Posted by Administrator on August 12th, 2014
Robin Williams, a beloved actor and comedian known for his manic improvisational skills in the TV series Mork & Mindy as well as Oscar-winning dramatic roles in movies, died of an apparent suicide due to asphyxia on Aug. 11 in his home in Marin County, Calif. He was 63. Marin County deputies responded to an emergency call from Williams' home in Tiburon, Calif., at 11:55 a.m., reporting "a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing," the release from the sheriff said, and Williams was pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m. Born in Chicago on July 21, 1951, Williams studied theater at Juilliard School before taking his stand up act to nightclubs. He was cast as Mork, an alien visitor to Earth, for a 1974 episode of television's Happy Days, which led to a spin-off show Mork & Mindy, which showcased his usual comic improvisation talents. After that series ended in 1982, Williams became an in demand movie actor in both comedic and dramatic roles that had a total box office gross of over $3 billion, including The World According to Garp, Mrs. Doubtfire, Cadillac Man, The Final Cut, The Fisher King, Moscow on the Hudson, Man of the Year, Good Morning Vietnam, One Hour Photo, Patch Adams, Dead Poet's Society, Insomnia, The Birdcage and 1997's Good Will Hunting, a film that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar. He also won two Emmys, four Golden Globes, and five Grammys. He most recently starred in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, and was reportedly considering participating in a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire, and was in post-production on several other projects. Williams, who battled drug and alcohol abuse for 20 years, made at least two trips to rehab for drug treatment, including a visit this summer, and he underwent heart surgery in March 2009. He had reportedly recently been battling severe depression and had a relapse of substance abuse, was last seen alive at his home, where he lived with his wife Susan, at about 10 a.m. on Aug. 11, the sheriff's statement said. "An investigation into the cause, manner and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff's Office," the sheriff's statement said. "Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made." Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, in a Napa Valley, Calif., ceremony in Oct. 2011. "This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken," Schneider said in a statement. "On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions." - CNN, 8/11/14.
A forthcoming first-person shooter game called Destiny will feature a full score and theme song from Paul McCartney, the New York Times reported on Aug. 10. Destiny, described as being in the vein of the game Halo, is a futuristic, dystopian game where Earth's final survivors are forced to fight off invading aliens (on Earth and Mars) who seek to conquer mankind for good. Sir Paul's score is reportedly "widely varied, with lush orchestral and choral sections and eerie, atmospheric passages, to fast paced, heavily percussive sections and high-adrenaline string, brass and electronic figures." McCartney collaborated on the project with ex-Bungie house composer Marty ODonnell and Mike Salvatori, and Macca broke the news back in July 2012 via Twitter: "I'm really excited to be working on writing music with @bungie, the studio that made Halo," he posted. 70 minutes of the score, which was recorded with a 120-piece ensemble at London's Abbey Road Studios with director Giles Martin, have been circulating the Internet via a beta version of the game, according to the report. The fully-orchestrated theme song will drop Sept. 9, the same day as the game. McCartney has been composing full-length scores and orchestral music since 1990 and similar games (like the Halo series) have earned plaudits for their symphonic approach. In other Beatles-related news, officials in London are considering installing a "lollipop lady" (crossing guard) at the famous crossing outside Abbey Road studios in St. John's Wood over saftey fears. The Westminster City Council says thousands of people who visit the "zebra" crossing who try to take photos in the middle of the road are raising safety concerns, and that residents have complained of an increase in traffic as tourists take photos on the crossing, especially in the summer season. Councillors have also raised concerns about buses carrying tourists causing traffic congestion by double-parking or parking on yellow lines. A Westminster City Council spokeswoman said it is discussing options to manage the busy traffic flow, including the possibility of employing a lollipop lady or man. The crossing was made famous after the Beatles traversed it for Ian Macmillan's iconic cover shot for the 1969 Abbey Road record. - Billboard/The BBC, 8/11/14.
A night-long concert honoring the music and legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd will be held on Nov. 12 at Atlanta's Fox Theatre, the venue where the Southern Rock icons recorded their live double-album, One More From The Road, in 1976 during the height of their fame to help save the hall from demolition. Producer Don Was will serve as music director for One More For The Fans! -- Celebrating The Songs & Music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the show will feature performances from Lynyrd Skynyrd themselves along with several of their famous fellow musicians, including Gregg Allman, Charlie Daniels, Peter Frampton, Warren Haynes, Trace Adkins, Alabama, John Hiatt, Cheap Trick and Donnie Van Zant, among others. Surprise guests and additional performers are also forthcoming. "Lynyrd Skynyrd's music has had a profound and unmistakable influence on artists and fans all over the world," Don Was said in a statement. One More For The Fans! will be filmed and recorded for "multi-platform distribution," according to a press release. Tickets for the event go on sale to the public on Aug. 18 at www.foxtheatre.org. - Billboard, 8/11/14.
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top recently recorded several songs of new music with EDM producer David Guetta in Ibiza, which Gibbons says he expects to surface in same shape for form in the near future. "It's a far cry from what people might expect -- 'Gibbons and electronic stuff?'" Gibbons notes. "But a lot of people have overlooked the fact that one of the things that made (ZZ Top's) Eliminator so interesting was the opportunity to go into that experimental side of things and fool around with the coolest new toys that could be found in the recording studio. I'm always fascinated by that, so my time in Spain was very fruitful." Gibbons says he's also planning to begin work on ZZ Top's next album with Rick Rubin, who produced the band's 2012 LP La Futura, once again at the helm. "There were 11 tracks released on La Futura that were pulled from a total of 22 -- actually we did 27 tracks and out of those 27 it got boiled down to a favorite 22, which was a big pile of stuff," Gibbons says. "So there's probably another CD's worth of pretty righteous stuff. It's very tasty. There's some juicy cuts waiting to be heard. I'm just waiting on a call from Rick that he's ready," Gibbons says. ZZ Top is celebrating its 45th year as a band in 2014 and released a new complation, The Very Baddest of ZZ Top, in July. It hits the road with Jeff Beck on Aug. 8 for one of the most anticipated double bills of the summer, after canceling the first six shows due to bassist Dusty Hill's kidney stone surgery. Gibbons and Beck have been friends since the original Jeff Beck Group came to America in 1968, and he says the two bond over things like cars and hot rods more than music. ZZ Top and Beck will play 27 shows through mid-September, then stay on the road after the tour with Beck ends, with shows booked into early November so far. - Billboard, 8/8/14.
The city of Seattle finally broke ground on the long-planned Jimi Hendrix Park in the city's Central District on Aug. 7 to honor its hometown guitar hero. The park's organizers, the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation, envision the park as being a place where people of different backgrounds will find the motivation to explore music and art, while celebrating Seattle's cultural heritage, experiencing community pride and appreciating the programming of the museum next door. The bulk of the construction will take place in 2015. The evolution of the two-and-a-half acre park is being split into two phases: The Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation has named the first "Little Wing," after the singer's 1967 song, and will include the construction of an entrance and stairway at the park's southeast corner, as well as paved pathways, a timeline of Hendrix's life and a butterfly garden, among other features. The second phase, which is currently unnamed and now the subject of a fundraising campaign, will include a central shelter, performance space and a "shadow wave wall," which will cast silhouette images of the guitarist. When the foundation announced the park's concept in December 2011, it was initially supposed to open in November of the following year to coincide with what would have been Hendrix's 70th birthday. The foundation, along with the group Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park, raised more than $1 million in addition to the $500,000 that it received from the Seattle Parks and Green Levy Opportunity Fund Grant. Earlier in 2014, the United States Postal Service honored Hendrix's cultural importance by releasing a "Jimi Hendrix Forever" stamp sporting his visage. - Rolling Stone, 8/7/14.
A former housekeeper of Michael Jackson's has told the New York Post that the "Thriller" singer lived in deplorable conditions inside Neverland Ranch during the time she was in his employ and that he was the "dirtiest, most unsanitary person in Hollywood." "Michael sometimes ran around where the animals were, and he'd track...poop throughout the house and think nothing of it," said the woman, identified only as "Maid No. 1." "Then, if you said something, he'd threaten to make doo-doo snowballs and throw it at you." She also claimed that Jackson disregarded sanitation and urinated in front of her the day after his 1993 Oprah Winfrey interview. "He literally peed on the floor of the entryway, right where you saw Oprah walk in," she told The Post. "It was surreal. He just stood there, unzipped his trousers and watered the floor." The woman was one of five maids who spoke to The Post anonymously about the conditions at the property, which they claim became worse following accusations of sexual abuse against Jackson by Jordan Chandler in 1993. On Aug. 4, lawyers for 36-year-old James Safechuck, who is alleging that Jackson abused him when he was 10 after the pair were working on a Pepsi commercial together, filed claims against Jackson's estate. Jackson lived in the sprawling property in Santa Barbara County, Calif., from 1988 until his death in 2009. It was recently announced that Neverland is being put up for sale. - The New York Post, 8/11/14.
The Journey and Steve Miller Band co-headlining tour is the top summertime trek in the U.S., according to Billboard's Hot Tours list. The veteran rock bands joined forces in mid-May to co-headline an 11-week tour, playing primarily at outdoor amphitheaters. With a handful of arenas and a fair date added to the mix, the bands stopped in 39 cities during the run that featured Tower of Power as opening act. Journey and SMB launched their tour on May 15 at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista. Among the 39 dates on the itinerary, the top grosser was the second show of the run, the May 16 performance at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl. The highest attendance was logged at White River Amphitheatre in the Seattle metropolitan area. Overall box office revenue from the tour topped $29 million from more than half a million sold tickets. - Billboard, 8/7/14....... Elton John and his longtime friend, tennis star Billie Jean King, will host a tennis match at Royal Albert Hall in London on Dec. 7 to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. John and King will coach teams that feature former No. 1-ranked Kim Clijsters and John McEnroe and Britain's Tim Henman and 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki. John says the match is being presented on behalf of "an AIDS-free future" and "access to lifesaving treatment to more people living with HIV in Africa." King says it's the first time her "World Team Tennis Smash Hits" event will have a "global presence" and she's pleased to bring "this wonderful evening of tennis to a new audience." The Smash Hits program, which has raised $12 million since 1993, will be held on the final night of a Masters tennis tournament. - AP, 8/8/14...... Billy Joel will be among the celebrities featured in an upcoming "baby boomers" documentary for PBS about the post-World War II generation. PBS announced on Aug. 7 that American Masters: The Boomer List will air Sept. 23 on member stations. The 90-minute production, directed by filmmaker-photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, will include 19 notable public figures, including Joel, Maria Shriver, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosie O'Donnell, Tommy Hilfiger and Steve Wozniak. Their years of birth represent each of the years commonly associated with the baby boom era, 1946-64. An accompanying photo book will be released and an exhibit, "The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders," will run at the Newseum from Sept. 26 through June 2015. - AP, 8/7/14...... Robert Plant and his backing band the Sensational Space Shifters have announced a seven-date fall tour of the U.S. and Canada that will kick off Sept. 25 in Port Chester, N.Y. The tour will also visit Brooklyn, N.Y. for two dates (9/27, 28) as well as Toronto (9/30), Chicago (10/2), Denver (10/4) and Los Angeles (10/7). Presale tickets, which go on sale Aug. 15 at www.citiprivatepass.com/#, include a copy of Plant's new record, Lulllaby and... The Ceaseless Roar, which drops Sept. 9. - Billboard, 8/7/14...... Seventies musicians Mick Jagger, Sting, Cliff Richard, Bryan Ferry, David Gilmour and Andrew Lloyd-Webber are among the dozens of celebrities and public figures in Britain who have signed a petition appealing to Scottish voters to vote to stay in the United Kingdom in a referendum in September. The letter tells Scottish voters taking part in the Sept. 18 referendum that the undersigned "want to let you know how very much we value our bonds of citizenship with you, and to express our hope that you will vote to renew them." A spokesman for Yes Scotland, a pro-independence group, released a statement saying "it's great to know that Scotland has so many friends and admirers, and we know they will all continue to be our friends and admirers after we vote Yes on September 18." - AP/Billboard, 8/7/14....... Grateful Dead co-founding guitarist Bob Weir has cancelled all scheduled concerts by his band RatDog for 2014 and January 2015. "Circumstances have necessitated that all scheduled tour dates for Bob Weir & RatDog are being cancelled," reads a posted on ratdog.org on Aug. 10, however Weir didn't offer more details. Weir also is canceling a September performance at the Lockn' Festival with Furthur, the band he formed with fellow Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh. Weir, 66, fell onstage at a concert last year. Lesh told the crowd that Weir had been suffering from a strained shoulder. - Associated Press, 8/12/14....... Henry Stone, a fixture on the '70s disco scene who was instrumental in the careers of K.C. & the Sunshine Band, Ray Charles and James Brown, died of natural causes on Aug. 7 at a Miami-area hospital. He was 93. Mr. Stone was a co-founder of the Miami-based disco label TK Records, and when that label went bankrupt in 1981, he produced an off-beat hit in 1990 with the novelty act 2 Live Jews and its album, As Kosher As They Wanna Be, a parody of 2 Live Crew that featured Stone's actor, songwriter-producer son, Joseph Stone. - AP, 8/10/14...... James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career includes the movies Die Hard and Flower Drum Song, died in his sleep in Los Angeles on July 28, his agent said. He was 81. Mr. Shigeta was well-known for co-starring with Bruce Willis in 1988's Die Hard, in which he played the executive Joseph Takagi. His work stretches across TV and film, and he is considered one of the first Asian-American actors to rise to prominence. He also made appearances in series such as Perry Mason, The Love Boat, Hawaii Five-O, Fantasy Island and Little House on the Prairie. - CNN