October 30th, 2009
12:40 AM ET

Heavy hitters take the stage at Madison Square Garden

Producer Doug Ganley blogging from backstage at Madison Square Garden where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert took place Thursday night.

The first highlight of the night came when Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel took the stage arm in arm. The audience loved renditions of "Sounds of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson" and "Bridge over Troubled Water."  They walked off to a standing ovation from the crowd and gave one last encore with "Cecelia."

Crosby, Stills and Nash followed with a good set and some assistance from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor. David Crosby told us backstage that they are able to keep their songs fresh because, "We don't remember how we did it last time."

The crowd is into it, but definitely skews a little older. With all of the grey hair out there, I bet this is one of the only nights at Madison Square Garden where the beer vendors haven't asked anyone to show an I.D.

Bonnie Raitt told us that she was having a ball. "The hallways are happening" she said, "I wish this could last a month."

Stevie Wonder just took the stage, and after battling technical problems started off with a cover of "Blowing in the Wind." Covers seem to be a theme tonight because Crosby Stills and Nash say they're going into the studio tomorrow to do an album of covers.

Which brings to mind the question what's your favorite cover?

October 29th, 2009
10:46 PM ET

Taylor Mitchell's mother thanks the public for their support

The mother of Taylor Mitchell, the Canadian folksinger who was killed by coyotes while hiking at a national park in Nova Scotia, wants the public to know their condolences and support are very much appreciated. Emily Mitchell has just released the following statement:

"On behalf of my family, I want to express my deepest thanks for the outpouring of condolences and support from Taylor's friends and fans, near and far. My thanks to the hikers who called 911, the RCMP officer who first arrived on the scene and did his utmost to help her, as well as the incredible doctors and nurses at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax who tried desperately to save her. I wish to also thank RCMP's Victims Services, and the Atlantica Hotel who've gone out of their way to support us during this difficult time.

There are no words to describe my grief. Taylor was my shining light, my baby, my confidante and best friend. My world is turned upside down and forever transformed without her. I don't know how to move forward from here but I know that she would want that for me and I will try to do that in her memory and celebrate her life in the way she lived it– with passion,
commitment and an unbridled loving heart.

I've noticed that the media have often mentioned that Taylor was hiking alone when the coyote attack occurred. I want people to know that Taylor was a seasoned naturalist and well versed in wilderness camping. She loved the woods and had a deep affinity for their beauty and serenity. Tragically it was her time to be taken from us so soon.

We take a calculated risk when spending time in nature's fold– it's the wildlife's terrain. When the decision had been made to kill the pack of coyotes, I clearly heard Taylor's voice say, "please don't, this is their space". She wouldn't have wanted their demise, especially as a result of her own. She was passionate about animals, was an environmentalist, and was
also planning to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre in the coming months.

Her loss is an incomprehensible tragedy on so many levels– but everybody's messages of love and support and desire to keep her memory and music alive will help me to move forward and honour her short but full and vibrant life.

There will be a service and visitation, as well as a concert to celebrate her life and music.

Details will be finalized in the coming days.

With love and deep appreciation,

Emily Mitchell"

What are your memories of Taylor Mitchell?


Filed under: Music
October 29th, 2009
08:18 PM ET

Tom Hanks is rocking tonight

Tom Hanks is pumped! He's producing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert at Madison Square Garden tonight. While backstage, he offered up more of the  "Bachelor Party" Tom than Academy Award winner Tom, jokingly calling the press "jaded sons of a b-tch" and making reference to a movie title that I cannot repeat on a family blog.

He struck a more serious note when talking about the line-up which includes Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Crosby Stills and Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and Sting to name just a few. The concert is being filmed for a HBO special that will air Thanksgiving weekend. "I just did it for the all access pass," he joked. "I'm a fan, but I don't know what to say to these guys," he admitted.

The funniest moment of his quick press conference came when a reporter asked him about his favorite song of the year. He had to think about it for a second, but after his wife Rita Wilson helped him he said "ohhh Beyonce."  He couldn't remember the title, so he started flapping his hand and singing "Da da da da duh da da da" until someone helped him out by shouting "Put a Ring on It?" That was it, "and Kanye West had nothing to do with me picking that song," he concluded.

October 29th, 2009
12:45 PM ET

Team Selena Gomez 'finds the good'

Disney star Selena Gomez is proof positive that age is nothing but a number when it comes to philanthropy.

The 17-year-old actress and singer is the youngest ambassador the family-focused non-profit UNICEF has ever had. Gomez is following up a her week-long September trip to Ghana with a Halloween-themed fundraising drive to help kids around the world get the everyday basics we can easily take for granted – things like clean water, food and education.

The “Wizards of Waverly Place” actress raised $700,000 last October for the UNICEF fundraiser, but this year she’s aiming to reach a $1 million goal. If you’re heading out for trick-or-treating on All Hallows’ eve, you can help Gomez raise some funds by taking along a UNICEF trick-or-treat collection box, or head to her UNICEF site to join her team and offer a donation.

The top three fundraisers will get an autographed picture, a UNICEF certificate of appreciation and a personal phone call from Gomez herself.

Be sure to check out Gomez pushing for good on her live stream today at 4 p.m. PST.

October 29th, 2009
12:39 AM ET

Five rising Asian-American stars to watch

"I think that most people who know me know that I'm pretty reasonable, chill... and a not so angry a guy." That sounds funny coming from a guy who calls his blog angryasianman.com. "I adopted the name Angry Asian Man for the website because it's very provocative, and it's very in your face," he says.

And although he writes with anger when Hollywood stereotypes Asian-Americans, he also writes with joy about the up-and-coming entertainers from that community who could breakthrough to big time success someday. We asked him to pick five who may do just that.

If they do, remember, you heard it here first!

1. Far East Movement "I can't stop listening to the single, "Girls On The Dance Floor" by FarEast Movement, otherwise known as FM. It's just the greatest, coolest dance track and everytime it's on, I just turn it up. So, FarEast Movement are definitely guys to watch in hip hop."

2. David Choi "A guy I really like is a guy named David Choi on YouTube who is just creating really fun, creative, quirky songs. It's funny because he started off as a songwriter and he hasn't really done much live performing and now that his music is sort of taking off and he's gotten fans through YouTube, he's become much more of like a legit musician, playing, and actual shows and stuff like that."

3. Brenda Song "For the Disney generation, there's certainly Brenda Song, who started on the show "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody." I think in a place like Disney, which has such a huge impact on popular culture, especially among the younger generation that's just coming up, someone like Brenda Song, who is just being a really cute, funny, and engaging actress in TV shows and movies is going to really show that Asian Americans have a a place in mainstream media and kids are going to be able to see "Oh, look, there's a really appealing, normal Asian-American person on TV."

4. Aaron Yoo "I really like an actor named Aaron Yoo. He was in 'Friday the 13th,' 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' and a bunch of other stuff. He's just like a regular dude, who's in these, smaller roles up 'til now, but I think audiences really like him. He was in the movie 'Disturbia', which opened a couple years ago at number one at the box office. But I remember the week after that movie came out, I got all these hits on my website from people searching for Aaron Yoo, and people wanting to know who this guy was and what he was all about and searching for photos of him. I think he's definitely a guy to watch in Hollywood."

5. Wong Fu Productions [The trio of 20-something film-makers creates short movies that have developed a sizable cult following on YouTube.] "The really cool thing about their story is they are just friends who started making videos for fun, and then it caught on. I think a lot of people see themselves reflected in the Wong Fu guys. You know, it's like, 'Hey! these guys are just having fun and doing their thing" and so, I think it really relates to that young, energetic, hip sensibility where they're having fun and they're showing everybody what they're doing."

October 28th, 2009
04:26 PM ET

Why the World Series is better than 'Glee'

The cast of Glee performing live? Jay-Z and Alicia Keys singing “Empire State of Mind?” Kate Hudson hanging out with Rudy Giuliani and Billy Crystal? A woman selling sex for tickets just to get a peek of all of the action? You must be thinking to yourself, “Is she making this stuff up?” Nope, I am just describing the World Series, starting tonight, between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Folks, the World Series is better than anything on primetime TV these days. It’s better than any scripted show out there. You’ve got your lead characters- the McDreamys and McSteamys if you will. For example, on the Yankees we have Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter- old friends who depending on the day, either love each other or hate each other. Their love lives are the stuff that nighttime dramas are made of- the kind of storylines that fans thrive on. After A-Rod’s divorce he was linked to none other than Madonna, and now he is dating Kate Hudson. Hudson is now a regular fixture at the games, and usually rocking some killer style in the stands. I am even convinced that she got her hair and makeup done before the last game—she was definitely ready for the close-ups that she knew the cameras were taking of her every time her man was up at the plate. It’s rumored that she has even become his good luck charm.

Jeter’s longtime love, Friday Night Light’s Minka Kelly, plays it a little more low-key, sitting in his private box away from the other wives and girlfriends of the players. Not to worry though FNL fans, you won’t miss your Minka Kelly fix because the cameras know where to find her! In addition to Kelly, you can also expect to see loyal Yankee fans like Billy Crystal, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Regis Philbin, Donald Trump, and maybe even Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. On the Phillies side, you should be on the lookout for Kevin Bacon, Rob McElhenney, Fabian, Tim McGraw and Bill Cosby and even our very own Vice President Joe Biden! There will be better celebrity sightings at these games than the red carpet at the Golden Globes!

On top of all of the stars, we are treated to musical performances- the soundtrack to the World Series if you will. The uber-talented cast of Glee may have been snubbed by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but you can get your fix by watching them on the World Series. These are the guys who reinvigorated the Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believin’” last spring, and I can’t wait to see what they are going to do with the National Anthem!

We also are going to get to hear Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sing their ode to New York, “Empire State of Mind.” It’s like getting a free concert with some of today’s hottest stars- and you know Beyonce will be in the stands.

So how hot are tickets to this show? Well, there is a woman in Philly, Susan Finkelstein, who allegedly offered sex for tickets to a game. For those who are looking for a far less illegal way of attending, tickets are still available, but they are going for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. You could do what you normally do on a weeknight however, and watch the game in the comfort of your own home. Just think, all of those celebrities, the music and on top of that, a great baseball game, all right there in your living room- what could be better than that?

The fact of the matter is that we watch TV to inspire us. We watch it for hope, for fun and for entertainment. Well that’s what baseball is about—hope, fun and entertainment. Imagine all of that in one place and you have the World Series—sounds like Must See TV to me.

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