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John Phillips of the Mamas & Papas has died

Plus, Indonesian concertgoers are trampled to death, an L.A. man claims ”Will & Grace”’s Jack is based on him, and more

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John Phillips
John Phillips: Kathy Willens/AP World Wide

OBIT Singer songwriter John Phillips, founder of the Mamas & the Papas, died of heart failure Sunday morning. He was 65. Phillips passed away at UCLA Medical Center at 8:15 a.m. PST surrounded by close family and friends, according to Reuters. Several years ago, Phillips received a liver transplant due to years of alcohol and drug abuse.

Phillips formed the Mamas & the Papas in 1965. The quartet lasted only three years but recorded some of rock’s most enduring songs, including ”California Dreamin’,” ”Monday, Monday,” and ”Go Where You Wanna Go.” The foursome consisted of Phillips, his then wife Michelle, Denny Doherty, and ”Mama” Cass Elliot, who died in 1974. The group sang six top five hits and were a major influence in the California music scene, helping to organize the famous 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. The Mamas & the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Phillips was also a lyricist who wrote and cowrote songs for other artists, including the No. 1 hit ”Kokomo” for the Beach Boys and ”Me and My Uncle” for the Grateful Dead. He had just completed a record he began more than 25 years ago with pals Mick Jagger and Keith Richards called ”Pay Pack and Follow.” The collaborative album is due out in May via British label Eagle Records.

Phillips is survived by his wife, Farnaz, two sons, and his celebrity daughters Mackenzie (best known for her stint on ”One Day at a Time”); Chynna (former Wilson Phillips member and Mrs. William Baldwin) and model-singer-actress Bijou (”Almost Famous”). So far, no funeral or memorial arrangements have been announced.

TRAGEDY British boy band A1 have canceled the rest of their Asia tour after four concertgoers were trampled to death in a stampede to meet the band in Indonesia. The band, Reuters reports, was signing autographs in a Jakarta shopping mall’s music store Sunday when four teenage girls were crushed as a crowd made its way into the store. Two other young women were critically injured and the band was immediately evacuated as the mob of clamoring girls grew out of control. ”The band is, at this point, in an extremely shocked condition,” Sony Music Indonesia managing director Susanto Haryono told a news conference Monday morning. ”They are really, really concerned about their fans, so this is something that is beyond their comprehension.”

LEGAL BRIEF A Los Angeles man is suing NBC and the writers of ”Will & Grace,” claiming they based one of the sitcom’s characters on him without his permission. In a lawsuit filed Friday, interior desinger Jack Deamer alleges the sitcom’s executive producer Max Mutchnick promised to buy him a house and a car in exchange for basing the character Jack (played by Emmy winner Sean Hayes) on him, the Associated Press reports. NBC has yet to comment on the suit. Deamer claims he’s known Mutchnick for more than a decade. Since 1998, Mutchnick has allegedly told Deamer that he ”had not yet achieved the sort of assured long-term revenue” necessary to compensate him.

DADDY DEAREST A Nashville judge has refused to let country wunderkind LeAnn Rimes out of a recording contract she entered with her parents’ approval when she was 12. The 18 year old singer told her father Wilbur Rimes ”I hate you” after the ruling Friday afternoon, the Associated Press reports. Rimes, who’s suing her father in Texas over mismanagement of $7 million of her money, wanted the Nashville court to set aside a long term contract signed in 1995 with Curb Records. Rimes, who now lives in Los Angeles, issued a statement last month saying her latest Curb album ”I Need You” was made without her ”creative input.” Wilbur Rimes told the Associated Press that he was ”very hurt, but confused” about his daughter’s remark ”because I had nothing to do with the proceeding.”

PLOT REVEALED Paul Thomas Anderson‘s highly guarded film starring Adam Sandler is a secret no more. According to Variety, the $25 million feature stars Sandler as Barry, the owner of a struggling phone sex operation who is being chased by three thugs. His character’s sister, meanwhile, keeps trying to set him up on a blind date with a friend (Emily Watson). Barry refuses to go on the date but ends up meeting Watson’s character anyway. Obsessed with getting away from the henchmen, Barry begins to collect pudding coupons that can be redeemed for frequent flyer miles. After earning enough miles to travel the world, Barry decides to fly to Hawaii to look for Watston, who’s vacationing there. The Revolution Studios movie, with the working title of ”the X4 Project,” wrapped shooting last week in Waikiki, Hawaii.

CASTING Character actor Paul Giamatti (”Duets,” ”Big Momma’s House”) and Amanda Detmer (”Saving Silverman”) will join ”Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz in Universal’s feature ”Pay or Play.” The comedy follows a teenager (Muniz) whose school essay is somehow found by a Hollywood producer (Giamatti) who turns it into a blockbuster movie. The project starts shooting March 28.

EXPLANATION Actress Meg Ryan claims her relationship with Oscar nominee Russell Crowe was not the reason for her divorce from actor Dennis Quaid. Ryan said in the German edition of InStyle published Monday. ”My marriage with Dennis had already fallen apart before I met Russell,” she was quoted in the magazine. Crowe and Ryan began an affair while on the set of ”Proof of Life” in Ecuador last year. Ryan, 39, and Quaid, 46, ended their 9 year marriage, but Ryan also split with Crowe, 37, earlier this year. ”It would be really great if people would realize that stars are only people with the same weaknesses and flaws, not immaculate idols,” Ryan said.

IT’S THEIR LIFE Jersey rockers Bon Jovi are planning to release their first live album May 22. A compilation of performances recorded at concerts throughout their career, the album will feature hits like ”Runaway,” ”Wanted Dead or Alive,” ”Living on a Prayer,” and of course, ”Bad Medicine.” So far, Jon, Richie, and the crew have yet to select a title for the live album. The boys also kick off a 22 city tour April 18 in Phoenix to promote their latest album, ”Crush,” which came out last June.