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The crimson beauty of Lestat
Sunday, April 30 2006

Fan review by J. Phillips.

Much of the recent critical disdain for Lestat has centered around the unlikely notion of making yet another musical about vampires. The idea has failed twice before in recent years, what makes this one any different, right? It’s also not exactly something that you might want to take the kids to either, is it?

Despite my fear of having to endure blood and bats, Lestat turned out to be quite different from what I might have imagined. The music is both complex yet uniquely Elton. The set is minimalist which properly puts the emphasis where it belongs. But there’s more. This is also a very intelligent musical.

At some point in every man’s life, there comes a time when he confronts his mortality and asks the big questions such as “why am I here?” and “who will remember me?” Some artists amongst us have the comfort of knowing that their art will go on living far beyond their lifetime, a reality that surely the musical collaborators must now be willing to acknowledge. For the rest of us, there is religion, a source of the kind of reassurance we need - that we too will not be forgotten.

It seems that there is an escape hatch for those who are neither religious nor artistic. Enter Anne Rice. The problem of course is that not all of the lucky few make a conscious choice to “die young and live forever,” a source for endless philosophical discussion, for example, must all vampires by nature be bad?

Musically, Lestat has three outstanding songs, “Right Before My Eyes,” “I Want More” sung beautifully by Allison Fischer as Claudia, and “Sail Me Away.” While the other songs have the typical sing-song quality of many Broadway musical numbers, they are also Elton John numbers, and that brings its own unique character to them, even if not as memorable. Sometimes Elton’s music requires a second listen to fully appreciate.

Lyrically, Lestat has so much ground to cover that Taupin has to use every word very carefully to push the story along. This gave Elton quite a job, and as anyone who knows how they write together, it’s Bernie’s words which really set the tone and feel for the musical result. Predictably, some of the early and middle pieces are by word and necessity rather dark and complex, generating powerful feelings for those familiar with Elton’s work while at the same time laying the foundation for the groundswell of emotion in the more powerful and memorable numbers.

This is Elton’s fourth musical, and while it’s a first for Bernie, it’s an artistic achievement in bringing something of this intellectual caliber to the musical stage. The choice speaks volumes about the artistic taste of the musical collaborators. Far from the camp “gay vampire” musical some might suggest, this is a smart musical that may live or die on word of mouth no thanks to the thrashing it’s received in the papers. Let’s hope that word of mouth keeps it around a while, at least long enough for the public to appreciate its crimson beauty.

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    Elton plans new musical
    Saturday, April 29 2006

    Elton is already planning his next musical - a stage version of "Pedro Almodovar" movie "Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown".

    His latest production Lestat disappointed critics when it was unveiled on Broadway, New York, on April 24, 2006. But Elton has approached Almodovar about the 1988 film and admits he is at "the ideas stage" of a production.

    Elton says, "It's such a colourful story and different from what I've done before. I could have a lot of fun with something like that."

    Elton adds that he and Bernie will continue to tweak Lestat until they can make it a hit. He says, "You never stop working on a musical. Even after it's opened."

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    Flintoff to open with Elton in Battersea Park charity concert
    Wednesday, April 26 2006

    England cricket hero Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff is to team up with rock legend Elton John in a one-off charity duet in May 2006.

    The unlikely pairing of the flamboyant pop superstar and the crowd-pleasing all-rounder of England's Ashes victory over Australia will take place during Flintoff's charity event at Battersea Park, south London, on May 9, 2006.

    The cricket-loving singer -- whose "Elton John Greatest Hits Volume II" album cover shows him taking strike at the crease in the moonlight -- has a record of performing duets with artists from George Michael to Eminem. But he said he was looking forward to his forming a partnership with a cricketer for the first time.

    "Andrew puts bums on seats, makes the game as exciting as it can be," he said April 26, 2006. "And he plays the game in a sporting manner, the manner in which all sports should be played".

    "The feeling of anticipation when he comes onto bowl or comes into bat is electric, just like a certain Ian 'Beefy' Botham," added Elton, who hung around with ex-England skipper Mike Gatting's 1986-87 Ashes-winning squad.

    Flintoff's public singing career has extended only to his drunken version of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" during the raucous post-Ashes celebrations in London's Trafalgar Square last year. But the team did adopt Elton's "Rocket Man" as their unofficial anthem in the dressing room during the series.

    There has been no official confirmation of the songs the pair will sing together, but "Rocket Man" is thought to be among those considered.

    "I'm really looking forward to Elton performing 'Rocket Man' which became such a special part of last summer's Ashes success," admitted Flintoff.

    "As for appearing with the great man, at the moment it seems far more daunting than bowling to Ricky Ponting or facing Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne."

    Flintoff is seeking to raise more than one million pounds (1.4 million euros, 1.7 million dollars) for a number of charities, including one set up in memory of England and Surrey cricketer Ben Hollioake, who was killed in a car crash in Australia in 2002.

    Back to Headlines

    UPDATE: Elton/Bernie musical panned
    Wednesday, April 26 2006

    Elton's troubled musical Lestat has been panned by critics for a second time - despite 80 per cent of the show being totally overhauled for its Broadway, New York City, debut on April 25, 2006.

    The stage show, based on the character from Anne Rice's novel "Interview with the Vampire", initially premiered in San Francisco but was quickly axed after a string of damning reviews.

    Elton and Bernie Taupin hoped an extensive re-write would ensure its Broadway success but it was last night declared a lost cause when it opened at the Palace Theater.

    The New York Times call the show "a musical sleeping pill", while Industry newspaper Variety slam the performance as "beyond rescue".

    Elton said, "I'd be an absolute liar if I said I'm not nervous about it being a flop. All I know is that we've done the best we can."

    Here are some samples from various reviews:

    Ben Brantley of The New York Times: "This portrait of blood suckers in existential crisis gives resounding credence to the legend that vampires are masters of hypnosis. Dare to look upon Lestat and keep your eyelids from growing heavier and heavier and heavier…. Somewhere along the way it was decided that vampires were meant to sing and dance, leading to a series of undignified stage portrayals that should have had the Undead Anti-Defamation League up in arms (or wings) long ago. Lestat, the maiden Broadway production of Warner Brothers Theater Ventures, is the third vampire musical to open in the last few years, and it seems unlikely to break the solemn curse that has plagued the genre."

    Clive Barnes of the New York Post: "Lestat is not likely to top many charts: It is a musical only the chief accountant of a blood bank could love. First up, what is it all about? Honestly, I'm not quite sure. And it would be a cliché to adapt that glib quip and say about two hours and 25 minutes…. What is very clear by the end—it probably took a few centuries, and certainly feels like it—is that vampires have very difficult and unhappy lives. You really don't want to be one. Especially if it involved music as loud and boring as poor old Lestat has to plow his way through. It's not a life fit for a dog, let alone a bat."

    Howard Kissel of the New York Daily News: "Often the plot strains to shock us. Lestat's first great romance is with his mother. Several of his amorous conquests are young men. But because its emotional content is zilch, none of this has any particular force…. One of the show's greatest assets is Hugh Panaro. His singing of 'Right Before My Eyes,' which begins high in his gorgeous tenor voice, is beautiful and dramatic. With his matinee-idol looks, Panaro certainly could have made better material exciting…. The material itself is flat—never truly imaginative, never betraying a sense of irony, which might act as a leavening agent."

    David Rooney of Variety: "Ultimately, the studio's nascent theatrical division has done no favors to the lost souls wandering the Palace Theater stage. After Dance of the Vampires and Dracula, it might be time to nail the coffin lid shut on all belting bloodsuckers. The show may be much improved, but it's still sadly beyond rescue. While its fundamental problems are manifold, chief among them is unwieldy, densely plotted source material that resists this kind of presentation; and a profound mismatch of that material with the creative talent involved. In his first theatrical pairing with lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton John's songs lean mainly toward lush, bloated ballads in the Andrew Lloyd Webber or Frank Wildhorn musical vernacular, occasionally dipping into a pop mode that only dimly recalls the songwriting team's evergreen collaborations of the 1970s. Rarely does the music adequately reflect the dark complexity or propel the busy narrative of goth-lit priestess Anne Rice's pulpy 'The Vampire Chronicles' saga."

    Michael Kuchwara of The Associated Press: "Based on 'The Vampire Chronicles' of Anne Rice, this lavish show is a rather joyless affair, glum and sober-sided despite yeoman work by a strong cast that throws itself into the musical with gusto. And getting gusto out of the show's dutiful score—music by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin—is hard work. John's melodies occasionally tantalize but, for the most part, settle for bombast or indistinct meanderings that quickly evaporate. And Taupin's unsurprising lyrics often are easy to anticipate. But then, the dialogue is a bit simplistic, too. The characters don't converse. They speak in pronouncements, momentous declarations that take on the tone of official statements from Above, or maybe that should be Below."

    Linda Winer of Newsday: "The curse continues with Lestat, the adaptation of Anne Rice's adored 'Vampire Chronicles' that opened last night for what seemed like an eternity at the Palace Theatre. Despite those Rice credentials, the homoerotic/Oedipal potential and a score by the still-golden duo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, the show is dim, dumb and dreary. Considering that this is the Broadway debut for Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, the biggest shocker is how cheap it all looks. Decency demands we report that the strong cast (including Hugh Panaro and Carolee Carmello) sing their collective lungs inside out with phony fervor. And there are three rousing numbers near the beginning of the second act and a stop-the-presses performance by young dynamo Allison Fischer."

    Elysa Gardner of USA Today: "The show also isn't nearly as bad as you may have expected, given the scathing notices it received during a tryout run in San Francisco in January. That's in large part because of composer Elton John, whose melodies are sharper, surer and less shamelessly derivative than Lloyd Webber's. Lestat marks John's first theater collaboration with his longtime partner in pop, Bernie Taupin, whose lyrics aren't always as winning in their romanticism as the hits that made the duo rock's answer to Rodgers and Hammerstein. The real syrup here, though, pours from Robert Jess Roth's overstated direction and Linda Woolverton's inadvertently comical book, which culls all the melodrama but none of the complexity from its original source. Woolverton has tightened the libretto considerably since winter's San Francisco earthquake, focusing on Rice's first two novels, 1976's 'Interview with the Vampire' and 1985's 'The Vampire Lestat.'"

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    Elton & Bernie at the "Today" show
    Wednesday, April 26 2006

    Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin appeared on the NBC "Today" television program in New York's Rockefeller Center on April 25, 2006.

    Elton performed "Your Song" and "Right Before Your Eyes", a song from the musical Lestat which opened on Broadway the same day.

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    Elton's vampire musical opened on Broadway
    Wednesday, April 26 2006

    Sir Elton John's musical Lestat, based on the bloodsucking character in Anne Rice's book Interview with the Vampire, opened on Broadway on April 25, 2006.

    The show, co-written by Bernie Taupin, opened at New York's Palace Theatre following a short run in San Francisco.

    Actor Hugh Panaro plays Lestat de Lioncourt, an 18th Century French nobleman who is made into a vampire. Tom Cruise took the role in the 1994 film version, which also starred Brad Pitt and Christian Slater.

    At the opening night, Anne Rice arrived first in a white Rolls limo, about 30 minutes later Elton and David arrived. Bernie came about ten minutes later.

    Other celebrities attending the event included Rosie O'Donnell, Eric McCormick, and Bon Jovi. Elton posed outside for at least a couple of minutes with David on both sides of the entry.

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    Elton to George: 'Pride can kill you'
    Wednesday, April 26 2006

    Sir Elton John urged troubled singer George Michael to not allow pride to stand in the way of getting help for his alleged substance abuse problem, on US talk show Ellen on April 24, 2006.

    Host Ellen DeGeneres asked Elton if it was hard to watch friends in the business who were currently battling drug problems.

    Elton, who did not mention the Wham! singer by name, replied, "They always know that I will be there to help them. Some of them don't want the help, because they haven't reached the point in their life where they're going to ask for it. It took me 16 years you to ask for help. Pride can kill you."

    Michael recently said Elton was the cause of all of his recent troubles with the law, after the Rocket Man singer accused him of suffering "deep-rooted unhappiness" two years ago.

    Elton adds, "But there have been people who've asked me for help and that have gotten incredibly better. Rufus Wainwright being one. There's just nothing he can't do at the moment. When he asked me for help, I told him what to do and he went and he did it. It's so great to see him and be happy. He's just brilliant."

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    Elton John performed at Vancouver benefit
    Tuesday, April 25 2006

    A "made in B.C." cure for blood-related cancers may be one step closer at Vancouver General Hospital thanks to record funds raised at last night's ‘An Evening with Diana Krall & Friends’ black tie charity benefit.

    The sold-out event raised more than two and half million dollars.

    Five hundred and fifty guests were entertained by Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Elton John, Elvis Costello and an impromptu performance by Sarah Mclachlan.

    Former US President Bill Clinton also spoke and Elton John and partner David Furnish offered two, week-long packages featuring a stay at their 36 acre estate in Windsor, England built in 1060 by William the Conqueror.

    Those packages went for a total 400 thousand dollars.

    All the money raised from the event will benefit the recently established hematology clinical trials unit at VGH to provide quicker access to new treatments for blood-related cancers.

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    "Lestat" shaping on Broadway
    Monday, April 24 2006

    With the opening of "Lestat," his Broadway debut, only a few days away, the producer Gregg Maday has problems.

    Not simply the niggling technical glitches that plague every production of this size — reportedly more than $12 million — but huge, scary, potentially fatal problems, the kind that might have sent a lesser person swan diving from the mezzanine by now.

    "Listen, I know the first 20 minutes still doesn't work," he told a reporter just before the curtain rose at a recent Saturday night preview, tugging playfully on his white goatee. The creative team, including the director Robert Jess Roth (formerly of "Beauty and the Beast"), had spent the day before laboriously reworking those same 20 minutes, radically altering lighting, sound and set; mere hours ago, Mr. Maday had sounded as though everything was on track. "By Monday," he now said, "it'll be totally different. Don't you love this process?"

    A more pressing question might be, Why is this man smiling? Why isn't he throwing tantrums and hurling invective? After all, it was he who persuaded his employer, Warner Brothers, to mount this adaptation of the novels of Anne Rice, with a score by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin. In so doing he ushered the company into the risky business of adapting its properties for the stage. (The company bought the rights when it made the 1994 film "Interview With a Vampire," with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.)

    He also opened it to what may be unfavorable comparisons with Disney, which has had unqualified success with shows like "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King" and "Aida." Mr. Maday has also set himself up for tough comparisons personally. By persuading Warner to let him control "Lestat" without the help of a veteran Broadway producer, he is bound to be measured against Thomas Schumacher, Disney's dapper in-house theatrical impresario, the only other corporate producer to go it alone.

    But Warner, unlike Disney, has no theatrical division in place, no long history in live action born of years in the theme park business, just Mr. Maday, hanging out there for all to see.

    "There a lot resting on him," said Mark Kaufman, executive vice president of production for music and theater at New Line Cinema, who produced "Hairspray" and the forthcoming "Wedding Singer" with Margo Lion. "I might find it pretty scary if it were just me out there."

    All this might be less daunting if "Lestat" had the crowd-pleasing gimmicks common to virtually all mass-market musicals today. But it has no falling chandelier, whirring helicopter or swinging vines. "We purposefully decided to avoid production theatrics like that," Mr. Maday said. "And now we know we have to deliver on the basic merits."

    That has not proved easy thus far. "Lestat" has gotten some of the worst press in recent memory, including universally awful reviews during a January 2006 tryout in San Francisco. Elton John's songs were called "unrelentingly saccharine," "banal" and "virtually undistinguishable," and the show's book cursory and jumbled. While audiences familiar with Ms. Rice's work were most likely prepared for the fact that the story contains no heterosexual love angle, critics complained that even the homoerotic tension had been neutered, leaving little oomph of any kind.

    "The whole thing was ordinary, to say the least," said Sir Elton, in a telephone interview, "soulless and bland." He thought Mr. Maday might fold the production. "But instead of throwing up his hands," Sir Elton said, "he was a rock."

    Since moving the operation to New York in February 2006, Mr. Maday and the creative team have engaged in a thorough overhaul. Jonathan Butterell, the choreographer of "The Light in the Piazza," was hired to lend a fresh creative eye, Sir Elton wrote two new songs and Linda Woolverton ("Aida"), who wrote the book, stripped away many of the plot points that audiences found confusing. The passionate undertones of Ms. Rice's novels have been restored, some sly humor added and the elaborate exposition originally projected on large scrims throughout the play excised.

    Originally expected to open April 13, 2006 with previews beginning March 11, 2006, the play was pushed back a couple of weeks. Mr. Maday estimates that 75 percent of the production has been changed since San Francisco. "We've made it better since we came to New York, without a doubt," he said. "The question will be, Is it good enough?"

    Mr. Maday is no newcomer to such high-wire acts, especially ones that require a deft hand with corporate boundaries and high-priced talent. He has been an executive at Warner for nearly two decades, a fairly astonishing tenure in Hollywood. Before that he spent nearly nine years at CBS, where as head of comedy and drama development he shepherded shows like "Murphy Brown" and the critically acclaimed but short-lived "Frank's Place."

    "They know what I'm capable of," he said of his employers. "It might have been different if they had hired me just to do this; the relationship between us would have been less secure. Because of the situation, I didn't see this as just a way to advance my career. I love the theater, and for me, getting to do this is a way to go back to something that I never got out of my blood."

    Tom Fontana, the creator of the HBO series "Oz" and "The Bedford Diaries," now on WB, went to a Roman Catholic school in Buffalo with Mr. Maday. He traces the producer's grace under pressure to their Jesuit education. "They taught us that if you can remain calm in the eye of the storm, you can make almost anything work," he said. "Gregg has always been like that. I've never seen him panic."

    Beatific demeanor notwithstanding, Mr. Maday concedes that he is feeling the screws. "It would ludicrous to deny that there's pressure on me," he said, lounging in the empty orchestra section, looking hip in a corduroy suit and sneakers. "But at some point you just have to have faith that you'll come up with the answer, or at least an answer. You remind yourself that you've put together a lot of challenging projects in the past, and there are a lot of phenomenally talented people working with you. You have to be strong."

    It's hardly a mystery why Warner has invested heavily Broadway. Ever since Disney entered the fray with "Beauty and the Beast," the lure of turning a movie property into a stage show has been a holy grail for entertainment conglomerates. In addition to New Line, which, like Warner, is a division of the media giant Time Warner, MGM has gotten into the game through licensing, as it did with "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

    What attracts them is not the bottom line of the show itself — $1 million a week, a good haul for a musical, would be an embarrassment for a film — but its potential ripple effect. Even a semi-successful show can restore an old movie's luster in the DVD market and give rise to a slew of video games, road companies, toys, T-shirts and collectibles. "It's a way to make it all three-dimensional," said Mr. Kaufman, who saw "Hairspray" morph from a low-budget John Waters film to a Broadway musical and to a big-budget movie. "When it works, it can be magic."

    But only with the right property. "The balance," said the Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg, "is that you achieve the right equilibrium between money and art. That's harder to do when you're a corporation because there are other reasons you make choices. When you have a corporation behind you, you gain money and that's great, but you lose something."

    What led Mr. Maday and Warner to choose "Lestat," by all measures challenging source material, is a case in point. He had been working on an adaptation of "Batman" (Warner owns the right to all the DC Comics) but in 2003 Mr. Roth approached him about "Lestat." Sir Elton, Mr. Taupin and Ms. Woolverton had already signed on. Ms. Rice was gung-ho, too. They had even brainstormed the show in a three-day session in Las Vegas, which Sir Elton refers to fondly as "vampire boot camp."

    "They came to us and said, 'Hey you guys own this already, so obviously you should do it,' " Mr. Maday recalled. Like everyone else, he knew the weak history of vampire shows on Broadway — the $12 million "Dance of the Vampires" closed after only a month in 2003, and "Dracula, the Musical" ran for a mere five months a year later. But, he recalled: "You say to yourself, hmmm. Anne Rice has sold 60 million copies of these books. Elton John is a legend, and he's already done two shows. And then you say yes." The clincher was that, as Mr. Taupin's first musical, it could be advertised as the first show by Sir Elton and his longtime collaborator. Sir Elton wrote the songs in less than two weeks.

    But there was still the problem of the source material. Ms. Rice's books are highly detailed, graphically violent and narratively complex, full of morally ambiguous, pansexual characters. Making that work in a mainstream Broadway context has been among Mr. Maday's greatest challenges. "I realized that we had to find a way to be deeply true to the source material without being shackled by it," he said. "That balance didn't come easily."

    Or quickly. Sir Elton saw the show a couple of weeks ago and said he was knocked out by the changes. "They were able to do exactly what they needed to," he said, "and that is bring humanity to it, make it a serious work." But Mr. Maday concedes that it will be hard to overcome the negative buzz.

    "There's no way to fly under the radar in this day and age," he said, "no way to retool without everyone watching and judging. You need to perform in front of preview audiences to know where to take it. But then the bloggers come and post their comments. In one way it's great to have the immediate feedback, but it's also frustrating."

    So far, he said, group sales have "not been where we want them to be," but he said he believed the show would catch on with the 18-to-35 demographic that "Spamalot" has tapped.

    Traditionally financed shows are judged by how quickly they earn back their original investment, but Warner's top brass will assess this experiment based on a strange brew of critical reception, revenue, long-term marketing possibilities and what they view as necessary investment in the learning curve of a new industry. "We know how we're going to judge it, but I'm not going to talk about it," Barry M. Meyer, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said coyly. But he insisted that whatever the final tally, Warner would pursue other theater ventures, through one financing model or another.

    Already, he said, he has learned an important lesson: "Mounting a Broadway play is much harder than it looks, especially something like 'Lestat,' which is wildly ambitious. You're fixing it, changing it all the time. That's been hard for us because it's not what we're accustomed to, but it also appeals to us tremendously."

    Mr. Maday is hesitant to speak of the future, but with a little prodding, he will confess he has a Broadway wish list. He hasn't given up on "Batman," and the company also owns partial rights to "Harry Potter" and "Charlie and Chocolate Factory," both of which he says he thinks would make great stage adaptations. Before he plunged into "Lestat," he had developed an interpretative dance version of "Casablanca," another Warner title; it had its debut in China last year, and he hopes to bring it to the United States.

    But for now such plans are mere dream sequences; he has a play to fix. That 20-minute opening has to be locked down before the critics start streaming in. "Tomorrow night we're going to try it on a blank stage, real stripped down, 'Arte Povera' style, you know?" he said, his voice tinged with hope. "It could be great. It could be the answer we've been looking for."

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    "Gnomeo and Juliet" rescued by Disney Records
    Monday, April 24 2006

    Executives of Walt Disney Records intervened on behalf of the Elton John animated film project Gnomeo and Juliet after it was canceled by Pixar execs John Lasseter and Ed Catmull.

    And their efforts resulted in reviving the project at Disney's Miramax unit, Disney watcher Jim Hill reported on his website jimhillmedia.com.

    The music company executives pointed out that they had expected huge CD sales from the soundtrack, which was to have included new Elton John tunes with classic ones.

    Hill also observed that in order to assure Lasseter and Catmull that they were not being overridden, Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook told them that the Miramax film would be aimed principally at adults, would be edgier than Disney's usual cartoons, and would include songs like "The Bitch Is Back," which couldn't be included in a G-rated movie.

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    Elton John on the "Today" show
    Monday, April 24 2006

    Tune in to “Today” on April 25, 2006 to watch Elton John, live on the plaza!

    He'll be performing new music from his musical “Lestat” and more.

    Back to Headlines

    Elton annoyed by George Michael blame throwing
    Saturday, April 22 2006

    Elton John said April 21, 2006 he was "shocked" that troubled George Michael was blaming him for fears over his lifestyle.

    He told a friend: < B>"Did I crash George's car? Was I found slumped over the wheel in Hyde Park? No." The friend said: "Elton has been sober for 14 years and only ever sought to help George.He's been there. He's had his problems and accepted responsibility. He never blamed anyone.

    "Elton is shocked and very upset he's been dragged into this. He's getting on with his life. George needs to start taking responsibility for his own actions and stop blaming everyone else. It's a terrible shame."

    Sir Elton said in 2004: "George is in a strange place. There appears to be deep-rooted unhappiness in his life."

    George claims on Michael Parkinson's ITV show broadcast on April 22, 2006 that the outburst fuelled allegations his life was spiralling out of control. He tells: "My soap opera launched from then. Elton said I was really miserable. From that point I've been trying to prove I'm not."

    The former Wham! star has a turbulent relationship with Elton since the 57-year-old voiced his fears in 2004. George wrote then: "He knows very little about George Michael. We've rarely spoken in 10 years."

    Elton said later: "Poor George. I struck a nerve and he took it the wrong way. I'd like to resolve it. I've been where George is and I'm concerned. If something happens, I want to be there."

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        Friday, April 21 2006 at 14:34:28

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    A "Billie" for Elton
    Friday, April 21 2006

    Tennis great Billie Jean King presented Elton John with an honorary Billie award at The Billies, April 20, 2006, in Beverly Hills, CA.

    The Billies, named for King and presented by the Women's Sports Foundation, recognize media for their positive portrayal of women's sports and physical activity.

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  • See Elton at The Billies!
        Tuesday, April 18 2006 at 12:27:31

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    George Michael blames Elton John for reports of demise
    Friday, April 21 2006

    George Michael is to go on tour for the first time in 15 years - and has dismissed criticism that his lifestyle is threatening his career.

    The singer, who rose to fame 25 years ago as one half of pop duo Wham!, told ITV's Parkinson programme that, far from being "miserable and sad", his career is back on track.

    In his interview with Michael Parkinson, due to be broadcast on ITV1 at 10.15pm tomorrow, Michael blamed Elton John, as well as homophobia, for reports that he is unhappy.

    Michael said: "The trajectory of my particular soap opera launched from that statement Elton made about 18 months ago when Elton hadn't seen me for years. The subtext to it is he was all right before he came out and now he lives this depraved gay life and he's miserable and fat ... Elton said he thought I was really miserable for some reason. From that point on, I've been trying to prove that I'm not."

    Michael is to play a series of 50 concert dates, kicking off in Spain in September and ending in the UK in December, where he will perform at Wembley Arena. It is almost 18 years since he sang his own songs live. Michael said that, if he enjoyed the tour, he would do a stadium tour next summer.

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        Friday, December 17 2004 at 11:38:37

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        Wednesday, December 15 2004 at 16:59:42

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    UPDATE: Elton on "Ellen"
    Friday, April 21 2006

    Elton John will be appearing on "Ellen" on April 24, 2006. The show has been taped on April 19, 2006 with Elton performing a song from Lestat.

    Elton also made a quick little guest appearance in the "Ellen" show on April 20, 2006, joking he had flown to Los Angeles to look after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' new baby.

    A shocked Ellen DeGeneres asked Elton what he was doing in the city so early and Elton quipped, "I came in to babysit for Tom and Katie, so I can't stay long. I'm going to be here Monday, after I've washed a few nappies."

    Ellen and Elton then discussed the baby's unusual name, Suri, with Elton quipping, "Suri - with the fringe on top," referencing famous OKLAMHOMA!

    Elton's full three segments are scheduled to air on April 24, 2006.

    Besides the new song from Lestat, he also performed "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me" for the audience. I don’t know if that will make the broadcast.

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    Elton's Sister act
    Thursday, April 20 2006

    Sir Elton John has been tickling the ivories for his glam rocker pals the Scissor Sisters.

    Elton has apparently added his impressive piano skills into a few tracks on the group's new album and word has it the tunes are pretty impressive.

    Elton has always been a big fan of the Scissor Sisters, and vice versa, with the group playing at both his stag do and his Oscar party.

    Elton was keen to repay the favour to the Scissor's and was more than delighted when offered to add his own sound to a couple of the tracks. One source said that Elton is a huge fan of the group and that is was only a matter of time until they teamed up to work together.

    Sir Elton hasn't added his voice to any of the tracks but according to an insider he has really worked his magic and it looks as though the sounds will go down a storm.

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    "Elements of an Icon" - an Elton John exhibition
    Tuesday, April 18 2006

    Time Warner Inc. is proud to present "Sir Elton John - Elements of an Icon," a public exhibition of the extravagance, the unforgettable showman, the visual exuberance, and the one- of-a-kind contribution to pop music and culture that is Sir Elton John.

    Elton John fans and music enthusiasts are invited to visit Time Warner Center as it is transformed into a hip retro lounge - the perfect environment for this truly original and must-see exhibition. The public space overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle will be filled with an exceptional array of Elton John's fabulously unique feathered, sequined, and bejeweled stage wardrobe that has been the signature style statement of this pop music icon's illustrious career.

    The never-before-seen collection will be open to the public from April 18 through April 30, 2006, exclusively at Time Warner Center in New York. This very special event coincides with the opening of the much-anticipated Broadway musical LESTAT - Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures' inaugural production of a show inspired by Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles" and featuring the first theatrical score from the legendary songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

    The "Elements of an Icon" exhibit will be displayed throughout Time Warner Center. The second floor of the complex will present Elton John's dazzling costumes, imagery and accessories - most notably, the signature oversized glasses and floor-to-ceiling posters that illustrate Elton John's legendary career. The focal point of the exhibit will feature the artist's red lacquer grand piano, which is synonymous with the musician himself.

    Costumes from the original San Francisco performance of LESTAT will be showcased on the first floor of Time Warner Center, while on the fourth floor, artwork by Golden Globe Award-winning lyricist Bernie Taupin will be available for visitors to view.

    The exhibit will run Tuesday, April 18, 2006, through Sunday, April 30, 2006. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Sunday.

    A variety of complementary exhibits and events surrounding LESTAT and Elton John will also be hosted at Time Warner Center throughout April 2006.

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    See Elton at The Billies!
    Tuesday, April 18 2006

    The Billies is a new awards program recognizing media excellence in women’s sports and physical activity. Join them on April 20, 2006, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel to celebrate the positive portrayal of female athletes in the media with Billie Jean King and friends, featuring Sir Elton John!

    For 27 years, the Foundation has been celebrating achievements in women’s sports at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Now, they are bringing a new initiative to the West Coast and are kicking off this inaugural event in a big way!

    The Billies will take place at The Beverly Hilton Hotel and is co-chaired by Bob Iger, CEO of Disney; Willow Bay, television anchorwoman; Geena Davis, Oscar-winning actor; and Peggy Fleming, Olympic ice skating gold medalist.

    This black-tie evening begins with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception followed by dinner. Four “Billies” will be presented throughout the evening in the categories of Journalism, Entertainment, Breakthrough and Innovation and Influential Personality.

    The grand finale of the night will be an hour-long performance by Sir Elton John.

    For more table and ticket information, please email Marcia Robbins or call 818-776-1244, ext. 3#.

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    Elton John wardrobe sale raises 700,000 dollars
    Tuesday, April 18 2006

    A haute couture yard sale from the wardrobe of Elton John has raised more than 700,000 dollars to help fund the fight against AIDS, a spokeswoman for the organizers said.

    All the proceeds from the five-day sale at the Rockefeller Center in New York will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Maya Israel said.

    Around 10,000 pieces of classic couture and outrageous outfits from Elton's eclectic fashion collection and that of his partner, David Furnish, had been included in the charity sale.

    Amid 15-dollar T-shirts and a 5,000-dollar cashmere coat, the collection featured some of Elton's most fantastic outfits, like the Richard James-designed polka-dot suit he wore during a controversial duet with rapper Eminem at the 2001 Grammy Awards.

    But it also includes high-brow tailored suits and pieces by top designer labels such as Versace, Louis Vuitton, Comme des Garcons and Gucci.

    The Elton John AIDS Foundation has distributed over 60 million dollars since 1992 in support of programs to educate about AIDS prevention, to fight prejudice against AIDS-infected patients and to provide services to those living with AIDS.

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        Wednesday, April 12 2006 at 01:18:00

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    Manilow called Dion and Elton for career advice
    Tuesday, April 18 2006

    Singer Barry Manilow was terrified of having a regular show in Las Vegas, Nevada - until he called Celine Dion and Sir Elton John.

    The star was considering a long running contract playing at the Hilton Hotel, but had reservations about the town's "Sin City" reputation.

    The Copacabana singer decided to call Dion and Elton for their professional opinions on him signing for a regular gig.

    He explains, "I called them. They were loving it. I called Michael Crawford who had done this one little show. When I got there... it was very hip. Las Vegas has turned very young.

    "It's like a combination of New York City and South Beach in Florida and I just lucked into this. I'm there for three more years and I love it!"

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    Elton John brings 'Gnomeo' to Miramax
    Friday, April 14 2006

    Weeks after Disney's new animation chiefs scrapped Elton John's musical "Gnomeo & Juliet," he has taken his project to Miramax Films.

    "I am very excited about working with Miramax," Elton said in a statement. "'Gnomeo' is an edgy concept, and Miramax is the perfect home to push the envelope in animation."

    The animated twist on Shakespeare's tragic romance is set in the world of tacky garden gnomes. It will be produced in Britain, with lyricist Tim Rice still on board to collaborate with Elton on the songs, and Kate Winslet attached to voice Juliet. Rice and Elton won an Oscar in 1995 for their work on the "Lion King" song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."

    "Gnomeo" was in development for several years at Walt Disney Feature Animation, but was axed last month in the wake of Disney's purchase of Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar chiefs John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are reviewing all Walt Disney Feature Animation legacy projects while simultaneously developing new animated titles.

    Since Miramax is also owned by Disney, the transfer of the project went fairly smoothly. Miramax Films chairman Daniel Battsek used to work for Disney's international arm, and has a longstanding relationship with John's Rocket Prods. banner. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    "Gnomeo" is the first computer animated film to be produced by Miramax since Battsek took over from studio co-founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein in July 2005.

    Animation veteran Baker Bloodworth is serving as producer and guiding production. He previously worked at Disney on 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" and 2000's "Dinosaur." He was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 for "Destino," an animated short initiated by Salvador Dali and Walt Disney in 1945.

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    Elton John cleans his closet for charity
    Wednesday, April 12 2006

    Elton John is selling thousands of pieces of his personal wardrobe to raise money for his AIDS charity. The sale, which runs through April 15, 2006, included 10,000 coats, sweaters, suits and other garments worn by Elton and David.

    A temporary shop, Elton's Closet, was set up in the concourse of Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan for the sale. Proceeds benefit The Elton John Aids Foundation.

    Items included a black Versace suit with Elton's song titles - including "Tiny Dancer" and "Rocket Man" - woven into the fabric and the polka-dot Richard James suit John wore when he performed with Eminem at the 2001 Grammy Awards.

    "The clothes have hardly been worn. Some of them haven't been worn," said Elton, dressed in a dark suit, gingham-check shirt and sherbet-stripe tie, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 10, 2006.

    "There's the most extraordinary collection of T-shirts, your baseball caps, your shoes, from flamboyance to classic. And spend some money to help other people who desperately need their lives to be changed and improved, and you'll be doing a really good thing," he said.

    This wasn't the first time Elton had cleaned his closet to raise money for his foundation. Sales have been held in London and in Atlanta, where Elton and David have a home.

    Some pieces had been plucked from the racks to be featured in the windows of the nearby Saks Fifth Avenue department store, one of the fundraiser's sponsors.

    Michael Macko, Saks' men's fashion director, also eyed some pieces for himself. "In my hands, right now, I've got two short-sleeve Prada shirts, an orange - the color of highlighter - cashmere blazer, and Y-3 track pants," Macko told The Associated Press.

    "Surprisingly there's something for everybody. Either everybody wants to have a piece of Elton's closet for the historical perspective - there probably isn't a more famous wardrobe in our lifetime - or because having a fluorescent jacket that used to be owned by Elton John makes a great story," Macko said.

    Pieces up for grabs also included a forest green-and-magenta Jean Paul Gaultier jacket with yellow stars, eight Versace Asian-printed silk robes and a Brioni mink-lined coat with the $8,795 price tag still attached.

    There were his-and-his Gucci couture blazers, one features gold on a white background and the other silver on black; a feather chalk-stripe suit; and a silver Versace trench coat.

    The items were mostly bargains, including $150 for a Gucci shirt in a swirly pattern and $30 for Nike and Adidas sneakers. A few of the special "stage pieces" were expected to be sold for thousands of dollars.

    "There's a lot of off-the-rack Abercrombe T-shirts and there's custom designer costumes," Macko said. "He (John) also knows how to pick out important and special pieces. He knows his designers and you can see he has selected the most important pieces from the collections. And he's from the `give-it-to-me-in-any-color' ilk."

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    Concert by Elton John most likely to be held in Vilnius
    Friday, April 7 2006

    After over a year of negotiations, managers of Elton John finally signed the agreement on the only performance of the signer in one of the three Baltic states.

    Lithuanian concert agency Makrokoncertas announced that the concert will be held on September 1, 2006, as this is the last free day in the performer’s concert schedule this year.

    According to Makrokoncertas representatives, it has not been decided yet which capital will host the event.
    “We’ll talk to Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn city authorities,” Inga Grigaliunaite, Makrokoncertas PR specialist told BNS. “We will hold the concert in the city that will ensure the best conditions for the performer’s fans and top-level show organization. The exact place of the event should be clear in a few weeks,” she added.

    Elton John performed in Riga and Tallinn five years ago, when more then 30,000 people attended his concerts.

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    Elton and David to open "Elton's Closet" in New York
    Sunday, April 2 2006

    The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) will reprise one of its most unique fund-raising events with the New York launch of Elton's Closet - a five-day public sale of clothing and accessories from the personal wardrobes of Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

    Elton and David will be on-hand to kick off the launch ceremony at a special ribbon-cutting event April 10, 2006 at Rockefeller Center, located in the heart of midtown Manhattan.

    Elton's Closet, hosted by Tishman Speyer, co-owners of Rockefeller Center, will be open to the public on the Concourse Level of Rockefeller Center; between 49th and 50th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, from April 11 through April 15, 2006. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Elton's Closet event will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

    The event is co-sponsored by Top of the RockTM (the observation deck at Rockefeller Center) and Saks Fifth Avenue, and will feature nearly 10,000 pieces of clothing and accessories donated by Sir Elton and Mr. Furnish. The collection ranges from brand-new, current-season garments to gently-worn vintage treasures in a wide variety of sizes. Elton’s Closet will be stocked with thousands of items of predominantly designer menswear from Versace, Richard James, Dior by Hedi Slimane, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Comme des Garçons, Prada, Gucci, and many others.

    A very special selection of pieces representing Sir Elton John’s iconic style over the years will be featured in Saks Fifth Avenue's famed Fifth Avenue windows for the duration of the event. The windows will present a small sampling of the vast amount of eclectic merchandise, which ranges from bespoke English tailoring to more recognizable outfits such as the polka-dot suit by Richard James Sir Elton wore during his controversial performance with Eminem at the 2001 Grammy Awards.

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