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UPI NewsTrack Quirks in the News

  |   Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:40 PM
Ballet scored by McCartney debuts in NYC

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Paul McCartney said he was definitely nervous this week when the ballet he scored debuted in New York.

A big reason for the jitters, he told the BBC, was his complete lack of experience in the dance.

"I don't know much about ballet," McCartney, 69, said. "I kind of know Swan Lake and The Nutcracker."

"But we put a lot of work into it, so I think we're good," he added. "I like it."

McCartney said he agreed to write the music for "Ocean's Kingdom" because it presented a unique challenge. "If I get an offer that's exciting or unusual, I tend to go 'yes' and then think later about what I'd bitten off."

McCartney apparently bit off the right size portion. Peter Martins, master-in-chief of the New York City Ballet, praised the former Beatle's work.

"In a funny way, the fact that he was not familiar with the ballet world meant that he was not burdened with the history," Martins told the BBC.

For those who can't make it to New York to see "Ocean's Kingdom" in person, the score will be released on CD in October.


Morgan Freeman sees Tea Party racism

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Actor Morgan Freeman said he was convinced the opposition to President Obama led by the conservative Tea Party movement had a strong element of racism in it.

Freeman, one of the most-prominent African-American actors in Hollywood, said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" Friday the Tea Party's top priority appeared to be doing "whatever we can to get this black man out of here."

Morgan said the fierce opposition to Obama was coming at the expense of effective public policy and was eroding the high point of progress that was marked by Obama's election. "It just shows the weak dark underside of America," said Freemen. "We're supposed to be better than that."


G-string sends 'X Factor' into a dither

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A Seattle singer who dropped his pants on Fox TV's "The X Factor" during this week's program says he wasn't naked.

Geo Godley said the activist group Parents Television Council has no basis for a complaint about his so-called "graphic nudity" because he wasn't nude at all; he was wearing a G-string.

"G-Strings are legal," Godly told TMZ.com. "The PTC have no complaint to make."

But the buzz around television circles continued into the weekend, USA reported. "X Factor" judge Paula Abdul had to leave the room as Godley kept on singing with his pants around his ankles. Fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger confirmed the G-string story even though she covered her eyes, but L.A. Reid said the whole display was "disgusting, upsetting and offensive."


Singer Vesta Williams' death investigated

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Medical examiners in Los Angeles County say they are investigating the death of R-and-B star Vesta Williams, who died in a hotel room at the age of 53.

Investigators said there were no indications of foul play, however, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, said the singer's Web site noted she had recently lost 100 pounds while seeking to revitalize her career.

"Vesta we don't know how, we don't know why, we just know we'll miss you so much," her Web site said.

Williams' body was discovered in a hotel in El Segundo, not far from Los Angeles International Airport.

The Los Angeles Times said Williams was scheduled to perform in next month's "DIVAS Simply Singing" concert. Her heyday was the 1980s when she scored with the hit single "Congratulations" from the album "Vesta 4 U."

Williams was compared favorably by critics to other 1980s stars such as Chaka Kahn and Anita Baker, but did not quite enjoy their commercial success, the Times said. Her last album, "Distant Lover," was released in 2007.

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