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Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   Feb. 22, 2002 at 4:45 AM   |   Comments

OLYMPIC CLOSING CEREMONIES TO ROCK

Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, Charlotte Church, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan, Savion Glover, Earth, Wind & Fire, Moby, 'NSYNC and Dianne Reeves are on the bill for what organizers hope will be a mesmerizing closing ceremony Sunday at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The broadcast on NBC also will feature appearances by past Olympic medalists Kurt Browning, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Katarina Witt and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Kenny Ortega, who is serving as a producer, director and choreographer for the show, said the closing ceremony will feature an "ice and tap challenge" for Glover, the Broadway dancer, and Ilia Kulik, an Olympic gold medallist -- with musical accompaniment by Connick and his swing band. Plans also call for a fireworks spectacular to begin at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium and spread throughout Salt Lake City.

In addition to the all-star lineup, there's also a cast of 2,500 dancers, singers, acrobats and gymnasts, assisted by 1,250 volunteers, mostly from the Salt Lake City area.

The ceremony -- which also includes the traditional extinguishing of the Olympic Flame and the lowering of the Olympic Flag -- will air live in 160 countries around the world.

(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


GRAMMY AWARDS

The latest additions to the talent lineup for next Wednesday's 44th annual Grammy Awards has led CBS to extend its planned three-hour live broadcast by half-an-hour.

Billboard.com reports among the newly planned performances is a reprise of the Grammy-nominated duet between Tony Bennett and Billy Joel on the latter's "New York State of Mind." The track -- from the "Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues" album -- is among those up for this year's best pop collaboration with vocals award.

The gala at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will also feature R&B veteran Patti LaBelle joining Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil' Kim, Mya and Missy Elliott for a rendition of LaBelle's 1975 No. 1 hit "Lady Marmalade." The remake of the track from the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack topped The Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks last year and is also nominated for best pop collaboration with vocals.

In addition, best new artist nominee India.Arie will perform with Brian McKnight, Al Green and gospel singer Hezekiah Walker during an inspirational segment.

Earlier in the week, Bob Dylan, Outkast, Joshua Bell, and the "Lady Marmalade" ensemble were added to the performance schedule -- joining U2, Alan Jackson, Train, Alicia Keys, Alejandro Sanz with Destiny's Child, Dave Matthews Band, 'N Sync with Nelly, and a tribute to the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.

Meanwhile, Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley have joined the ranks of presenters that also include Bonnie Raitt, Britney Spears, the Dixie Chicks, Gloria Estefan, Gwen Stefani, Janet Jackson, Ja Rule, Kid Rock, and Michael W. Smith.


BRANDY

Brandy and her husband, producer/songwriter Robert Smith, are expecting a child, her label, Atlantic Records, confirmed Thursday. The baby is expected in a few months, MTV News reports. The 23-year-old singer and actress wed Smith last summer but kept news of the marriage a secret until recently. Brandy's third album, "Full Moon," hits stores March 5.


GOO GOO DOLLS

The Goo Goo Dolls have a new CD coming out April 9. "Gutterflower" is the band's first album in more than four years. It was written by guitarist John Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac, and produced by the band and longtime collaborator Rob Cavallo.

The first single off the new album will be "Here Is Gone." It's being released to radio the first week of March.

Meanwhile, Rzeznik, Takac and drummer Mark Malinin will perform Friday night at the Olympic Medals Plaza as part of this year's Hallmark Olympic Celebration Series in Salt Lake City.

(Web site: googoodolls.com)


ELTON JOHN

Elton John doesn't care much for today's generation of music-making entertainers. In an interview with the BBC, he compared acts such as 'N Sync and Britney Spears to packets of cereal -- all alike and bland. He accused today's record companies of caring more about "making a quick buck" than actually nurturing talent.

Appearing on the network's "Newsnight" program, John says too many of today's acts are "average and mediocre ... I think it damages real people's chances, real talent, of getting airplay. It's just fodder." He even blasted most music videos and says he rues the day that he decided to turn his "Greatest Hits" album into a live-action format.

(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)


ALICE COOPER

Fourteen years ago, Alice Cooper and his wife, Sheryl, sat through a boring variety show at their daughter's school, Hopi Elementary in Phoenix.

"I looked at the audience and saw parents looking at their watches and thinking, 'When can I get out of here?' It was just short of being dismal," Sheryl Cooper told the Arizona Republic.

So she and her rock-star husband took over the show, elevating it to near professional theater. This week, the 35th annual elementary school show is expected to sell out once again -- with shows Thursday and Friday at Arcadia High School.

"It's phenomenal," said Chris Sibbio, the show's producer for several years, whose first-grader is in the cast. "It's mini-Broadway. It's not a talent show, it's a full-blown production."

The newspaper said the Coopers write and direct the show each year. This year's production, "Hopi Doodle Dandy," is a patriotic celebration of America, complete with songs, skits and a snow-making machine in the finale.

Alice will make his annual appearance in the show, as will Sheryl, who dons a fat suit to become the character Large Marge.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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