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The new NBC American Idol-inspired talent show Star Tomorrow, originally a Tommy Mottola project, now taken over by David Foster, has come under fire, with several contestants pulling out because the network is forcing them to sign contracts giving the rights to any songs played at the audition or on the program becoming the property of the show itself.
YOUR MONDAY MORNING EYE-OPENER
Pirates Still Reigns, Now Forever, Jazzy Ring Tunes, Amazon’s Online Video, Spitzer’s Largess, Stones Roll, Hilburn Looks Back
Hot enough for ya? This weekend’s heat wave was pretty Inconvenient… or is it just part of Al Gore’s Truth about global warming? While Pirates and Monster House reaped box office booty, Lady in the Water and My Super Ex-Girlfriend  sank without a trace. This week’s HITS Top 50 will be nothing to write home about, either, as Now 22 will be the only release to top six figures, with Curb’s country star Rodney Atkins and Epic’s Los Lonely Boys the top debuts and lucky to break 60k. Folks, welcome to the dog days…

BOX OFFICE TREASURE: Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest remained the to movie for the third straight weekend, hauling in $35 million for a total of $321.7 million in 17 days, passing the $305 million total of its predecessor. Sony’s Monster House was next with $23 million. M. Night Shyamalan’s controversy-plagued Lady in the Water took in $18.2 million for third place, the weakest total yet for the writer-director. Kevin Smith’s Weinstein Co. sequel Clerks II premiered at #6 with $9.6 million, followed by Ivan Reitman’s 20th Century Fox film My Super Ex-Girlfriend at #7 with $8.7 million. Overall movie attendance is up 3.8% over last year, and 11% from the same weekend last year. Dead Man's Chest became the fastest movie to cross the $300 million mark, beating the previous best pace of 17 days set last year by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. It is expected to top the $339.7 million domestic take of Finding Nemo to become Disney's top-grossing movie. The Top 5 was rounded out by You, Me and Dupree ($12.8m) and Little Man ($11m).

NOW IS STILL THE TIME: Sony Music Group’s Now 22 will lead the pack this week, with a total that should top 225k, while Curb’s Rodney Atkins (55-60k) and Epic’s Los Lonely Boys (50-55k) appear the top debuts. The rest of the chart remains pretty much the same, with Lyric Street’s Rascal Flatts (55-60k), Downtown Atlantic’s Gnarls Barkley (50-55k), Disney’s High School Musical (50-55k), Open Wide/Monument/ Columbia’s Dixie Chicks (50-55k), Geffen’s Nelly Furtado (50-55k), American/Lost Highway’s Johnny Cash, Def Jam/IDJ’s Rihanna and A&M’s Pussycat Dolls (40-45k) all clustered in the Top 10.

THIS BLUE NOTE’S FOR YOUR CELL PHONE: Are you ready for Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman ring tunes for your cell?  Might be pretty cool to have “Straight No Chaser” signal there’s someone on the line. EMI Music’s legendary jazz label Blue Note Records has begun releasing ring tunes featuring riffs from some classic recordings by legendary artists including Monk, Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey and Chet Baker as part of a new program called “The Best of Blue Tones,” the first time these tracks have been made available for the mobile platform. “This lets fans use classic recordings like ‘Dat Dere,’ ‘Straight No Chaser’ or ‘My Funny Valentine‘ to jazz up their phone and express their personality," said EMI Jazz & Classics President Bruce Lundvall, before picking up a call announced by Jimmy Smith’s “Back at the Chicken Shack.”  “It's also a great example of how we continually keep the Blue Note vault relevant.” 

AMAZON AT THE MOVIES: Not willing to take on Apple or Microsoft in digital music distribution, online retailer Amazon.com has chosen to concentrate on a launch of a film and video service, Amazon Digital Video, which will require users to install software on their computers to allow them to buy videos a la carte, likely as part of a download-to-own model, or subscribe to them, like a digital version of Netflix's rental model. While Apple's iTunes commands a 67% share of digital-music sales, Microsoft plans to launch its own service, called Zune, along with a much-buzzed-about Wi-Fi-enabled portable media player.

SPITZER’S PAYOLA WINDFALL: The $30 million-plus collected by N.Y. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer from the four major record groups is paying off in a big way for the state’s cultural organizations. More than 150 groups are sharing $13 million collected from record companies to settle allegations they improperly sold or traded air time to benefit specific artists. Among the organizations benefiting now include the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which will use $70,000 for the world premiere recording of a work based on the poems of Bob Dylan and $330,000 to record, archive and broadcast the work of Adirondack-area artists. The Arab American Arts Institute of Brooklyn received $44,000 to tour and perform upstate and ARTSwego in Oswego will put its $38,000 toward a program highlighting the interaction between music and science through unusual instrument creations. In all, 153 nonprofit groups statewide were chosen to receive from $15,000 to $750,000 in last week's first round of payouts from the New York State Music Fund, established as a repository for the payola settlement money. The Fund received 304 applications for the first distribution cycle. Another round of grants will be announced in December.

STONES ON BOX OFFICE ROLL: The Rolling Stones grossed $147.3 million for their 45 shows in the U.S. and international stadiums, leading the six-month box office results. U2 finished second with $73 million, cutting short its tour because of family illness. Rounding out the top 10 are Billy Joel ($47.4 million), Cirque du Soleil's Delirium ($38.7 million), Aerosmith ($35 million), Coldplay ($29 million), Luis Miguel ($25 million), Trans Siberian Orchestra ($24 million) and Paul McCartney ($17.6 million). In the U.S., gross dollars for January-June of 2006 are up 24.6% from the same period last year, driven mostly by the tours cited above. With attendance up just 5.4%, high ticket prices have helped boost the increase. Worldwide, revenue is up 13.3% and attendance 2%.

HILBURN REMEMBERS: Did you miss erstwhile pop music writer Robert Hilburn’s Saturday reminiscence in the L.A. Times about his years covering the scene, with anecdotes about Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Elton John and Johnny Cash?  Check it here. Or how about Will Hermes’ superb N.Y. Times piece on the resurrection of the New York Dolls and their terrific new album, the band's first in more than 30 years? See that here.

IDOL CHATTER: The new NBC American Idol-inspired talent show Star Tomorrow, originally a Tommy Mottola project, now taken over by David Foster, has come under fire, with several contestants pulling out because the network is forcing them to sign contracts giving the rights to any songs played at the audition or on the program becoming the property of the show itself. NBC also owns anything the performers submit, including videos and demos, and in addition, aren’t covering any of their expenses while they audition.

JAY-Z UNRETIRED? Following his recent, critically hailed, sold-out New York concerts, Def Jam boss Jay-Z is now concentrating on a new album. Dr. Dre and Timbaland are among the producers who've been quietly collaborating with the rapper-turned-exec in his private, state-of-the-art Chelsea studio, as well as the computer.. "Dre will e-mail Jay some new beats," a source told the N.Y. Daily News. "Jay will e-mail him the lyrics, then Dre will e-mail him back the mix." Word is that he wants to get the CD out by Thanksgiving, or early 2007.

SKYNYRD IN PRIME TIME: Southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform on ABC’s CMA Music Festival: Country Music's Biggest Party, tonight at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). The show also features Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams Jr., Wynonna Judd and others.The taped performances were culled from this year's Country Music Association festival in June, which drew 161,000 fans over four days

ON THIS DAY:

In 1964: A riot broke out when The Rolling Stones played the English city of Blackpool.

In 1967: The London Times published a petition which called for the legalization of marijuana signed by The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein.

In 1971: T. Rex’s “Get It On” was the #1 record in the U.K.

In 1978: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, starring Peter Frampton, opened in New York.

In 1987: La Bamba, the Ritchie Valens biopic starring Lou Diamond Phillips, opened in theatres.

In 1990: The case against Judas Priest opened in Reno, NV, with the band accused of planting subliminal messages in their album Stained Class, which allegedly led two young fans to attempt suicide. They were later cleared of wrongdoing.

In 2003: Ashanti and Ja Rule headlined Hot 97’s Hot Summer Night show.

In 2003: The film Masked and Anonymous, which starred Bob Dylan as an enigmatic rock performer, opened in New York.

In 2004: The members of NSYNC reformed for the first time since 2003 to perform the National Anthem at their Challenge for Children basketball tournament in Miami.

In 2005: Death Cab for Cutie wrapped up the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago that also featured the Pixies, The Kaiser Chiefs and Dinosaur Jr.

In 2005: James Blunt topped the U.K. charts with his debut album Back to Bedlam and single “You’re Beautiful.”

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