Rock News: Music's high and low notes

JOHN SWENSON, United Press International


New York Post columnist Cindy Adams reports Madonna has a bit of theater critic in her. Boy George's semi-autobiographic play "Taboo," a hit in London and heading for Broadway, had a character that resembled Madonna in its original book before the Material Girl got wind of the fact and told the Karma Chameleon she really did want to hurt him. According to Adams, Buy George turned the Madonna character into "a humorous Jerry Hall character." Adams also reported Madonna "tangled with her director husband over the ending of their 'Swept Away' film." Their remake of the Lina Wertmuller steamer is widely rumored to be a real stinker. Madonna's video for "Die Another Day," the title track from the upcoming James Bond film, in which she has a small part, debuted this week on MTV.



The Elvis Presley hits package, which kept the Rolling Stones from debuting at No. 1 on the British charts earlier this week, pulled off the same trick on U.S. charts by a narrow margin. The Stones' "Forty Licks" package fell about 30,000 copies short of toppling "Elvis 30 No. 1 Hits" from the first position on the Billboard Top 200. Right behind the Stones at No. 3 was West Coast rapper Xzibit's "Man vs. Machine," produced by Dr Dre; and the "American Idol: Greatest Moments" package at No. 4. The Dixie Chicks, second in last week's chart with "Home," dropped to the No. 5 slot.



Yoko Ono celebrated what would have been her late husband John Lennon's 62nd birthday Wednesday by presenting the inaugural $50,000 LennonOno Grant For Peace awards at the United Nations. Ono presented the awards to Israeli artist Zvi Goldstein and Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah.

"I think (Lennon) would be pleased that the race of 'Imagine People' are growing and that we're all imagining peace together," said Ono. "I thought it would be very nice for an Israeli artist and a Palestinian artist to have an opportunity to communicate."

Coincidentally, Lennon's murderer, Mark David Chapman, was denied parole Wednesday. The state parole board ruled Chapman had to spend at least another two years in jail for the Dec. 8, 1970 murder. "Release at this time would deprecate the seriousness of your offense and diminish respect for the law," the board's ruling said.


Michael Cavanaugh, the suddenly red-hot star of the Bill Joel musical, "Movin' Out," knows the audience's cheers are only a refection of their love for Joel himself. "That's fine if they think that," Cavanaugh told the New York Post, "but there's already a Billy Joel, and he's amazing -- to try to be him is a losing battle." Cavanaugh is an admitted lifetime Joel fanatic himself. At age 7 he was asked by his first piano teacher to play something, and Cavanaugh lit into Joel's pugnacious commentary on punk, "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me." Joel has been keeping close tabs on his protege's progress. "I had a couple of lyrics I was singing wrong," said Cavanaugh, "and Billy's like, 'Man, I hate to bring it up, but this lyric is different.'"



Justin Guarini may have lost out in the "American Idol" competition to Kelly Clarkson, but he's going to get to make his full-length debut album first. Contest-winner Clarkson, whose single "A Moment Like This" has topped the charts in recent weeks, has her full-length debut held over to next year. Meanwhile Guarini, 23, has been signed by RCA records to do his own album.

"Justin already captured the imaginations of millions of 'American Idol' viewers," said RCA Music Group Chairman Bob Jamieson. "We're confident he'll do the same with his music."

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