BRANDING There is soon to be a new flavor of bubblegum on the market – and it’s not Latin or hip hop. It’s Southern flavor! ‘N Sync’s Lance Bass says that he hopes to team up with a female country star for a new version of their latest hit single, Launch reports. ”We just released a ballad, ‘This I Promise You,’ to every market except country,” Bass said. ”I mean, we did Spanish, everything. I was talking to [Jive Records CEO] Clive Calder the other day and I was like, ‘Why don’t we do a country version, ‘cause it’s a country song,’ so we are going to get together with a well known artist and probably collaborate this year.” Bass also said that the singer would be a woman, but there is no word as yet on whom they might choose. ‘N Sync’s first country tune was a collaboration with Alabama, ”God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You,” which made the top five on the country charts. Who says those boys are mere puppets in the hands of marketeers?
LEGALESE Warden Fenderson, the limo driver who sped Sean ”Puffy” Combs, Jennifer Lopez, and Co. away from the shooting at a New York nightclub last December has filed a lawsuit against Bad Boy Records and its even badder CEO. According to the New York Post, Fenderson is suing for $3 million, claiming he suffered personal injuries and the ”intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The new civil case may actually be a blessing in disguise. Fenderson, who will serve as a primary witness against the rapper, indicates that the 9mm gun found in Puffy’s limo belonged to his bodyguard Anthony ”Wolf” Jones rather than his boss. Combs’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, downplayed the new civil suit saying, ”We have maintained that Combs did not have a any gun, any time.” This marks the first time a $3 million lawsuit was good news for anyone.
MUSIC BIZ EMI Group and Time Warner (EW.com’s parent) nixed plans for a proposed joint venture yesterday. European regulators had opposed the union, which would have spawned a massive music company. But EMI may try again to come up with a new deal that appeases officials. ”I wouldn’t call Warner/ EMI dead, but it has to be a more orderly process rather than trying to get everything through the regulators at the same time, ” a Merrill Lynch media analyst told Reuters. ”It’s not impossible, but everyone just needs to take a step back.” The deal would have reduced the number of the world’s largest record companies from five to four, uniting megalabels such as Virgin, Atlantic, Capitol, and Elektra. Europe’s Consumer Organization – one of the merger’s fiercest opponents – welcomed the announcement and pledged to fight any further attempts by the two companies to unite. ”We are also opposed to the AOL-Time Warner merger. We think it would limit very much the choice consumers will have over the Internet – over the delivery of music or movies or ideas,” said Dominique Forest, an adviser to the group. Analysts say the TW-AOL merger may have better chances of approval from European regulators now that the EMI-Warner joint venture is off. A decision is expected no later than Oct. 24.
BEATLES BEAT British Beatles fans snapped up copies of the new ”Beatles Anthology,” which is expected to be the last word on the Liverpool fab four. The 367 page bio – cowritten by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Yoko Ono – went on sale in England yesterday. Publishers say some 1.5 million copies of the $50 book, which chronicles the rockers’ rise to fame, have already been preordered. A spokesperson for HMV said that many of their stores have already had to reorder copies to keep up with the lively demand…. Ono celebrated the opening of a museum honoring her late husband yesterday in Japan. Visitors will be able to view Lennon’s personal artifacts – including his handwritten song lyrics and wire rimmed glasses – when the doors open to the public on Oct. 9, which would have been Lennon’s 60th birthday. Ono said she worried that British fans would be upset about the museum’s locale but that Japan was very dear to Lennon. The museum also has a shop that sells Beatles memorabilia, but the artist said the commercialism did not bother her. ”I think the Beatles were the most commercialized band in history – and John wouldn’t deny that. But it wasn’t bad – it allowed him to bring his message to the world,” she said. We’re assuming she’s never heard ‘N Sync.
REEL CONTROVERSY The makers of director Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming film have even more reason to get riled about hypocrisy. Theater chains United Artists and Loews Cineplex are hiring extra security guards to ensure that no one under 17 is admitted to tonight’s New York opening of the critically acclaimed ”Requiem for a Dream” – which Artisan, its distributor, chose to release without a rating rather than with the MPAA’s recommended NC-17 tag. To add insult to injury, the companies expect Artisan to foot part of the expenses for the extreme measures, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Officers will be posted at the box office to fend off all the Britney Spears fanatics who are clearly determined to see this art film. (See EW.com’s Hot Topic about the ”Requiem” brouhaha.)
OLD BLUE EYES Frank Sinatra’s daughter will draw a decisive link between her dad and the Mafia in an interview on this week’s ”60 Minutes.” Tina Sinatra – the youngest of the singer’s three daughters – says that her father persuaded organized crime boss Sam Giancana to help President John F. Kennedy win the union vote in the West Virginia primary. Apparently JFK’s father, Joseph, asked Sinatra for the favor, she told CBS’ Steve Kroft. She says that Giancana’s response was: ”It’s a couple of phone calls.” Later, when Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy led an attack on organized crime, Giancana felt betrayed, she adds. Sinatra was forced to perform two shows at the Mafioso’s Chicago club in order to assuage his anger. We imagine Oliver Stone has just gotten an idea for a brand new movie.
CASTING ”Party of Five”’s Jennifer Love Hewitt has a devilish new role. The actress has agreed to play the prominent Old Testament angel Lucifer in Bill Condon’s (”Gods and Monsters”) remake of ”The Devil and Daniel Webster.” She’ll star opposite Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. ”She’s a sexy devil, a smart devil, and an evil devil – all the things that you expect the devil to be, just with a sweeter face than you might expect,” the starlet told the Hollywood Reporter. If only Milton had been acquainted with Mandy Moore.