August 19th, 2009
06:48 PM ET


For those familiar with my blogging this summer, you have been subjected to everything from a rant about Comic-Con spandex to musings about Brad Pitt’s big secret from the Hollywood Premiere of “Inglourious Basterds.”

jay z

In short, you have suffered, smiled and paid your dues, and now you deserve a little kickback. Therefore, it is with great pride that I bring you a CNN Marquee Blog exclusive! And not just any CNN exclusive, but one which promises the chance at going to a major music concert for free!

Digging deep into their entertainment and promotional pockets are the marketing executives of Samsung and AT&T. The powerhouse companies have been offering music fans the chance to see some of the biggest acts in the world completely free all summer long, including performances by Daughtry, The Offspring, T-Pain and Dierks Bentley.

Now, CNN can exclusively announce that stop number 8 of their 9-city Summer Krush tour will be at the Chicago House of Blues, where international rap sensation Jay-Z will take center stage. For tickets to the free concert, which takes place next month, check out the Samsug Summer Krush website. The hip-hop mogul will perform his biggest hits as well as new songs from his upcoming “Blueprint 3” album.

The next stop for the tour is out west in sunny Los Angeles. There’s still no word on who the act will be for the big finale stop of the free Summer Krush music series, but you can be sure when the news breaks, I’ll get it to you here first on the Marquee Blog!

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Filed under: Jay-Z • Music
August 19th, 2009
12:58 PM ET

No, he's not dead. No, not him either.

When John Hughes passed away recently, my colleague Rachel Wells posted a great blog entry describing our verification and reporting process when a celebrity dies.  What she didn't add, as it wasn't relevant at the time, was that we follow the same steps when a celeb doesn't die - that is, when it's just a stupid rumor.

The latest not-dead celeb is Robert Pattinson, of Twilight fame.  Overnight, someone apparently edited his Wikipedia entry to say he had died, and almost immediately, CNN was inundated with emails asking if it was true.  So we dutifully put in calls to his manager and his agent, as well as Twilight's distribution company.  A couple of days ago, we were contacting Eminem's reps, after the rapper had supposedly died in a car crash.

Sometimes it seems you haven't made it in Hollywood unless someone says you're dead.  Recent non-dead celebs include Harrison Ford (supposedly disappeared on a boat in the French Riviera), Natalie Portman, George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, and Jeff Goldblum.  Goldblum, who was said to have fallen off a cliff while making a movie in New Zealand - he was in L.A. at the time - even gave his own comedic eulogy on The Colbert Report.  (I happened to be the one to call Goldblum's publicist, and before I could even ask, the rep said "No, he's not dead.")  Going a bit further back, everyone from Tom Hanks to Tom Cruise has been targeted.

Such rumors are nothing new: Leave It To Beaver star Jerry Mathers was supposed to have died in Vietnam, and I remember friends swearing that Mikey from the Life Cereal ads had eaten Pop Rocks, drank a Coke, and his stomach had exploded.  Rumor-debunking websites such as Snopes have flourished investigating and knocking down such bogus claims.

My first thought on hearing one of these rumors is the same as when I read about a new computer virus: what dolt did this?  Who thinks this is funny?  At least creating a computer virus takes a bit of cleverness and skill; whipping up a fake Wikipedia entry - or a faux wire article or a phony tweet - just takes having more spare time than sense, or class.

At least it points out something positive about the MSM, the mainstream media it's so fashionable to hate.  Sure, independent blogs and other websites often break stories on which the MSM moves more slowly, or not at all.  But part of the reason is that we check and double-check our facts.  Unlike many websites, CNN has an established process that demands we confirm things like births, weddings, divorces, arrests... and especially deaths.  It's why we got so many calls overnight about Pattinson: our reputation for getting it right, even if we're not first.

Sure, we make mistakes - we're human.  And some people will always care more about rumor than fact.  But for those who'd rather know if the email they're forwarding or the news they're linking to on Facebook is actually true, we'll keep doing what we're doing.

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