Monday, September 19, 2005

Critics Aplenty at This Concert

The stars came out Saturday night in New York for Jazz at Lincoln Center's "Higher Ground" hurricane relief benefit concert, a five-hour event organized by Wynton Marsalis that included performances by Herbie Hancock , Allen Toussaint , Elvis Costello , Diana Krall , Jo n Hendricks , P aul Simon and Buckwheat Zydeco . Joining them were Toni Morrison , Bette Midler , James Taylor , Robert De Niro , Cassandra Wilson , Meryl Streep , Shirley Caesar, Norah Jones and the evening's host, Laurence Fishburne , among others.

Unlike other benefit concerts, "Higher Ground" was not marked by an apolitical tone: "When the hurricane struck, it did not turn the region into a Third World country . . . it revealed one," actor Danny Glover told the audience in a speech with Harry Belafonte .

"Katrina was not unforeseeable," Belafonte said. "It was the result of a political structure that subcontracts its responsibility to private contractors and abdicates its responsibility altogether."

Bill Cosby called on the American people to hold government accountable: "This happened to the people. The Constitution says 'of the people, by the people, for the people' . . . but the people who got the office, got into office and forgot about the people."

A condensed version of the concert was broadcast on PBS.

The Schiavo Saga's New Chapter

Michael Schiavo will tell his side of the right-to-die case that divided much of the country in a book about his wife that he is writing with author Michael Hirsh .

Hirsh expects the 280-page book, "Terri: The Truth," published by Dutton, to reach stores just before the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death, March 31.

The Florida woman suffered a brain injury in 1990 that left her in what doctors called a "persistent vegetative state." She died after a bitter court battle between her husband and her parents over his decision to remove the feeding tube that kept her alive.

Hirsh, a former television producer and Vietnam veteran who has written three books about the military, said the new book will confront public officials who Schiavo believes painted him as a murderer. "There are people who did or said unconscionable things about him, and they started with the president of the United States and worked their way down," Hirsh told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

No word on how much the book sold for.

Brando's Literary Legacy

Move over, Robert Louis Stevenson: A swashbuckling pirate novel by none other than Marlon Brando arrived in bookstores last week. "Fan-Tan," penned by the late actor with British director Donald Cammell , also deceased, was tweaked by film historian David Thomson and published by Knopf. The tale of a rugged sea captain who falls in love with a lady pirate, the pulp novel began as a film treatment that Brando eventually walked away from.

Thomson acknowledged the book is no literary classic: "It's not profound literature, but it's an adventure story and quite a good adventure story, very unexpected coming from Brando," he told Reuters. "It tells us a lot about him."

End Notes

· Michael Jackson said Saturday that he is moving "full speed ahead" on a benefit song for victims of Hurricane Katrina. "I'm constantly working on it," Jackson told the Associated Press, the singer's first interview since his June acquittal on charges of child molestation. Jackson hopes the song, tentatively titled "From the Bottom of My Heart," will repeat the success of his 1984 charity anthem "We Are the World."

· Actress Tori Spelling and her husband, actor Charlie Shanian , are reportedly splitting. The couple married in July 2004 and have been living apart since August, People magazine reports. Spelling, daughter of TV producer Aaron Spelling , spent 10 years on his hit show "Beverly Hills, 90210." Recently she has appeared in "Scary Movie 2" and "Scream 2."

-- Compiled by Michael Cotterman from wire reports

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