An American Classic

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Big stars, "Little Women."

Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Emma Stone are reportedly set to star in a new movie based on Louisa May Alcott's beloved 1868 novel about four sisters growing up in the wake of the Civil War.

The proposed remake would be directed by Greta Gerwig, the Oscar-nominated director of the recent coming-of-age hit "Lady Bird."

Gerwig has supposedly already recruited that film's star——Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, an Academy Award nominee for Best Actress——and co-star Timothee Chalamet, who earned a Best Actor nomination this year for "Call Me By Your Name."

If casting goes as planned, Streep would play Marmee March, the mother of four teenage girls in a small town in Massachusetts: Meg (Stone), Jo (Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (to be determined). Chalamet would play Theodore "Laurie" Laurence, the rich boy next door.

"Little Women" has proven to be fertile ground for Hollywood. Winona Ryder starred in a critically acclaimed 1994 film, PBS produced a three-part miniseries that aired this spring, and ABC is reportedly working on an update that would land the March sisters in modern times. Earlier adaptations of the novel include George Cukor's 1933 version (Rotten Tomatoes score: 92 percent), which starred Katharine Hepburn.

By Kevin Haynes |

'Hot Stuff' Back on Top

donna-summer-getty

"Hot Stuff," indeed.

A remix of Donna Summer's 1979 disco classic tops the latest Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, giving the late diva her second posthumous No. 1 hit in five years.

"Hot Stuff 2018," credited to Ralphi Rosario and Erick Ibiza, is the closing track on "Summer: The Original Hits," a 20-track compilation released in April to coincide with the Broadway premiere of "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical."

Summer, who died of lung cancer in 2012 at the age of 63, has now notched 16 No. 1 Dance Club singles in a career that began 50 years ago. The first Summer song to top that chart was 1975's "Love to Love You Baby."

The original "Hot Stuff" was No. 1 for seven weeks in the spring and summer of '79; it also topped the mainstream Billboard Hot 100 for one week.

"MacArthur Park (2013)," a posthumous remix by Dutch DJ Laidback Luke, was No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs chart the final week of 2013.

Photo: Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

It's Good to Be King

glenda-jackson

Glenda Jackson, the reigning queen of Broadway dramas, will soon be king.

The 82-year-old British actress, who earlier this month won the Tony Award for her performance in "Three Tall Women," will star in next year's Broadway production of William Shakespeare's "King Lear."

Previews will begin March 6, 2019. Opening night: April 11.

Details on other cast members and the theater have not been announced.

The tragic play chronicles the title monarch's descent into madness after he falls victim to the flattery of two of his three daughters.

"It's a part that's widely considered to be one of the most demanding and challenging ever written," Variety notes, "requiring a formidable stamina and the ability to move from scenes of tenderness to ones of full-throttle rage."

Jackson is one of only 24 actors to win the so-called Triple Crown of Acting. She has won two Academy Awards for Best Actress in 1971's "Women in Love" and 1974's "A Touch of Class," two Emmy Awards for 1972's "Elizabeth R," and the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for "Three Tall Women," the recent revival of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Edward Albee.

Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: 'Love Theme'

romeo-juliet

The momentous summer of '69—the summer of Woodstock and the moon landing—was bookended by two huge hits by the world's two most famous bands: The Beatles' "Get Back" was No. 1 on Memorial Day, while the Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Woman" ruled the charts on Labor Day.

But, in between, the music world took a relaxing two-week break for the Fourth of July, when Henry Mancini's arrangement of "Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet" was an unlikely No. 1 hit. The easy-listening instrumental, which bounced "Get Back" from the top spot on June 28, was taken from composer Nino Rota's music for Franco Zeffirelli's highly successful 1968 film adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet."

The tune also proved popular as the lyrical "A Time for Us," sung by a variety of vocalists, including Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis.

Mancini is better known for "The Pink Panther Theme," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Moon River," but "Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet" was his only No. 1 hit—even on the easy listening charts, where it reigned for eight weeks, all summer long.

By Kevin Haynes |

Summer of '69

brad-leo

Brad Pitt rocks denim as Leonardo DiCaprio sports an orange leather sport jacket in the first peek at their swaggering characters in Quentin Tarantino's new movie, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

The photo, posted by DiCaprio on Instagram, shows the two stars in poses straight out of the Sears catalog in the late 1960s.

The "unique" film tells the story of an aging TV western hero (DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Pitt) who live next door to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), the actress butchered in her home with four other people by Charles Manson's acolytes in the summer of '69.

Co-starring Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds and Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" will be released next year on the 50th anniversary of the notorious murders, August 9, 2019.

Tarantino recently hailed his two leading men as "the most exciting, dynamic star duo since Paul Newman and Robert Redford."

By Kevin Haynes |

Three's Company

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Three's not a crowd on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris will share a star on the fabled walkway in 2019, a nod to the trio of "Trio" albums the three Grammy Award winners have released since 1987.

Joining the threesome on the sidewalk next year will be Oscar winners Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway as well as director-writer-actor Tyler Perry and crooner Michael Bublé.

Parton, 72, will become the first woman honored with two stars on the Walk of Fame. She was awarded a solo star in 1984.

"Of course, that's natural," Parton said in a Twitter video. "I like to do things in pairs, if you know what I mean."

"Trio" was a crossover hit in 1987, topping the country charts and peaking at No. 6 on the mainstream Billboard 200. Highlighted by a No. 1 country remake of Phil Spector's "To Know Him Is To Love Him," "Trio" won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group and was nominated for overall Album of the Year.

A 1999 sequel, "Trio II," featured the Grammy Award-winning cover of Neil Young's apocalyptic "After the Gold Rush."

"The Complete Trio Collection," released in 2016, compiled the remastered albums on two discs, with a third disc of 20 alternate takes and previously unreleased tracks.

Photo: Jim Cooper/AP/REX/Shutterstock

By Kevin Haynes |

Love Me Two Times

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The Doors' third album, 1968's "Waiting for the Sun," will rise again. A 50thanniversary edition of the band's first and only No. 1 LP will be released September 14, with 14 bonus tracks supplementing the original 11 songs.

The remastered package, available on two CDs or one 180-gram vinyl LP, opens with the Doors' signature come-on, "Hello, I Love You," and closes with the strutting "Five to One," the song that Jim Morrison was performing in Miami in 1969 when he was arrested for indecent exposure and attempting to incite a riot. Its most notorious lyric, "No one here gets out alive," was later used as the title of a 1980 Morrison biography and a 2001 box set of Doors live albums.

The second disc of the reissue features five previously unreleased live recordings from a Doors concert in Copenhagen on September 17, 1968, including "Hello, I Love You" and "Back Door Man."

The other nine new tracks are rough mixes that were recently unearthed by the album's engineer and mixer, Bruce Botnick. "I prefer some of these rough mixes to the finals," he claims, "as they represent all of the elements and additional background vocals, different sensibilities on balances, and some intangible roughness, all of which are quite attractive and refreshing."

By Kevin Haynes |

'Retire From What?'

Desert Trip - Weekend 1 - Day 2

Paul McCartney sees no end to his long and winding road on tour. In fact, he'd like to play some more intimate shows, like the surprise gig at a Liverpool pub that was part of his Carpool Karaoke appearance last week on "The Late Late Show."

"Before August, we might just do a couple of little gigs, just because they're fun," Sir Paul, 76, said in aBBC interview. "If there's 40,000 people who paid all that money, you've gotta think about pleasing them. If there's only a couple hundred, and we're all having a party, you just think, 'We can throw in 'Matchbox' or we'll throw in an odd number that we'd only do in soundchecks or something."

In addition to tooling around old haunts in Liverpool with James Corden last week, McCartney released the first single from his upcoming album, "Egypt Station," available September 7. The former Beatle expects to promote the album with a tour starting later this month, though no dates have been announced.

It's his first album since 2013's "New"—and it probably won't be his last. "I was talking to—name-dropping, clunk—Willie Nelson," McCartney said, "and I was talking about this whole retiring thing, because [at 86] he's older than I am, even. And he says, 'Retire from what?'

"And I think that just says it. Retire from what?"

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Once More With Feeling

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Farm Aid will plow fresh turf this fall when the annual fundraiser sets up camp in Hartford, Connecticut, on September 22.

The 33rd annual edition of the benefit for family-owned farms, established in 1985 by Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, will be held at the Xfinity Theater.

All three co-founders will perform. The extensive lineup joining them includes Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds as well as contemporary country stars like Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, the quintet fronted by Willie Nelson's son. The band has toured frequently with Neil Young and recorded two albums with him in the past three years, 2015's "Monsanto" and last year's "The Visitor."

"Family farmers are the backbone of our country," Nelson said in a statement endorsed by Mellencamp.

"The crisis farmers are in now is even worse than 1985, because there are fewer farms left to lose," said the "Scarecrow" singer. "Family farmers are becoming an endangered species….Farm Aid 2018 has to be a rallying cry for all of us to stand up and fight for these families."

Farm Aid has raised more than $53 million to date.

Ticket sales begin Friday June 29 at 10 a.m. ET on the Farm Aid website. Prices range from $54.50 to $279.50.

Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP/REX/Shutterstock

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: The Byrds

The Byrds

On the jingle-jangle morning of June 26, 1965, the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" topped the Billboard Hot 100. The electric version of Bob Dylan's acoustic ballad not only gave Dylan his one and only No. 1 single, it launched a new genre: folk rock.

The Byrds' Roger McGuinn and David Crosby devised the formula by infusing folk songs with Beatles-like arrangements. Even the notoriously cranky Dylan was impressed.

"Wow," he said after hearing the Byrds' version in the studio. "You can dance to that!"

The experience influenced Dylan's decision to "go electric" one month later at the Newport Jazz Festival. "He heard us playing his song and you could see the gears grinding in his head," recalls Crosby, who sang the lead vocal. "It was like watching a slow-motion lightning bolt."

The Byrds, meanwhile, would catch lightning a second time six months later. Their electrified rendition of Pete Seeger's biblical "Turn! Turn! Turn!" spun at No. 1 for three weeks in December 1965.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Cool! Crazy! Go!

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The movie that turned gang violence into an Academy Award-winning song-and-dance extravaganza, "West Side Story," will return to select theaters nationwide June 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The 1961 blockbuster, based on the 1957 Broadway musical, stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as Maria and Tony, the ill-fated lovers in a New York City drama inspired by Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, "West Side Story" dominated the 1961 Academy Awards. It received 11 nominations and won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno) and Best Supporting Actor (George Chakiris).

The hit soundtrack features memorable songs like "Maria," "Tonight," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere."

The special screening, a follow-up to one that happened this weekend, is part of Turner Classic Movies' ongoing Big Screen Classics series, presented in conjunction with Fathom Events.

By Kevin Haynes |

Just Duet

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Like Natalie Cole more than 25 years ago, Lisa Marie Presley sings a technology-assisted duet with her late father on the title track of "Where No One Stands Alone," a new Elvis Presley gospel album.

"It was a very powerful and moving experience to sing with my father," Lisa Marie, 50, writes in the liner notes. "The lyrics speak to me and touch my soul. I'm certain that the lyrics spoke to my father in much the same way."

The 14-track compilation, available August 10, features Elvis Presley's vocals set to new arrangements on gospel standards like "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace."

In addition to his daughter, Presley is accompanied by some of the singers who recorded or performed with him, including Darlene Love and Cissy Houston, the mother of Whitney Houston.

The project brings to mind Natalie Cole's 1991 blockbuster, "Unforgettable…with Love." The daughter of velvet-voiced jazz crooner Nat King Cole covered 18 of her father's best-known songs. The Grammy Award-winning Album of the Year was highlighted by the father-daughter duet on "Unforgettable," which won four Grammys, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

By Kevin Haynes |

Anthony Bourdain Update

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Anthony Bourdain had a long history of heroin and cocaine abuse, but there were no drugs in his system when he hanged himself in his hotel room in France two weeks ago.

A French official reports that the only substance detected in the celebrity chef's blood was a "trace of a non-narcotic medicine in a therapeutic dose."

Bourdain, 61, was filming an episode of his popular CNN show "Parts Unknown," when he committed suicide on June 8 in the village of Kayserberg.

He often discussed his obsession with heroin, cocaine and crack when he was in his 20s. In a 2013 interview, Bourdain recalled an especially "awful" experience. "I was combing the shag carpet for paint chips in the hope that they were fallen crack bits," he said, "and smoking them anyway."

Bourdain was cremated in France earlier this week, but "a small, private ceremony of some kind" will be held by his family down the road.

"He would want as little fuss as possible," said his mother, Gladys Bourdain. She also plans to pay tribute to her heavily tattooed son by getting her first tattoo next week from his favorite artist.

"Tony" will be inked in small letters on her wrist.

By Kevin Haynes |

Slip Slidin' Away

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For the final concert of his 62-year career, Paul Simon is truly homeward bound.

The legendary singer-songwriter will bring the curtain down on his farewell tour with a special benefit show on September 22 at 7 p.m. in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, not far from his childhood home in Kew Gardens.

Tickets will be available at axs.com starting June 29 at 10 a.m. ET.

Simon, 76, says he will donate all profits from the show to a charity that will be named later.

The venue, located on the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World's Fair, has not hosted a concert in decades.

The setting seems "more like fate than coincidence," says Simon, whose career began when he and childhood pal Art Garfunkel started performing as Tom & Jerry in 1956. Later, of course, they became better known as Simon & Garfunkel.

"I could have ridden my bike from home to the park in about 20 minutes when I was a kid," Simon adds. "But this is less a goodbye than a farewell. Thank you all for the ride. I had a great time."

The grand finale will follow immediately on the heels of a two-night stand at nearby Madison Square Garden, September 20-21.

Simon wraps up the first leg of "Homeward Bound—The Farewell Tour" tonight in Nashville. He'll then head to Europe in July before returning to the U.S. in September for the homestretch of a dozen shows in less than three weeks, starting September 5 in New Orleans.

By Kevin Haynes |

Coming Up

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Paul McCartney is teasing fans with a double-edged message, "Come On To Me" and "I Don't Know," the intriguing titles of his new single, premiering today.

The double A-side release offers a preview of Sir Paul's first studio album since 2013's "New," due this fall on his old label with the Beatles, Capitol Records.

No word yet on the coming album's title or exact release date.

The two new songs are "polar opposites," notes a statement on McCartney's website. "I Don't Know" is described as "a plaintive, soul-soothing ballad" while "Come On To Me" is "a raucous stomper."

News of the single comes just in time for McCartney's appearance Thursday night on "The Late Late Show," where he will ride shotgun with host James Corden on the next edition of Carpool Karaoke. The two Brits drove around McCartney's native Liverpool two weeks ago, stopping along the way in a small pub, where the 76-year-old Beatle and his band performed a surprise set for a stunned crowd of day drinkers.

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: Carole King

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Back in April 1971, Carole King's record label released the first single from her "Tapestry" album: "I Feel the Earth Move," a buoyant, piano-driven celebration of love.

Then a funny thing happened.

Radio stations started playing the B-side, a slower, painfully mature assessment of a breakup. "It's Too Late" caught fire with listeners, flopped places with the A-side on the charts and, this week 47 years ago, was the No. 1 record for the first of five consecutive weeks.

King's jazz-like arrangement was fortified by lyricist Toni Stern's contemplative look at a doomed relationship (supposedly, the end of her love affair with James Taylor).

"It's Too Late" won the 1972 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and is ranked No. 469 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. It's also No. 213 of 365 Songs of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

For the record, Billboard officially categorized King's one-two punch as a double-A-side single, a designation created in 1965 when the Beatles released "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work it Out" on one 45.

So, technically speaking, "I Feel the Earth Move," was also No. 1 on this date in 1971—even though it wasn't getting nearly as much airplay at that point.

Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Bruce Plays Bowling Alley

bruce-springsteen

If you didn't know better, you'd think Bruce Springsteen's career had taken a dramatic nosedive.

Last night, the "Born to Run" legend and current Broadway star played the blues at a bowling alley in Asbury Park, New Jersey—and he wasn't even the headliner.

That's right: Bruce Springsteen sat in with the warm-up act, Danny Clinch's Tangiers Blues Band, at the spanking new Asbury Lanes, where the main attraction was Alaska's alternative rock heroes, Portugal. The Man.

To woo the "Springsteen on Broadway" star to his native New Jersey on an off night, Asbury Lanes donated $125,000 in Springsteen's name to the Boys and Girls Club.

A capacity crowd of 700 non-bowlers saw Springsteen join the harmonica-wailing Clinch, whose day job has established him as one of rock's most prominent photographers and directors. His Springsteen credits include "The Rising," "Live in New York City" and the DVD performances on "Devils & Dust."

Springsteen's guest stint kicked off with Johnny Rivers' 1972 hit "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" and a 10-minute version of Muddy Waters' blues anthem "I Just Want to Make Love to You." The hour-long set wrapped up with the ultimate party song, "Twist and Shout."

The strangely punctuated Portugal. The Man was quick to acknowledge the hole in the stage that Springsteen blew open. "Did you see Bruce Springsteen was here?" frontman John Gourley asked the crowd. "Anyway, we're good too."

By Kevin Haynes |

Michael: The Musical

michael-jackson

A Michael Jackson musical will soon moonwalk on Broadway.

The King of Pop's estate announced today that it is developing a stage show based on the life of Jackson, who died in 2009 at the age of 50.

The untitled musical, aiming to premiere in 2020, is sure to feature an array of Jackson's biggest hits, including "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller."

The homage will be directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon ("An American in Paris"). The book will be written by Lynn Nottage, the first and only woman to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, for 2009's "Ruined" and 2017's "Sweat."

When it arrives on Broadway, the Jackson tribute will be the latest in a long stream of jukebox musicals. The success of long-running hits like ABBA's "Mamma Mia!" and the Four Seasons' "Jersey Boys" has inspired recent shows like Jimmy Buffett's "Escape to Margaritaville," and "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical." Upcoming productions include "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical," "The Cher Show" and Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill."

By Kevin Haynes |

Pump It Up

elvis-costello

With a new album coming out "very shortly," Elvis Costello just announced that he will hit the road with the Imposters this fall.

The nationwide tour, dubbed "Look Now and Then…It's Elvis Costello & the Imposters," kicks off November 2 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The 63-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, now on tour in Europe for the next month, will play 20 shows in 33 days in the U.S. and Canada, wrapping up with his only Canadian gig, December 4 in Vancouver.

Ticket sales begin Friday on Costello's official website.

The Imposters, backing Costello since 2001, are longtime keyboardist Steve Nieve, drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher. They will be joined by backing vocalists Kitten Kuroi and Briana Lee.

The new album's title and release date have not been revealed, but those details are "imminent," according to the statement posted on the "Alison" singer's website.

It will be Costello's 24th studio album since his heralded 1977 debut, "My Aim Is True," and his first since 2010's "National Ransom."

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: 'Dreams'

FLEETWOOD MAC ARCHIVE PHOTO

Relationship nightmares were the stuff of "Dreams," Fleetwood Mac's only No. 1 hit, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a solitary week 41 years ago.

All five band members were dealing with tumultuous breakups when they got together in the summer of 1976 to record the album now widely regarded as their masterpiece, the mega-selling, Grammy-winning "Rumours."

Keyboardist Christine McVie and bass player John McVie had divorced after six years of marriage; drummer Mick Fleetwood was separated from his wife, who was having an affair with his best friend; and the stormy love between guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks had dissipated in "dreams of loneliness," contemplating what they had and what they lost.

"What was going on between us was sad," said Nicks, who wrote the bittersweet ballad in a neighboring studio where Sly Stone had installed a huge bed and covered the walls with red velvet. "We were couples who couldn't make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other—and we got some brilliant songs out of it."

Thunder only happens when it's raining.

By Kevin Haynes |