U.S. television suits can't get enough of Elton John. Fortunately, there's plenty of him to go around.
ABC, for instance, is working with Elton to develop a sitcom about an aging rocker diva and the toadies who cater to him.
Michael Edelstein -- executive producer of Disney-owned ABC's new hit "Desperate Housewives" and who recently signed a contract to produce his future series at Disney -- is also on board the project, which increases its odds of actually making it to ABC's prime-time schedule. "Sex and the City" writer Cindy Chupack has been attached as writer, according to trade paper Variety, which reports the series was the brainchild of Elton's confidant and business manager Bob Halley.
Edelstein told the trade paper that he thought the project would succeed because Elton is "witty, relevant and has always been on the cutting edge in both his personal life and musically."
Elton himself told Variety that he thought it would be "one of the funniest things on TV in a while," calling it "an upmarket 'Spinal Tap.' "
He's already written a song for the TV project, which appears on his new CD "Peachtree Road," Variety reported. Because Elton John is not so much a recording artist as a one-man marketing machine.
Meanwhile, NBC announced yesterday it is getting its claws into Elton when its Bravo cable network telecasts a two-hour concert, "Elton John at Radio City Presented by [phone company with really lousy directory assistance]" during the November sweeps. The concert, which was taped last July, includes such past Elton John triumphs as "Your Song," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Tiny Dancer," as well as songs from "Peachtree Road" -- who knows, maybe even the song he wrote for the new sitcom project,which would then turn the Bravo telecast into a sort of plug for ABC.
It was at a news conference announcing this July Radio City Music Hall gig, back in April, that John pronounced Fox's reality series "American Idol" series "incredibly racist."
Fox was the first network to get a piece of Elton John; he was the network's biggest celebrity guest judge "get" on its singing competition series last spring. But Fox unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a public relations nightmare when John turned on the the show after three of its talented African American contestants received the fewest votes from viewers and faced elimination. (The fact that there even were three African American contestants to face elimination actually made "Idol" kind of unique among U.S. reality TV series, which generally confine their minority representation to one token black contestant of each sex.) One of those three contestants, Fantasia Barrino, went on to win.
In September Elton was caught on video screaming at Taiwanese photographers and cameramen who had surprised him as he entered the immigration area of the airport at Taiwan's capital. "Rude, vile pigs" he called them, adding "Do you know what that means?"
Just two weeks later, more of that Elton John wit of which Edelstein spoke was in evidence at a trophy show in London where, while accepting the win for best song writing, Elton had this to say to the sponsoring organization about having nominated Madonna for the Best Live Act Award for her Re-Invention tour:
"Madonna best [Dick Cheney word] live act? [ Same word again] off! Since when has lip-syncing been live? Anyone who lip-syncs in public on stage when you pay 75 pounds to see them should be shot."
Which brings us to the Kennedy Center Honors. The Kennedy Center has chosen what has turned out to be one of Elton John's wittiest years to honor him for his lifetime contribution to American culture through the performing arts.
This, of course, means CBS will get a little sliver of the much-in-demand John next month, when it broadcasts the Washington performing arts center's exercise in somnambulance otherwise known as the Kennedy Center Honors.
John will share the stage with Warren Beatty, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Joan Sutherland and John Williams. Can't wait to see how that goes.