Chris Willman
April 14, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Meat Loaf Again?
VH1’s upcoming slate of musical biopics presented some weighty issues. Finding the right hefty thespian to play Marvin Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf, took forever and a day. After failing to snag Philip Seymour Hoffman (Magnolia) or Jack Black (High Fidelity), director Jim McBride (Great Balls of Fire) saw more than 100 prospective Loafs before settling on W. Earl Brown, who played the mentally challenged brother in There’s Something About Mary. There were no national open casting calls on the Meat Loaf project like those VH1 held for their now-shooting Monkees biopic: ”That would’ve been too much craft service,” kids Michael Larkin, VH1’s VP for motion pictures for television. The network is also about to cast a Heart biopic, which raises its own weight issues — Ann Wilson’s size struggles having been key to their Behind the Music episode. But rather than pad an actress for the later years, the Heart story will wrap up circa their ’84 comeback.

Oscar (Not Oscar)
Seven years ago, the group Was (Not Was) parted ways in the middle of making their fifth album. But (unrelated) collaborators Don Was and David Was have kissed, made up, and resumed work on the long-abandoned tapes — bits of which were actually premiered throughout the Oscar telecast, of all places. Don, the show’s musical codirector, employed instrumental excerpts from the Was (Not Was) album-in-progress as bumper music before and after commercials. Says David, ”Apparently, phones lit up with inquiries from a funk-thirsty America desperate to know what that brand-old sound was, so we are having our lawyers sort out the dusty-ass contracts to see which of the three remaining [record labels] wants our services.” In what was surely an Oscar first, Don also hired David to sit in with the pit band and scratch old albums like Jose Jiminez the Astronaut and Don Adams Live on a turntable during winners’ walks to the dais. Says David, ”I even scratched a Billy Crystal disc, Mahvelous, I’d found at a garage sale that morning for 25 cents. Billy signed it as himself and Sammy Davis Jr., but I didn’t tell him how cheap it sold for.”

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