The True Story of Den is told in the style of South Park show-within-a-show “Terrence and Phillip,” and is packed with scabrous depictions of company founders’ alleged pedophilia, maniacal coke-snorting and corporate larceny. It’s the funniest, raunchiest thing we’ve seen in ages.


It's Not the Fourth of July Weekend, but Hey,
It Ain't Chopped Liver, Either
The midpoint of 2002 is conveniently located just before Americans celebrate Independence Day with what will be for millions of us a four-day weekend. This is not that weekend, nor is this the Weakend Planner that reflects on the half-year in pop culture. Nope, kids, this is the one BEFORE all that big stuff, but it’s here, and it is our responsibility to fill it with typically pointless verbiage. Next week, the gala midyear Weakend Planner will appear early Tuesday morning; it’ll be the most ambitious thing we do during that seven-day period, because there will be no issue of HITS, our print rag—essentially because nobody will be around to read it. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… Here’s THIS weekend’s spew.

1. Timothy White:
We made fun of the bow-tied one, but the dude really loved music.

2. John Entwistle: Like their contemporaries The Beatles, The Who are now down to just two of the original four. Talk about black Thursday—wow.

3. Bruce Springsteen, The Rising (Columbia): We didn't think we'd ever be dying to hear a new Springsteen album again, but three decades after his auspicious debut, history is calling the onetime Boss back to center stage. Other rock vets have made impressive returns to form this year, so the idea of an old-timer showing renewed vitality is hardly novel, but this is clearly Bruce's moment, and he's artist enough to seize it.

4. The Velvet Underground & Nico (Polydor/UME): The hugely influential non-seller with the Andy Warhol-designed peelable banana has just been reissued in a snazzy package. As a courtesy, please replace the peel when you’re done playing with the banana.

5. A New variation on golf: This just in from Eagles manager Irving Azoff:I took Joe Walsh golfing. He showed up with a five iron and a putter, drove down the fairway and hit balls leaning out of the cart like a polo player. No one said a word at the golf course—it was hysterical. Eight holes in 25 minutes and gone. He said it was all the exercise he could handle in a day.” Hey, this could catch on.

6. Go on a golf marathon: Irving again: “Golf schedule (this begins my pre-Pebble practice phase). Aspen Maroon Creek Thursday and Friday, Oakmont in Oklahoma City on Sunday, back to Aspen thru the fourth. Louisville Valhalla on July 5, Whistling Straits in Kohler WI, July 6 and 7, Medinah in Chicago on July 9—get the picture?”

7. Russ Feingold: How novel—a politician jumps into the music-biz fray.

8. Nuts: A handful of nuts twice a week, that's all your heart asks. So goes the lead of a revelatory piece of news in HealthScout News. It seems that eating nuts regularly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death in men by half, while the odds of suffering other terminal heart trouble is cut by 30%. What are you waiting for? Eat some nuts.

9. Adelphia: The cable giant declares bankruptcy—does this mean whoever takes over will finally offer us MTV2?

10. The return of MysteryPop: This band of L.A. club vets contains three of the four members of Spanish Kitchen, including guitarist Willie Aron and moonlighting HITS loser Simon Glickman, plus a new bass player. In a preview of International Pop Overthrow, which starts in mid-July, MysteryPop is playing the Alterknit Lounge Friday at 11 p.m. Album available soon.

We’ve reported on the juicy, sleazy saga of notorious dot-bomb Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) in the past, but have long awaited some kind of tell-all from a firsthand witness. Of course, we expected a hardcover bombshell with copious documentation. What we saw for the first time this week, however, is far more entertaining and easily digested—a cartoon from two former employees turned web-comedy guerrillas, Josh Faure-Brac and Darryl Hardin. These were the two daredevils behind Hellafresh, who previously brought you the Behind the Music spoof on Muselix—the cokehead DJ duo who scored hits like “I Want to Make F--- With You” and whose career was briefly derailed by a tragic episode of sobriety—and the infomerical Masturbate Your Way to Financial Freedom, among other gems. Well, they’ve really gone too far this time, bless their souls. The True Story of Den is told in the style of South Park show-within-a-show “Terrance and Phillip,” and is packed with scabrous depictions of the founders’ alleged pedophilia, maniacal coke-snorting and corporate larceny. It’s the funniest, raunchiest thing we’ve seen in ages. In fact, it’s so popular that the authors have had trouble handling the traffic in the last 24 hours. Thankfully, a most appropriate new host has stepped in. Check out this instant classic at fuckedcompany.com/den. Simon Glickman

Mr. Deeds (Columbia Pictures): Adam Sandler tries to recover from the disaster of Little Nicky by softening his persona into a romantic lead opposite Winona Ryder, who has mysteriously refused to do any promotion for the movie, an updated remake of Frank Capra’s 1936 comedy Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Sandler plays the Gary Cooper role, a well-loved, poetry-loving New England pizzeria owner who inherits $40 billion from a long-lost relative and moves to Manhattan, with Ryder as the hard-boiled tabloid TV reporter assigned to figure out his story. Among the many Sandler cronies on hand, Little Nicky director Steven Brill made his debut on Disney’s Heavyweights with Ben Stiller, then wrote and directed Late Last Night with Emilio Estevez and Steve Weber. Impressive, no? This one could tell if Sandler will go the way of Chevy Chase or whether he has legs as a comedic star (even though he's being highly touted for his "serious" role in Paul Thomas Anderson's upcoming Punch-Drunk Love), while Ryder’s future could be riding on the outcome as well. The RCA Records soundtrack includes the Dave Matthews Band’s new single, “Where Are You Going,” and music from Weezer, David Bowie, U2, Travis, Natalie Imbruglia and Lit. The website at www.MrDeeds.com, is lively and playful with games, downloads, music, e-cards and all the usual digitalia.

Hey Arnold! The Movie (Paramount): The popular Nickelodeon cartoon series starring the title kid with the football-shaped head is looking to establish yet another franchise a la Rugrats. It’s a populist tale of grade-schoolers triumphing over the rich and powerful, as Arnold organizes his pals to stop a developer from razing their homes for a mall. Hey, it’s supposed to be unrealistic—it’s a cartoon. The website at www.heyarnold.com, sets the mood with scenes from the film, the story, games, cast of characters, e-cards, downloads, e-collectibles, an interactive trivia contest, a message board and links to other Nickelodeon shows and sites. We eagerly await the SpongeBob SquarePants movie. Nick is almost approaching Disney’s marketing skill, and may have even surpassed the master.

The Emperor’s New Clothes (Paramount Classics): Great English character actor Ian Holm (Chariots of Fire,The Sweet Hereafter) stars as Napoleon in this comic fantasy about a plot to bring the Emperor back to Paris from exile to swap identities with a lookalike, a lowly deckhand which he also plays. The film is the second feature for director Alan Taylor, who has directed episodes of HBO’s The Sopranos and Sex and the City as well as the award-winning Palookaville. It’s one of those indie sleepers that is hoping to connect with an audience in the midst of the summer blockbuster season, but the advance word has offered praise for the film’s acting, ironic wit and period atmosphere. The website at www.paramountclassics.com/emperorsnewclothes/movie.html, give pertinent info on the story, cast, filmmakers, a trailer and a press kit.

Pumpkin (MGM/UA): Indie goddess Christina Ricci stars as a pert, Reese Witherspoon-style sorority girl whose mentoring of a mentally challenged athlete (Hank Harris) turns to love, and makes her an outcast among her Alpha Omega Pi sisters in the process. The movie also stars Secrets & Lies Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn and Dominique Swain, who played Lolita in Adrian Lyne’s version of the Nabokov book. The movie was directed by first-timers Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder, who co-wrote the screenplay for MTV’s sardonic Dead Man on Campus. The movie seems to be almost an afterthought for the beleagured studio, which is just recovering from its $120 million disaster Windtalkers. Even the website at www.mgm.com/ua/pumpkin is embarrassingly attenuated.
Roy Trakin

The photographer-designer team of Henry Diltz and Gary Burden were responsible for some of the most famous album cover imagery of the late ‘60s and early ’70s. On the new DVD Under the Covers (from Triptych Pictures; available via Amazon.com), the duo retrace their steps in creating artwork for and portraits of Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Doors, Eagles, Steppenwolf, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Webb, the Woodstock festival and Richard Pryor, among others. Some of the featured artists chime in with memories of their own (Crosby, memorably, holds up the famed inner photo of the parka’d trio from the CSN debut and says, “Nothin’ on their minds but pussy.”). The disc offers at once a fond remembrance of the incredibly vital Southern California music scene of a few decades past, a celebration of the freewheeling spontaneity of the counterculture lifestyle and a moving meditation on the relationship of art and memory. Diltz, in particular, still radiates the warmth and enthusiasm that made him a beloved fixture on the scene. Among the wonderful stories: the Eagles’ vision quest in the desert (think peyote buttons and talking cacti) and Diltz’s glider crash with Jimmy Webb in a wintry mountain range. The main video feature (there’s also an additional gallery of photos) is loose and playful. And the photos and vintage home movies, especially of the incandescent young Joni, are to die for. SG

Los Lobos, Good Morning Aztln (Mammoth/Hollywood):
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez and company are not just another band from East L.A., they are a multicultural treasure. Their 11th studio album, produced by Abbey Road veteran John Leckie, offers an unbroken line from the group's roots in garage psychedelia ("Done Gone Blue"), native music ("Luz de Mi Vida," "Malaqu," "Maria Christina"), doo-wop ("What in the World") and soul ("Hearts of Stone," the Curtis Mayfield nod in "The Word") to the melodic country-rock of the title track. Like The Band, whom they recall on "The Big Ranch," Los Lobos have created a musical melting pot that is their own version of the American dream.

Tift Merritt, Bramble Rose (Lost Highway):
Writer-singer Merritt does a lot with a little on her first album. The North Carolinian brings depth and resonance to deceptively simple songs like “Trouble Over Me” and “Supposed to Make You Happy,” enriching them with a soprano as graceful and genuine as Emmylou Harris’. Producer Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams) draws restrained but expressive performances out of Merritt and her three-piece band, the Carbines, adding his own lead guitar and Benmont Tench’s keyboards to the generally subdued settings. Most memorable are “Sundays,” a wondrously detailed Southern Gothic quilt, and the closing “When I Cross Over,” which reshapes gospel conventions into an inner struggle between desire and inertia. Tift’s the real deal. Bud Scoppa

. I can't imagine that they'd be at all the same without Michael, but it might be fun to check them out on Friday night at the PNC Bank Arts Center. You can't say their "New Sensation" song isn't pretty catchy. Saturday, there's Natalie Cole at NJPAC. I wasn't really crazy about that duet that she did with her father, but a lot of her other songs are quite nice and sort of fitting for these super hot lazy summer days. When I was 8 and Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual came out, my cousin and I used to make up this dance to "Time After Time" where we'd throw a stuffed monkey up in the air during the "If you fall I will catch you" part. While I won't be bringing my stuffed monkey to her show on Sunday (opening for Cher at Nassau Coliseum), I certainly will be thinking about it. Also, I'll be MIA next week, heading upstate for a little camping (and to celebrate my 26th birthday!), but I'll be back the week after, so no worries.
—Heidi Anne-Noel

The Poseidon Adventure: The Musical: What was the last play you saw? White Trash Wins Lotto? Hedwig & the Angry Inch? Here’s another reason to leave your sweet, sweet crib. Billed as "Hell upside down. Set to music," The Poseidon Adventure: The Musical does not disappoint. The songs intentionally jump wildly between various music styles, and it works. The choreography comes off as simultaneously solid and silly. The casting is clever and effective, with the actors in portraying the actors in the film, rather than characters off the page. Bill Robens gives good Gene in the Hackman role (as Reverend Scott) and heads up the hilarious number, "Life Matters Very Much." Other standouts are Terry Tocantins as Leslie Nielsen’s Captain, Monica Carbery as Shelley Winters (Belle) and John O'Brien as Jack Albertson (Manny). During "In the Water, I'm a Very Skinny Lady," you really feel like you’re watching a warped Shelley Winters—in a good way. By far the most captivating performance is given by Miguel Montalvo as the Poseidon; he’s an incredible—and affordable—alternative to the expensive special effects that would be needed to flip a ship upside down on stage. Produced by Opiate of the Masses at the Tamarind Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; (323) 960-5755. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun 4 p.m., through Aug. 3. —Jill Kushner