Britney Spears gives fans ‘Something To Talk About’

Chatter about her not being able to sing live is, apparently, toxic to Britney Spears.

For years critics have been slamming Spears for appearing to lip sync her hits, and this summer seems to be the season the star is fighting back.

On Saturday, Spears treated attendees to her Las Vegas show to a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 hit “Something to Talk About.”

The singer explained to the audience that she’s been thinking about how she’s treated by various media outlets.

“I’ve never really spoke about it, you know and I’m a Southern girl, I’m from Louisiana,” Spears said before launching into the song. “I’m from the South and I like to keep it real, so I want to just make sure I keep having you m*****f*****s something to talk about, okay.”

The talk about her vocals has intensified as she’s continued her “Britney Spears: Piece of Me” residency in Vegas, which opened in December 2013.

In June, Spears was asked how much of her performances are live during an Israeli television show.

“Usually because I’m dancing so much I do have a little bit of playback, but there’s a mixture of my voice and the playback,” Spears said. “It really p***es me off because I am busting my a** out there and singing at the same time and nobody ever really gives me any credit for it, you know?”

The Spears Las Vegas residency is scheduled to end in December.

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Jerry Lewis, comedian, dies at 91

Jerry Lewis, the slapstick-loving comedian, innovative filmmaker and generous fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, died Sunday after a brief illness, his publicist Candi Cazau. He was 91.

Cazau would not elaborate on the illness from which Lewis was suffering.

Lewis first gained fame for his frenzied comedy-and-music act with singer Dean Martin. When that ended in the mid-1950s, Lewis went solo, and by the early ’60s, he had become a top draw in movies such as “The Bellboy,” “The Nutty Professor” and “The Patsy.” Along the way, he pioneered the use of videotape and closed-circuit monitors in moviemaking, a now-standard technique called video assist.

He first helped raise money for muscular dystrophy in a telethon in 1956. He was so successful, and so devoted to the cause, that children affected by the disease became known as “Jerry’s kids.” The telethon, long known as “The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon,” began airing on Labor Day weekend in 1966, and Lewis served as host until 2011.

Loved and criticized

Despite his success, Lewis also was a controversial figure. A number of people suffering with muscular dystrophy claimed Lewis presented victims as childlike and worthy of pity, rather than as equal members of society.

Lewis lost some fans when he criticized women doing comedy — “I think of (a female comedian) as a producing machine that brings babies in the world,” he once said — and when he lashed out at MDA critics. “You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!” he said in 2001 on the “CBS Morning Show.” He later apologized.

When Lewis was one of America’s leading box office attractions, critics mocked him for the broadness of his comedy — and took more shots at him when he became a renowned figure in France. In 1984, the French awarded Lewis the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest tribute.

He was emotional, big-hearted, eccentric — once successful, he never wore a pair of socks twice — proud and forever playing to the back row.

He seldom apologized for it.

“Let me tell you that probably 50% of the film community plays a game and does their thing because they’re prominent and they’re making a lot of money. And what they do is they give up a piece of their soul … and for them, they’re comfortable, and they feel that’s fine,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 2000. “It was never fine for me and I wouldn’t go there. I told (legendary Hollywood gossip columnist) Louella Parsons I thought she was a fat pig, because I thought she was. I had an opinion.”

The controversy Lewis stirred up over the years did little to dampen his peers’ and successors’ appreciation of his art. Several celebrities took to social media to share their sadness over his passing.

Comedian Jon Lovitz called Lewis an “amazing talent,” while “Star Trek” actor George Takei thanked him for “the laughs and the feels.”

“I sincerely hope his afterlife is a warm, peaceful… …haven,” actor Patton Oswalt wrote.

Wrote Public Enemy frontman Chuck D: “Earth is less funny today.”

A lonely boy

Joseph Levitch — he changed the name to Lewis as a teenager — was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 16, 1926. Entertainment ran in the family: His father was a vaudeville performer, his mother a piano player. Lewis occasionally performed with his parents, and by the time he was a teenager he had developed his own act. He was a regular in New York’s Catskill Mountain resorts, popular summertime retreats for area Jews.

But Lewis was also a lonely boy, essentially raised by his grandmother. Lewis told King that his comedy was rooted in hurt.

“I found (the comic) through pain. And the pain was that I couldn’t buy milk like the other kids in school at recess time,” he said.

He met Martin at a club in 1945 where the two were performing as soloists. The next year they premiered as a duo in Atlantic City, New Jersey. According to show business lore, their first show flatlined and the team was warned by the club manager to improve or be fired. For the second show, the two went wild with a no-holds-barred mix of comedy and music. It was a hit.

Within four years, they were headlining and breaking records at New York’s Copacabana club. Lewis later wrote that they set off Beatlemania-type reactions among fans — especially female fans — long before the term Beatlemania was coined.

Martin played the romantic, crooning straight man, and Lewis was the anything-for-a-laugh comedian of chaos. (Some observers called them “the organ grinder and the monkey.”) The act often featured a stint of Martin chasing Lewis around the stage. They appeared on the very first “Ed Sullivan Show” (then called “Toast of the Town”) and shrewdly negotiated control of their various appearances, earning them millions.

But over the course of a decade — a period that included 17 movies, beginning with 1949’s “My Friend Irma” — the two grew apart. Toward the end, Martin told Lewis he was “nothing to me but a dollar sign.” Martin’s last performance with Lewis — also at the Copa — was on July 25, 1956.

Big life post-Martin

Despite the acrimonious breakup, the two eventually reconciled, and Lewis and James Kaplan released a book in 2005 with a title that explained how Lewis saw the relationship: “Dean and Me (A Love Story).”

Upon their breakup, Martin was expected to be the greater success. He was an established singer and was beginning to make inroads as a respected actor, including performances in two 1958 films: “The Young Lions” (opposite Marlon Brando) and “Some Came Running” (with Frank Sinatra, with whom Martin would become longtime pals as part of the Rat Pack).

Lewis, on the other hand, was considered a lightweight, if crowd-pleasing, clown. His early solo films, such as “The Delicate Deliquent” (1957) and “Rock-a-Bye Baby” (1958), made under a longstanding contract with producer Hal Wallis, were more of the same.

But upon the end of his Wallis contract, in 1959, Lewis set out to take greater control of his work. He signed a huge contract with Paramount, a seven-year deal promising him $10 million and 60% of the profits for 14 films, according to his agency biography. He starred in “Cinderfella,” written and directed by the noted comedy director Frank Tashlin, and — when that movie was held for release — came up with “The Bellboy,” a silent-film-style story of pratfalls and adventures that Lewis wrote, directed and starred in.

It was for “The Bellboy” that Lewis first used video assist, so he could monitor his performance as he directed. He received a patent for the invention.

“The Bellboy” was released in July 1960 and was a hit, helping establish Lewis as an auteur. He exercised similar writing-directing-starring control over several successive films, including “The Errand Boy” (1961), “The Nutty Professor” (1963) and “The Patsy” (1964).

“The Nutty Professor” was perhaps the prototypical Lewis vehicle. A twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” the film starred Lewis both as nebbish professor Julius Kelp as well as smooth-talking boor Buddy Love, the man he turned into after drinking a strange potion. (More than one commentator has compared Love to Martin, Lewis’ former partner, but the filmmaker regularly denied Martin was the basis for the portrayal.)

Lewis considered it his best film, and the American Film Institute ranked it as the 99th-best American comedy of all time. Eddie Murphy remade the film in 1996, and Lewis brought a musical version to the stage in 2012.

‘Mozart of humor’

In 2015, the Library of Congress announced it had acquired a huge collection of films and documents from Lewis, including copies of his most popular films, home movies and spoof films made by Lewis at home, which sometimes starred neighbors such as Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

“For more than seven decades I’ve been dedicated to making people laugh. If I get more than three people in a room, I do a number,” Lewis told the library. “Knowing that the Library of Congress was interested in acquiring my life’s work was one of the biggest thrills of my life.”

Though Lewis’ humor sometimes left reviewers cold, he had a sizable fan base.

“My generation, we grew up on Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. They were our heroes,” said the late British funnyman Marty Feldman, crediting Lewis as one of the reasons he became a comedian. “Jerry Lewis actually has genius.”

“Lewis is the Mozart of humor,” wrote Agnes Poirier of the UK newspaper The Guardian in 2006. “You can keep sneering. I don’t care.”

Lewis remained a box office attraction during the 1960s, but his popularity waned with changing tastes in comedy and some dismal films, such as “Way … Way Out” (1966) (“About as funny and unusual as the daily trip on the subway,” wrote The New York Times) and “Which Way to the Front?” (1970).

One attempt at an early-’70s film comeback, “The Day the Clown Cried” — intended to be Lewis’ first serious film — became Hollywood legend.

In the rarely seen film, Lewis plays a circus clown, Helmut Doork, who ends up entertaining children at a concentration camp — and eventually leads them to the gas chamber. The movie was never released but has been viewed by a select few, including comedian and “Simpsons” star Harry Shearer, who was blunt in his assessment.

“This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is,” Shearer told Spy magazine in 1992. “‘Oh, my God!’ — that’s all you can say.”

Lewis rarely lacked for activity or money — he performed regularly, including an annual Las Vegas gig that paid him well — but he struggled to remain relevant. His 1980 comeback comedy, “Hardly Working,” was given zero stars by Roger Ebert, who said it was “one of the worst movies ever to achieve commercial release in this country.” (But it was a smash hit in Europe.)

In the 1980s and ’90s, Lewis picked a handful of serious roles that earned him positive reviews. He played a kidnapped talk show host in Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film “The King of Comedy,” earning a BAFTA nomination for best supporting actor. He was a clothing business owner in a plotline on the late-’80s show “Wiseguy,” and he played a wise comedy legend in the 1995 British film, “Funny Bones.”

Lewis stayed active, touring and working periodically in TV and films. In 2013 he starred in the drama “Max Rose,” and in 2016 he had a role in “The Trust,” which starred Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood. Both films were flops with critics, but RogerEbert.com’s Glenn Kenny, in reviewing “Max Rose,” said Lewis’ performance was “full of virtues: He’s committed, disciplined and entirely credible.”

He helped raise billions

For many years, Lewis was most known for his work as the fundraising face of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

He started his activity with MDA in 1951, according to his agency biography, although why he got involved has remained a mystery over the years. In 1956, he and Martin hosted an MDA telethon that raised $600,000. The first Labor Day Telethon, which was held in 1966 and aired only in the New York market, raised more than $1 million.

By 1973, the year the telethon moved to Las Vegas, it had a network of more than 150 stations and was raising more than $10 million.

The annual telethon, which aired live and ran for as long as 21½ hours, was filled with traditions. “Tonight Show” co-host Ed McMahon joined Lewis for many years and would cue up the band when the tote board hit another big number. (McMahon died in 2009.) Lewis welcomed hundreds of guests, including the entertainment flavor of the month, surprise stars — John Lennon dropped by in 1972 — or old friends: In 1976, he reunited with Martin, thanks to the intercession of mutual acquaintance Frank Sinatra.

And he was defiantly Lewis: clowning, raving, doing impromptu soft-shoes with the tie of his tuxedo undone. He traditionally concluded the broadcast with the Broadway standard “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

In 2011, Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association announced they were parting ways, and in 2015 MDA announced that there would be no more telethons, although Lewis worked with MDA in 2016 on a promotional video.

The “Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon” raised more than $2.4 billion, Lewis told the Las Vegas Sun in 2010. Lewis was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Motion Picture Academy in 2009.

Success as a ‘total idiot’

Lewis wasn’t the picture of health. He survived prostate cancer and underwent open-heart surgery. He once smoked five packs of cigarettes a day, and — because of medication — once tipped the scales at close to 300 pounds. He developed dependencies on painkillers, which was related to a 1965 spinal injury suffered during a pratfall.

He also never lost his edge. Asked by “Inside Edition” in 2010 what he thought of troubled young Hollywood stars such as Lindsay Lohan, he let fly.

“I would smack her in the mouth if I saw her,” he said. “And I would be arrested for abusing a woman.” He added that he’d be happy to “put her over my knee and spank her.”

Last year he engaged in such a bizarre interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the publication headlined its article, “The most painfully awkward interview of 2016.” Video of the exchange, in which a sullen Lewis rarely used more than three words to answer a question, went viral.

He could also be a soft touch, donating time and money to organizations such as the March of Dimes.

Lewis had six children, five sons and a daughter, by two wives. One son, Gary, became the lead singer of the 1960s pop group Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

Through it all, he never lost his outlook. “I’ve had great success being a total idiot,” he once said, combining both ego and self-deprecation.

“You’re still 9, right?” asked King in 2000.

“Oh, yes,” replied Lewis. “I will cut your tie some night with a scissor.”

For more on comedians who changed our world, see CNN’s “The History of Comedy.”

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Venezuelan president calls classical music maestro a traitor

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is at war with the country’s beloved classical music maestro. 

Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s musical director, was distraught after 17-year-old violinist Armando Cañizales was shot dead during a protest against Maduro in Miami.  

During a Friday night television appearance, Maduro said Dudamel had betrayed the socialist government. 

Maduro said Dudamel had betrayed El Sistema, a government-funded program that educated musicians nationwide. Violinist Wuilly Arteaga believes Maduro is the one who betrayed Venezuela’s musicians. 

Arteaga has been persecuted for choosing to play his violin, while Maduro’s riot police attack students who are willing to sacrifice it all for a better Venezuela. 

Arteaga’s violin was damaged. He later suffered injuries while playing. He was arrested. Arteaga said he was tortured and witnessed a sexual assault while in custody. Now authorities have banned him from playing his violin in the streets of Venezuela. 

Dudamel, who lead the program that nurtured both Cañizales and Arteaga, toured with El Sistema ensembles. He also supported Maduro during the protests against him in 2014. The death of Cañizales during a protest in May changed his mind. 

Dudamel is scheduled to lead the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in a U.S. tour next month.

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Bonnie Tyler to sing ‘Total Eclipse’ hit during eclipse

Some cruise passengers will have the ultimate soundtrack for Monday’s solar eclipse when Bonnie Tyler sings he r hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on board.

Royal Caribbean says the Welsh singer will be backed on the power ballad by Joe Jonas’ band DNCE for a performance in an outdoor theater on its ship Oasis of the Seas as part of a “Total Eclipse Cruise.”

The ship leaves from Florida on Sunday. It will sail through the Caribbean toward St. Maarten on Monday when the moon passes in front of the sun. A total eclipse will be viewable in a narrow band across the sea.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” topped the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1983. DNCE is best known for its 2015 hit “Cake by the Ocean.”

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Obi-Wan Kenobi film may be coming to the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy

It appears that Obi-Wan Kenobi may be getting his own movie in the “Star Wars” galaxy.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stephen Daldry is in the “earliest of stages” of negotiations to direct the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news on Thursday.

The film, which would be centered around the wise Jedi Knight who famously mentored Luke Skywalker and his father Darth Vader, doesn’t have a script or any actors attached yet, according to THR.

Daldry was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for “The Hours” and “Billy Elliot.”

Disney had no comment regarding the reports.

For fans of the iconic character, which was played by Alec Guinness in the original trilogy and Ewan McGregor in the more recent “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, these reports of early talks do give a new hope for a possible standalone Kenobi film.

However, before anyone dusts off that Obi-Wan lightsaber, it should be noted that rumors about films centered around beloved “Star Wars” characters have gone nowhere before. (Case in point, fans are still waiting for a standalone film for “Star Wars” bounty hunter, Boba Fett.)

If an Obi-Wan Kenobi film does come to fruition, it would likely be a part of Lucasfilm and Disney’s plans to expand the “Star Wars” universe beyond that of the Skywalker saga.

It first did this with 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which went on to make more than $1 billion worldwide.

The next “Star Wars” spinoff will be the Han Solo prequel film that is set to land in theaters next May.

Ron Howard stepped in to direct the Solo film following the departure of previous directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who left the film over creative differences with Disney’s Lucasfilm.

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Palace Bar fun continues at Clevelander for now

LePaige, Missy Meyakie, Tiffany Fantasia and Melissa Hilton were among the queens who shined at the Palace in South Beach. 

The iconic Palace Bar attracted drag queens and admirers from all over the world. For about three decades, beloved queens with their glitter eye shadow, shiny wigs and glossy high boots turned the corner of Ocean Drive and 12th Street into a cat walk. 

The dive bar, which is only a few blocks away from the World Erotic Art Museum, was a haven not just for the LGBTQ community, but also for the locals and tourists who supported them. The building sold to Steve Kassin’s Infinity Real Estate for $15.25 billion. They are renovating. 

Thomas Donall decided he was going to stay positive and view their order to vacate as an opportunity to expand. He will be opening a temporary location at the Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Bar at 1020 Ocean Drive.

Donall also said that he is planning on hosting a grand reopening party at another location no later than November. 

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