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Critics who expressed disappointment in Ray’s performance here miss the point. The album is a tribute to Charles from his duet partners, who lovingly express his influence on their own work to the man himself.
A WEAKEND PLANNER THAT’S READY FOR FALL… AND CAN’T GET UP
Legends of the Fall Include Ray Charles, the Beastie Boys, Paul Krassner, The Libertines, Frederick Exley and the Huntington Beach Core Tour
OK, is everybody back yet? Can we start this cultural engine up again? Or has the countdown until the end of the year already begun? Costco even has their Christmas decorations on the shelves. Ya think we can squeeze in a little art and, hopefully, some commerce between now and the holidays? Ya know, harvest what we've sown over the past nine months? Or is that too much to ask? At least Nelly’s getting into the spirit, with not one, but two new album releases. Talk about putting a band-aid on a gaping wound... Now there’s a confident superstar for you. Everyone else seems to be waiting for the next person to take the first step. But, hey, it’s the Fall season, dagnabbit, at least that's what the N.Y. Times Arts & Leisure section insists. And we’re looking forward to a blast of new movies, music and books. There are films coming from Alexander Payne, David O. Russell, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, James Brooks and Paul Weitz. As well as new music by Eminem, U2, Beck, Elvis Costello, Interpol, Beck, The Thrills, Brian Wilson, R.E.M., Green Day and System of a Down, and the first installment of Bob Dylan’s autobiography. Of course, until all those actually come out, you’ll have to keep yourself busy with the following drivel.

Friday (9/17)
7 p.m.
Go see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow starring Jude Law & Gwyneth Paltrow as they try to stop robots from invading NYC. This entire flick was shot on blue screen. Pretty cool.

8 p.m.
Art Crawl 7: The opening night party is at Safari Sam’s Sunset Stage. This annual event is a self-guided tour of 20+ art galleries in Los Feliz, Silver Lake & Echo Park ‘hoods. It runs all weekend & is free (opening party $5). For info: (323) 666-7667

10:30 p.m.
Film School (IFC). Check out this new series that follows four students at NYU’s prestigious Tisch Film School. Don’t be stupid, fax these four your resumes now. For those of you missing Gina Gershon’s Rocked, here’s something to fill the void.

Saturday (9/18)
All Day:
If you’re brave enough to jump in your car and battle through the heat and traffic of the Inland Empire, and then war against the hundreds upon the hundreds of fans braving to see KROQ’s Inland Invasion Flash Back to the Future. Or if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who won KROQ’s helicopter ride, backstage dressing room and chance to announce the band of your choice (which is about the only way you could get me out there). If so, then you’re in for a treat, ‘cause the line up kicks ass: Morrissey, Devo, Billy Idol, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Franz Ferdinand, The Walkmen, Tears for Fears, X, Missing Persons, A Flock of Seagulls, Muse, Siouxsie, Ian Brown (Stone Roses)

4-7 p.m.
KCRW Presents Next Up @ Santa Monica Pier: This showcase features local indie artists hand-picked by KCRW MD Nic Harcourt. This year’s artists include AM, Blue-eyed Son, Jesca Hoop and Quincy. Check ’em out before they blow up. For info: (310) 458-8900

8 p.m.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the musical! Was anyone as into the Steve Martin/Michael Caine movie as we were? "Why is the cork on the fork?" Too bad it wasn’t based on the 1964 original Bedtime Story with Marlon Brando and David Niven. Check out John Lithgow starring in the world premiere musical at the Old Globe Theatre (San Diego). Runs thru 10/31. For info: (619) 234-5623

8 p.m.
Movin’ Out: The Tony Award-winning dance musical based on songs by Billy Joel & choreographed/directed by Twyla Tharp opens this weekend at the Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd). Runs thru 10/31.

L.A. Derby Dolls (fundraiser) @ The Dollhouse (1460 Naud St., L.A.): OK, girls with names like "Slamazon" & "Demilicious" are all up in the women’s roller derby. By day, they’re sculptors, set painters, reporters etc.; by night, they’re flying along a rooftop of a warehouse in Chinatown. On rollerskates. Come to their fundraiser to learn more about the league or just to feel like you’re a big pussy.

Sunday (9/19)
11 a.m.-5 p.m.
A Sweet Year: A Taste of the Jewish Holidays
@ the Skirball Cultural Center (310-440-4500): Free exhibit giving a playful tour through traditional foods for different holidays done on small acrylic & gouache paintings. Make your mom’s day, go see this.

1 p.m.
Check out Mr. 3000. Bernie Mac is back on the big screen, playing a baseball player who thought he’d gotten his 3000th hit, only to learn, later on, through a technicality, he’s now three shy. Ten years after his retirement, he tries to make a team so that he can reach that magic mark for good. Although, Je-c’s not a huge fan of Bernie’s TV show, he can still make him laugh, so he says this flick could be a home run in the comedy world.

Just Sad: ABC has announced that they’ll be using a five-second delay during Monday Night Football to avoid any future Janet-like incidents. Dude, I’m kinda offended ’cause I’ve flashed some nipple, on many occasions, but NEVER with as much resulting hoopla.

5 p.m.
The Emmys
: Garry Shandling hosts this year. See if your favorite shows win. See what people wear. But most important, is what you won’t see … Joan Rivers on the red carpet. Try Star Jones instead for E!

7:30 p.m.
Ghost In The Shell 2: Any hardcore Japanese anime fans will want to check this one out. In the year 2032, a cyborg cop tracks down a female robot …who’s created for sexual pleasure (that whore) AND she’s been accused of murder (that murdering whore).

10 p.m.
Blindside
@ the Whiskey: Definitely check out these Swedish rockers. Doors at 7:30 p.m., with Blindside going on between 10 and 10:30 p.m.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Mon. (9/20): Ryan Adams @ The Wiltern
Wed. (9/22): Rock Against Bush @ The Henry Fonda Theatre
Thurs. (9/23): Macy Gray @ Lancaster Performing Arts Center
Thurs. (9/23): HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Showcase @ The Hollywood Improv

HARD CORE
Last weekend’s Core Tour in Huntington Beach was an unqualified success! The sun was shining, surf was up and the bands and competitors were ready to roll (as yours truly even avoided a sunburn). Anyways…to jump into it, here’s my rundown on some of the bands that played the event.

Army of Freshman: Fresh off the Warped Tour and packing up to hit the U.K. next week. Played a great set and I have to say, this is one of the hardest working bands ever! They always play a first-rate live show and know how to get the crowd going (and never fail to pull in new fans). Check out their new single, "Get Um Up," hitting radio NOW! Stations leading the way include KMRJ (Palm Springs), KZGL (Flagstaff, AZ), WLIR (Long Island), KLHI (Maui, HI), KANR (Wichita) + tons more. See the video here.

Militia Group lent the event two fucking awesome bands in Brandtson, who blew the crowd away and the brilliant The Beautiful Mistake, who are just the shit and got tons of love from the crowd. Look for The Beautiful Mistake’s Core Tour interview on Project: Detention due to air in the next month. Click here for channel and times.

Drive Thru power pop band HelloGoodbye’s hometown performance drew in a lovely crowd of HB hipsters and caused massive riots at the merch booth, selling over $1,000! (Look for them on tour with another favorite band of mine Limbeck).

Chronic Future championed their way from Arizona to close out the Core Tour. They played their very recognizable single "Time + Time" to their rabid SoCal fans and signed autographs after the show. They also, had a nice pow-wow with the HelloGoodbye boys about the time they randomly ran into each other at a truck stop in Bakersfield.

Still Life Projector also played a great set in spite of the fact that their lead singer Jerry had a broken collarbone, but he still played his heart out (Rock & Fucking Roll)!

SoCal punk rockers Grounded on Surprise Truck Records opened it up Sunday with no disappointment. The band has a bit of a Pennywise edge, tons of energy and some memorable hooks.

Last, but not least, I have to give a shout out to Epitaph’s 1208. The Hermosa Beach punkers played a kickass show. Check them out at the Knitting Factory 9/27. (Steph)

POPCULT TOP 10
1. Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company (Hear Music/Concord): As Natalie Cole puts it after an incendiary, playful turn on "Fever," "You just ain’t right, Ray." Indeed, the recently passed legend’s classic voice is frail; executive producer John Burk said Charles had to drag himself to the studio each day, but came alive for the sessions, which all took place face-to-face. And therein lies the appeal of this album, which could just be the record people get who only buy one or two albums a year, like Norah Jones, who also has an impressive turn with Brother Ray on "Here We Go Again." Critics who expressed disappointment in Ray’s performances here miss the point. The album is a tribute to Charles from his duet partners, who lovingly express his influence on their own work to the man himself. That incredible breadth can be heard on the country-folk of "Sweet Potato Pie" (James Taylor), the cool jazz of "You Don’t Know Me" (Diana Krall), the fervent gospel of "Heaven Help Us All" (Gladys Knight), the aching blues of "Sinner’s Prayer" (B.B. King) and the soulful plaint of "Crazy Love" (Van Morrison). Each sings directly to Ray, straddling the line between demonstrating their admiration and upstaging him, an approach that works better with the women than the men, as exemplified by Elton John’s torturously mannered take on "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," the album’s single misstep. Which is no surprise, given Ray’s reputation as a ladies’ man. Now, it’s time to catch Jamie Foxx’s performance in the upcoming biopic, which should boost album sales even further. (Roy Trakin)

2. Whitehousewest.com: Will Ferrell stars as Dubya in a hilarious spot, some of which we saw at the Beastie Boys Universal Amphitheatre show this week, created by the Democrat-affiliated America Coming Together (ACT), an organization which encourages voter registration. Ferrell leans against a fence on his ranch, trying to look natural as he grapples with various farm tools and fends off the advances of a horse, flubbing his way through a campaign commercial. (RT)

3. Beastie Boys at Universal Amphitheatre: Don’t get us wrong. We love the Beastie Boys, and there were some truly great moments in this show, but the sight of the three in graying hair sporting cockeyed baseball caps and b-boy sweatshirts was more than a little disconcerting. The trio's choreography remains one of the best in hip-hop, with plenty of wide-eyed mugging and intricate three-part call-and-response-and-response, but the thrill only kicked in sporadically, specifically on old-school ditties like "Brass Monkey," "Paul Revere" (with the audience shouting back the lyrics) and an electrified "Sabotage." "An Open Letter to NYC" and "Ch-Check It Out" were the only new songs to make an impression, though a segment in which the band changed into powder-blue tuxedos for a turn as a Hammond B3-organ driven instrumental combo effectively changed the pace. Kudos also to fourth Beastie Mix Master Mike, who masterfully rocked the wheels of steel. (RT)

4. The Cooler: Best viewed as a fairy tale about the tyranny of luck, both good and bad, in a Las Vegas that is rapidly ceasing to exist. Downtrodden William H. Macy, employed to "cool off" winning gamblers as a kind of "bad luck" charm by bullying casino owner Alec Baldwin in an Oscar-nominated role, sees his fortunes suddenly change when he embarks on a romance with cocktail waitress Maria Bello. Cooly directed by indie filmmaker Wayne Kramer, the narrative unfolds with an inexorability, which serves as an ironic juxtaposition to its themes of seemingly random chance and coincidence. (RT)

5. Camp: Actor Todd Graff makes his directorial debut with this musical tribute to the Broadway shows of Stephen Sondheim (who makes a cameo appearance) and Michael Bennett featuring a group of young performers who grapple with their various hang-ups and neuroses while putting on shows at their impossibly professional summer talent camp. Think A Chorus Line meets Fame, and you get the idea, with extra points for confronting the "gay" issue head-on. Newcomers Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Tiffany Taylor and Sasha Allen and, especially, Robin de Jesus as a frustrated drag queen, keep things light and lively, as they recreate scenes from shows like Promises, Promises, Dreamgirls and Gospel at Colonus. It’s a very cool DVD rental, especially if you have a home theater system, and check out veteran R.E.M./Smithereens producer Don Dixon as the alcoholic musical director whose unfinished compositions are recovered by his charges and performed in the climactic finale. (RT)

6. Paul Krassner, The Zen Bastard Rides Again (Artemis): This one-time Yippie compatriot of both Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin is, by parts, a countercultural gadfly, conspiracy theorist and political satirist, not quite a stand-up comic, but a sly commentator in the mode of Mort Sahl. This live recording is his fourth release for noted lefty Danny Goldberg’s label, and his shtick on George Dubya, John Kerry and Iraq is as timely as today's headlines. Among the topics: taking LSD before a Tonight Show appearance with host Orson Bean (who introduces him here) and comparing the various candidates to candy bars (Bush is a Mars bar because "he’s an alien," while Al Sharpton is a Hershey bar with nuts). He doesn’t exactly tell jokes, but giving credit to Mel Gibson for "making Jesus more popular than the Beatles" is pretty clever. He also admits to being an inveterate pothead who smokes "to enhance" pleasurable experiences, one of which is rolling a joint. Would make a wonderful election day gift for your liberal pals to cheer them up. (RT)

7. The Libertines (Rough Trade America/Sanctuary): After their first album, Up the Bracket, I kind of dismissed this U.K. rock quartet as Clash knock-offs, perhaps because it was produced by that band’s Mick Jones. This new album shows impressive growth, and comes with a marvelous swagger and self-loathing (with songs like "Campaign of Hate" and "Road to Ruin") that channels both the Stones and the Replacements at their sloppiest on the one hand, along with the Brit eccentricity of the Kinks and the Smiths on the other. The disc is filled with sonic surprises, like the Elliot Murphy/Dylan harp solo that sneaks up at the end of "Can’t Stand Me Now" or the Merseybeat music-hall skiffle of "What Katie Did," which even references Mrs. Brown to make explicit its nod to Herman’s Hermits. And you gotta love a band that decides to embark on a tour and leave behind its charismatic, but drug-addled lead singer (Peter Doherty) because of "an addiction to crack cocaine and heroin." (RT)

8. Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: The Top 10 on my ballot: Rolling Stones, "(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," Bob Dylan, "Like a Rolling Stone," Elvis Presley, "Hound Dog," The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations," Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," The Who, "My Generation," The Kingsmen, "Louie Louie," Chuck Berry, "Johnny B. Goode," Marvin Gaye, "What’s Going On" (RT)

9. Steriogram, "Walkie-Talkie Man" (Capitol): The soundtrack to the new iTunes commercial, and a stone cold smash if ever I heard one. Why didn’t you think of that? (RT)

10. Frederick Exley, Last Notes From Home: Nobody does self-loathing like this great writer, whose brilliant A Fan’s Notes is a wonderful ode to the author as drunken gadabout and eternally whining underachiever, with a savage anti-bourgeois wit just as often turned on himself. There’s nothing like the chill of Fall and the onset of football season to get me thinking about Exley’s eternal love/hate valentine to his one-time USC classmate/unknowing nemesis (and soon-to-be New York Giant superstar) Frank Gifford. After the brief notoriety Exley experienced with the publication of his acclaimed first novel, he continued the trilogy with the rather scattered, episodic Pages From a Cold Island, which details his brush with fame in typically self-effacing style. I’ve just started reading Last Notes From Home, in which he deals with his brother, a career military man, dying of cancer, the final installment of the trilogy, published in 1988, just four years before his own death. Unfortunately, Exley is remembered as the quintessential one-book flash-in-the-pan, an Orson Wellesian figure who was never able to top his breakthrough debut, though he continued to refine his sardonic edge through at least Pages. I’ll let you know if he sustains it to the end as soon as I finish. (RT)

AVRIL ON THE CARPET
Avril Lavigne
’s happy ending is on the cover of Maxim’s "Rocktober" issue. The former anti-Britney dons a cleavage-bearing bustier, and wears the F-word on her belt buckle.

"I only did it because I got to keep my clothes on," Avril told us on the red carpet at Maxim’s Music Issue party held Sept. 9 at Crobar. "Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it. It was great. They worked really well with me. The people there were really cool, the photographer was great.

"I thought it was really cool that they let me wear a shirt that said ‘Did you think I would give it up to you?’ It will make guys think a lot about that."

One guy who was intrigued was On The Way Down singer Ryan Cabrera, Ashlee Simpson’s ex-boyfriend.

"Dude, I got Maxim since I was back in Dallas, like four years ago. I already had Maxim and was getting my brothers Maxim," he said. "It’s all the great, um, reviews and stuff. And the women. Very nice."

But what about fans who feel duped by the Britnified anti-Britney, who bounded on the scene wearing a tie and t-shirt, pledging to sell herself on talent, not looks?

"She’s a free spirit and she’s allowed to do whatever she wants, " PR maven Lizzie Grubman said. "She was always one of those girls that did whatever she wants and that’s what she’s giving to her fans."

Also on hand for the bash were Paris and Nicky Hilton, Simon Rex, Bijou Phillips, Black Eyed PeasFergie and Entourage’s Jeremy Piven, who enjoyed performances from Lavigne and Public Enemy. (Valerie Nome)

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(Paramount Pictures)
Premise:
Retro sci-fi with a deco flare, as lady journalist and flashy flyboy aviator look into mysterious disappearances of famous scientists, set in the ‘30s.
Stars:
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Givovanni Ribisi, Angelina Jolie, Michael Gambon
Director:
Newcomer Kerry Cornan so impressed producer Aurelio De Laurentiis with the software he produced for the screenplay he wrote, he got a chance to direct this $60 million feature.
Thumbs Up:
The blue screen work on the trailers looks magnificent, and the cast is to die for. Can it capture the feel of the era like Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
Thumbs Down:
Anyone remember Disney’s The Rocketeer, which disappeared without a trace back in 1991?
Soundtrack: Sony Classical
/Sony Music Soundtrax soundtrack features Edward Shearmur score and "Over the Rainbow" sung by torch singer Jane Monheit
Website:
www.skycaptain.com

Mr. 3000 (Touchstone Pictures)
Premise:
Retired baseball player who has based his post-career identity on achieving 3,000 hits, has three of his total disqualified and must return to the game 10 years later to get ‘em.
Stars:
Bernie Mac, Paul Sorvino, Chris Noth, Angela Bassett
Director: Charles Stone III
, who has already scored a box office hit in Drumline and Paid in Full
Thumbs Up:
Hilarious premise and Mac is a talented farceur.
Thumbs Down:
Now we get to see if Bernie can open a film as leading man.
Soundtrack: Hollywood Records
soundtrack includes vintage funk and soul from Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool and the Gang, McFadden & Whitehead, Marvin Gaye, War, the Staple Singers, Joe Tex, Ike Turner, James Brown, Tyrone Davis, Steve Lawrence and two previously unreleased tracks by Calvin Richardson.
Website:
http://mr3000.movies.go.com

Silver City (Newmarket Films)
Premise:
When a good-old-boy, grammatically challenged candidate for governor of Colorado, who’s controlled by powerful forces, reels in a corpse while fishing during the taping of an environmental political ad, it sets off a complex web of influence and corruption.
Stars: Chris Cooper
, Richard Dreyfuss, Daryl Hannah, Maria Bello, Danny Huston, Thora Birch, Tim Roth, Kris Kristofferson, Michael Murphy, Mary Kay Place
Director:
Written and directed by the always-politically charged indie icon John Sayles
Thumbs Up:
A timely look at political corruption and influence Haliburton-style in the highest places, attached to a thriller noir plot.
Thumbs Down:
Sometimes, Sayles gets a little too didactic for his own good.
Soundtrack:
None.
Website:
www.dickiepilager2004.com

Wimbledon (Universal)
Premise:
Washed-up tennis star is rejuvenated and given one last chance at the sport’s top prize by the love of the rising bad girl of the court.
Stars:
Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, Sam Neil, Jon Favreau
Director:
Veteran Brit Richard Loncraine (The Haunting of Julia, Brimstone and Treacle)
Thumbs Up:
From the people who brought you Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary, this one is all up to the chemistry of Dunst and Bettany.
Thumbs Down:
I loved Bettany as a supporting actor in A Knight’s Tale and Master and Commander, but can he be a male lead?
Soundtrack:
None
Website:
www.wimbledonthemovie.com

QUICK FLICKS
Head in the Clouds:
The Spanish Civil War tears apart three bohemian friends, with one of them being Charlize Theron. Where’s Papa Hemmingway when you need him?

Incident at Loch Ness: Werner Herzog’s unfinished documentary about the Loch Ness monster is chronicled in this film within a film within a film. Give us Sasquatch or give us Fitzcarraldo…

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence: Japanese anime about a cyborg detective who investigates a female sex robot that slaughters its owner. Snow White, it’s not.

National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers: Aged con men turn their attention to gold-digging two aging, wealthy sisters. Would you turn down a chance to go through Louise Lasser and Renee Taylor to get at Nikki Ziering?

NEAR TRUTHS:
THE CAKE AND
THE CANDLES
Marketshare machers. (10/27a)
KENDRICK INKS WITH UMPG
Lamar enters the House of Jody. (10/27a)
YTD MARKETSHARE: AND THE WINNER IS...
It's a lock. (10/27a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, PART 8,761: SURGERY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Planning for an Election Day hopped up on painkillers. (10/27a)
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Vote. Do it now. (10/27a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
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