The New York Daily News says investigators in the Run-DMC homicide case are backing off the theory Jason Mizell's death was part of an East Coast-West Coast rap war.
Mizell, a founding member of the ground-breaking rap group, Run-DMC, was shot and killed last week in his Queens recording studio.
"I think it's local," the News quoted one investigator saying. "I don't think it's a rap war. I think this guy was in serious debt."
Mizell's former Run-DMC bandmate Joseph (Run) Simmons agreed. "Run-DMC didn't have an East-West thing," Simmons told the cable news channel New York 1. "We were more like the king of the whole industry. We were like overseeing everything. But as far as somebody having a beef with Run-DMC, never."
Cops are focusing on local thugs in Hollis, Queens, and have questioned and cleared one man to whom the 37-year-old married father of three owed at least $10,000, the News reported.
After Mizell was slain, police brass ordered cops to watch over the city's best-known hip-hop figures -- especially rapper 50 Cent, a Mizell protege.
The rapper canceled his Thursday night show after receiving what cops called a "credible threat." But 50 Cent's manager said he doubted the threat was linked to Mizell's slaying.
"There's a threat against anyone in this business every day," manager Chris Lighty said.
'CLAUSE 2' TOPS THE BOX OFFICE
Christmas came early at the box office this weekend.
Tim Allen's new holiday comedy, "The Santa Clause 2" debuted at No. 1 this week, earning $29 million, according to preliminary studio estimates released Sunday.
The Christmas comedy, which stars Allen as the man in red, booted Johnny Knoxville's feature-length version of his MTV reality show, "Jackass" into fourth place with $13.1 million.
Holding on to the No. 2 spot for the second week in a row was the Naomi Watts thriller, "The Ring," pulling in $18.5 million in ticket sales.
Coming in third was Eddie Murphy's remake of the 1960s TV action comedy, "I Spy," which opened at No. 3 with a disappointing $14 million. Rounding out the top five was the Gabriel Byrne-Julianna Margulies thriller, "Ghost Ship," which made $6.6 million in its second week of release.
HAYEK: ART, JOURNALS KEYS TO 'FRIDA'
In researching their new bio-pic, "Frida," Mexican actress Salma Hayek and Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor delved into the journals and letters of their subject, artist Frida Kahlo, and examined at length Kahlo's work in an attempt to paint an accurate portrait of this extraordinary woman.
"Those voiceovers that Frida speaks are letters, literal letters, so we mined the material ... I used it to get into the character. The letters, the paintings, and diary is what I based my interpretation of the character on because the books (about her) contradict each other," Hayek said at a recent news conference.
"Obviously, we used the Hayden Herrera book as a base, but I did use the diary a lot, to do the extra research like talking to people and my questions were about some of the things I found in the diary. And the end of the movie is the end of the diary when she says, 'I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to come back,'" Hayek explained.
Taymor added: "This is our personal interpretation, it's not a documentary, so if we take something from the diary like, 'When the accident happened death danced around my bed,' she wouldn't say that when we could show it. Or when we say that the description of the accident was almost soundless, you don't hear people screaming, it's a different kind of silence through Elliott's music that we make."
"Frida," which is in theatres now, chronicles the life Kahlo (Hayek) shared openly and unflinchingly with her mentor and husband Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), as this young couple took the art world by storm during the first half of the 20th century. From her complex and enduring relationship with Rivera, to her controversial affair with Leon Trotsky to her provocative romantic entanglements with women, Kahlo is viewed by many as a political, artistic and sexual revolutionary.
PATINKIN RETURNS TO BROADWAY
Master songman Mandy Patinkin is bringing his critically acclaimed theatre concert to Broadway.
"Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Celebrating Sondheim" comes to the Henry Miller Theatre for a 10-performance engagement beginning Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. Accompanied on the piano by Paul Ford, Patinkin will sing numerous songs composed by the Broadway legend.
Patinkin won a Tony Award for his 1980 Broadway debut as Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita" and was again nominated in 1984 for his starring role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "Sunday in the Park With George." In 1995, he won an Emmy Award for his role as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on the critically acclaimed CBS television series, "Chicago Hope."
His concert career began 10 years ago at Joseph Papp's Public Theater, which coincided with the release of his first solo album entitled, "Mandy Patinkin." Since then he has toured extensively across the United States and Canada as well as appearing in London, performing songs by such masters as Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Randy Newman, Adam Guettel and Harry Chapin. In 1998, he debuted his latest and most personal musical project, "Mamaloshen," in a sold-out Off-Broadway engagement, which was later recorded and followed by an acclaimed Broadway run.