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The Sept. 21 telethon was unquestionably the defining musical moment. of 2001. This extraordinary set of performances provided a new context for the experience of listening to music in the wake of our collective shock, while revealing how powerful that listening experience could be.

WEAK-END PLANNER STUMBLES TOWARD THE FINISH LINE

Shout Hallelujah: The End Is in Sight
Hey, this isn't as easy as it looks, people. With that much-anticipated Christmas vacation right around the corner, it's all we can do to string a sentence together, let alone actually expressing opinions. Here goes nothin', as we cobble together the final Weak-End Planner of 2001.

TRAKIN'S PICKS TO FLICK
Vanilla Sky
(Paramount): The Oscar season hits midstride with the release of Cameron Crowe's new movie, based (reportedly almost word for word) on Alejandro Amenabar's Spanish language Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). The critical reaction has been rather muted to Tom Cruise's role as a womanizing, callow publishing magnate who meets his deadly match in deadly stalker Cameron Diaz Fatal Attraction style. Cruise's new heartthrob Penelope Cruz recreates her role from the original film helmed by Amenabar, who went on to direct Nicole Kidman in The Others earlier year, so maybe there's something to all the musical chairs. Cruise ends up getting disfigured (though not as bad as the protagonist in the original) in a car accident with Diaz, and returns to the world somewhat wiser and more compassionate, though still afraid of heights, with an element of "is this all a dream" thrown in for good measure. Sounds like Jerry Maguire meets Mike Figgis' weird Richard Gere vehicle Mr. Jones. There are apparently Crowe-like rock touches throughout the film, while the Reprise soundtrack includes new songs from Paul McCartney (the title track) and R.E.M., classic hits from Peter Gabriel, the Monkees, Todd Rundgren, Bob Dylan and Nancy Wilson (Crowe's wife), along with hipsters Radiohead, Red House Painters, Looper and Sigur Ros. The rather spooky website incorporates the story, a trailer, talent information, imagery, music and an interactive section with photos of people answering the question, "What is the greatest moment of your life?"

The Royal Tenenbaums (Touchstone Pictures): Wes Anderson's new black comedy, his third feature, tells the story of an eccentric, dysfunctional family living in a city that looks a lot like New York. Gene Hackman is the paterfamilias Royal Tenenbaum who comes home to recover from his mental dottiness with his estranged wife Etheline, played by Anjelica Huston, for one final idyllic family reunion. Their sons are played by Ben Stiller as a widowed real estate tycoon and Luke Wilson, a one-time tennis star, while their daughter is a rather heavily mascara'd one-time whiz kid playwright Gwyneth Paltrow. Like Jason Schwartzman in Anderson's Rushmore, these characters have all peaked in their youth, and a la The Corrections, are wallowing in their individual and group neuroses. Initial reviews have said Anderson doesn't progress beyond the cool, Graduate-like dark comedy of Rushmore, which would be fine by me. The coming attractions look awfully broad, but Anderson's sharp wit and cutting dialogue could well be the difference. The Hollywood Records soundtrack is typically eclectic, featuring Hall of Famers the Ramones, Nick Drake, Velvet Underground, The Clash, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, Nico and a score by frequent collaborator (and DEVO member) Mark Mothersbaugh. The website includes DVD-style commentary by co-writer Owen Wilson along with Anderson's line drawings, which come to life as the film's characters. As always, Wes Anderson is one of the few true film auteurs with a vision that dares stray from the mainstream, and I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

Not Another Teen Movie (Columbia Pictures): Joel Gallen, former MTV production VP and producer of the recent telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes, goes from the sublime to the ridiculous with this heavily promoted, anything-goes slapstick of John Hughes' '80s teen movies and the more recent examples of the genre, like She's All That and American Pie. Gallen is probably best known for directing the film parodies for the MTV Movie Awards, and it looks like he's done the same here. Of course, the humor is that much raunchier—at one point, the film was being threatened with an NC-17—so this one's aimed directly at college students. The plot, such as it is, deals with a football player at John Hughes High who makes a bet that he can turn the class' geekiest girl into a prom queen. Sound familiar? Right, it's the same plot as She's All That, whose Freddie Prinze Jr. becomes one of the film's leitmotifs. The Maverick soundtrack features current artists doing '80s hits, with the first single being Marilyn Manson's take on Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." Other tracks include Smashing Pumpkins' version of Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again," System of a Down covering Berlin's "The Metro," Goldfinger doing Nena's "99 Red Balloons" and Stabbing Westward's take on New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle." The clever website, at www.spe.sony.com/movies/notanotherteen/ is in the form of a high school yearbook.

Pinero (Miramax): Benjamin Bratt has been eliciting raves for his title role as the Puerto Rican playwright/poet/actor. A mix of drug addict, streetwise crook and gifted author (the 1974 stark prison drama Short Eyes which he began writing while still in jail), Pinero died of cirrhosis of the liver at 41 in 1988. The film was directed by Cuban-born Leon Ichaso, who launched his career with the wry 1979 comedy El Super, while John Leguizamo co-produced. Shifting between the black & white of the past and the color of present-day, the film traces Pinero's life from the time he came to the U.S. in the mid-'50s with his family at the age of 7 as the eldest of five children of a woman (Rita Moreno) whose husband soon abandons her, through the Tony-nominated success of Short Eyes. The cast includes Giancarlo Esposito and Mandy Patinkin as theatrical producer Joe Papp. There's an album on Universal/UMG Soundtracks and a so-far skeletal website at www.miramax.com/pinero. Roy Trakin

TRACKS FROM A TOUGH YEAR
The New Intimacy:
The Sept. 21 telethon was unquestionably the defining musical moment. of 2001. This extraordinary set of performances provided a new context for the experience of listening to music in the wake of our collective shock, while revealing how powerful that listening experience could be. This newfound perspective figures prominently in The Great Indoors, the first compilation I've attempted since August. As the sequence grew, it started to suggest to me that the acts of reaching out and looking in are as interlinked as breathing.
          Initially, I'd planned to take the strongest stuff from a late-summer compilation I'd made on the occasion of Ivana's 40th birthday, but when I revisited it the other day, I found that the sense of nostalgia I'd originally tried to convey had deepened considerably. So I decided that that disc, which I'd titled The Invention of Clouds and whose cornerstones were the Pernice Brothers, R.E.M., Joe Henry and Ron Sexsmith, would serve as half of my annual soundtrack. The batch below, which mixes recent stuff with tracks from early in the year, makes up the other one. Yes, it's still predominantly white guys with guitars doing midtempo tunes, but collectively they seem to celebrate the ups and downs of everyday life, which in recent weeks have come to seem so precious.
          Special props to old-timers Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan for sounding as relevant as ever, to Sheryl Crow and Ben Folds for singing their asses off, to Kevin Tihista for concocting a truly inspired seduction song and to young turk John Mayer for coming off like an old soul. Bud Scoppa

The Great Indoors
01. Paul McCartney: Heather
02. John Mayer: The Great Indoors
      The TV is your windowpane, the view won't let you
      down...
03. Pete Yorn: Strange Condition
      Read me the letter, baby, do not leave out the
      words...
04. Ben Folds: Still Fighting It
      Everybody knows it sucks to grow up...
05. Matthew Sweet: Every Night
      I just want to stay in and be with you...
06. Shelby Lynne: The Killing Kind
      I didn't mean to hurt your feelings—that was so
      careless of me...
07. Stevie Wonder/Take 6: Love's in Need of Love Today
      Don't delay—send yours in right away...

08. Chris Whitley: To Joy
      Make my presence felt by all the innocence you
      would destroy...

09. White Stripes: We're Going to Be Friends
      Teacher marks our height against the wall...
10. Kevin Tihista's Red Terror: Lose the Dress
      What's it gonna take for you to lose the dress?

11. Sheryl Crow: Who Will the Next Fool Be?
      After you get rid of me, who will the next fool be?
12. Bob Dylan: Po' Boy
      Time and Love has branded me with its claws...
13. Ryan Adams: Somehow, Someday
      I wish that we were stumbling fast down on Irving
      and 14th Street... 
14. Wallflowers: I'm Looking Through You
      I thought I knew you, what did I know...?
15. Sam Phillips: Taking Pictures
      Nostalgia isn't what it used to be...
16. Minus Five: Dear Friend
      ...what's the time? Is this really the borderline?
17. Grant Lee Phillips: Humankind
      It's hard to love your fellow man; however, I can help
      myself...

18. Neil Young: Imagine
      Imagine all the people sharing all the world...
19. John Mayer: St. Patrick's Day
      No one wants to be alone at Christmas time...
20. Ben Folds: Golden Slumbers
      Once there was a way to get back homeward...
21. Hem: Polly's Dress

SITE OF THE WEEK
The New Entropy:
Think you've got it bad? OddTodd.com, a hilarious and utterly cracked ode to the unemployed, is sure to bring back golden memories of that brief period, oh, two years ago or so, when "content was king" and guys like this were gainfully employed, raking in six-figure salaries against some wannabe businessman's VC stash. That little dance with unreality may be over, but at least we get to bear witness to some of its more fortunate byproducts, such as this stunning example of what happens when creative genius has too much time on its hands. Once you've stopped choking on your own spittle and have sent this link to everyone you know, be sure to take a moment to ponder "the message" and its metaphysical implications. Either that or hire the guy and make a killing on a Flash animation site. Business model? Revenue? Who cares? —Jon O'Hara

GUY WITH THE GOGGLES' NFL PICKS OF THE WEEK
New England -4 over BUFFALO
Holy Buffalo wings, the danged ol' Bills could dang sure use Cookie Gilchrist this year. Throw in a little Jack Kemp and they'd have action. Unfortunately, that ain't the case. The Patriots may be the surprise of the league this season. Danged ol' Bill Belichick. Tom Brady for President in 2004.

DETROIT +2 1/2 over Minnesota
If there is a Gawd in heaven, please, PLEASE let the Lions win before Matt Millen blows a gasket. I cain't take another week watchin' this guy squirm. Does Randy Moss show up this week? Who the hell knows? The fact of the matter is, it don't matter if he does or doesn't. The Viking dee-fense sucks big-time. The Lions will win—they cain't go 0 an' 16. —Guy W.T. Goggles
(Year-to-date: 9-11)WHAT'S BOTHERING LIZ THIS WEEK?
The following utterances were overheard outside the office of HITS Crossover Editor Liz Montalbano:
"I have a fuckin' headache—I need to go to yoga."
"Can we get a key to this back door already? Is it that big
      of a deal?"
"There's not enough bottled water in my refrigerator."
"It's fucking freezing in here."
"It's too hot in here. Turn the air on."
"This coffee sucks... I need a bigger cup."
"I need more words for my column."

PS2 GAME OF THE WEEK
Grand Theft Auto 3:
Not only the perhaps the most violent video game of all time, Rockstar Games GTA3 earns its "mature" rating with drug use, cursing, prostitution and sexual innuendo. Gameplay revolves performing acts of crime in the hopes of impressing mob bosses. But gamers can ignore missions and go off on self-directed violent crime sprees that turn into bloodbaths. Missions involve tailing suspected snitches, assassinating rival crime family members, stealing cars or delivering items for the honchos. Side missions can be assigned by stealing specific cars; jack a taxi and you can pick up passengers for extra cash. Realistic touches mean that cars dent up as you crash into things. Your main enemy, besides your rivals, is the police, who will ram you with their cars to end high-speed chases. This game has no socially redeeming values—and that's what makes it so kick ass. David "Soprano" Simutis

THINGS TO DO IN A NEW YORK MINUTE
The holidays always bring joy and cheer and eggnog, but more importantly it always brings the return of Kiki & Herb's holiday show. Titled "There's a Stranger in the Manger," the show is a hysterical, side-splitting evening (and tickets to it are a perfect gift for those hard-to-buy-for folks on your list). It's at the Westbeth Theatre Center this Friday, with a few additional dates until the end of the year. On Saturday, check out two of New York City finest acts around—Rainer Maria and Ted Leo. Both are performing at North Six. I never think that it's possible for Rainer Maria's incredible live show to improve, but then I see them and have to admit that it's even better. On Sunday check out the "Rebuild and Remember Tour" at Irving Plaza featuring the Get Up Kids, Alkaline Trio and more. A portion of the proceeds are going to the various WTC organizations. (As for me, this weekend I'll be apartment-hunting in Jersey City. If you know of any available one-bedrooms that accept cats available, please drop me a line.) Heidi Anne-Noel

YOUR WEAK-END WEATHER
The Weather Outside Is Frightful: Looks like the rain will taper off tonight in NYC, isn't that great? Temps will drop to the mid-40s, meaning it will be yucky to be outside. Yucky is a professional meteorologist word. Saturday will be partly cloudy with highs in the mid-50s. How about winds gusting up to 15 mph and overnight lows in the upper 30s? You got it. Sunday looks like more of the same, only with the added dread that the Jets and Giants will lose and you have to go back to work the following day. Here in Los Angeles, the air will be thick with the smoke from heat lamps at restaurants, as low temps will continue to dip into the upper 40s. After today's rain, look for skies to clear with highs in the low 60s. Rock on, and have a good holiday.
—D.S., Senior Meteorology Correspondent

NEAR TRUTHS: SECRETS AND BUYS
We'll miss those smoke-filled rooms. (5/10a)
JUST CALL HIM ACE
Some guys have all the luck. (5/10a)
SONY GETS TOP BMI HONOR
Big ups for the mogul previously known as Big Jon (5/10a)
RAY OF HOPE
Our resident redhead praises girl in red. (5/10a)
'IT'S THE REAL SCHOOL'
Alan Jackson brings back hard country. (5/10a)
RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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