Nelson Mandela, a South African revolutionary turned prisoner turned international civil rights icon, passed away today at the age of 95, South African President Jacob Zuma announced late Thursday. Unjustly jailed for nearly 30 years during the height of the apartheid movement in his native country of South Africa, he stands alongside pioneer figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as someone whose positive impact on the human race’s ability to acknowledge basic human freedoms and the central concepts of equality and democracy cannot possibly be underestimated.
Gee, we figured the problem was two egomaniacs teaming up to work on material neither knew nor cared a thing about, but maybe we’re wrong. According to Julie Taymor, former director of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, it was the audience—not its indifferent makers and their faulty cables—that are responsible for the musical fiasco. “Twitter and Facebook and blogging just trump you,” she said at a Theater Communications Group event this weekend. “It’s very hard to create. It’s incredibly difficult to be under a shot glass and a microscope like that.” You’d think a 2010 show that gave its first readings in 2007 and ran a record number of previews had plenty of time to gestate, but you wouldn’t be Ms. Taymor.
“It’s very scary if people are going more towards that, to have audiences tell you how to make a show,” she said, referring to the focus groups producers used when fixing their multi-million dollar musical about a superhero with songs by the guys from U2. “Shakespeare would have been appalled. Forget about it. It would be impossible to have these works come out because there’s always something that people don’t like.” She even referenced Norman Lear‘s All In The Family, whose racist lead Archie might not have survived in today’s climate. And to be fair, Archie and Arachne—whose number about spider goddesses buying shoes was cut from Turn Off The Dark—have a lot of the same letters in their name. But would Lear or Shakespeare have been making a Spider-Man musical in the first place? Maybe her decision to take on a high-profile gig based on a comic book is the blogosphere’s fault, too.
[Photo: Getty Images]
Bono and The Edge may tell the media that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is only “90% done,” but that didn’t stop them from rolling the red carpet out for the powerful pals at Tuesday’s opening night performance. Among the celebs on hand for the musical’s first “official” performance (following months of notorious “previews”) were former President Bill Clinton, Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Jay-Z, Cindy Crawford, Spike Lee and Helena Christiansen. Even original director Julie Taymor, fired after refusing to make changes to the critically maligned, accident-prone show was on hand despite her lawsuit against the producers. It’s been a long decade to this moment for the musical’s makers—will staying on Broadway be even harder?
See photos of the red carpet and curtain call in the gallery below.
[Photos: Getty Images/WireImage]
These are the kind of legendary stories that you pass on to your kids! U2 is playing a couple of concerts up in Canada this week and apparently the weather gets kinda tricky up there, eh? Someone who understands this better than anyone now is Bono who got stuck in a downpour along with his assistant while they were taking a walk in West Vancouver. They also, clearly, were lost because Bono went ahead and started hitchhiking on the side the road! One of the most famous musicians in the world and you probably passed him by!
NHL player Gilbert Brule and his girlfriend, Kelsey Nichols, became his rescuers as they just happened to be heading to a local dog park on that very road. The Edmonton Oilers player recognized Bono and stopped the car, and rescued the pack. Bono and his assistant ending up sharing the backseat with a German Shepherd, but that’s never a bad thing. And here’s the coolest part — Bono gave them both autographed passes as u2 was scheduled to play in Edmonton the next night! Fate! Serendipity! Kismet! Kelsey’s pass got, “Thanks for the ride” scrawled on while Brule got, “My hero Gilbert”. Bono told the Edmonton Journal the story the next day adding, “I like ice hockey because people who play ice hockey are the kind of people who pick up hitchhikers.” Why can’t something this cool happen to us?
[Photo: Getty Images]
Read Bono‘s lips: no new delays! The U2 singer, who performed with Spider-Man: Turn Of The Dark star Reeve Carney and guitarist The Edge on American Idol Wednesday, swears that the revamped musical will be ready for its June 14th premiere date. “We’re opening Spider-Man on the 14th,” he said. “I promise it’s not been canceled, and we’re very excited about it. It’s almost there—it will be there by opening night.” Considering the decade-in-the-making superhero spectacle has been in previews since November 2010, with original script and director Julie Taymor tossed aside after horrible reviews, cast injuries and frequent equipment malfunctions, it would take a promise from the show’s songwriter to make us believe it.
Ironically, considering he was rumored the deciding factor in Taymor’s departure, Bono was playing the innocent when discussing new director Philip McKinley. “He came in to fill impossible shoes—Julie Taymor—she’s a genius and I miss her so much.” Really, dude? Only Bono could get away with saying that after just admitting to Nightline that the press was right about the Taymor-run show sucking.
[Photo: Getty Images]
The 2011 Billboard Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, gave is some pretty awesome moments on air, even though the carpet fashion was lacking. We have to give props to
Senor Chang Ken Jeong for having the ability to humiliate himself on stage for laughs! But everything anyone did at the show—including Beyonce performing a very sexy “Run the World (Girls)”—was overshadowed by Britney Spears. Brit-Brit had some help on stage in creating two incredibly memorable performances. The first was with Rihanna on a remix of S&M which kicked off the awards. The second was with Nicki Minaj on “Till The World Ends,” after Minaj sang “Super Bass.” Badass!
That was just the beginning. The Billboard stage saw the likes of U2, Neil Diamond, Mary J. Blige and cutie Justin Bieber (in a very Vegas-esque golden tux) come on. Bono and gang were on hand to receive the Touring award while Neil accepted the Billboard Icon award (he also sang “Sweet Caroline” and “America” before receiving the trophy). The Biebs won the Billboard.com Fan Favorite Award and the Top New Artist Award but how about that kiss with Selena Gomez, huh?
Ri-Ri took home the Radio Artist of the Year and Female Artist of the Year while Taylor Swift (in a trademark sparkly gown) accepted the Billboard 200 Artist of the Year and Country Artist of the Year. Beyonce was feted with a video montage that featured Barbra Streisand, Bono, Stevie Wonder and Michelle Obama while receiving the Billboard Millennium Award. Look here for a full list of Billboard award winners. And if you just want to take a look at some fun moments from the show, check out our gallery below.
[Photos: Getty Images]
While Julie Taymor isn’t leaving Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark as previously rumored, she’s definitely not running the show anymore. The producers finally announced last night that Boy From Oz director Phillip William McKinley would be “joining the creative team.” “Julie Taymor is not leaving the creative team,” they swore. “Her vision has been at the heart of this production since its inception and will continue to be so. Julie’s previous commitments mean that past March 15th, she cannot work the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening.”
Despite the PR phrasing, friends of Taymor claim she’s being pushed aside after she declined suggests from the show’s songwriters Bono & The Edge, which could explain why she had no comment while Bono says “All of us on the creative team are committed to taking Spider-Man to the next level…we are confident it will reach its full potential.” The show is now scheduled to open early Summer 2011, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll take any longer—not when the new Spider-Man movie is due July 2012. Considering how many millions have already been spent getting the show to its current level (not to mention nine years of planning), how much will Bono and McKinley have to get it towards the “next level” in three months?
[Photo: Getty Images]
Is there any ’90s alt-rock god Courtney Love didn’t get her hooks in? She married Kurt Cobain, slept with Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan, fought in court with (and against) Dave Grohl, shot drugs with Weiland, slow danced with Bono and Eddie Vedder and is still BFF with Michael Stipe. Now she’s told Howard Stern she enjoyed a months-long tryst with Gavin Rossdale at some point in the Bush singer’s relationship with wife Gwen Stefani. “He was such an Adonis in his day…He got good in bed…something happened, maybe Gwen taught him for all I know.” Asked by Howard to reaffirm this all happened while he was with Stefani, she responded, “[Gwen] does know…[he was sleeping with me] and a few other people. We didn’t have a lot of pressure on each other but we did like each other quite a bit.” Hopefully someday we’ll learn what she did the with the bald dude from Live.
One old flame who doesn’t like her much anymore is Corgan, who’s peeved songs they collaborated on were included on the new Hole album. Here’s a taste of the hatorade he tweeted yesterday:
My face is my face, my heart is my heart, my money is my money. Oh, and my songs are MY songs…if you can’t write your own songs maybe you should just be happy that you fooled someone into doing your work for you…maybe you should go someone nice+live off your husband’s money, u know the money he made for writing all those great songs…the world is aware of your lack of responsibility, as seen in the gov’t taking away your parental right…Only u could abandon such a beautiful, incredible child who is smarter than u, cooler than u, and better than u. Oops, did I say too much? so have your moment, burn up in the sun that laughs at u as equally as it appears to celebrate u+sleep knowing u have no honor.
Though she initially responded with a simple “All I am is nice about you so if you wanna be mean be mean I dont feel anything,” a night’s sleep has apparently convinced her to unleash her own Twitter invective. “You remind me of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane in your spite and jealousy and you just want press. Pathetic…He coughs up this spiritual s— like bile and lives none of it, i really think its truly creepy how jealous and obsessed w FBC he is GROSS.” Maybe they’re both right. Check out photos of Courtney with Corgan, Stefani, Stipe, the Cobains and more in the gallery below.
[Photo: Getty Images]
Will the most expensive Broadway musical of all time even hit the stage? Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, the $54 million Julie Taymor-Bono collaboration has suffered another set back, with Tony winner Alan Cumming dropping out to star on the TV drama The Good Wife instead (ouch!). “It’s like a lover who dumped you and wants you back,” the former Nightcrawler told MTV News about Spidey’s multiple delays. “You’re a little scared to go back in case they dump you again.” Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood, who left the cast last month, were first announced to play the Green Goblin and Mary-Jane Watson respectively in June 2009 with a February 2010 start date, one that’s obviously passed. Unknown Reeve Carney is reportedly still set to play the titular hero when the musical finally launches later this year.
Or rather, if it finally launches. The expensive project has struggled to keep financial backers since the project’s first reading in 2007, with Cumming himself once calling it “an iceberg of financial ruin.” Even if the doors do open, there’s still the matter of the peculiar plot, which finds Spidey tussling with Arachne, “a beautiful, boastful young woman turned into a spider for her hubris and lack of respect for the gods” (oddly, Larry King‘s estranged wife Shawn was reportedly a finalist for the part). Hmm, a Spider-Man musical that has to survive for years to make a profit involves magical vixens and music by Bono. Is anyone still excited for this thing?
[Photos: Getty Images]
The official Hope for Haiti Now telethon lineup has just been announced, and this show is going to be even bigger than we had imagined. Rarely, if ever, have so many of the world’s biggest musicians mobilized so quickly with Hollywood elite (plus President Clinton and Oprah) to lend a helping hand in a time of tragedy. If only George Clooney, the mastermind behind the telethon, had been responsible for the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina!
We already reported that the Hope for Haiti Now lineup will include Robert Pattinson, Bono, Jay-Z, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen and Shakira. Now we can provide the full, official lineup. Of particular interest will be headliners Jay-Z and Bono (a rock/rap collaboration for the ages) and Justin Timberlake.
Performing in Los Angeles:
- Alicia Keys
- Christina Aguilera
- Dave Matthews
- Emeline Michel
- John Legend
- Justin Timberlake
- Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban and Kid Rock (Group performance)
- Stevie Wonder
- Taylor Swift
Performing in New York:
- Bruce Springsteen
- Jennifer Hudson
- Mary J Blige
- Wyclef Jean
Performing in London:
- Jay-Z, Bono and The Edge (collaboration)
Presenters and speakers in Los Angeles (except where noted differently) include:
- Anderson Cooper (from Haiti)
- Ben Stiller
- Brad Pitt
- Chris Rock
- Clint Eastwood
- Denzel Washington
- Drew Barrymore
- George Clooney
- Halle Berry
- Jon Stewart (from New York)
- Julia Roberts
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Matt Damon
- Meryl Streep
- Morgan Freeman
- Nicole Kidman
- Oprah Winfrey
- President Clinton (from New York)
- Robert Pattinson (from London)
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Tom Hanks
- Will Smith with Muhammad Ali
Turn on your television at 8PM EST to witness history in the making. Hope for Haiti Now will be on just about every channel, including VH1 and MTV. Donations will go to Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF and Wyclef’s Yele Haiti Foundation. Facebook and MySpace have signed on as official social-media partners to help drive donations.