After Joe Robert III joined the Marines two years ago, his father, local philanthropist Joe Robert Jr., asked Gen. Michael Hagee, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, how he could help the troops. "We decided on three things," Robert recalls. "Free calling cards for Marines arriving home from combat duty, free airfare vouchers for families of Marines injured or killed, and some form of entertainment for [Camp] Pendleton because it has suffered the most causalities of any military base in the country."
Robert thought he'd host a party at the San Diego base for a few thousand people. Instead, he and his pal Quincy Jones are throwing "Rockin' the Corps," a free, star-studded concert tomorrow night for 40,000 Marines and sailors who have just returned from or are leaving for Iraq and Afghanistan. The Post's Roxanne Roberts reports that the performers will include Destiny's Child, Ja Rule, Kiss, Godsmack, Hootie & the Blowfish, Ted Nugent and comedians Cedric The Entertainer, Jay Mohr and Louie Anderson. Also dropping by: Mary J. Blige, Sharon Stone, Marisa Tomei and Cindy Crawford.
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"This is a thank-you for their courage and putting it on the line," said uber-producer Jones, who coaxed the stars, including Beyonce, to donate their talents. The three-hour concert will be broadcast on the American Forces Network and filmed for later release. Donations can be made at supportthecorps.org.
One Marine who can't make the concert: 24-year-old Cpl. Joe Robert III, who was deployed to Iraq earlier this month.
Karl Rove, Excused From Jury Duty
D.C. resident Karl Rove answered the call to jury duty for a criminal trial in U.S. District Court on Tuesday -- and was more than willing to serve despite his commitments at the White House, reports The Post's Carol Leonnig. Attorneys in the case, along with Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton appointee to the federal bench, noted that the trial would last at least five weeks, but Rove said he'd change his schedule accordingly.
By day's end, the judge thanked the White House senior adviser for volunteering but excused him, saying that would be the wiser course given Rove's packed schedule and the concerns it created for the case's lawyers. Rove offered to return in August, when President Bush would be vacationing and his load would be lighter.
No Arm-Twisting Here
The doctor will see you now: Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) joined Elmo and Rosita in a recent taping for a public service spot promoting "Healthy Habits for Life," an initiative by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization. Several other senators also appear in the spots, which coincide with the launch of "Sesame Street's" 36th season next week.
Ray Charles's RPM Studios, Spinning Into History
Ray Charles's recording studio in central Los Angeles -- designated a historical landmark last April, just two months before the music legend died -- will be turned into an educational museum. The performer's longtime manager, Joe Adams, will announce tomorrow that RPM Studios, which he and Charles built 41 years ago, will be renovated to house the 20,000-square-foot Ray Charles Museum, expected to open in 2007, reports The Post's Richard Harrington.
Charles with Bonnie Raitt at RPM. The facility will be renovated into a museum. (George Marinelli - Concord Records via AP)
Charles recorded most of his albums there, from 1965's "Country & Western Meets Rhythm & Blues" to last year's "Genius Loves Company," the most successful album of his career. Some of the key scenes in the biopic "Ray" were filmed at RPM, which also housed Charles's publishing companies, labels and wardrobes. "I love this place," Charles told Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn at the ceremony dedicating the landmark plaque last year, when the area around the studio was renamed Ray Charles Square.
Hazards of Punditry, Part 1: Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol was undaunted when a student splattered a pie in his face during a speech Tuesday evening at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., saying immediately after the attack: "Just let me finish my point." The neo-con commentator told us yesterday: "Next time I go to a college campus, I'll wear a poncho." He described the pie as "chocolate cream . . . quite gooey," but didn't partake. "I'm on the Atkins diet," he said, laughing. The pie wielder was suspended and could face expulsion.
Hazards of Punditry, Part 2: Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter called for the help of "10 of the largest College Republicans" in her audience at Kansas University on Tuesday night after her lecture was interrupted by remorseless heckling. Campus security officers answered the call and ejected a half-dozen protesters. Coulter said of the hecklers: "I think some people in the audience meant to be at the sexual reorientation seminar down the hall."
With Anne Schroeder