• Ultimate Warrior Autopsy Finds Wrestler Died Of Cardiovascular Disease
    PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities in Phoenix say former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior died of cardiovascular disease.

    Maricopa County spokeswoman Cari Gerchick says that's the finding from an autopsy conducted Thursday by the county Medical Examiner's Office. The 54-year-old wrestler's given name was James Hellwig. He collapsed April 8 while walking with his wife to their car at a Scottsdale hotel and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

    Scottsdale police have said there were no signs of foul play.

    The Ultimate Warrior was one of pro wrestling's biggest stars in the late 1980s.

  • The Final Trailer For 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past Is A Traveler Of Both Time & Space
    On let the sun beat down upon the final "X-Men: Days of Future Past" trailer. Twentieth Century Fox and director Bryan Singer use an instrumental version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" to score the last tease before the film's May 23 release. It works, not just because the song's lyrics ("I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been") fit in with the film's plot: In the post-apocalyptic future, Professor X and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the past to change the course of history. The time travel puts Jackman in the same scenes as "X-Men: First Class" cast members Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult and Michael Fassbender, and allows him to integrate with the new "X-Men" while still keeping old faves (hey, Halle Berry!) involved in the story as well. Watch the "X-Men: Days of Future Past" trailer, and ignore any and all similarities between the Sentinels and the Helicarriers in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

  • A Conversation with The Both's Aimee Mann & Ted Leo, Plus A Quick Chat with Dolly Parton
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    A Conversation with The Both's Aimee Mann and Ted Leo

    Mike Ragogna: Of course everybody's asked you this, but how did you guys decide to become The Both?

    Ted Leo: Well we were on the road together, we were touring in the fall of 2012. I had a song that I had actually been writing with Aimee in mind, and luckily it happened to be a song that she she responded to and approached me and asked if she could join me onstage playing it, which spared me the angst of asking her to join me on it. From that point on for the rest of the tour, our sets began cross-pollinating a little more. I was joining Aimee on a duet of hers and we started spending more and more time on stage together. It was just such a fun and energizing thing to play with her that when the tour ended and we had the conversation that people often do when these things happen, which is like, "Yeah, we should do something together sometime." It was more serious than the usual conversation and very quickly, we began kicking ideas back and forth and churning out some songs.

    MR: What's the creative process for The Both. Is it pretty evenly balanced?

    Aimee Mann: Well, more or less, it turns out to be even. A song has to get started somehow, so one or the other of us will come up iwth an initial idea and sometimes that can just be a riff or a chord progression or it could be a whole verse and a chorus and then person A hands it off to person B to come up with th enext section. There's a lot of talking back and forth about, "What did you intend with this first verse? Where would you like it to go? What's the narrative, or do we want to keep a narrative?" I would say one or two songs are a little more impressionistic than that but in general we do kind of have conversations about what comes next and we make sure there's not too much time in the song before the other person chimes in with either a harmony or takes over the lead vocal. In general we tend to sing the verse that we wrote. There's usually a lot of back and forth.

    MR: And it seems like a pretty even distribution of intellegence and pop through this project. Some of my favorite lines on this project is from "You Can't Help Me Now." "Any time you establish a need to atone, you're prone down the tracks you map on the seams of your own broken bones." Wow. The visual and intelligence behind it really speaks a lot about your talents. With a lot of collaborations, I think it can be very hard to get to that point where you have a deep level of communication because you're usually compromising within a collaboration.

    TL: I appreciate you saying that. What you said at the end there is kind of crucial to how we work. The compromises that we arrive at, we make a very conscious decidion to now have it be designed by committee. It's not the kind of thing where edges get whittled away until it's sort of blandly acceptable to either or both of us. We really kind of challnge ourselves to get to a point with every line or even specific words within lines where we're actively excited about what we've come up with and we're not just settling for something. If one or the other of us doesn't understand what the person is saying or has a challenge to it or thinks they might have a better idea, we really made an effort to remove our egos from the process and look at each song as a really fun collaborative puzzle to be solved and made the besat that we can make it as opposed to allowing any kind of clinging or ego-driven hurt to impede the process.

    MR: Speaking of fun, was the song "Milwaukee" truly inspired by the Fonz?

    AM: Yeah, in part. That was a song that I started. It was the second song we wrote together and I started it with the idea of, "I'm going to write a real Ted Leo song." What does that translate into? A fast shuffle beat and a lot of chords. So to have placeholder lyrics I started writing about this day that we were hanging out in Milwaukee. It was probably a show pretty early on in the tour and we were walking along the Milwaukee River Walk and stumbled upon the Bronze Fonz. The Bronze Fonz is pretty ridiculous for a lot of reasons. We have since become obsessed with it and have tried to analyze all the reasons we think it's ridiculous, but for our purposes now we don't have to go into every reason, but just to know that as a gag I was writing about this walk and the Fonz and this other bronze duck and it was really windy. I was just putting in these details of this time when we were hanging around, but then as we were both working on it we kind of felt like, "I'm sort of into this. I'm into this very Milwaukee-specific referedce." I do remember that show very well, it was the first show that I got to see Ted's set all the way through and it was the first show where I thought, "I can really see how the two of us could have a musical collaboration," I could see what it would sound like. This song, "The Gambler" was very key to that. But that was the first time I saw Ted's show all the way through and started to think that we should do something together.

    TL: Lyrically regarding you bringing up "fun," I think we both attempt to actually kind of write about something germaine to human nature or something relatively serious when we're writing. I think it's kind ofrare in both of our catalogs to have something like "Milwaukee" which, while it kind of branches into other places it is essentially our origin story song. That's part of what makes it so fun for me. I rarely write or sing about something like that. It reminds me of the fun amid which our project was created and then it adds a change of pace from our normal dark concerns. It remains fun to play and sing.

    MR: You mentioned writing about human nature, and to that, one of my favorite songs lyrically on the album is "The Inevitable Shove." How did that come about?

    AM: That was started by Ted. Ted sent me this piano figure that I really liked because it is a completely different thing. It's actually not un-showtune-like, which is actually weirdly another thing we share, we both really like musical theatre. It has a little bit of a Godspell feel, in the best way possible. I don't want to offend you, Ted.

    TL: No, no, I take that as a compliment. I'm happy to get onboard the Godspell train. Lyrically it's just about things that we were both going through in our lives, other interpersonal issues and coming to terms with the fact sometimes that you can't control what other people are going to think or do even in regards to yourself and you sometimes have to let go of your attempt to manipulate and control situations and let people do what they're going to do and continue on your own path.

    MR: One that's sort of a foil to that is "Volunteers Of America."

    TL: It is sort of flipside to that. Do you want to pick that up, Aimee?

    AM: "Volunteers...," that's a song that you started musically, I think. I wrote the chorus to it.

    TL: You wrote one of the verses, too.

    AM: Right, and I think I started the theme of a vague idea of the line between being helpful and of service to people and being co-dependent and a martyr and where the lines in that quadrant get drawn and how being brought up in catholocism contributes to that with the idea of faith versus work, although I'm not a catholic. That's sort of another attempt for me to try to crawl into Ted's brain and write from his point of view.

    TL: Lord knows my lapsed Catholocism gets sprayed all over the page sometimes.

    AM: But it's in you, and it never gets out.

    MR: While we're on that subject, what's in the news that's got your interest?

    TL: Oh God, yeah. For example, I'm most recently mortified at the situation with HSBC getting off the hook for laundering all of that Columbian drug money while there are people getting busted on the streets with a small amount of cocaine or a joint or something in a state where it's not yet legal, or serving jail time. Stop me if I'm going too far into the weeds here, but it's an example of going back to Eric Holder's comment when he was Assistant Attorney General about going easy on corporate fines because of how it might affect people who need jobs if these companies go under, it's another example of the whole idea of "Too big to fail" and the benefits of being wealthy. You can very easily fine people involved in the company without bankrupting the entire corporation. This is just yesterday, but this goes on.

    AM: I love that he's really hooked you in!

    MR: [laughs] And we haven't even talked about the Nevada rancher yet.

    TL: I'm mad! But I'm always mad about something.

    AM: I think that what's always most interesting is to see how people's personal issues impact politics and public policy and just as a broad example to see how the need to be right about things like denying climate change or people's need to believe that that's not possible or people confusing a vague religious belief with a political belief with a sense of anger and irritation at what they perceive to be the other side, well literally their desire and desperation and need to be right is literally leading the planet into being completely destroyed. It's just amazing. I have a friend who says, "Yeah, you're right. Dead right. They'll put that on your grave stone." "I was right."

    MR: It's sad how so many people always vote against their best interests as well.

    TL: I actually feel that there's a willful disregard for accepting or allowing themselves to believe facts that are often presented to them that are based in--as Aimee was saying--a certain indignation, a certain need to feel agrieved or to feel that they're the ones being put upon. It's almost like a psychological problem that presents one from accepting facts that don't allow them to be the agrieved party in any situation.

    AM: I think the other factor is there's this real mistrust of science and facts and a feeling of just the "other," that somehow science and facts are the province of some undefined elite and "In defiance, I'm not going to believe what the elite is telling me," whether it's correct or not. People really have a problem--everyone has a f**king problem with thinking a feeling is a fact. They have a feeling about it, they're convinced about it, and it's a f**king fact. No one's exempt from that, intelligent people aren't exempt from that, educated people aren't exempt from that, everybody has it and that's why for me self awareness and self knowledge is the most important thing in that area. I'm always interested in that angle because I feel like it impacts everything. It also saves me from having to learn actual facts because I'm too dumb to remember them.

    MR: [laughs] What advice do you have for new artists?

    AM: Oh my God, Ted, you get it.

    TL: Do something else.

    MR: [laughs]

    AM: I don't know what somebody would do if they were just starting out. Honestly? Be good. Care. Give a s**t. Give a s**t about making good music because that will always resonate to other people who care. If all you care about is being famous, there's no advice for you. I don't know what to say. There are a million ways to become famous, none of them savory. It's not that hard to become a notorious person, but caring about what you do will always resonate with you on some level.

    TL: I could not have said that better.

    MR: Wait Ted, it's your turn!

    TL: [laughs] I will just add that, for example, we didn't set out doing this project with anything in mind other than crafting something that was really enjoyable for us to do and that we wanted to put a lot of work into making good. Whatever happens with that happens with it. Lord knows the music business is incredibly difficult these days. But never forget that whether you wind up making a living off of it or not, you're making art and art is important in people's lives. Like Aimee said, if you care about what you're doing it's going to reonate with somebody.

    MR: Nice, beautiful. Aimee, Charmer was your last release, and Ted, you had The Brutalist Bricks. Is The Both the next step from those projects in your musical evolution? Is The Both the next part of the conversation?

    TL: It feels like that for me. I wouldn't have said that, going into it, because it feels like at the time I was still thinking about what was going to be happening with my own next "solo" project, but it really does feel like that for me now. It feels like this is the next part of the conversation. If I can speak for you for a second, Aimee, I think we both agree that we're going to certainly keep this going for as long as we can.

    AM: Agreed.

    Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne

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    On May 13th, Dolly Parton's new album Blue Smoke will be released, it covering a wide range of styles from gospel to mountain to pop, taking on Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice," the witty "Lover Du Jour," and eye-poppers like Bon Jovi's "Lay Your Hands On Me" and literally a killer version of the classic "Banks Of The Ohio." Album guests include Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, and on April 27th, Dolly will be appearing on QVC for a pre-sale of the album. The following is probably the shortest interview I've ever done, the result of there being like twenty other participants from Reuters to health and music zines and beyond. But it gets to the heart of what I wanted to learn about this smart, warm and honest performer.

    A Tiny But Lovely Q&A with Dolly Parton

    Mike Ragogna: Dolly, you've had an amazing recording and music history. When you look back at young Dolly Parton, what would you tell her?

    Dolly Parton: [laughs] Well, I would tell her I'm pretty proud of her, because when you get older, you really reflect and you really think so many things. One of the things I think about is just how fortunate that I have been to have been able to actually see my dreams come true, because I know so many people that can't say that. I know so many people that are far more talented than me and that have worked just as hard and came to town the same time I did and never really made it big. So you wonder, and you kind of go back to that Kris Kristofferson song, "Why Me Lord?" You just really think about all those things. But more than anything, I just think that little girl who moved here back in '64 to try to make those dreams come true and now here I am at sixty-eight years old and so many of them have come true. But what's so funny is I still feel like that little girl. I'm still dreaming, dreaming big. I've still got new dreams to dream, new dreams I hope to come true, so I just love the music, I just love to write, I love to perform and I hope to be doing this until I keel over dead in about thirty years.

    MR: [laughs] Dolly, I have to ask you my traditional question. What is your advice for new artists?

    DP: Well as I've often said, I try not to give advice, I just try to pass on some information. But I think it's true with anything, like that old saying, "To thine own self be true," I think there's really so much to that, that people know what they really want, they know what their strength and their talent really is and I think you need to be willing to sacrifice that if you have to. You've got to protect it, you've got to fight for it and if you really are that good and you really have that much faith in it, if you really stay in it long enough changes are it will happen and if it don't I've always said, if you're really dreaming an impossible dream, you should know that it's okay to change dreams in the middle of a stream. If it's something that's not going to happen you can still rework it and apply what you've learned from the other stuff to a new dream.

    MR: These are very sweet answers, thank you so much.

    Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

    Disclaimer: Zac Efron never once removed his shirt during either of these interviews.

  • 'True Detective' Meets 'The Family Circus' Is Pure Evil Genius
    When one recalls the adorable, kid-friendly comic strip "The Family Circus," our memories don't exactly conjure thoughts of overwhelming existentialism, metaphysical rumination or pessimism of any kind. Then we came across "Time Is A Flat Circus." Our childhood connections to the Sunday funnies will never be the same again.


    The pop culture mashup to beat all other pop culture mashups blends the unflinchingly nihilistic quotes of "True Detective" with the cherubic faces of Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and P.J. The result is pure hilarity, as the innocent children utter phrases that originally came from the sullen mouth of the HBO show's main character, Rust Cohle, like: "It's all one ghetto, man. A giant gutter in outer space."


    Bil Keane's characters do live in a seemingly never-ending series of flat circles, so we have to tip our hat to the evil genius behind this project, Alex Patrick Wilson. Touché, sir. Check out the rest of the series here.

    (Images courtesy of Time Is A Flat Circus/Tumblr)

  • No Brian Epstein? No Beatles!
    Beatles manager Brian Epstein has finally been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Beatles scholar Martin Lewis instigated and spearheaded the ultimately successful 15-year campaign to have Epstein honored. In this special essay, Lewis documents the importance of Brian Epstein to the Beatles' success. In the second half of this piece, he recounts the inside story of the long struggle to have Epstein inducted. There is a also a new video tribute to Epstein by one of his many admirers.

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    Brian Epstein changed our world more than most people who have ever lived. And that's no exaggeration.

    The reason for that statement is very simple.

    Brian Epstein is the man who gave us the Beatles. And it is an unassailable fact that the Beatles changed not just music, hairstyles and clothes -- but also the entire cultural, social and political fabric of the twentieth century. And changed those things immeasurably for the better. Furthermore those changes have endured and continue to influence our present-day world.

    First things first. Brian Epstein didn't create the music It was the genius of the Beatles, their compositions, their recordings, their performances, their personality, their humor, their charm, their social activism that made the actual changes. Without the Beatles -- none of those changes would have happened. They were the ones with the muse, the talent and the creativity that changed the world.

    But without Brian Epstein -- none of us would have ever heard of the Beatles.

    (Unless of course we were among a tiny coterie of a few hundred people in Liverpool or the German port of Hamburg in 1961.)

    Put simply -- The Beatles changed the world. But Brian Epstein's gift was that he changed them. And gave them the pathway to reach us.

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    "Brian was a beautiful guy. And he was an intuitive, theatrical guy and he knew we had something. He presented us well..." - John Lennon MBE

    Fact: At the point that Brian Epstein took over management of the Beatles in January 1962 -- the primary nucleus of John, Paul and George had been together for five long years of a seemingly never-ending apprenticeship -- primarily in their hometown and a few months in Hamburg. And despite their immense nascent talent and brimming potential, they had been rewarded with nothing more than local cult followings in those two hard-scrabble seaport towns.

    On top of that -- they were just one of over 300 "beat groups" in Liverpool all striving for elusive stardom. And there was the handicap that Liverpool was a blue-collar city in the north of England. The British record industry was headquartered in London -- and that city's tastemakers looked down their noses at upstarts from the unfashionable provinces to the north. It was like asking a sophisticated Manhattanite to accept that the future of the world's culture would be found in Boise, Idaho.

    2014 04 10 BEGHBW Thumb "He wanted to manage us and we weren't going anywhere anyway. So we said 'yes you might as well...'" - George Harrison MBE

    The man who made the difference to the Beatles -- and therefore to us -- was Brian Epstein.

    He first saw the group performing in November 1961. And though he was only just 27 and had zero experience of artist management, he instantly saw past all the rough edges -- the sartorial drawbacks and the happy-go-sloppy presentation. He got the music, he got the charm, the humor, the potential. And he saw the world's future.

    Within a month he was their manager. He slaved to get them a record contract -- persevering through rejections from practically every record label in Britain until he finally met and persuaded George Martin to sign them to EMI's tiny Parlophone label. George Martin has been crystal clear that while he saw a glimmer of potential at the audition he gave the Beatles in June 1962, it was his belief in Epstein that finally convinced him to sign them.

    2014 04 10 BEGM Thumb "First of all he picked them. He actually said 'I want to be your manager... I want to look after you.' And if he hadn't brought them to me, I wouldn't have recorded them. He gave them style... He gave them taste.... He gave them their charm and their impeccability in dress." - Sir George Martin

    If Epstein had done nothing more than get them that break -- it would have sufficed ("dayenu!"). But he did so much more that ensured that the Beatles' talent would reach the world's eyes, ears and heart.

    He got the Beatles out of their mid-1950s 'leather 'n' jeans' look and into very stylish early-1960s mod suits. Without that they would never have got on TV shows in that era. He gave them presentational style. He nurtured and encouraged them to use their charm and humor -- but with professional panache.

    2014 04 15 AndrewBrianhp Thumb "The Beatles changed our lives. Brian Epstein changed theirs..." - Andrew Loog Oldham (manager/producer The Rolling Stones 1963-1967)

    The Beatles that the world fell in love with were the four musicians -- but as visually shaped and presented by Brian. He never interfered with their music. He was savvy and understood that the happy accident of meeting George Martin had delivered them unto an incredible nurturing man who was the perfect producer for them.

    Epstein's role in the early success of the Beatles was totally crucial. He galvanized the record company (which was highly skeptical of this oddly coiffed group in the early days), he worked tirelessly to secure promotional opportunities on radio and television, he got them more and better live bookings.

    Ultimately he believed in them. His love for them was unconditional, his belief in them unshakable.

    2014 04 10 PattieandBrian Thumb "He was not motivated by money but by a desire to make the dreams of his artists and pals come true. How rare and special that was..." - Pattie Boyd Harrison

    As early as 1962 he proclaimed to one and all that the Beatles would be "bigger than Elvis". At the time this seemed like a ludicrous prediction. Elvis Presley was the biggest teen pop star of all time. A worldwide phenomenon. And he was American! The Beatles were from 'li'l ole England'. And though there had been a few sporadic hit singles of British origin, no pop act from the UK had ever had sustained success in the USA.

    But Brian KNEW. He believed passionately in their potential.

    And when the 'smart boys' of Capitol Records in the USA turned down the Beatles no less than four times during the magical year of 1963 as the Beatles conquered the UK, Europe, Australasia and elsewhere, Epstein didn't give up. He devised a brilliant and audacious plan. In November 1963, he flew to New York and secured a meeting with the legendary variety show host Ed Sullivan. And though the Beatles didn't even have a U.S. record deal at that point -- he persuaded Sullivan to book the Beatles for three consecutive appearances on the Sullivan show the following February. The ultimate talent management coup of all time!

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    And then he used THAT coup to out-poker-play the president of Capitol Records into signing the group and committing to a big marketing spend to promote the group. Ultimately of course -- as Epstein was always the first to say -- it was the Beatles' music that made the final sale with young Americans and turned them into lifelong Beatles fans. But if Epstein hadn't done his magic in the first place -- then those young ears would never have heard the Beatles' magic.

    The litany of Epstein's other achievements for the Beatles (and for many other artists he managed) over the next few years till his tragically premature death (an accidental overdose of sleeping tablets) in August 1967 is long and warrants attention in a forum that has more space than this cyber venue.

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    But here are two key facets.

    Prior to Epstein's management of the Beatles, the normal attitude of talent representatives in the popular music field was to milk the act and not let the artist change a winning formula that might stop yielding those lucrative golden eggs. Brian Epstein totally ignored that rule. His primary motives were never financial. His passion was to enable the Beatles to fulfill their vast creative potential.

    Prior to the Beatles, most musical acts in the popular field did not make quantum leaps in creativity. Nor did they aspire to. At best, they just got better at doing the same things. They improved their craft... their vocalizing and/or their instrumental playing. But the Beatles were not content to live within the established boundaries of the 12-bar-blues-based popular song that had prevailed from the earliest days of rock 'n' roll. They instinctively pushed the boundaries of melody, harmony, rhythm, lyrics and subject matter in their compositions -- and they expanded the horizons of how recorded music sounded with their innovative approach to vocal performance, instrumentation, arrangements and the entire aural soundscapes of their work.

    2014 04 10 Eppyloguestudio ThumbBrian Epstein with George, John and Paul at the EMI Studios in Abbey Road, London in June 1967

    They created masterpieces far beyond the wildest imaginations of the wonderful pioneers of rock music who had inspired them. Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley were all truly enjoyable artists who opened up the door. But ultimately they worked in simple monochromatic shades on one-dimensional planes. Effective and visceral. But the Beatles opened popular music up into a three (and sometimes four) dimensional wonderland with a rainbow of technicolor hues not imaginable in the 1950s. In cinematic terms they took recorded music from the silent movie era into talkies, color and 3D -- all in the space of seven years. To look at all they achieved in the years 1962-1970 is like seeing a time-lapse film of a single-cell organism evolving into homo sapiens at warp-speed. They were the Big Bang that made it all possible...

    Each time the Beatles made one of their quantum leaps in creativity there was a chance that their teenage fans might be mystified by the changes. Listen to "Love Me Do" (recorded September 1962) and then "Tomorrow Never Knows" (recorded April 1966). Note the evolution in both music and ambition that went from singing "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (recorded October 1963) to telling the listener "I'd love to turn you on" (recorded January 1967). In spans of just three and a half years they went from the equivalent of Paleolithic paintings on the walls of the Lascaux caves to creating exquisitely beautiful sonic holograms on the bright side of the moon!

    And as the Beatles evolved from exuberant boy-band caterpillars (the era of "She Loves You" to adventurous chrysalis ("Rubber Soul") and into gloriously artistic butterflies ("Revolver," "Sgt Pepper" and beyond) -- what was the reaction of Brian Epstein? Was he fearful in case the fans would desert them as they eschewed having any set musical formula and rapidly evolved with each new record? Quite the opposite. Regardless of the very real danger (based on conventional wisdom) that baffled fans might abandon them (which would have hurt his own pocketbook), Epstein positively reveled in the Beatles' emerging creativity. It was a source of huge pride to him that his "boys" were developing creatively and flourishing. What he cared about was THEM and helping them achieve everything they were capable of. That was as revolutionary in pop artist management as their music.

    2014 04 10 BERingo Thumb "He was very good. He started like we did. He didn't know the game, neither did we, really. We knew how to play, and he tidied us up and moved us on.... More our friend than anything else... Brian was a friend of ours..."
    - Ringo Starr MBE

    Another example. In early 1967 Brian was approached by Britain's BBC. It was coordinating a major TV special for the end of June in which nations throughout the world would be linked up for the first time ever by a global satellite. The live show would feature contributions from each participating nation. The BBC wanted the Beatles to represent Britain. Brian knew that this live broadcast would be seen by a huge audience (it turned out to be over 400 million) and it would be taking place just three weeks after the worldwide release of the Beatles' highly anticipated new album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

    Any ordinary money-motivated manager would have thought "ca-ching! Promotional opportunity! Have the guys perform one of the songs from the new album and rack up more sales..."

    Brian's first thought: This is an historic occasion -- a platform for the Beatles to express a message to the entire planet. So he went to them and encouraged them to create something special for the broadcast. NOT a promotion for their new album -- but a purpose-written new song. John came up with "All You Need Is Love" -- a tune that had been gestating for a while -- a thematic descendent of his 1966 song "The Word". The result of Brian taking the less obvious path -- eschewing the instant financial rewards of promoting their new album -- was that the Beatles created a new anthem for the age -- and for the ages... A singular expression of their philosophy. That is both a time capsule of that halcyon summer-of-love -- and also a timeless paean to what the world could and should be.

    2014 04 10 AYNILpic Thumb Brian Epstein (center) at the rehearsal for the Beatles' live TV performance of "All You Need Is Love" on Sunday June 25th 1967. On the left, Brian's General Manager Peter Brown (later name-checked in "The Ballad of John & Yoko") to the right Promotion Manager Tony Bramwell.

    That live worldwide TV broadcast in June 1967 turned out to be the last of Brian's many spectacular successes for the Beatles. What a pinnacle! Exactly ten years before that, John and Paul met for the first time at a church garden party where John and his school-pals group The Quarrymen performed in front of approximately 400 villagers in Woolton just outside Liverpool. Ten years later John and Paul -- with their mates George and Ringo -- performed in front of approximately 400 MILLION television viewers worldwide. It was a fairy tale piece of symmetry that would not seem plausible if you wrote it in a novel or screenplay. But it did happen. And it happened because five and half years earlier -- Brian Samuel Epstein watched the Beatles in a crowded subterranean cavern at a lunchtime concert and had an epiphany.

    Bruce Springsteen's manager Jon Landau -- a man I very much like and respect, who has worked very skillfully on behalf of Bruce for four decades -- famously wrote of his future client in 1974 "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen". I think Jon would agree that Brian Epstein didn't just see rock and roll future. He was an integral part in making it happen.

    2014 04 15 BEPaul67 Thumb "No one else was going to stack up against Brian in my mind. You couldn't have the flair, the panache, the wit, the intelligence that Brian had - they would just merely be money managers. Brian was far more than that..."
    - Sir Paul McCartney

    Were there any major errors in Epstein's management? Just one -- but it was an error born of innocence, naiveté and misjudged delegation and not remotely an issue of Epstein's honesty or integrity which, to this day, everyone agrees was impeccable.

    Merchandising was virtually an unknown field in Britain in the early 1960s and with his hands overfilled, Epstein delegated handling of this aspect of the Beatles to a trusted lawyer. Unfortunately the lawyer was clueless and didn't seek guidance. So the Beatles (and of course Epstein) lost out on a revenue stream for quite a while. One that wouldn't have existed but for Epstein's promotion of the Beatles. So it was a drag -- but it was one understandable hiccup in an otherwise superb operation. Needless to say, the classy and timeless presentation of the Beatles that Epstein had orchestrated in 1962-1967, including the iconic photographs, the sartorial splendor and the "Yellow Submarine" animated feature that Epstein extolled to a reluctant group, has meant that such misplaced revenue has been replaced in recent decades by vast quantum amounts.

    2014 04 15 JPBrian Thumb "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle - it was Brian" --
    Paul McCartney
    "He was one of us..."
    -- John Lennon

    A few ignorant Monday Morning Quarterbacks have wondered why the Beatles were initially on such low record royalty rates. Duh! All record royalty rates for unknown artists were pitiful in that era -- and when you've been turned down by every label in the land, you have no bargaining position. Brian got the best deal that could be got at the time and in the circumstances.

    How come the Beatles don't own their own music publishing? The same reason that the Stones, the Who, the Kinks and so many of their peers don't own the publishing of THEIR songs from that era. The recording and publishing companies of that time were exceptionally skillful at screwing artists, composers and managers. And Brian and the Beatles got screwed just like everyone else. And the one or two sharp/shark managers (no names necessary) who did beat the system also screwed their artists. It was a lose-lose world. But one thing is clear. Brian was always impeccably honest. And the scale of the success he helped the Beatles achieve paved the way for future artists to have bargaining positions not available to Epstein and the Beatles in the early 1960s.

    It's 46 years since Brian Epstein passed away. He was just 32. But he gave us the Beatles. The least he deserves in return is our respect, gratitude and love. Shalom Brian.


    The heroes who inspired me to launch the campaign to get Brian in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were two old friends of mine who both loved Brian and were dedicated to keeping his memory alive in a world that seemed to be forgetting him. Derek Taylor who had been assistant to Brian in 1964, co-writer of Brian's 1964 autobiography and Beatles publicist in 1964 and 1968-1970. And Ray Coleman, veteran music journalist and author of the only Epstein biography -- published in 1989 -- and a superlative Lennon biography. Derek had been my mentor and first boss in the early 1970s. Ray was also one of my longtime friends.

    2014 04 15 DTBE Thumb"Brian Epstein is a crucial part of the Beatles story. Brian was a most wonderful chap... A terrifically good servant for them. Brian gave them a very, very nice road. Really quite a carefree way into fame by taking care of business. When he 'went' it was pretty well all over in terms of direction." - Derek Taylor

    Ray and Derek were the foremost -- and almost the only -- keepers of the flame for Brian. They both died of cancer, within a 12-month period 1996-1997.

    Derek and I had first discussed the possibility of Brian being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Hall's third induction ceremony in January 1988. That was the year the Beatles were inducted. We were both guests at the event (which in those days was an invitation-only industry gathering). I had attended the first two events in 1986 and 1987 both as a guest and also in my role as producer of the video that was being shot for the Hall archives at the request of Hall co-founder Bob Krasnow -- so I was already very familiar with the event.

    2014 04 15 The Beatles Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Thumb
    George Harrison. Yoko Ono, Ringo Starr, Julian Lennon & Sean Lennon at the 1988 induction of the Beatles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    As the Beatles were very warmly saluted we noted that Motown Records founder Berry Gordy was also being inducted -- into the Non-Performers Section. In the two previous years several behind-the-scenes moguls had been honored including Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler and Sam Phillips. As we enjoyed the night, Derek and I casually talked about Brian and how much he would have relished the evening. We both thought that if the Beatles since the Beatles had been inducted and the Hall was also honoring worthy back-room boys then eventually Brian's time would come. We had no idea then how staggeringly indifferent the music industry, and especially the Hall of Fame, would turn out to be.

    Derek and I were in frequent contact over the next few years. We commiserated with each other about the sad deaths of two of our mutual friends Harry Nilsson and Timothy Leary... And I was reunited with Derek as my boss when I was appointed U.S. marketing strategist for the Beatles' Live At The BBC album (1994) and Anthology series (1995-6). (Derek coordinated the worldwide campaigns for Apple from London.) In October 1995 I spent a day filming an interview with Derek for the Re-Meet The Beatles! documentary I was producing and hosting about the Beatles for E! Though I knew it might not make it into a very tightly-packed one-hour film, I got Derek to talk on-camera about Brian. After we'd completed the interview, Derek and I chatted more about Brian and what ought to be done to have a forgetful world pay more respect to Brian.

    2014 04 15 Derektaylormartinlewis Thumb
    Derek Taylor (left) and Martin Lewis in 1995

    By the last time we spoke -- shortly before he died in September 1997 -- there had been 9 induction ceremonies since 1988 -- and a further 15 very worthy music industry back-room people had been inducted -- but not even a whisper about Brian. We talked about the fact that Brian's beloved mother Queenie had just passed on, as had our pal Ray Coleman. All the warriors seeking proper recognition of Epstein were departing the stage... I was upset about Derek's health and reluctant to face his clear message that he knew he was not long for this world -- and I tried to turn the conversation back to Britain's recent general election and new Prime Minister, Tony Blair. But Derek was insistent that we talk more about Brian. And I'm glad he did. By the end of the call Derek had reminded me that being one of his proteges carried with it certain responsibilities. And one of those was that I ought to be banging the drum loudly for Brian. As I had grown up with great admiration for Brian Epstein and fascination with all he'd done -- this was not going to be a chore. It would be an honorable "mitzvah" (a worthy deed). And with Queenie and Ray gone -- and Derek about to leave the stage -- I knew that once again I'd been given a mission by the mentor I first met in 1969 and whose memory I cherish to this day.

    The following year I helped organize the reissue of Brian's long-unavailable 1964 autobiography A Cellarful Of Noise and wrote the 25,000 word 'companion narrative' that contextualized the book through the prism of all that followed in the Epstein and Beatles universe from April 1964 (when it was written) till Epstein's death in August 1967; from then till the inevitable Beatles break-up ("after Brian died I knew we'd fuckin' had it" Lennon told Jann Wenner in 1970); and all that had followed in the post-Fab era.

    2014 04 15 Cellar1998 Thumb

    The 1998 reissue of Brian Epstein's 1964 autobiography "A Cellarful of Noise" with companion narrative by Martin Lewis

    Although I scarcely knew what a website was in those days, with the help of a friend and the blessing of the Epstein family I launched the official Brian Epstein website as an online shrine and information resource. And with my departed mentor's voice loud in my head (Derek always knew how to inspire the best work from his proteges!) I realized that I had to create a worldwide grassroots campaign to have Brian inducted in the Hall of Fame.

    The first person on board in support was my dear friend George Martin -- followed shortly by another pal Walter Shenson who had produced the Beatles' films. They knew firsthand how worthy of this honor Brian was. Others in Brian's inner circle lent support. Pattie Boyd, photographer Bob Freeman, singer Billy J. Kramer, documentary maker Albert Maysles, promotion exec Tony Bramwell, publicist Tony Barrow and many others.

    The petition caught on rapidly and signatures started coming in online and by hard copy.

    2014 04 15 BEfabs65 Thumb

    But I thought I should also try some inside lobbying of industry figures associated with the Hall of Fame. Some like Ahmet Ertegun and Seymour Stein I had known from my many years in the music industry. Other such as Jann Wenner I sought out whenever I was working on a Beatles-related project -- and used the occasion of the project as an opportunity to pitch the case for inducting Brian.

    That's when I realized the enormity of what was facing us. Not one of those people was rude to me about the Brian campaign. They listened patiently but with no great interest. Truth be told, no one really cared. Brian was dead and couldn't be of use to them. That was the brutal reality.

    2014 04 15 BrianandJohn Thumb "John never forgot the love that Brian had for the Beatles and his crucial role in that wonderful voyage."
    - Yoko Ono

    Given the enormous hurdles Brian had faced in his life -- being gay at a time when homosexuality was illegal in England -- and Jewish in a country where subtle antisemitism was part of the establishment culture -- I had hoped that those who could identify with one or both of those challenges that Brian had faced would at least be a tad more sympathetic to the cause. Certainly Brian belonged in the Hall on his merits. But we also needed a little help. Those in the Jewish and gay communities should have especial pride in Brian's achievements. Alas it made no difference.

    (So for all those reactionary conspiracy theory nuts who fear that the world is run by a Jewish cabal or a gay mafia -- they can sleep easy! No one from those groups in Hall of Fame circles appeared to step up to the plate... To those people -- they know who they are -- I say: "A shanda fur die goyim!" And for that matter: "A shanda fur die NON-GAY-im!")

    2014 04 15 HPepsteinbeatlesinside Thumb

    Taking all this into consideration I realized that we had to just focus on reaching out to Beatles fans and encouraging them to sign the petition. I knew the Hall of Fame's position was that membership was not a popularity contest. That was fine. We weren't asking for Brian to be inducted based on popular support per se. The petition was a respectful noodge to the nominating committee that someone who was overwhelmingly qualified had been long overlooked.

    So for many years we kept plugging away. I worked on many Beatles-related projects in those long years -- I was marketing strategist for the 2000 theatrical reissue of A Hard Day's Night, both producer and marketing strategist of the first DVD edition of that film, instigator and organizer of celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first U.S. visit, the 50th anniversary of the day John and Paul first met, producer of the all-star NYC concert and related Quarrymen US tour that celebrated the 70th anniversary of John Lennon's birth... And on all those projects we reached out to fans to remind them about the campaign to have this vitally important figure in Beatles history properly remembered and honored.

    Over 50,000 people signed the petition. Did it make a difference? It can't be proved -- but I think that it did. We kept respectful at all times. Never hectored the Hall on its continual overlooking of Brian. My theory was that if we continued our vigil and maintained a dignified presence on behalf of Brian that eventually we would prevail.

    2014 04 15 BEchamber Thumb Brian and the Beatles in Paris -- January 1964 -- celebrating the news that "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had reached Number One in the U.S. charts

    I know that the eventual decision to induct Brian owes a lot to my good friend Steven Van Zandt who understands rock history better than most. He became determined that Brian -- and also the great Rolling Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham -- should be honored. However, being friends with Steven, and working for him as a radio host on his Underground Garage SiriusXM satellite radio channel made it hard for me to directly lobby him about Brian.

    But Steven is very smart. He knows about all my work in the Beatles world and he's attended many of my Beatles events. Indeed, he and I even co-hosted a big party at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on the exact 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 2004.

    2014 04 15 ScreenShot20140411at12.44.50PM Thumb Steven Van Zandt and Martin Lewis on February 9th 2004 at the party they co-hosted in New York celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Beatles "Ed Sullivan Show" debut

    But, mindful of his official role on the nominating committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I tried to never directly hustle him about Brian. Even when we met up last May in Frankfurt when I went to interview Bruce Springsteen for the Amnesty International DVD box-set I was producing -- I held off pitching Steven about Brian. I had to respect his boundaries. But as Steven is very sharp maybe he caught my "it's about bloody time to induct Brian!" thought waves that I was beaming at him silently! Anyway -- I think he's definitely one of the heroes of this belated recognition of Brian.

    Ultimately it doesn't matter who did it. All that matters is that Brian has at long last been honored.

    2014 04 15 BEwiggy Thumb "Brian was much more fun than is known. Much more light-hearted and witty and cheeky!" - Derek Taylor

    Brian was one of nine inductees in the 2014 Hall Of Fame ceremony. What do I feel about the fact that in proceedings that ran a full five and half hours (330 minutes) the amount of time Peter Asher was permitted to speak about Brian when inducting him into the Hall of Fame was a grand total of two and a half minutes?! An entire three-quarters of one percent of the show's running time allocated to the man who gave the world the Beatles -- and helped create the present-day music industry that has provided such a lucrative living for all the directors of the Hall of Fame?! Given the 29 years that it took them to induct Brian -- I was not surprised. After all, the people who run the Hall of Fame know what they are doing. They are all honorable men...

    Please click here to read brand-new tributes to Brian Epstein that I've just received from people who really respect him. Including from GEORGE MARTIN, PATTIE BOYD, YOKO ONO, ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM, PETER BROWN, PETER ASHER and others in the Beatles' inner circle.

    More Information about Brian Epstein

    The Official Brian Epstein Website

    New TV segment about Brian Epstein

    Article in The Los Angeles Times

    Article on the Jewish News website

    Fan video tribute to Brian Epstein

  • Miley Cyrus Hospitalized For 'Severe Allergic Reaction,' Kansas City Show Cancelled
    Miley Cyrus was rushed to the hospital on April 15 after suffering a "severe allergic reaction to antibiotics," her rep told Gossip Cop.

    The 21-year-old "We Can't Stop" singer was scheduled to perform tonight at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, but she has been placed on "medical rest" by doctors and will be unable to perform tonight, according to a statement posted on the venue's website.

    Cyrus appears to be recovering nicely, as she already alerted her fans as to how upset she is for having to cancel the show:

    Kansas I promise Im as as you are. I wanted so badly 2 b there 2night. Not being with yall makes me feel shittier than I already do

    — Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) April 15, 2014

    The former Disney star also comiserated with a fan, writing , "trust me. I hate this. & I hate hospitals. & I hate needles. & I hate laying in a bed bored AF. & I hate feeling." Meanwhile, it appears that Cyrus is in good company as she recovers from her allergic reaction:

    Mr. Octopussy & some amazing Drs are taking good care of me pic.twitter.com/7FJFxYa7M5

    — Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) April 15, 2014

  • As <i>Mad Men</i>'s Ending Begins, So Does a Shift to Shangri-LA
    Mad Men made a very welcome return to our screens Sunday night with its 7th season opener, "Time Zones." Now only 13 episodes, split between this spring and next year, remain in this great novel for television.

    Opening with a suspiciously brilliant pitch for a watch ad by Freddie Rumsen, which nearly floors Peggy Olsen, though not so much that she doesn't try to muffle its perfect tag line, the episode founds out stalwarts mostly carrying on in a sort of functional despair. It's January 1969, made clear when we see Richard Nixon being inaugurated as president late in the episode. Just eight weeks since the end of Season 6.

    While Freddie, the intermittently functional deepseated alcoholic we see effectively canned in a great early episode of the show who returns with sobriety and useful career advice for Peggy, is
    a good pitch man, the words he is delivering, sound suspiciously like Don Draper's. And in fact, they are, as we learn at the end of the episode.

    Telling the truth about his hard-scrabble childhood in the brothel, in a meeting with a big potential client, did not do wonders for Don's career but telling it to his kids certainly helped his soul.

    Now suspended from Sterling Cooper, though still a partner and still getting his big paychecks, Don is not drowning his sorrows but is instead working with Freddie to pitch ad campaigns at his own and other agencies. In the proposed ad for Accutron, we see Draper's brilliance at capturing the product-as-talisman of identification and aspiration, as the would-be wearer, a young man seeking to make his way into the big world but suspicious of it impresses not only the two older suits of the ad a "Steve McQueen type."

    But while Draper is on his game, we see that mediocrity has overtaken Sterling Cooper. Peggy pushes the ad on the deaf ears of Don's temporary (?) replacement as creative director, a classic old school hack who has not only taken the role that the Season 6 finale hinted would be Peggy's but takes little interest in her work as a whole.

    Peggy still cares, but she's frustrated, both in work in her personal life.

    While the secret Don-Freddie duo is getting strong notices around Madison Avenue, with Don finding satisfaction in his creative work no matter who gets the credit, the still public Don-Megan duo is on shakier ground. She ended up going out to LA, where she clearly has prospects as an actress and sexy starlet, something the episode's showcase musical number -- Don's arrival at LAX and reunion with his young wife, set to the Spencer Davis Group's driving "I'm A Man" -- makes abundantly clear. But there's distance and plenty of eggshells between the pair.

    Despite the scintillating airport reunion, with Don joining the diaphanously mini-skirted Megan in her new sports car, sex proves not to be on the agenda for the evening, which they end with a viewing of Frank Capra's Lost Horizon as Megan falls asleep at her house in the LA hills. In a canyon, actually, which fans are quick to assume means Benedict Canyon, where Sharon Tate was murdered. LA factoid alert: There are several residential "canyons" in the city.
    I'm willing to bet that Megan doesn't become a Tate-like victim. But the choice of movie, which Don tellingly finds much more interesting than does Megan, is no accident. For in Los Hori
    Lost Horizon, an accomplished older man must assess what looks like a paradise in a land far from his own, a place called Shangri-la.

    While Don considers his future, with one foot in New York and the other in California, and neither on especially solid ground, another New Yorker has made a fast adjustment to the California lifestyle.

    That, as Don discovers in his only business meeting of the LA trip, is none other than Knickerbocker New Yorker Pete Campbell. He loves loves loves LA.

    His constantly dour and sour attitudes are gone, replaced with a relaxed look and an upbeat attitude.

    But Ted Chaogh, ostensibly running Sterling Coo's LA office after begging Don to let him take Draper's place out west in order to escape his burgeoning affair with Peggy and save his family, isn't getting into the swing of things. He proves to be just as pale as the other New Yorkers in his trip back to the home office, where he has an unpleasant encounter with Peggy.

    While Don is in the midst of a sometimes very uncomfortable limbo period in his life -- will he return full time to Sterling Coo? does he want to? will he and Megan make it? how much does he care? will he live in New York or LA or continue to say that he is "bicoastal?" -- Peggy is in a bad way all over.

    Her boss is an uncreative jerk, a seemingly benign autocrat who simply drips mediocrity. Her two mentors, Don and Ted, are out the door. Her workaholism has prevented her from developing a personal life. The apartment building she's saddled with leaves her with irritatingly mundane problems and unhappy tenants knocking on her door. No wonder she is sobbing by the end of the episode.

    Don is in bad shape, too, the sliding glass door of his wondrous Manhattan apartment so frustratingly stuck open that he gives in to the January cold of his balcony in his betwixt and between frustration. But he has better options than Peggy. He's turned down his full liquor cabinet, just as he turned down a delectable divorcee on the flight back from LA, uncertain as his marriage may appear.

    Incidentally, the divorcee, who recently buried her 50-year old husband who evidently drank himself to death, is played by Neve Campbell. Though they parted, I hereby nominate her as the "Chekov's gun" of Mad Men's final season.

    Where are the rest of our stalwarts, as the Sixties draw to a close and the focus of the show begins to shift from New York in its heyday as the greatest city to California in its rise as the nation's cultural center?

    We don't see them all -- with Don's kids and Betty and Henry Francis notable in their absence -- but Roger Sterling is making quite a push on the free love front, shacking up with two girls and a guy and rather bemusedly accepting the suspicious-sounding forgiveness of his bratty daughter. Between the further descent of into decadence of ever wisecracking Roger -- and wasn't John Slattery a perfect choice to play Tony Stark's dad in the Iron Man pictures? -- and what is sure to be the outrage of Ted when his personal cloud clears enough to make clear the decline of Sterling Coo creative, it's hard to see much opposition to Don's return to the agency if he wants it.

    Joan Holloway is, like Peggy, again bumping against the glass ceiling of '60s sexism, even though she is a partner in the agency.

    But by checking her ego she seems to be finding her ways into making herself indispensable in accounts management. The once Zen-like Ken, now in charge of accounts with Pete in La-La land and Roger in lay-lay land, isn't coping well. He needs high-powered help. It doesn't get much more high-powered than Joan, who I've always thought should be running the place, with Don and Peggy in charge of creative, and Pete and Roger around for ideas and charm, respectively.

    Picking up just two months after last season's finale, "Time Zones" pitched us into the beginning of 1969, the Sixties revolution already hit by the counter-revolution of Nixon's election, but with many big changes yet to unfold far into the future.

    Our characters, like the nation, look more than a little seasick in the midst of these clashing waves. But they are all still very much afloat.

  • From X-Rated To X-Men? Channing Tatum Hints At Next Role
    Channing Tatum has proved he's a versatile actor, but does he have what it takes to play everyone’s favorite card-throwing Cajun in the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse”?

    In an interview at the MTV Movie Awards, where the actor received a Trailblazer Award (given to young up-and-comers whose success has inspired others), Tatum revealed that he’s met with "X-Men" producer Lauren Shuler Donner about taking on the role of the fan-favorite mutant Gambit in the next film. While nothing is confirmed just yet, Tatum confessed that he’d be totally on board to play the character.

    “If the stars align I would play it. I’m already working on the accent,” he joked.

    Earlier in the interview he revealed that, because of his Southern background, he's always felt a connection with the character Gambit. He also thinks Gambit's moral ambiguity sets him apart from the rest of the X-Men. “He’s a thief, he’s not even, like, a hero," Tatum said. "He’s walking the line of gray.”

    Back in January, Shuler Donner revealed to film magazine Empire that she’d be totally on board with a standalone Gambit movie featuring Tatum.

    "I'm dying to do a Gambit movie with Channing Tatum," she said. "That doesn't have to be a great big movie. It's a thief in New Orleans, it's a whole different story. He's on board, and I have to get the studio on board. How can anyone resist Channing? He's such a sweetheart."

    Tatum would be the second actor to take on the role for the big screen. Taylor Kitsch had a small role as Gambit in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

    SlashFilm notes that newer blood could help replace "X-Men" stars like Hugh Jackman, who is rumored to be retiring as Wolverine sometime in the near future.

    Tatum, a male stripper-turned-model-turned-actor, has come a long way since his career began. Collider notes that his involvement in films like “Haywire,” “Side-Effects” and “Magic Mike” have helped the actor demonstrate his diverse scope. He’s polished his comedic chops with successful roles in “21 Jump Street” and “This Is the End,” and has experience with action roles for “G.I. Joe” and “White House Down.”

    "X-Men: Apocalypse" is slated to hit theaters May 26, 2016.

    Do you think Tatum would make a good Gambit? Tell us where you stand on the casting rumor in the comments.

  • Lorde Covers Teen Vogue, Talks Growing Up And Being Labeled The 'Grumpy Girl'
    Whether it's leading the nominations with Imagine Dragons for next month's Billboard Music Awards, hitting the stage to slay a Nirvana cover at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction or performing for the first time at Coachella, Lorde is having a very good month. So it only seems fitting that the "Royals" singer was chosen as the latest cover star to grace Teen Vogue's May issue.

    The 17-year-old opened up to the magazine about growing up in the New Zealand suburbs, her early teen years and how life has changed since reaching success. Scroll down for highlights from the interview and head over to teenvogue.com for more.

    On discovering Hilary Duff is a fan:
    "This is the most insane thing that's ever happened to me. That's my childhood right there. Hilary Duff is a fan -- that freaks me out!"

    On being herself:
    "There are a lot of expectations in this industry about looking a certain way and having a certain kind of appeal. I am feminine, but I really love dressing in boys' clothes too. I guess that's why I get labeled as 'the grumpy girl,' because I don't play into that."

    On growing up in New Zealand:
    "I was friends with all the boys and kind of bratty, nerdy, and quiet. I was probably really obnoxious to hang out with."

    On how her life has changed:
    "Living in New Zealand, you don't get these experiences. I spent so much time in my room before. My life is so wild right now. For me to be able to do something I really enjoy and for that to get me out in the world -- to South America, to here, to London -- every day I kick myself, I'm so lucky."

    O LORDE 570


    More stories from Teen Vogue:

  • Online Artists Offer a Heartwarming Thank You to Hayao Miyazaki
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    Hayao Miyazaki by Jackie W

    Of all the animated films that have arrived in the United States from Japan, those produced by Studio Ghibli have been the most broadly accepted, with films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away winning over the hearts of countless families.

    To celebrate Studio Ghibli's founder, Hayao Miyazaki, California-based illustrator and graphic designer Jackie W. (@jmieldesigns on Twitter) invited her artist friends to contribute illustrations of their favorite Ghibli characters, which she then assembled into a beautiful poster and visual salute to Japan's equivalent of Walt Disney.

    Illustrations are still being submitted to this collaboration, which will come to a close this month (you can track its progress on Twitter). The characters participants submit (which were first capped at 120 and have been expanded to 136) will ultimately be arranged by Jackie in chronological order, all the way up to Studio Ghibli's latest film, with a portrait of Miyazaki at the center.

    2014 04 09 MiyazakiKikibyJackieW Thumb
    Kiki by Jackie W

    In addition to illustrating the portrait of Miyazaki, Jackie contributed an illustration of Kiki, the protagonist of Kiki's Delivery Service to this collaboration. "I feel like her sometimes," Jackie explains. "Going into the big world of trying to show you can do and be yourself while doing it. Also the message in the movie about overcoming your slump. I loved the movie as a kid, still love it till this day. It's my favorite film."

    This collaborative ode to Hayao Miyazaki is not Jackie W.'s first collaborative endeavor online. Prior to this project, Jackie kicked off Art Jamz, a blog that invites followers to participate in two to three-month artistic prompts.

    2014 04 09 ArtJamz Thumb

    "The the reason behind the length is it will allow people to take their time developing their work," reasons Jackie.

    This can be used as a stepping stone to create something bigger (like characters and creatures for a game, making your own book, zine, illustration prints, webcomic or graphic novel) or if you're fighting an art slump. I wanted to make a blog where folks can have fun with the prompts, meet other artists in a welcoming environment and also have them create their own projects. Participants can submit up to five pieces if they're on a roll. Once they submit, they would introduce themselves, describe their work and have link to their artblog/store/portfolio/webcomic/etc.

    Art Jamz invites submissions of all styles and levels. The only submission requirement is that one have a site where one posts one's work (i.e. an art blog or online portfolio -- these are easy to set up on platforms like Tumblr and deviantART), making it the perfect inroad to the online art scene for those eager to get involved.

  • Kind 8-Year-Old Kid Gives Away Foul Ball, Stops Other Boy's Epic Meltdown
    Now, this is true sportsmanship.

    Video of 8-year-old Brendan at a Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia game at Sydney Cricket Ground in late March has been making the rounds on the Internet -- and for good reason.

    When a security guard handed Brendan a foul baseball, another child nearby began throwing a tantrum because he wasn't the one to receive the ball, news.com.au reported. Brendan responded to the awkward situation with remarkable maturity and generosity: He simply gave up the ball to the other kid.

    The kind gesture quickly calmed the agitated boy, and it officially made Brendan the sweetest 8-year-old around.

    Read the full story at news.com.au.

    "My son has a lot of empathy, he just naturally handed the ball to the other kid," Brendan's father told the Australian outlet. "It was really rewarding as a parent, we are very proud of Brendan, it was lovely."

    Brendan reminds us of this sweet kid who gave his store-bought baseball to another youngster who missed snagging a foul ball, last year.

    h/t Yahoo Shine.

  • Vince Gilligan Reveals Insane ‘Breaking Bad' Alternate Endings
    Look away now if you don't want to read major "Breaking Bad" spoilers.

    Nigif Enhanced Buzz 16475 1380327805 4 41514

    When "Breaking Bad" ended with Jesse (Aaron Paul) riding off into the sunset (meth-aphorically speaking) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) dying in a meth lab, fans of the show were happy.

    Totally Kafkaesque, right?
    Jesse Pinkman Escapes41514

    Unlike some other notable finales (we're looking at you, "Sopranos"), the show had a definitive end and gave some closure to all those Breaking Baddicts out there.

    Hey, who turned the lights out?

    But that closure didn't come easy for the writers. Showrunner Vince Gilligan recently had an interview with Entertainment Weekly where he went into the details of how the show got to the finale that aired and some other endings that almost happened.

    "We had so many versions of the ending, and we really had boxed ourselves into a certain number of corners well in advance of the ending. Out of cockiness or stupidity, 16 episodes from the end, we had Walter White show up in a beard, long hair, and a new set of glasses, buying an M60 machine gun in a Denny’s parking lot. We didn’t really know how we were going to get to that story point — we didn’t even know what that meant or what Walt was going to use that machine gun for. So that was kind of ill-advised."

    Damn Ikea.

    "We had an idea for the longest time that Walt was going to break into the downtown jail in Albuquerque and just shoot the s— out of the jail with this M60 machine gun and rescue Jesse. Of course, we kept asking ourselves, 'Well, how bad is Walt going to be at the end here?' Is he going to kill a bunch of upstanding, law-abiding jail guards? What the hell kind of ending is that?”

    This ending sucks!
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    Gilligan went on to tell EW that the writers had a lot of crazy ideas that helped lead to the final ending.

    We got it! Almost there! ...
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    Some of the ending ideas included Walter White shooting up an entire prison bus in order to save Jesse ...

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    Killing off Saul ...

    Did someone call me?
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    And even having a bloodbath where every major character dies.

    "Damn, that's a cold ass honkey." - Macklemore
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    (If you still haven't had enough "Breaking Bad," watch the "Malcolm in the Middle" alternate ending.)

    Check out BuzzFeed for more "Breaking Bad" gifs and read the entire Entertainment Weekly interview here.

  • Larry Kramer's 'Normal Heart' Beats, Finally, on HBO
    "WHY DID it take so long? Why did it take so long to make the play into a film?"

    That is the question Larry Kramer asked several months ago, as work progressed on Ryan Murphy's HBO adaptation of Kramer's devastating 1985 play The Normal Heart.

    Kramer's quote comes from Gregg Kilday's cover article in The Hollywood Reporter on the long circuitous road from stage to screen that this epic drama has traveled.

    Suffice to say, despite remarks from Barbra Streisand, the star originally and most often attached to all tales of The Normal Heart, there appears no clear answer. It seems enough -- maybe -- that the project finally got traction.

    • LARRY, whose health has declined, was rushed a print of the film. He was "overcome with emotion." Well, he is just like everyone who sees or reads his great work. (A revival of the play several year ago elicited the same reactions as when AIDS was new and an almost certain death sentence. Audiences, who could not recall, or were not even born when AIDS cut its most deadly swath were sobbing in their seats.)

    Larry Kramer is a heroic, ferocious Cassandra. Telling truths nobody -- straight and gay --wanted to hear. But unlike the mythical heroine of The Trojan War, Kramer not only lived to see his dire predictions come true -- Cassandra's unsatisfying fate -- he has lived to see his predictions alter the course of history. I love him for all this!

    The Normal Heart premieres on HBO May 25th. It stars Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Mark Ruffalo, Taylor Kitsch and Matt Bomer.

    •ALSO in this very special issue of THR is a piece on the private correspondence of director Elia Kazan.

    In a letter to his wife, Molly Thatcher, Kazan attempts to explain his past affair with Marilyn Monroe: "I took her to dinner because she seemed like such a touching pathetic waif. She sobbed all through dinner. I wasn't 'interested' in her, that came later. I got to know her and in time introduced her to Arthur Miller, who also was very taken with her. You couldn't help being touched. She was talented, funny, vulnerable, helpless in awful pain, with no hope and some worth and not a liar, vicious, not catty and with a history of orphanism that was killing to hear. She was like all Charlie Chaplin heroines in one."

    • KAZAN, who wrote to Molly in 1955, also revealed of Marilyn: "She is not what she appears to be...she is not a big sex-pot as advertised."

    The cruel irony/P.S. to this is that Kazan, after years of estrangement with Arthur Miller, would collaborate with him again, mounting one of (I think) the worst moments in American theater history -- Miller's play After The Fall. This was Miller's confession/denunciation of Monroe as a castrating, self-destructive bitch, from whom he had to escape. That Monroe was two years dead and unable to defend herself appeared of no interest to her ex-husband or her ex-lover. Miller's pretense that the "Maggie" of his play was not Monroe -- or his version of her -- compounded the insult. Marilyn's good friend, author James Baldwin, walked out of After the Fall, so furious was he over Miller's characterization of her. (The star, Barbara Loden was costumed, bewigged and given the appropriate Monroe-like gestures, in case anybody didn't quite get it.)

    •THOSE who disliked Arthur Miller -- and there were many -- found some satisfaction in the fact that After The Fall was his last success. He would wallow in epilogue and various variations on Marilyn for the rest of his life.

    Miller's inactivity as a writer -- except for his tedious screenplay for The Misfits -- was often blamed on Marilyn. He himself said it. But right after the Miller/Monroe divorce, columnist Max Lerner opined that it was less likely that Monroe had constricted Miller, but that he had sought her out precisely because he had run out of material.

    Several weeks before her death, an interviewer faced Marilyn with Lerner's observation. Did she have a comment? She paused, and then said: "If I answer, will you promise to repeat my quote in its entirety?"

    The writer said yes.

    Marilyn replied: "No comment."

    This is the only thing Marilyn Monroe ever said criticizing a husband -- or anybody else in public life for that matter. She was, as Kazan noted, "not vicious." And it is an indication of her agony, being blamed for the failures of a man she literally saved; standing with him and risking her own career as he was grilled by The House of Un-American Activities, in the matter of his youthful Communist flirtations.

    Miller and Kazan left that Marilyn out of After The Fall.

    •OVER THE weekend, two talented young actors reached their respective peaks, and both have made serious noises that their acting days are coming to an end. I do mean Captain America himself, Chris Evans, and Jack Gleeson, late of Game of Thrones.

    Evans', whose latest -- Captain America: The Winter Soldier -- took the top spot at the box office for the second week in a row, has admitted he feels pretty much done with his career. He wants to move on. Ditto, Mr. Gleeson, who so memorably portrayed evil King Joffrey in GOT. Unless you live under a rock or don't have DVR, you know that Joffrey got his just desserts in last Sunday night's episode. He was wonderfully bad, but simply had to go. (Most fans didn't think Joffrey suffered enough!) Gleeson wants to finish school.

    Maybe these two will change their minds after a few years. But getting away from show biz for a period of time never hurt anybody, believe it or not. (Lindsay, are you listening?)

  • LOL: Jason Derulo Dishes On Being In The Illuminati

    Who knows more about Jason Derulo? Jason Derulo, OR our YouTube star co-host Jason Horton. You be the judge!

    Though he didn't remember his fiancé's Jordin Sparks' V-Day hashtag, he did have some hilarious thoughts on being in a secret society. And he remembered their adorable dinner plans. Awww.

    Demonstrating with his hands, Jason showed how any conspiracy theorist on the web can make it look like he's signaling to his Illuminati brethren. He guessed 2,000 people online searched Google for his name and the Illuminati, but it was WAY more.

    "Yo! If you put his two hands together, that makes a pyramid!" he laughed. "I be like, 'What?!'"

    Check out Jason's new album out today!

  • 'Dude Perfect' Executes The World's Longest Dunk Tank Throw (VIDEO)
    Dude Perfect is typically known for their ridiculous trick shots.

    This week, however, they decided to tackle the record books. Using a Gatorade filled (and sponsored) dunk tank, the trick shot team set up what they declared the world's longest dunk tank throw.

    To check out just how far that actually is, watch the video above.

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