Russell Simmons faces Congressmen at a rap summit
Plus, Christina Aguilera's granny speaks out, heads roll over Sony's fake critic, and more
HIP-HOPRISY Hip-hop guru Russell Simmons was so taken aback by a $7,000 indecency fine that the FCC levied this week against a Colorado radio station for playing a supposedly radio-friendly version of Eminem‘s ”The Real Slim Shady” that he confronted new FCC chairman Michael Powell. ”I asked Mr. Powell, ‘How can you make decisions regarding obscenity and indecency when you’ve never even met with the leaders of the hip-hop community?,”’ Simmons says.
So Powell agreed to discuss the issue at the ”Hip-Hop Summit,” a conference next Tuesday and Wednesday at the New York Hilton in Manhattan. Rappers on the panels will include Sean ”Puffy” Combs, KRS-One, Master P, Run-DMC, Will Smith, Jay-Z, Method Man, Chuck D, Foxy Brown, and LL Cool J. Also attending will be five members of Congress: Representatives Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Earl Hilliard (D-Alaska) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). Yeah, but can they freestyle?
CHRISTINA’S WORLD It must be tough to be a pop star when even your own grandmother is a playa hater. According to England’s Heat magazine, Delcie Fidler has some harsh words for granddaughter Christina Aguilera, especially her costuming choices. ”I nearly died when I saw she was wearing so little. I rang her mom and said, ‘Oh my god, what is Christina doing?”’ the 80-year-old is quoted as saying. ”What gets me is that Christina thinks she is doing something clever, but anyone can strip. I feel sad for her really — she is so young. I totally understand why people criticize her.” Ouch!
MORE THUMBS DOWN For a guy who doesn’t exist, David Manning sure has a lot of impact. The antics of Sony Pictures’ fictitious film critic have resulted in a probe by the attorney general’s office in Connecticut (home of the Ridgefield Press, the paper where Manning supposedly worked) and now, the punishment of two Sony advertising executives. According to Variety, Matthew Cramer and Josh Goldstine were ”reprimanded” and suspended without pay for a month.
Cramer used the name of a college pal for Manning and wrote his review quotes that appeared in ads for such films as ”The Animal,” ”A Knight’s Tale,” and ”Vertical Limit.” It’s not clear what Goldstine’s role was, since he was promoted to his current position in November, after Manning had already begun his career with a rave for (aptly enough) ”Hollow Man.” Cramer and Goldstine are director and senior vice president, respectively, of Sony’s creative advertising department. That certainly is creative advertising.
Manning is also the catalyst for a class-action lawsuit filed against Sony in Los Angeles yesterday. Plaintiffs Omar Rezec and Ann Belknap accuse Sony of deceiving moviegoers and violating California’s Business and Profession Code. They’re seeking reimbursement to the millions of ticket buyers who paid to see the four movies on the basis of Manning’s reviews. That’s a lot of clout for an unknown critic from an obscure media outlet. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper must be jealous.
ILLEGAL BRIEFS Hollywood isn’t the only place where actors are involved in delicate labor negotiations. At Disney World in Orlando, the performers who play Mickey Mouse, Snow White, and the rest have won an important concession: They no longer have to share their underwear. The theme park had required its performers to turn in their costumes at the end of each day, including Disney-issued jockstraps, tights, and bike shorts (regular undies bunch up and are too visible beneath the costumes).
Disney launderers were then supposed to wash the skivvies and distribute them the next day to whoever was taking over the shift. But workers complained that they were getting smelly and stained undergarments, and some claimed they had been infected with pubic lice and scabies. So now, Disney will have Cinderella and her coworkers take home their underwear and wash it themselves each night…
Charlie Sheen‘s 16-year-old daughter was arrested for burglary at a Malibu clothing boutique Wednesday afternoon. Police did not release the girl’s name because she is a minor and did not elaborate on the details of the alleged offense. (”Burglary” is charged when a suspect allegedly enters an establishment intending to commit theft, so it may apply to shoplifting, too.) The girl was released to her mother, with whom she lives in Malibu. It’s just shocking — Charlie Sheen has a 16-year-old daughter?…
CNN has settled out of court a lawsuit filed by a former producer who alleged he was fired ”to appease high-level military officials” in the wake of the network’s 1998 ”Tailwind” embarrassment. Jack Smith sued for defamation and wrongful termination after CNN retracted its report that the military had used nerve gas on defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War. Fellow producer April Oliver, who was also fired over the incident, settled a suit with CNN a year ago. Details of Smith’s settlement were not disclosed. (CNN, like EW.com, is an AOL Time Warner-owned company.)
PUBLIC SPECTACLE Are you ready for some highbrow costume drama? It’ll be brains vs. brawn this fall when PBS moves ”Masterpiece Theatre” from the Sunday night spot it’s held for 25 years to Monday nights at 9, opposite ”NFL Monday Night Football” on ABC. Here’s an idea for PBS: Steal even more of ABC’s thunder by spicing up those Dickens and Bronte adaptations with cheerleaders and instant replays.
”Antiques Roadshow” will serve as a lead-in, keeping its 8 p.m. Monday slot, while a British version, ”Antiques Roadshow U.K.,” will air at 8 on Thursdays. ”American Masters” and ”American Experience” will take ”Masterpiece Theatre”’s Sunday slot. Also on the PBS fall schedule is ”Life 360,” a wide-ranging 13-part documentary series coproduced with Oregon Public Broadcasting and ABC’s ”Nightline.”
SCREEN SPLASH The Sub-Mariner may be the next Marvel Comics superhero to hit the big screen, following such Marvel mainstays as the X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Incredible Hulk. The Sub-Mariner, a.k.a. Prince Namor of Atlantis, is the comics publisher’s first superhero, dating back to 1939. Now he may surface at Universal, where Ang Lee is preparing to shoot his Hulk movie. No script has been commissioned, but Marvel Studios president Avi Arad suggested to the Hollywood Reporter that the story would have Namor battling polluters responsible for such threats to ocean life as oil spills, underwater bomb testing, and global warming.
MEADOW’S MEMOIR Even though she’s a college kid in real life and on TV, ”The Sopranos” star Jamie-Lynn Sigler is already writing an autobiography. It’ll include a description of how she overcame an eating disorder and advice for young women on dealing with relationships and parents. Like, say, how to cope when your dad has your cheating boyfriend whacked?