April 30, 2011

The Designer Behind Princess Catherine's Dress

According to the Washington Post, "Sarah Burton, creative director of the fashion house Alexander McQueen, and creator of Catherine Middleton’s floor-length ivory wedding dress, was so low-profile that the public knew little about her before the wedding Friday. The 36-year-old designer from Manchester was chosen in part because her lack of visibility would help keep the dress a secret. Burton became McQueen’s right hand woman after joining his label as intern in 1996, and presented her first womenswear collection without McQueen at Paris Fashion Week shortly after his suicide last year. Many noticed then that Burton used her mentor’s style but also had added a new element of femininity. Middleton reportedly noticed Burton’s work when she spotted Sarah Buys, a fashion journalist, wearing an off-the-shoulder wedding dress at Buys’ wedding to the son of the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005. Despite being recognized as a new British style icon, Middleton has also been criticized for being too conservative and “high street.” Burton, who is known for her alternative take on elegance, was a choice that would challenge that notion. Burton is known best for designing a billowing red and black dress worn by Michelle Obama to a state dinner last year. She has also worked with Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow. Burton just released this statement about the dress: Sarah Burton (David Burton - AP) “The last few months have been very exciting and an incredible experience for my team and I as we have worked closely with Catherine to create this dress under conditions of the strictest secrecy. Understandably, Catherine has been very keen to keep the details of her dress a secret, which is every bride’s prerogative, and we gave an undertaking to keep our role confidential until the day of the wedding.” “It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress.... I am delighted that the dress represents the best of British craftsmanship.” “Alexander McQueen’s designs are all about bringing contrasts together to create startling and beautiful clothes and I hope that by marrying traditional fabrics and lacework, with a modern structure and design we have created a beautiful dress for Catherine on her wedding day...Catherine looked absolutely stunning today.”

Royal Wedding: Prince William and Catherine Middleton Exchange Vows

The highly anticipated royal wedding between Prince William and his longtime love Kate Middleton took place Friday morning at Westminster Abbey in London. The couple, who dated for 8 years before becoming engaged in November 2010, exchanged traditional vows in front of about 1,900 guests. The ceremony lasted one hour and featured a prayer written by the couple.

“God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer,” the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said.

Kate, who will now be known as Catherine, wore a Sara Burton for Alexander McQueen gown, a 1936 Cartier tiara belonging to Queen Elizabeth and Robinson Pelham diamond earrings given to her by her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. William wore the uniform of the Colonel of the Irish Guards.

After a carriage ride to Buckingham Palace, Prince William and Catherine stepped out on the front balcony for a kiss at 1:25 p.m. The balcony is where Prince Charles and Princess Diana kissed following their wedding in 1981.

A wedding lunch hosted by Queen Elizabeth was planned for 600 guests. Later in the evening, dinner and dancing will be held at the palace for about 300 guests.

Osbourne's Facing More Tax Troubles

Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon are allegedly facing another bill from the U.S. tax office just weeks after reports suggested they had racked up a massive $1.7 million (Ă‚£1.06 million) debt.
In early April (11), the rocker's wife spoke out about reports a multi-million dollar tax lien had been filed against the couple in California, insisting the bill had been paid and vowing to take better care of their finances in future.
The couple is now facing another tax bill for more than $357,000, according to TMZ.com.
The website reports a lien was filed against Sharon in Los Angeles this week (ends May 1), alleging the TV personality owes federal income taxes from 2007.

Royal Couple Delays Honeymoon

Prince William and his bride Catherine, Duchess of Canbridge have chosen to delay their honeymoon and spend their first weekend as man and wife in their native U.K.
The couple married in London on Friday (April 29) in a lavish ceremony which was watched by an estimated two billion people across the globe.
They had been expected to jet off to an exotic location to celebrate their marriage with a relaxing vacation, but they have now confirmed the holiday will be postponed as William is due to return to his job as a search and rescue helicopter pilot next week (beg May).
An official statement reads, "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen not to depart for a honeymoon immediately. Instead, after spending the weekend privately in the United Kingdom, The Duke will return to work as a search and rescue pilot next week.
"The locations of both their private weekend before The Duke returns to work and their future honeymoon, which will be overseas, will not be disclosed in advance.
"The couple have asked that their privacy be respected during the coming weekend and during their honeymoon." The couple left London by helicopter on Saturday morning (30Apr11) as they flew to an undisclosed location to enjoy their weekend away.
William and Kate Royal Wedding Tea Towel, 100% Made in Britain

April 29, 2011

Queen Announces William and Kate's New Titles

British monarch Queen Elizabeth II has announced the new titles which await Prince William and Kate Middleton once they are married - the couple will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The couple will exchange vows in a lavish wedding at London's Westminster Abbey on Friday (April 29) and the ceremony will mark Middleton's official induction to Britain's royal family.

Both William and his bride will be given titles from the Queen once they are wed, and just hours before the nuptials, Her Majesty confirmed her grandson will become the Duke of Cambridge, as well as holding the titles of Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.

Middleton will be known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

A statement from issued by the press secretary to the Queen, reads, "The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince William of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.

"Prince William thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge and Miss Catherine Middleton on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge."

The Royal Kiss: Prince William & Princess Catherine!

Royal newlyweds Prince William and Catherine Middleton  thrilled fans by kissing twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding on Friday (April 29).

The couple - who are now officially the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - appeared on the terrace alongside Queen Elizabeth II and relatives of the bride and groom 90 minutes after their nuptials at London's Westminster Abbey.

As hundreds of thousands of flag-waving well-wishers converged outside the palace gates and on The Mall below, the prince sparked a deafening cheer as he leaned in and kissed his blushing bride on the lips. Two minutes later, the couple kissed again.

The touching moment was reminiscent of his father Charles, Prince of Wales' famous kiss with Diana, Princess of Wales on the same balcony 30 years earlier following their wedding in 1981.

The Royal Wedding: Kate's Arrival

Catherine Middleton arrives at Westminster Abbey for her marriage to Prince William.

Prince William Arrives at The Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding Coverage: Elton John, Victoria Beckham, and David Beckham Arrive at Westminster

Elton John, the Beckhams and many more notable attendees at the royal wedding.

Queen Elizabeth Arrives

Kate's Wedding Dress By Sarah Burton: Palace

LONDON—Kate Middleton's ivory and lace wedding dress was designed by Sarah Burton, creative director at the fashion house Alexander McQueen, the palace announced Friday as she entered Westminster Abbey.

"Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work," officials said in a statement.

"Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress."

April 28, 2011

Josh Groban Gearing Up for May 12th Kick-Off of North American Leg of His 2011 "Straight To You" World Tour

This week, Josh Groban begins rehearsals for his first full-scale global arena tour in four years: The 2011 "Straight To You" World Tour. The North American leg kicks off May 12 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and visits cities across the U.S. and Canada before culminating in a celebratory show at New York City's legendary Madison Square Garden on November 14.

With a set designed by the award-winning British multi-media creative and digital agency Knifedge, which has pioneered the use of projection with live theater events, the tour will give fans the feeling of an intimate theater setting through stage design, lighting, and projection, as well as through the spontaneity and interactivity Groban delighted his fans with during last year's "Before We Begin" shows. Groban will not only perform an ever-changing set-list of favorites from his best-selling albums, including his self-titled 2001 debut, 2003's Closer, and 2006's Awake, as well as songs from his recent platinum album Illuminations, he will also take questions from the audience via text, which concert-goers will be able to send before and during each show.

"Gearing up for a tour, there is always the anticipation of something special; the excitement of traveling across the country and the world, of meeting and sharing with the fans, of exploring musical worlds in a way not possible in the studio," Groban says. "It is the most fun I have in my whole career and I want it to be the most fun my fans have as well. The Straight To You Tour will be all about this goal."

April 27, 2011

Steven Tyler Planning Success With Summer Song

Aerosmith star Steven Tyler, has confirmed reports he's going solo after recording what he thinks is the ultimate summer anthem.

The rocker is enjoying a popularity boost thanks to a stint as a judge on American Idol and he's making the most of his success by releasing (It) Feels So Good in May (11).

He says, "I can hear it coming out of people's cars this summer." It's Tyler's second solo effort in less than a year - in November he released Love Lives, the theme song for a Japanese film, titled Space Battleship Yamato.

His daughter Liv Tyler recently referenced her dad's new summer song, revealing he played it to her while driving around the Hollywood Hills.

She said, "We were driving through the Hills in his fancy sports car with the top down... He was blasting me his new single; it's amazing and beautiful." But Tyler is not planning to record an album of solo material - he's back in the studio with his Aerosmith bandmates recording a follow-up to 2004's Honkin' on Bobo.

The video accompanying Tyler's new song will debut on an upcoming Idol episode.
Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir

Cher Calls Donald Trump an "A**hole"

On Wednesday, Cher called Donald Trump a "pompous a**hole" on her Twitter account.

"Donald Trump is a pompous a**hole! Saw him in Aspen with one Dcup chick after another Everyone up there thought he was a complete idiot," wrote the 64-year-old multiple award-winning actress and singer.

She also tweeted another mean-spirited message about the Donald shortly after her first one. It read, "Donald Trump ( mr chapter11) is Only a Mean Spirited BAD ACTOR who couldn't find his a** with both hands & a map!"

Cher's verbal assault on Trump came not long after Trump publicly took credit for forcing the White House to release Obama's birth certificate, which they did on Wednesday. Cher is reportedly an Obama supporter.
The Very Best Of Cher

Elton John Says Royal Wedding "A Welcome Relief" from World's Troubles

Sir Elton John is one of the many celebrities who'll be attending the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this Friday, April 29th.  While some have dismissed the nuptials as just an over-the-top spectacle, Elton sees the benefit in making a big deal out of the young couple's big day.  On Good Morning America on Monday, April 25th, Elton told Barbara Walters, "Yeah, it is a fairytale thing, and people criticize it and say we're making too much of it.  But it's about love.  And in this day and age, anything that's about love and and positivity is a welcome relief from what's going on in the world."
The last time Elton was in Westminster Abbey, the legendary cathedral where Will and Kate will say their vows, it was for the funeral of William's mother, Princess Diana, who was a close friend of Elton's.  He told Walters, "The last time we were [there]...my heart sank when I saw those two young boys walking behind the coffin. I thought that was the hardest thing...and [now], it's a scene walking up the aisle with a beautiful woman and the love of his life...I'm sure Diana would be very, very happy about it."
Elton is concerned, however, about all the press attention that Kate will get now that she's a member of the royal family.  He warned, "The press are gonna give you a bumpy ride. They're gonna love you, they're gonna hate you," adding, "I just hope they love each other to stay away from all that."  In fact, Elton says that he's ashamed at the "negativity" that pervades so much of the British press.  Elton himself has sued several British papers over the years for the things they've printed about him, and won several times.  He said on Good Morning America, "I'm sorry we have [that nastiness], but we do, and we have to live with it because it's a great country.  But it's one thing about Britain that sucks."
By the way, Elton has only met Prince William twice.  He's being invited more for his long association with the royal family than for any personal connection to the prince.  And let's not forget, he is a knight.
Source:Wplj Radio

Sneak Peek at "Three Weeks, Three Kids" On Hallmark Channel May 7

“Three Weeks, Three Kids,” a Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere Saturday, May 7 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C), is part of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Mother’s Day” celebration.
Anna Chlumsky (right, “Veep,” “My Girl”) stars as Jennifer Mills who lives her life carefree, without commitments—unlike her older sister, Mandy (Chelah Horsdal, left, “Debbie Macomber’s Call Me Mrs. Miracle”), who married young and settled into family life.  But their mother, Kathryn (Susan Hogan, center, “Battlestar Galactica”), sees Jennifer’s wild ways as a fear of settling down and hatches a secret plan to take her from playful to parent in just three weeks. 

April 26, 2011

Ke$ha Cancels ConcertTour Over Storm Fears

Pop star Ke$Ha was forced to scrap a concert in Oklahoma on Monday (25Apr11) after a storm prevented her from travelling to the venue.

The TiK ToK hitmaker was due to play at the BradyTheater in Tulsa but was unable to make it to the city after severe weather left her stranded in Texas.

Ke$ha has apologized to fans and promised to reschedule the gig.

In a post on her Twitter.com page, she writes, "I have really awful news. After all day of desperately trying to get to you, Oklahoma, I'm going to have to cancel tonight's show. 

"It breaks my heart, but it is entirely out of my hands. Severe storms in the Midwest have made it so I have not been able to make it out of Texas all day. I'll be posting information on my site and on the venue's website ASAP on when I'll be able to reschedule this. I am beyond sorry for this and promise to make this up to you guys."

Sharon Osbourne: "Jack's Sobriety Was Turing Point For Ozzy"

Rock matriarch Sharon Osbourne credits her son Jack's determination to get clean with inspiring Ozzy Osbourner  to kick his addictions to drink and drugs once and for all.

The Paranoid hitmaker's lifelong battle with alcohol and illegal substances has been well documented over the years, but it was only when Jack checked into a child psychiatric ward to deal with his personal issues in 2003 that the Black Sabbath frontman became serious about confronting his own problems.

Speaking in candid new documentary GOD Bless Ozzy Osbourne, which was produced by Jack, Sharon says, "Jack getting sober was... really his big turning point... Jack was dealing with life sober for the first time." The 62-year-old singer has spent the past few years completely sober after vowing to clean up his act for the sake of his loved ones and his dedication to the cause has stunned even his closest relatives.

The Osbournes' eldest daughter, Aimee, says, "He's really blown us away... It really seems like he's come through the other side." Kelly Osbourne 
reveals she is proud of her dad for sticking to his promise: "I spent 19 years of my life praying he was the father I have today. Not many people can say that." And Sharon has echoed her daughters' sentiments, adding, "He works really hard for his sobriety and he deserves it." GOD Bless Ozzy Osbourne premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Sunday (April 24).

Glee Cast Invades New York City

The stars of hit TV musical Glee were given a warm welcome to New York City on Monday (April 25) as Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with the cast ahead of shooting.

Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer were among the Glee stars who invaded the Big Apple to begin filming the upcoming second season finale.

The group kicked off their trip with an official seal of approval from Mayor Bloomberg, who greeted the actors and hosted a special press conference at the Gershwin Theater, one of the filming locations.
The stars later stopped traffic as they took over Times Square to shoot scenes for the specialepisode, which will see their high school choir club head to New York City to compete in a national singing competition.
Actress Jenna Ushkowitz took to her Twitter.com page to share her excitement, writing: "Good morning! It's 5am and it's never been easier to get up for work.... Because we are shooting in NY!!! Couldn't be happier!"

The Glee finale, which will also feature scenes in Central Park and the Lincoln Center, airs next month (May 24).

Katy Perry Adds Dates To Califorina Dreams Tour

Katy Perry has added eight additional U.S. dates to her California Dreams World Tour. The dates extend Katy’s tour into the month of September, landing her in San Antonio, Texas on the 7th and wrapping up in Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 17th.  Janelle Monae will open all the new dates. The tour gets underway June 7th in Atlanta.
For the tour, Katy is using cool technology called "Tweet-to-Screen" to allow her fans to express their enthusiasm and excitement at her performances. All of her shows will feature huge on-stage screens that will display concertgoers’ live tweets and photos before Katy hits the stage. A mini version of Tweet-to-Screen will also be featured on the singer’s tour diary on her website.
In addition, a portion of the proceeds from some of the best seats at select performances will be donated to three charities selected by Katy -- Generosity Water, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Children’s Health Fund. So far, her fans have raised over $100,000 in charitable donations. Tickets for these special seats can be purchased atTicketsforCharity.com
Here are the eight added U.S. dates:
9/7 -- San Antonio, TX, AT&T Center w/Janelle Monae
9/8 -- New Orleans, LA, New Orleans Arena w/Janelle Monae 
9/10 -- Louisville, KY, KFC Yum! Arena w/Janelle Monae
9/11 -- Grand Rapids, MI, Van Andel Arena w/Janelle Monae
9/13 -- Columbus, OH, Schottenstein Arena w/Janelle Monae
9/14 -- Indianapolis, IN, Conseco Fieldhouse w/Janelle Monae
9/16 -- Omaha, NE, Qwest Center w/Janelle Monae
9/17 -- Tulsa, OK, BOK Center w/Janelle Monae
Teenage Dream

April 25, 2011

Ozzy Osbourne Picks Up Paintbrush To Relax

Rock veteran Ozzy Osbourne  has turned to art to "calm" his nerves since quitting drink and drugs.

The Prince of Darkness, 62, has turned his back on his wild lifestyle in recent years and now channels his excess energy into his newfound love of painting and drawing.

And he insists the creative pastime helps to keep him relaxed.

He says, "It's not art, I do it for therapeutic reasons. Out of all this chaos and anxiety and fear, it gives me a sense of calm."

GOD BLESS OZZY OSBOURNE! A Report On The "Old Bat" From His Tribeca Film Festival Premiere!

Just when you thought it was okay to go back into the theater, the Prince Of Darkness re-emerges...and leaves you both laughing and crying. The film, interestingly enough, was financed by Jack Osbourne and his mom Sharon, but they left in all the lunacy any fan would want.

Photos And Report By Mac Wire Correspondent, Anne M. Raso

This reporter from themacwire.com was lucky enough to attend the premiere of God Bless Ozzy Osbourne last night at the Tribeca Film Festival and The Godfather Of Heavy Metal and "da fam" not only showed, but so did Marky Ramone and a couple of Oz imitators, including one who decided to stand in front of the stage and make a little tribute speech to his fave rocker right before the screening started. All attendees were treated to a God Bless Ozzy Osbourne T-shirt and laminated VIP passes (that won't even get you into a parking lot let alone Ozzy's dressing room but was fun as a keepsake). 
     The documentary, which was helmed by none other than Ozzy's curly-maned son Jack, touches on parts of Ozzy's life fans know about--the long tours, the lavish lifestyle, the lifelong addictions--but it also shows obscure parts of his life including funny pre-show routine which includes going on a treadmill and funny vocal exercises. There is interesting commentary from the likes of Paul McCartney and Henry Rollins, not to mention the family members most of us fans have rarely scene--such as Aimee (his daughter who did not want to participate in The Osbournes reality TV series), his children Louis and Jessica from his first marriage to Thelma, and even his baby granddaughter. To be honest, his granddaughter cannot really talk...but she gurgled a little on-camera, LOL! Ozzy even goes back to his tiny Birmingham, England, childhood home and school with Sharon and finds that not much has changed.

      Fans will be surprised to learn that Ozzy was still using pills and alcohol during the filming of the Osbournes first season (as Kelly Osbourne points out and then goes on to discuss her own pill addiction during her mother Sharon's bout with breast cancer). On the lighter side, other Ozzy surprises include funny "gross out" competition tour stories from Tommy Lee (Motley Crue toured with Ozzy in '85) and the fact that he won a green bean growing award in the UK back in the early 70s. When it comes to Ozzy, you can't even make up stories that are better than the ones he actually lived through!
    After the film ended, Ozzy, co-producer Jack and co-directors Mike Piscitelli and Mike Fleiss did a Q&A session. A lot of the folks from the audience who asked questions talked about their own addictions and overcame them and the only complaint seemed to be that the Black Sabbath reunion was not even touched upon. But never fear--there is plenty of interesting and revealing commentary from Ozzy's Black Sabbath "mates," especially when it comes to having to fire him back in the day and drug use by the band as a whole! Seems like there was nothing these guys wouldn't imbibe, and half the time they didn't know what they were taking.
    As we post this, there are still a couple of screenings left in New York: Thursday, April 28th at 9:30 PM at the SVA Theater (333 West 23d Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues) and Saturday, April 20th at 1PM at the AMC Loew's Village 7 (66 Third Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets). To purchase tickets in advance go to http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets/. If you use the coupon code JETBLUE you will get $2 off the $16 ticket price. We also suggest that you "like" the God Bless Ozzy Osbourne FB fan page which will keep you up to date with all the film's updates (including screenings). We only have one thing to say: that even though it's spring, the "Blizzard Of Ozz" continues with the release of God Bless Ozzy Osbourne!

Lady Gaga's 'Judas' Video To Premiere On 'American Idol'

Let the cultural baptism begin, little monsters. Lady Gaga is set to release her "Judas" video the week of May 2 on "American Idol." Interscope Records made the announcement on its Twitter account, adding that more details would be on the way.

The video was co-directed by Mother Monster and her creative director,Laurieann Gibson. And, Gibson has made it clear that this video will have everyone talking.

"It's a phenomenal video: really powerful, really impactful," Gibson commented. "She's such a strong, committed artist. Her loyalty to me is something I will be forever grateful for. We're spiritually connected.

"We need each other ... and 'Judas' is ultimately a representation of our true bond."

Gaga will play Mary Magdalene, with Norman Reedus as Judas. Read more>>

April 23, 2011

Prince Settles 'Foreclosure Crisis'

A representative for Prince has confirmed the pop superstar has avoided foreclosure on his Minnesota estate by paying off his mortgage bill in full.

The Purple Rain hitmaker owns 20 acres of land in Chanhassen, Minnesota, where one of his many homes once stood before it was torn down in 2005.

The land reportedly fell into foreclosure after the star allegedly failed to keep up with mortgage payments and the local Carver County Sheriff's Office scheduled an auction to sell it off to pay the alleged $368,000 mortgage bill, according to Minneapolis' StarTribune. A foreclosure notice is said to have been posted in a local newspaper.

But a representative for Prince has now confirmed steps have been taken to resolve the situation, telling the StarTribune a "payment has been made" to the bank for the full amount "about four or five days ago".
Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"

Looking Back To 1984: An Interview With Mike Love of The Beach Boys

My good friend Robert Francos dug up this interview from the FFanzeen  archives. You can  read more about FFanzeen and Robert's work at http://ffanzeen.blogspot.com/

THE BEACH BOYS – Mike Love, 1984

Text by Mary Anne Cassata, intro by Robert Barry Francos
Interview © 1984; RBF intro © 2011 by FFanzeen
Images from the Internet 

The following article / interview with Mike Love was originally published in FFanzeen magazine, issue #12, in 1984. It was implemented and written by Mary Anne Cassata.

Whatever one may think of Mike Love, be it a voice of the ‘60s, as a follower of Transcendental Meditation, hardcore right-wing conservative, litigious instigator, or power hungry tool, there is no denying he is one of the focal points of the original Beach Boys, whose music revolutionized a genre.

Dubbed “The Boys of Summer,” The BB’s early cool breeze guitar-based melodies over intricate jazz-arranged harmonies became a symbol of all things American, or at least West Coast. The band matured in style over the years, and yet their sound became lost in the post-
Sgt. Pepper’s emergence of rock; still, they became the phoenix of youth when they broke the news stations in 1983 for being banned from playing the White House. Suddenly they were everywhere, as the country collectively said, “Oh, yeah, we remember you guys!”

Back in the eye of the public as an “oldies,” feel-good vibration, they once again started recording, and even had some hits with the light “Rock and Roll to the Rescue” (a throwback to their early sound), a stunning cover of the Mamas and the Papa’s “California Dreaming” (the still-living M & Ps appeared in the video for the song, as does Roger McGuinn), and the dreadful-yet-infectious “Kokomo” (which has led to numerous bars to be named this).

Through the early history of the BB, Mike Love was one of four singers in the band, and after the 
Smile debacle resulted in leader Brian Wilson going into semi-retirement, Love grabbed the reins and became the Johnny Ramone of the group until their eventual and inevitable break-up.

Note that my updated comments are in [brackets]. – RBF, 2011

The Beach Boys, an integral part of rock’n’roll since the early ‘60s, still remarkably retain a forefront position. There are some that would agree lead vocalist Mike Love and cousin Brian Wilson have attributed to much of the Beach boys’ phenomenal success. Brian Wilson has been regarded somewhat of a genius by his peers and fans alike for his special ability to create musically, with instruments and arrangements, what recording engineers have done with sound effects and studio recording techniques.

Brian, with Mike, co-wrote many of the Beach Boys classics, such as “Good Vibration,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “Help Me, Rhonda.”

These songs and others were crucial to the shaping of the American pop culture of the ‘60s called Surf Music. Other contenders, Jan and Dean (Jan Berry [d. 2004] and Dean Torrence), also helped pioneer the sound that was a cross between ‘60s rock’n’roll and the British Invasion. In the splendid days of surf music, the Beach Boys often shared their stage with Jan and Dean. Sometimes, the two surfer groups received equal billing. The popular duo, most famous for songs like “Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “Baby Talk,” and “Sidewalk Surfin’,” often traded off songs wit the Beach Boys, which were equally well recorded by both groups.

After 22 years of singing songs about surfing, cars and pretty women, one might think the Beach Boys would eventually grow tired of the same old repetition of wondrous harmonies and arrangements. For over two decades the Beach Boys’ band member line-up has remained basically the same, consisting of Wilson brothers Brian, Dennis [d. 1983], and Carl [d. 1998], cousin Mike Love, good friend Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnson [who replaced Brian on many tours until eventually becoming an equal partner].

Mike Love is, without a doubt, a material element to the Beach Boys, but is also a versatile solo performer in his own right. Nearly two years ago he released his debut solo album, Looking Back with Love, and performed on tour with the Endless Summer Band to sold-out houses all over the country. In between gigs with Endless Summer, he managed to perform in a few concerts with his old cohorts.

The Looking Back album and tour were enthusiastically received by music critics and fans alike. Mike is an easily likeable person and immediately puts his company at ease. It’s not every day one is given the opportunity to talk to a Beach Boy. Recently, Mike Love has been involved in new projects, primarily with the Tandy Corporation, a subdivision of RadioShack.

Rock’n’Roll City, his latest effort, features a collection of ‘60s classics newly recorded by some of the artists from that decade. Among the few include Dean Torrence, Paul Revere, and the Association. These artists and others combined their musical talents in an effort to decrease rising record costs and developed the concepts forRock’n’Roll City. Some of the album features renditions of “96 Tears” by Paul Revere, “Wild Thing” by Dean Torrence, and a special recording of “California Dreaming” by the Beach Boys.

In his luxurious hotel suite at the New York Grand Hyatt Regency, Mike Love spoke open and candidly about his life, career, and upcoming projects. Dressed in a deep blue jogging suit, Love frequently took to the floor to exercise calisthenics. He has also been practicing daily Transcendental Meditation sessions for many years now, and feels it has allowed him to cope with the pressures and constant changes of the music business.

“I meditate every morning and evening,” Mike Love said. “I have been doing so since the winter of ’67. The Maharishi taught me.” Love indicated he is an authority on the topic and would like to write a book about it someday. “I have gone on to advanced courses in the T.M. Sidi Program. I have a perspective on being American. I think writing a book would be a very good thing to do.”

While Love contemplates the possibility of writing a book, in the meanwhile he will promote Rock’n’Roll City. The concept was actually developed two years ago by Mike, with Dean Torrence, while both were on tour with The Spring Break concert series. The two musicians tossed around the idea of possibly doing some recording together after the tour ended. The Tandy Corporation was interested in their project and signed them to the Realistic Division.

“Our production company, Hit Bound, got in touch with them. They were interested in featuring Mike Love and the Beach Boys, and Dean of Jan and Dean, because they had a pretty good success with the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean compilations. We mainly wanted to do the number one songs of the ‘60s, and eliminated the Beatles, Beach Boys and Elvis Presley, figuring that those are so heavily identifiable with those artists. We wanted the stuff that was still some of the great songs of that time period.”

A few months ago, ex-Interior Secretary James Watts, ignited a nationwide upset when he thoughtlessly banned rock’n’roll music from the Washington Capitol Mall concert on the Fourth of July. The Beach Boys, scheduled to perform that day, were outraged with Watts’ action. “Watts said he wasn’t going to allow any more rock’n’roll to be performed at the nation’s capitol,” still fumed Love. “All of us need to be reminded just where rock’n’roll came from. Its roots are here in America. It was a blending of the black music of the ‘40s and ‘50s, with the hillbilly and country music that came out of the mountains of Appalachia.

“Thirty years ago, rhythm and blues was called ‘race music,’ and white music that was joined with it was ‘rockabilly,’” he continued. “A new wave of music was born incorporating all the facets of the musical spectrum. Then along came the singers – black and white – who had something new. These singers had a lot of soul, and they called it rock’n’roll. I’d probably think first of Fats Domino’s “The Fat Man,” but it was really his hit “Ain’t That a Shame” that opened the door to the rock era.”

The legend of the Beach Boys began half a decade later in Hawthorne, California. The three Wilson brothers were musically inclined and used to harmonize on songs together in their bedroom. In his early teen years, Brian became very influenced by the music of the Four Freshmen and Chuck Berry, and often would spend hours a day picking out parts of songs on the piano. Before long, Brian had assigned different voice parts to this brothers, cousin Mike, and high school friend Al Jardine – later joined by Bruce Johnson.

Of the newly formed Beach Boys, Dennis was the first to notice the surfing trend taking shape, and encouraged his fellow band members to write songs about it. In 1961, the group officially called themselves the Beach Boys and recorded their first single, “409,” on a small record label. The single, backed with “Surfin’ Safari,” became a national double-sided hit, which led to an exclusive record contract with Capitol Records. In the next few years, the Beach Boys’ songs continued to remain high on the charts with the likes of “Surfin’ USA,” “I Get Around,” and “Shut Down.”

At one point of their fascinating career, Brian Wilson found the pressures of performing and recording too intense and was forced to take a leave of absence. Although he didn’t perform with the Beach Boys, Brian still continued to direct their musical affairs. Over the years, there have been many different versions of the story told as to what actually happened to Brian. For three years the vulnerable musician remained confined to his room, and had been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic. Mike was asked to comment on Brian’s delicate problem.

“He took some drugs; Brian’s a very sensitive person,” Mike explained, “There are certain people that can take drugs that can maintain and certain people that can take them and blow it bad. It is the same thing with alcoholics. There are those who drink and go crazy; then there are the drugaholics, too. Brian is one of those people that are so sensitive that he took these drugs and it messed him up for quite a while. He is still recuperating from it, too. It was the most tragic thing that could have happened to him.

“He just stopped being dynamic, productive and creative. Brian was, at one time, the most creative producer in the business. He influenced the Beatles, and other people, too. I can’t imagine the Beach Boys without Brian. It was a bit of a tragedy and a loss. He didn’t die, but OD’d emotionally. That is why I am very much against the use of unprescribed drugs. It may be fine for some people, but may destroy others. Emotionally or literally, I am totally against the use of drugs. Once in a while it’s okay if you’re sick and a doctor prescribes them. That’s where they belong. I have seen it in my own life with the Beach Boys. It can really screw up someone’s life.”

Brian has performed periodically with the Beach Boys, most recently this past summer. Mike says he is “doing fabulous now,” and is learning to be responsible for himself again. “He was very paranoid for awhile, and wouldn’t come out. He would go into the kitchen and eat, and go back into his room again. Brian had been touring with us for a couple of years and wasn’t making any progress, physically or mentally. We said, ‘Forget it; we don’t want to see you die. You’re not carrying your own weight in the group.’

“He’s much more clearer now. He’s got it all together now. Brian is much more bright and positive now. Anything he puts his mind to he can achieve. He is a very dynamic, creative and intelligent person. A couple of years ago, I wrote a song called ‘Brian’s Back.’ I’ve been saving it. It should be coming out real soon.”

In 1966, Brian supervised the production on the album Pet Sounds. The Beach Boys had no idea what an impact it would make on the music scene. The album instantly became a rock masterpiece and the Beatles acknowledged it simultaneously with their Sgt. Pepper’salbum. The single, “Good Vibrations,” was the Beach Boys’ largest selling record.

With the many changes that occurred in rock music the last two decades, Mike Love is not at all too concerned about keeping up with the times. “I am not a person who identifies strongly with current trends,” he relates. “I don’t listen to enough music constantly to be an authority on it. I tend to be like our brand of rock’n’roll: the Beach Boys. We were successful with ‘Fun, Fun, Fun,’ ‘I Get Around,’ and ‘Good Vibrations.’ That’s the kind of rock’n’roll I like.”

When Mike finds the time to relax, he says he listens to the music of Marvin Gaye and other older ‘50s and ‘60s black artists. “When we were younger, we used to listen to bands like the Coasters and other great R&B artists. People like Fats Domino and Little Richard have made such a tremendous contribution to American music.”

Mike also feels that something good can come out of any form of music, and because it may propose to be different does not necessarily mean it is bad. “A lot of trends really have nothing to do with music, but everything to do with the superficial part of it,” he stated, “the look of it; the makeup.

“The beautiful thing about the music scene is that it is so diverse and there is something in it for everyone. I am in my own little world when it comes to music. That’s why I use research to see what relates to people and to me. We really research the songs we record. There’s no use putting out a song that doesn’t appeal to everyone. That’s wasting your time and subjecting you to an ego trip.”

The Beach Boys’ music is eternal and represents different meanings to their millions of fans around the world. Does the lead singer of this legendary band ever become discontented about singing the same old wonderful songs all the time? “No, it’s a lot of fun,” exclaims Love. “It’s a recreation and, you know, a lot of fun. The audience provides the spontaneity. We may sing our songs a hundred times a year, but only once a night. If you are a big fan of ours, then, maybe, you see us seven times a week. That’s good for us and good for them, too.”

At this point, Mike’s publicist entered the room with his order of watermelon and red zinger tea. This has been his steadfast diet for the past three months. Love is a strict vegetarian, too.

In conclusion to our conversation, he stresses it is “the responsibility of the entertainer to please his audience. What good does it do if you don’t give the audience what they want? My place is to entertain the audience and give them what they want.”

No doubt, Mike Love and the Beach boys will continue to give more wonderful and satisfying performances for another decade. It’s hard to get tired of listening to “I Get Around” for the hundredth time so far this year.

April 22, 2011

In ‘Water for Elephants,’ Safety Stars in the Center Ring: From Large Cats to Larvae, American Humane Association Certifies That ‘No Animals Were Harmed’®

From a four-ton elephant to tiny fly larvae, American Humane Association was on the set of “Water for Elephants” ensuring that every animal in the production was treated humanely and kept safe. American Humane Association awarded this 20th Century Fox film its highest rating, “Monitored: Outstanding - ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ ®.”
“It’s a big endorsement to get from the American Humane Association,” said lead actress Reese Witherspoon. “They’re very conscious of how the animals are treated. They’re on set every day, making sure the animals were provided safe facilities and safe transportation and that they can only work a certain amount of hours. They are just the happiest animals — you can tell!”
Lead actor Robert Pattinson said, “Elephants are the most sophisticated, gentle creatures you could possibly hope to work with.” He noted, “It’s nice to know that there’s a company that literally was [even] looking after the maggots, checking after the maggots being treated right.”
Based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen, “Water for Elephants” is about a veterinary student who joins a traveling circus during the Depression era. Among the animals he attends to are horses, lions, tigers, leopards, zebras, llamas and his favorite, Rosie the elephant. Rosie was played by Tai, who lives on a ranch in Southern California. During the day, Tai stayed around her large, custom transport vehicle, free to go in or out as she wished. She worked on-set only a couple of hours at a time and received plenty of breaks for rest, snacks and “calls of nature.” Throughout the entire filming process, an American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representative™, Gina Johnson, ensured that Tai received proper treatment. While Tai and her trainer focused on her performance, Johnson diligently monitored the temperature, lighting, other animals, people and other requirements of American Humane Association’s“Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media.”
Although the animal abuse scenes in “Water for Elephants” appear intense, no animals were harmed in filming them. The perception of abuse was created using makeup, fake blood, computer-generated images and post-production sound effects. “Tai was never hit in any way at all,” Johnson said. The elephant did witness the actors swinging sticks and yelling loudly, as they acted out the beating scenes; however, even that aspect of the scene was carefully planned and rehearsed so Tai would not feel anxious or afraid. Tai’s trainer gave her constant positive reinforcement, such as a food treat or play time, to motivate her. So what was one of this enormous animal’s favorite motivational treats? A marshmallow!
Read a report from on the set of “Water for Elephants” and a detailed description of how the animal action was achieved safely athttp://www.americanhumanefilmtv.org/water-for-elephants/
Water for Elephants