow ice cold. Survival is about taking time to make record labels and radio understand who you are—your brand. This is a business of relationships and it’s still my responsibility to go meet the DJs. A lot of artists forget that.”

Richie will extend his hand to audiences with a 100-date European tour launching in March in Dublin and wrapping in May in Belgium. Stops in the United States and Australia follow throughout 2009.

“I’m kind of laughing at getting to go through this whole process again,” Richie says. “It’s been an unbelievable journey. In my head, I’m just getting started. Call me in 20 years and we’ll talk about the next chapter.”

And you better believe this made my day:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Smell This

Celine Dion adds yet another scent to her successful Coty campaign. Yeah, baby!

Isn't It Ironic?

Computers from the 1980s and cars from the millennium are closing in on being about the same size...

Chuckle's Nightmare

So this morning I was jolted awake by a horrible dream! My mother was Joan Crawford! It was ghastly!And then, thankfully, I opened my eyes and she was gone. And the gin was still there!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Snap! Thanks for your time, gentlemen.

Happy Birthday: Billy Zane

"Titanic's" toupee-wearing Billy Zane is 43 today. Damn, he's younger than I. Hot bastard.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And The Oscar Goes To...

And away we go!!!! Welcome to the first annual (almost) LIVE Smoking Nun Oscar's blog!!

Hugh Jackman's opening number shows what a consummate entertainer this guy is. First, he's got the best hair in the room. Second, he sings, he dances (so well), he's smiling, he's funny as hell. My girl Anne Hathaway is hilarious... and she can sing, too! Genius!

Stunning, elegant presentation of Best Supporting Actress by previous winners... Though the only movie I've seen in this category is "Benjamin Button." The only woman I can honestly say is utterly undeserving is... Penelope Cruz. And she wins! I just love when she says, "Art is our universal language." That's ironic, considering that, after 20 years in America, this woman still speaks as if she's emptying trashcans for an Upper East Side housewife. How in god's name is it possible for her to be "an actress," and yet have no command of the English language?

Hurrah, it's Tina Fey, with Steve Martin! Original Screenplay... The only film I've seen here is "Milk," and I am so, so passionate about it. If "Wall-e" wins, I'm going to soil my britches, and stew in my own funk all night... "Milk" wins!! God, Dustin Lance Black is saying gorgeous things for the gay community. "It gave me hope that I could live my life openly as who I am and that one day I could even fall in love and get married." (applause). "To all of the gay and lesbian kids out there who have been told that they are less than—by their churches or by their government or their families—you are beautiful, wonderful creatures that are valued, and no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours." From your mouth to Obama's ears.

Adapted Screenplay. "Slumdog Millionare." Let the barrage begin. I haven't seen it, so I shouldn't judge, but knowing that this film is going to win everything it's nominated for for the rest of the night bores me. Let's see, I believe out of 20 nominations, it ended up getting 19 nods, including Best Politically Correct Foreign Film That No One Had Ever Heard Of That Came Out Of Nowhere And Suddenly Started Winning Awards And Suddenly Went Into Widescreen Release And People Starting Buzzing ABout So That The Academy Better Whip Itself Into Shape And Be Cooler Than The Golden Globes.

Animation. They're still giving Oscars for cartoons? I want "The Flinstones"! Are they nominated? "Wall-e" wins. I should have made better use of this time by trimming my goatee.

Short animated film. Okay, now I am going to shave. "Lavatory Love Story"? Wait, there's a cartoon about Sen. Larry Craig? "Sank you very much, sank you, sank you, sank you." Obviously Penelope Cruz wrote this guy's speech.

Art direction. Might they present an award that anyone could give a rat's ass about at some point while I'm still sober? "Benjamin Button." Okay, saw this movie and adore it. I have no idea what this trophy is for.

Costume Design. Oh come on "Australia" has got to win this one... Nope, some damn period piece "The Duchess" won. Hurrah, big wigs and hoop skirts. Wow, never seen that before.

Sarah Jessica Parker looks fab-u... but Daniel Craig is more beautiful. Make-up. "Benjamin Button" is computer generated, right? This gots to go "The Dark Knight." Well, once again, what do I know. "Ben Button" wins. Is America bored, or just me?

Hey, it's Amanda Seyfried from "Mamma Mia!" She looks adorable. God bless the Oscars. In their montage for "romance in 2008," they showed a same-sex kiss between Sean Penn and James Franco. Frankly, I am stunned. It wasn't just a motion toward one another, but a full-on lip-lock. God bless America.

Cinematography. Poor Natalie Portman, dealing with Ben Stiller, doing an impression of Joaquin Phoenix. As usual, he's just not funny. At all. Winner is "Slumslop." Also not amusing. Why don't they just go ahead and line up everything this film is nominated for and dump them all at once? Cause this is as suspenseful as baked beans and gas.

Jessica Biel. Can someone remind me why she is famous? What's she been in? Wasn't she in Rosanne"? Baffled. Oh, she's doing some tech awards. That answers my question: She's nobody.

This stoner skit with James Franco and Seth Rogen is the highlight of the evening so far... hil-lar-ri-ous. Best Short Film. Boy, the fun was short-lived. Boy, it's cold outside, but I'm opening the window and blowing smoke. That'll keep me awake, anyway. God, at least the Grammys were bad enough to be a big snark. This is just three hours of white bread.

Announcement: World's Entire Talent Pool Has Dried Up: Hugh Jackman is performing with Beyonce... Where the hell is Jennifer Hudson? God, how humiliating that the Oscars couldn't find a real singer... Uh, oh, Oh Knowles is singing "You're the One That I Want," raping "Grease" of all dignity... Now she's singing "Lady Marmalade." She sounds pretty good here. Thank god for pre-recorded vocals. This number overall is really cool... Zac Efron and his little trollop Vanessa Hudgens join in... nice... ohhhhh.... and Amanda Seyfried and Domnique Cooper from "Mamma Mia!" Wheeee!! God, he's tasty... Whoo-hoo!! "The musical is back," Hugh says, after announcing that "Mamma Mia!" surpassed "Titanic" as the best-selling film of all time. I love it, cool cats!

Lord, a real award. Best Supporting Actor. Of course I want Josh Brolin from "Milk," but dead men can't lose, so we know Heath Ledger is taking this one... Sure enough... Thank god his dad is not acting surprised. That would have courted the absurd. Mom doing okay: "Celebrate and be happy for what he has achieved." Well done. And I'm pleased that there was not a standing ovation for a man who essentially killed himself.

Best Documentary: So exciting. I know these folks worked hard. So did I cutting my nails last week. Hmm, which matters more to me? My big toe, that's who. Best Documentary Short Subject: Wow, it's been 20 minutes since my last cigarette. At least I'm blowing smoke out the window instead of up my ass, like this category.

Visual Effects: C'mon Academy, get another one right. "Benjamin Button," yes?! Yes!! Bravo! Sound Editing: "The Dark Knight." And now, an amazing sweep! It's Sound Mixing and Film Editing: "Slumdrunk Millionaire." Best Use Of Teeth In A Smile: "Slumdunk"!! Best Coffee On the Set: "Slumdank"!!!!!! Best Use of the Word 'The' In a Film: "Slumrank"!!!!!!!! Best Manicured Nails: "Slumtrap"!!!!!!!!!!!!! Best Hint of A Moustache On A Woman: "Slumcat"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a thrilling night!

Poor Jerry Lewis... His lifetime achievement award was bittersweet. Probably a decade too late, considering his fragile condition. But lovely.

Original Score: Jesus Christ, is there no humility for this fucking film? "Slumslop" wins again. Best Song: Oh, how I long for the days of "For Your Eyes Only" and "Flashdance." Good god, "Slumcrap" has TWO nominations??? This is past the point of absurdity. Not only that, but this horror is making M.I.A. from the Grammys actually sound melodic. Oscar goes to... "Slumdawgie." Oh, I am so over this... god, how much more of this can anyone take?

Queen Latifah is singing "I'll Be Seeing You" as we pay tribute to the dearly departed. She just grows more lovable and inspiring every years. What a class talent. I hope Beyonce is backstage recognizing that she might as well take her gimmickry and find a giant hook: and hang it up. The hits may be cascading now, but there comes a day for every performer whose primary calling card is image where the public eventually grows bored. Milk those make-up and American Express ads as long as you can, girl. Okay, that's my rant for the night. Nothing else to talk about.

Director: "Slumdog." I typed that before I even heard the noms.

Best Actress: Kate Winslet is crying already and she hasn't even won yet! I certainly hope she nabs this one, but it's gonna be messy, eh?... (Oh my god, Sofia Loren is DRUNK!! This is the most fabulous moment of the entire night!!!! Wheee, I'm finding my second wind!) Angelina Jolie... a freak, yes—with her 17 children when she could spend a little more time doting on the best-looking actor of our time—but I must say, despite the occasional tabloid outburst, she is the closest thing we have to Hollywood royalty in our time. Wipe the hair and make-off from Nicole Kidman and she looks like Staples lowest-grade copy paper... I can't think of another who carries on the legacy today of, say, an Elizabeth Taylor. Seeing her on the red carpet and seated with her man, she is one regal presence.

And the Oscar goes to... Kate Winslet. Oh I'm very happy... "Titanic" is one of the my top 5 movies of all time, and she is dear and talented... she thanked her husband Sam Mendes... check! She's doing fine... "And I want to acknowledge my fellow nominees, these goddesses. I think we all can't believe we're in a category with Meryl Streep." Wonderfully done. Passionate, filled with appreciation and seeming spontaneity... and no tears. Absolutely first class.

Best Actor: Okay, here's the only reason I'm still watching. I so want Sean Penn for "Milk." I have followed the story of Harvey Milk for more than 20 years and never expected it to deliver as a mainstream film... thank god for the commitment of Sean Penn and fine director Gus Van Sant... Wow, Michael Douglas... dude, what impeccable plastic surgery. You look good!... Robert Dinero: "How did he do it? How for so many years did Sean Penn get all those jobs playing straight men?" Isn't it extraordinary that we can make gay jokes like that in 2009? Ah, and Brad Pitt for "Button." I've always felt rather ambiguous about the man, but he was truly brilliant in the role... Oh my word, Mickey Rourke... just say no, though lovely words from Ben Kingsley: "Only a fiercely honest actor could be so effective as a guy who hasn't had it easy but has clearly learned the value of a chance at redemption. We're better off. Welcome back. The returning champ: Mickey Rourke." Nice.

Okay, breathing, breathing... And the Oscar goes to... Sean Penn. I can't type just now. I must watch. God, I feel this personally. Here we go, and this is what I was hoping for: a respected straight actor to take a stance for gay equality: "For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the same in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue in that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone." (applause)

Picture: At this point, I don't give a flying who-hoo-zoo that "Slumfuck" is going to ultimately go down in history as the film of the year. For me, it will be "Milk" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." I look forward to watching Kate Winslet in her several roles from 2008, and seeing "Frost/Nixon." I'll get to "Slumfunk" when it arrives on HBO so that I don't contribute a dime to its overblown fortune. I'm sure it's powerful, but one movie winning 5000000000000000000 awards in one night... c'mon, spread the damn wealth.

And before we say night, night, let's close with a hearty giggle... Miley Cyrus decorated in Spanish moss that no doubt floated down as she was leaving her trailer park for the Oscars. Hee, thanks for the chuckle-o, girl.ADDENDUM: From Gawker this morning. Love it: "Maybe the [Oscars] just seems gayer these days because Hollywood has actually been pretty gay all along, it's just only recently that folks can be out loud n' proud about it... Hollywood is maybe, finally, thawing from the long, cold anti-gay nuclear winter that it self-defeatingly put itself in years ago..."