Monday

Peter Gunn: The Show For Deep Mancini


I've got a habit of watching Peter Gunn in the middle of the night on a cool vintage TV station here in Chicago, METV. Anyway, I love the detective series, Peter Gunn. Having had a few film courses in college, I'm into its film noir style, which is the black and white genre the show's creator, Blake "Pink Panther" Edwards, made it in.

But, of course, what really makes Peter Gunn such an excellent 1950s TV series is its killer music by Henry Mancini. Everyone who's familiar with the show loves the legendary Peter Gunn theme song, but the rest of the music in each episode is bananas beyond belief. I mean it is too sexy and powerful and moody-cool.



I may wind up leaving some deep Mancini in the sidebar here for a while. Really, what better music could you hear when you arrive at the Original CyberLounge? So put on your Ray-Bans and rock it, baby!

Hot Links:
Vast Henry Mancini's music collection at Artist Direct

About Peter Gunn
Film Noir movie poster collection



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Wednesday

Dr. Donda West... Unbelieveable and Getting Worse


R.I.P. Dr. Donda West, great education champion who birthed one of rap music's most talented beings The moment I realized that Dr. Jan Adams (see Fox News video) was the Oprah-endorsed cosmetic surgeon who performed the tummy tuck and breast reduction on Dr. Donda West, I wondered how long it would be before Oprah Winfrey would somehow be questioned about possibly having recommended him to Kanye's precious mom.

I'd seen Kanye West on The Oprah Show, with an extremely proud Donda West chiming in about her super star son. It didn't require a quantum leap to wonder if one Chicago lady now in Los Angeles had placed a call to another Chicago lady who influences thought of every ilk, seeking her advice about which cosmetic surgeon to use.

Not even five minutes lapsed before I saw the fresh link to msnbc.com, blaring this headline: Oprah denies recommending doctor to West.

I've moved on to a new whirl of questions surrounding the shocking death of dear Dr. West:

-- Will Oprah Winfrey completely sever ties to people of color, with this on the heels of the scandal at her South Africa girls academy? She'll most certainly need massive quantities of Head On: Apply Directly To the Forehead.

-- When will Kanye's people announce the malpractice lawsuit? And could other mega lawsuits result from this as well?

-- Did Kanye, who is said to have been in London when his mother underwent plastic surgery, even know she had scheduled this?

-- How much Stronger can one rap music icon staring down the barrel of life truly become? If "President Bush doesn't care about black people," then what on Earth will Kanye say when he gets near a mic on the heels of this travesty?

Chicago State University, where Dr. West chaired the English department, is planning a memorial service honoring her this Friday. Kanye, you're so in our prayers.


Hot Links Here

Jay-Z moment of silence in concert

Huffington Post laundry list of Dr. Jan Adams' DUIs and malpractice issues

WGCI Radio Chicago interviews rapper-pal Rhymefest about how Kanye's doing Read the whole post...

Monday

Kanye West and LeBron James on Saturday Night Live


Oh hell naw! Kanye West managed to upstage LeBron James on Saturday Night Live -- and Lebron was wonderful as guest host of the season's opening show.

But who can out-drama the original Chicago rap drama king? Only Kanye can upstage himself, as he proved over and over in this brilliant sketch with Maya Rudolph (aka daughter of Minnie Ripperton) and Keenan Thompson:



As awesome as Kanye was playing Kanye, he brilliantly further upstaged himself, freestyle rapping this true and telling rhyme at the end of his song, "Everything I Am":

Hey mama can u see me
Hey daddy can you see me
I'm rockin' on the TV
Y'all thought they'd never let me back in NBC


Ain't that the truth! You could pop some Cris to that powerful notion, a bold reference to his infamous comment about President Bush during NBC's Hurricane Katrina telethon.



How about that all women string section? Simply smokin', Mr. West!

And LeBron, LeBron, LeBron. Really, LeBron James plays more characters in the same spot than Eddie Murphy. Now that's talent, on and off the court.



Links:
Kanye's UniverseCity official site
Maya Rudolph
Forbes-themed rap collabo for Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Diddy
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Saturday

Leave YouTube Alone - Chris Crocker on Britney, Seth Green on Chris Crocker, and George Bush on General Petraeus


Oh, no she didn't!

Oh, yes he did!

Chris Crocker, the ultimate Britney Spears fan, interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel about his wildly popular, "tearful" defense of the pop star's performance on MTV's VMA show.



Then who he did what?! Seth Green says we have to go "through" him.

Go through him?!

Yep! PS Leave Chris Crocker a LOAN! (We thinks she needs to buy annuda bra...)



And President George Dubya Bush is dead certain to cry: Leave General Petraeus Alone!



Maybe I'll make one of these videos that, thanks to Chris Crocker's Britney Spears obsession, have multiplied like school chirren. The title? I'll call it LEAVE YOUTUBE ALOOOONE!!


Links:





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Thursday

Oprah and Chicago BBQ For Obama


BBQ For Barack Obama events are happening throughout Chicago, and Oprah Winfrey takes her cook-out for the candidate to the far left, hosting hers for celebrites at her gorgeous Montecito, California home

Still not convinced that Senator Barack Obama can make a difference? Well, it seems he's making a crucial difference this weekend for those of us who could cry because the end of summer is so near. It's a mega BBQ Cook-out (sort of). Chicago media mogul Oprah Winfrey is throwing a celebrity fundraiser BBQ for Obama on September 8 at her California digs, and an impressive 60 Obama supporters here in the Windy City are doing the same, inviting the public. But at a more affordable ticket price, I'm sure.

So if you've been lamenting the idea of packing away your swimsuit, cargo pants, sunglasses, charred grill and ice cold beer post Labor Day, you really don't have to! Obama is a man with a plan to keep the season hot a while longer. What a progressive and engaging way to network and focus us on politics, but in a fun environment that'll bring happiness and relaxation.

Here's a link to find an Obama BBQ event in Chicago. If interested, it's best to contact the host ASAP: a few of the Chicago events are already filled to capacity and are now closed. If you live elsewhere, why not throw a Bar-B-Que anyway this weekend? What better way to hold on to the heat and fun it brings?

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Monday

Model Naomi Campbell - Working On Labor Day


Supermodel Naomi Campbell has a killer, nude PR shot for an Italian fashion and tourism magazine

You may be lucky enough to have this Labor Day holiday off, but supermodel Naomi Campbell is working (it) today for sure. If you're a fan of the flawless but temperamental fashion runway diva extraordinaire, do not miss this stunning photo of Naomi. I just stumbled across it while doing some PR research for an Italian tourism client.

Unfortunately, I don't speak Italian, so cannot read what this Italian fashion and tourism website article says about Naomi. But her nude, high art photo there did give me a Borat moment, making me think, "Wow wa wee wah!" The photo's just too fierce and sexy -- and makes me want to forgo eating so much delicious Bar-b-que at the family's Labor Day cook-out!

Naomi's photo reminds me of a friend who moved to Milan years ago to pursue fashion design, and wound up dabbling in the Italian porn film industry. She eventually left Italy to continue pursuing art (with clothes on). Guess that's where fresh 'cheeks' like Miss Naomi's sort of came in.

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Sunday

Dead Certain That President Bush Is Ready to Leave Mess For Dems to Clean Up


I thought this Washington Post article would be one of those revealing book reviews, this time with President Bush as the subject, that would make me dash over to Borders Books for a sneak peak once it hit bookshelves. However, this isn't a book review about "Dead Certain, " which author Robert Draper, a Texan and Bush friend, soon debuts about fellow good ol' boy, Dubbya.

I'd have to say, though, the article about the book made me literally shudder and squint at the page more than once. I decided I won't be dashing to Borders for a look-see; the article alone caused me adverse bodily reactions.

In the new book that comes out Tuesday about President Bush, he mentions that his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, reminds him not to wallow in self-pity; he chose this job. (Some would argue that he did more than 'choose' it, but that's semantics!) President Bush also seems to think that people don't like him because he's really doing his job extremely well: being a great leader who's leaving the country in better shape than before him.

President Bush also mentions the possibility of starting a Freedom Institute. Talks about crying more than anyone could know. And imagines himself "getting in the car, and being bored" once his presidency ends...

Think I'd better just refer you to this interesting article written on "Dead Certain." I don't want to editorialize too much here; I wouldn't want to make the President of the United States cry. One thing's for sure. This rare glimpse into Bush's heart could be more frightening than a look at "Bush's brain."



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Saturday

Dragonfly Photography at Tabblo Photo Sharing Site




Tabblo: Bugging Out @ The Jewel Box In St. Louis

I've always loved dragonflies. And now that I've discovered a plethora of them at the Jewel Box in St. Louis, I simply cannot stop going there to capture shots of them.

They're fun to photograph. They soar and flit from the lily pads to the surrounding bushes so gracefully. The chase is great!

... See all 12 "Dragonflies" in photo album...


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Friday

Stop Snitchin'? Stop Saggin'!






Yes, do it, Atlanta! And I can see that St. Louis needs to follow suite with similar sagging laws soon. The saggin' trend is so intense and pervasive here that I've been snooping around the 'hood with my camera during my visit home, clandestinely taking the above pictures of guys' butts. They're an elusive lot, though. Hard to snap shots of, like butt-a-flies!

Men and their ass-showing thing really ought to have been outlawed a long time ago. Companies such as Sears, your basic plumber, your basic cable company... All of them have done society a grave disservice by turning the other cheek toward employees who bear butt crack. There is nothing so disgusting. Nothing. Not even hip-hop kids with sagging pants.

But here again, America needs an attitude adjustment. Too many people laugh hysterically when older white men expose their fleshy, jiggly posteriors. But now that urban youth, particularly black kids, have taken the shocking look and twisted it into a (horrid) fad, suddenly we need laws, Laws, LAWS!!

And I agree. But we needed these indecency laws years ago, when this sloppy phenomenon started among service workers. When strangers began coming into our homes dressed in ways that assault the senses. For as distasteful as I find hip-hop pants saggin', I'm thankful the wincing and squinting I do when I see it isn't because I'm seeing the actual cheese.






Opinions:

* St. Louis sports writer Bryan Burwell ties in Michael Vick
* Shamontiel sounds off at Associated Content
* Atlanta's
possible actions @ Mingle.City


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Max Roach to Jay-Z ... Bebop to Hip-hop


Jazz drummer Max Roach, a bebop music originator, died August 16, 2007, in ManhattanRapper and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z was named the top among hip-hop's cash kings by Forbes magazine on a list including 50 Cent, Sean Diddy Combs, Timbaland and Dr. DreLove it or hate it, it's hard to miss the dotted line in African American history that's taken the music world from bebop to hip-hop. Draw your own conclusion, but the life transition yesterday of jazz drum master Max Roach coinciding with Forbes giving Jay-Z the crown among hip-hop cash kings says something mighty powerful...


New York Times on Max Roach's life and achievements

MP3.com covers Forbes story about cash kings Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Diddy, Timbaland, & Dr. Dre

"Tell My... Horse," 2006 post at ViqiFrenchFever about hip-hop, 50 Cent and the messages


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Wednesday

Sites For Writers to Promote Books and Build Traffic


While online exploring ways to promote my book, which I categorize as my * suspense memoirs *, I've been more astonished than before by how quickly hot, new spaces crop up, catch fire, and help build traffic for writers. Or for anyone else, for that matter.

Because one of my redundant gripes in life is, "No one ever told me that... Why didn't someone tell me?" I'm sharing some of these sites with you. Again, I've stumbled upon them in the context of searching for good writers tools, but if you're not a writer, you'll still probably find them useful.

1. Scribd.com -- This could be called Free eBooks or PDF City, and I mean there's a PDF or ebook at Scribd on all kinds of cool, obscure stuff. I don't mean obscure in a bad way at all; I mean of great value and high quality, which can be rare in cyberspace. Extremely user-friendly and clean design. The link opens on my own, first entry at Scribd, but you know to explore once inside. After you read my memoir PDF, that is. ;-)

2. Shvoong.com -- I'd heard of Shvoong, but hadn't ventured there until now. I was reminded by a fellow Associated Content writer that here was a place to not only write my own book review, but serve it up for others who hopefully would like the material and write book reviews, too.

3. PayLoadz.com -- A venture of PayPal (which is owned by eBay), PayLoadz provides a space for creatives to sell all types of digital goods. From ebooks and music MP3s to software and how-to instructions, someone seems to offer it in the PayLoadz Store. For example, download how to build a garden bridge, how to knit a cool handbag, how to write a book, and more.

4. Squidoo.com -- There's been much written lately about Google and what's being called the "Squidoo Slap." Meaning that Google grew frustrated with the spam abuse at Squidoo and either removed peoples' high-ranking sites from Google search or buried them. But there's still a strong and supportive community at Squidoo. Even through Google, Squidoo brings nice traffic to the lens about my memoirs just fine.

5. Blogger.com -- I hadn't used the search function at the top of this blog in a while. And just when I wanted to, I discovered it was gone. (Like I said, nobody tells me anything!) I wanted to search for other writers on Blogger, book review writers, you name it, but it took a minute to figure out how. I wound up changing my profile page (i.e, my occupation line) from PR and Writer to just say Writer, and there "everyone" was. Wasn't there a time when you could choose from the universe of what types of bloggers you wanted to search for here on Blogger?

Bonus: This isn't a site for writers, but I love Tabblo.com and the wonderful photography there. Great community and some very creative photo essays there, too. Check out this wacky Tabblo by Gretel!


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Sunday

Tom Snyder : Tomorrow May Never Come (Again)


New humor memoir hits the Internet, with Viqi French's Daddy's Gonna Buy That Baby A Jaguar.  Her humor story telling has been likened to that of best-selling authors Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris.

Finally, it's happening: I'm committed to letting my memoir manuscript see the light of day! It's been a long and somewhat painful process. Two years ago, I was 90% "there" in terms of sealing a wonderful publishing deal with a New York publisher. But ultimately, things didn't go as the editorial director and I had hoped. Disheartened, I didn't even look at the manuscript again for two painful years.

But life and timing are extraordinary, unpredictable things. Mysteriously, the death of late-night talk show legend Tom Snyder of "Tomorrow With Tom Snyder" has given me the impetus, indeed the vigor, to dust off my tear-stained humor memoir manuscript and just see what happens with it online as an ebook.

In the wee hours of the morn, I finally did just that! I now have a PDF available of the entire manuscript of my humor memoir here: http://editred.com/viqifrench.

There's also a free sample download of the entire first chapter available.

I should explain that Tom Snyder figures quite prominently in the very first chapter of my book. When I was young, I'd sneak and watch "Tomorrow" when I was supposed to be asleep, reposing to gear up for the next day in elementary school.

It's impossible to convey how intrigued I was by "Tomorrow." The only other bigger fan I've identified is my guy Conan O'Brien, whose unusually solemn and heartfelt condolences about Tom's passing nearly brought tears to my eyes.


Tom Snyder's guests absolutely floored me: witches, warlocks, murdurous cult leader Charles Manson, Alfred Hitchcock, lesbians, transsexuals, communists, UFO spotters, and so many others. There's no doubt his show played a part in shaping my freakish persona (and Conan's apparently!).

As a result, many of the stories in "Daddy's Gonna Buy That Baby A Jaguar" seem to be about my hilarious "encounters" with ghosts, cross-dressers, and other unusual characters and situations from my teen and childhood years that I hold dear.

On that note, I humbly release the essay I wrote two years ago involving Tom Snyder and my fantasy pet and muse, Killer, a bad ass jaguar. Please let me know what you think!

Key links:

* Get the sample PDF chapter including Tom Snyder here: Daddy's Gonna Buy That Baby A Jaguar

* Learn much more about the book, where I'm coming from (i.e., St. Louis and Philadelphia at my Squidoo lens: A humor memoir with an upROARious bite!


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Monday

Dr. Wax, a Chicago Music Legend, Needs YOU!


We, the music lovers of Chicago, seriously need your help. One of the best music stores in the city -- arguably one of the coolest in the world -- may shockingly be forced to close. The victim is Dr. Wax Records in Hyde Park. The bullet is a monthly rental that's escalated beyond logic -- retroactively, adding salt to the wound. The shooter is Dr. Wax's landlord, Harper Court Foundation.

An online viral movement is underway to help keep the store open, if even in a more affordable new space nearby. So please take a moment and sign the online petition linked near the end of this post. Who should care? Those around the world who love rock, jazz, classic rock, hip-hop, Chicago house music, acid jazz, R&B, funk and country. So that would be YOU. And here's why...

Dr. Wax has generously supported indie music acts from around the world who wanted to build a following in Chicago. There are too many to name, but the ones I've discovered and love thanks to Dr. Wax in Harper Court's knowledgeable employees include Julie Dexter, N'Dambi, Peven Everett, Eric Roberson, Tweek, Ledisi, Lewis Taylor, Outside and Fertile Ground, to name a few.

Dr. Wax also has given an enormous number of local hip-hop acts shelf space and more over many years, helping them develop an audience when they had none. This small but flavorful music boutique has also sponsored numerous music concerts, as well as the University of Chicago's student-run alternative radio station, WHPK fm.

We're gathering the troops worldwide -- that would be YOU -- to send a message that some semblance of fairness should become part of the equation in this troubling situation. Whether you live in Chicago, Amsterdam, Paris, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Denver, San Diego, New York, Germany, Little Rock, Miami, London or Africa (whew!), believe me, you'd love this music store and try to help keep it around.

Please go to one or both of these sites and leave a comment showing your support of this effort:

Keep Dr. Wax Open (an online petition by another incensed Friend of Dr. Wax)

Dr. Wax Closing In Hyde Park (photoessay)

The possibility of losing this store is enough to make many of us want to move to another city. Really, it's one of the coolest music experiences, and the employees impeccably know their stuff -- every genre. Whether you want to know what's new (or old) in rock, classic rock or country or jazz, neo soul, R&B, house, acid jazz and hip-hop these guys -- Duane and Charles -- will hip you to something exciting.


It's as if the soul of the city is being ripped from under us... Thank you "from the bottom" for taking a few minutes to help keep this essential music source alive.

PS Check out Duane Powell's MySpace site for an idea of all the major and emerging artists around the world who know this big-hearted guy and appreciate him.

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Friday

"Niki In the Garden" - Art Exhibit Brings Flavor of Paris to Chicago


If you're in Chicago, do yourself (and your family) a favor: Make a fun day of seeing the "Niki In the Garden" sculpture exhibit. If you're not in Chi-town, you can visit my online photo gallery to enjoy:



'Tabblo:

A fashion model who graced the covers of Elle and Life magazines, Niki de Saint Phalle was inspired to pursue art by the equally decorative architecture of Antonio Gaudi in Spain. ... See my Tabblo>


At Garfield Park Conservatory through October 31, the work of late French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle is among the most breathtaking sights you'll every see.

For more about the exhibit and the artist -- whose designer perfume, Niki de Saint Phalle, is still one of my favorites! -- you'll find good stuff here:

~ My complete article on "Niki In the Garden" is available at Associated Content

~ I've also created a Squidoo lens about Niki de Saint Phalle and the phenomenal exhibit of her work at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory.


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Tuesday

Videos: Obama Girl vs. Guiliani Girl, Mitt Romney 2 Hot For Hip-hop & Hot For Hill You're Not?


"Hot For Hill." "This Is Why (Mitt Romney's) Hot." "Obama Girl vs. Guiliani Girl." The continuing onslaught of political videos using humor makes one wonder what's next for the 2008 presidential candidates? A rock concert tour? Their own music television channel? YouTube fans certainly are creating enough Obama, Clinton and other content to launch the next spin-off of MTV.

Want your PTV, anyone?

With some of the new political videos, though, we may need Tipper Gore to step in again and devise some type of warning labels for these racey numbers.

Oh wait: Tipper's cool now. Remember, she and hubby Al Gore just blazed some "Live Earth" with the likes of XXX-rated cannibus king Snoop Dogg a few weeks ago.

So carry on, YouTubers. With 18 months still to go before election time, there'll be no fading to black in this political video game anytime soon.

MITT ROMNEY - THIS IS WHY I'M HOT


OBAMA GIRL VS. JOY BEHAR


HOT FOR HILL



PS Check out Tipper and Al's new best pal big Snoop Dizzle after the jump if you don't believe the politics makes strange bedfellows...

DOGGY FIZZLE TELEVIZZLE


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Sunday

Live Earth : 7 Wonders Worth Protecting


Former presidential candidate Al Gore was the genius behind Live Earth, a televised concert on 7 continents the same day the new 7 Wonders of the World were announced

Global congratulations are definitely in order for former Vice President Al Gore today. Live Earth, Gore's mega, seven-continent concert to raise awareness for and impact global warming, was one Herculean effort. Some measure of positive climate change surely will result from it, with music talent from Madonna, the Police, Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas to Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Shakira and Kelly Clarkson being among the performing artists helping keep eyes around the world on energy conservation messages.

Naturally, there are nay-sayers, people who too easily dismiss Live Earth as nothing more than a great music event that won't make a difference. Let's just hope the message behind the music echoes with those non-believers. Let them be the first to start unplugging cell phone chargers and buying longer lasting fluorescent light bulbs. Or begin taking their own bags to the grocery store, thereby using a less paper and plastic.

It's these little things we each can easily do that'll make a difference. After all, people around the world have come together to vote in an exciting new list of 7 Wonders of the World. Isn't now a great time to start taking small, personal steps toward protecting our gems of human ingenuity -- and ourselves -- for future generations? (Chichen Itza is the only one I've visited thus far. I hope it and all the others will be around long enough for me to experience. Check out these Chichen Itza photos at FlickR.)

Except for the great Pyramids of Giza, none of the original "wonders" on the old list exist. One can't help but wonder if there'll come a day when Gaia -- our live planet Earth herself -- eventually will become a thing of the past... Will you do your small part to help curb the effects of global warming?


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Saturday

Taste of Chicago : Black Crowes, Lyfe Jennings, John Mayer and More Mega Treats


If you're in Chi-town and seek a taste of the free, major concerts being served this year at the 2007 Taste of Chicago, hold onto your food tickets and dig into these Grant Park music goodies coming to the Petrillo Music Shell. From The Black Crowes and Lyfe Jennings to the cast of Wicked and country classics by Kenny Rogers, here's a sample of the entertainment on the Taste of Chicago's hot menu:


Saturday, June 30 at 3:00 p.m.
KENNY ROGERS
• Country music legend Kenny Rogers has been at it for over 50 years, even giving rock, pop and soul music fans a thrill with his raspy voice. But did you know this about Kenny Rogers? His music is extremely popular in Africa -- especially in Kenya. Check out this NPR audio file about the African hip-hop crowd who make Rogers' classic songs such as "The Gambler" among the most requested songs on African radio.
• Check the website for Kenny Rogers if you're interested in his latest news.

Sunday, July 1, at 3:30 p.m.
SARA EVANS and CRAIG MORGAN
• Some of us only became aware of country music's Sara Evans through her stint on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." A show which she quit after filing for divorce. However, fans of her music genre have known this gorgeous, People magazine annointed singer a long while. Sara Evans' hit songs "No Place That Far" and "Born to Fly" have taken enabled her to soar to the top of the Billboard Country Music charts.
• Visit the website for Sara Evans for additional information.

Monday, July 2 at 6:00 p.m.
BROADWAY IN CHICAGO
• Casts of the acclaimed musicals Wicked and The Color Purple promise to sing and dance away our extra pounds gained while enjoying the Taste of Chicago. Festival goers this day also will enjoy the amazing Chicago Children's Choir.
Broadway in Chicago provides information about various hit musicals and plays currently on Chi-town's playbill, if you'd like to quench your thirst for New York-style culture.

Tuesday, July 3 at 8:00 p.m.
GRANT PARK ORCHESTRA & MACY'S FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR
• Classical music lovers can enjoy the Grant Park Orchestra at the Taste this year, right before the huge fireworks display. By the way, GPO performs for free at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park all summer long. They'll even be joined by the hit indie rock band, The Decemberists on July 18th, as a highlight of the Metro club's big anniversary celebration.
• The Grant Park Orchestra website provides GPO's full schedule of performances at Pritzker Pavilion.


Wednesday, July 4 at 3:00 p.m.
JOHN MAYER and ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND
• Pop princess Jessica Simpson seems to love John Mayer, and Chicagoans do, too. Which is why so many of us will hit Grant Park to catch this 2007 Grammy Award-winner. But while we're "Waiting on the World to Change," get a load of Mayer's opening act: Robert Randolph & The Family Band. This exciting band, considered a power combo of soul, funk, rock and hip-hop, is a real crowd-pleaser.
• Check both websites for more groovin' news: John Mayer and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.

Thursday, July 5 at 5:30 p.m.
LYFE JENNINGS and MUSIQ SOULCHILD
• Multi-platinum selling R&B artist Lyfe Jennings adopted his moniker earnestly. He took the name on for tough lessons learned from serving 10 years of jail time on an arson conviction. But a month after his release, Lyfe appeared on the "Showtime At the Apollo" and won the hearts of America's toughest audience. Neo Soul music lovers, no doubt, will turn out en masse to hear Lyfe croon his popular tune -- "S.E.X." -- and other hits at the Taste this year.
• Lyfe Jennings' MySpace page is not to be missed, soul music lovers.

Friday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m.
THE BLACK CROWES
• Stand back, Chi-town: The Black Crowes are about to give it to us, hard rock-style. With a penchant toward the sweet, classic metal stylings of the mighty Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes' are about to bring sexy back to the Petrillo Music Shell. This one you won't want to miss, particularly since it's FREE, courtesy the City of Chicago.
• Check out The Black Crowes official website for more of their nitty-gritty dirt.

Saturday, July 7 at 5:00 p.m.
CHEAP TRICK, SOUL ASYLUM and CRACKER
• Heavily influenced by British rock, Cheap Trick can be heard regularly on television. They have bragging rights to providing the theme music for "That '70s Song" and "Sons and Daughters." Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Cheap Trick's art from their album Rockford serves this as the official graphic for their hometowns' vehicle registration stickers. That's almost enough to make some fans of this punk rock and Beatles-sounding band migrate.
• Check out Cheap Trick at their official website for other news.

Sunday, July 8 at 3:00 p.m.
LOS LONELY BOYS
• Originally from the small Texas town of San Angelo, this band of three Tejano brothers -- Henry, Jojo, and Ringo Garza - have been hailed as the new Los Lobos. Except these guys are carving their own place in Tex-Mex history under the name of Los Lonely Boys. Mentored by Willie Nelson, these 2005 Grammy Award winners are impressively considered a blend of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Santana. Los Lonely Boys is yet another free concert in Grant Park not to be missed.
• Los Lonely Boys official website provides more info on these talented brothers.


These are but a few of the free concerts on the 2007 Taste of Chicago lineup. With about six additional stages featuring popular local acts ranging from Muntu Dance to Reginald T. McCants, you'll definitely want to check the City of Chicago's Taste of Chicago website for more mouth-watering performances.

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Friday

Concert For Diana: Warning, We Could Need Translation Services


The Concert For Diana will broadcast around the world, as people everywhere adored Lady Diana But for the universal power of music, those of us on this side of ye old pond probably won't understand a word of Princes William and Harry's royal remarks. What am I bloody yapping about? The Concert For Diana, that most anticipated music celebration on Sunday, July 1, honoring the greatly missed People's Princess.

Concert For Diana airs on Sunday, July 1st, 2007, celebrating the life of Princess Diana The worldwide televised event in Princess Diana's loving memory promises great entertainment with Elton John, Fergie, Kanye West, Joss Stone, Pharrell Williams, Diddy, Rod Stewart and Nelly Furtado among the powerhouse list of performers. However, I'm a little concerned we won't always know what's being said between band sets, given our cultural differences.

The thing is, I checked the Concert For Diana site for this wonderful charitable event's details... and just about needed a translation book. Well, not really, but I did get a kick out of the British terminology there.

For example, the "Info Q&A" page says this about security at newly designed Wembley Stadium: As at all large arenas and stadia, there will be security guards and bag checks.

Stadia? I feel cheated! Why don't we, their country cousins in America, commonly use this fancy term?

Another example, when warning concert-goers about the possibility of inclement weather: If your seat is on the pitch... If it rains, you will get rained on; bring a lightweight raincoat or cagoule.

Maybe it's my vocabulary limits that's that problem. But do stadia here in America usually seat folk that close to a baseball mound?

And what, again, should they wear for protection? In search of an answer, I found this Fatal Bazooka video at YouTube, titled "Fous Ta Cagoule"...



Does this mean that well-endowed blokes -- those who Chunnel in from France, anyway -- should prepare for the sport of sex in the event the American-tinged music of Joss Stone lands them at first base? Because here in the U.S., I believe these cagoule-things that Fatal Bazooka raps about are commonly called jimmy hats.

But don't quote me: I could be wrong as two, left brogues.

Princess Diana's handsome sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, are throwing quite a celebration in memory of their loving motherSuch a tragedy, the death of Princess Diana was.  But her two amazing sons seem fit to carry on their beautiful mum's tradition of helping heal the world Hosted by Matt Lauer, the Concert For Diana airs in the U.S. on NBC at 8 p.m. (CT).

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Tuesday

Married to the Mob : Hillary & Bill Clinton's New Video


Next at bat and scoring a home run in the viral video arena is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. To announce the song that's won selection as her official campaign music, the presidential candidate's team has released a "Sopranos"-esque video spoof in which she and husband Bill Clinton star.

Casually dressed and seated in a diner, the Clintons flip through songs featured on a tabletop jukebox, chatting about which tunes might win Hillary's campaign music contest. Posted at her official site, the Clintons' video short even includes a brief and menacing appearance by "Sopranos" actor Vince Curatola, who played mob boss Johnny "Sack."

Way to play ball, Team Clinton. The former First Couple -- and Next Couple hopefuls -- seem to strike back at Obama Girl's popularity in a most resounding way.

The video ends, by the way, as abruptly as the now infamous "Sopranos" show ...................................................

And then, you're invited to make a campaign contribution.

Related Links:

HBO's video bank of Sopranos clips and actor interviews

Washington Post on Clinton's "Sopranos" spoof and importance of the Web in 2008 Presidential Campaign

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Friday

Obama Fan Video: "I Got a Crush - I'm a Stalker"



Obama Girl is either one heck of an actress, or
Michelle Obama had better keep an eye on
the funny bunny-burner in this hot YouTube video...



"I Got a Crush On Obama"
Obama Girl




"Jay-Z, You Are Amazing"
Katrina, A "Dr. Phil" Guest




"He Does Not Want Your Flower!"
Mr. Pregnant, YouTube Star



Top 10 Movies About Female Stalkers



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Wednesday

Last Patient Standing : Michael Moore's 'Sicko' Illustrates Plight of Edith Rodriguez


Last Comic Standing has its season premier tonight on NBC

A promotional television spot for "Last Comic Standing," which has a 2-hour season premier tonight on NBC, really captured my attention. In the promo, an up-and-coming comedian jokes about hospitals asking us who should be contacted in case there's an emergency. "The doctor!" is the comic's killer punchline. No truer logic exists.

But sadly for 43-year-old Edith Rodriguez -- who for 45-minutes writhed on the Emergency Room floor vomiting blood at a Los Angeles hospital -- calling a doctor would not happen. Her boyfriend grew so desperate for medical attention for her that he dialed 9-1-1, hoping to get Rodriguez to a different facility for care. His plea to paramedics for help was dismissed. Same thing happened when a complete stranger could no longer tolerate watching the woman die on the E.R. floor.

Eventually, the police came for Rodriguez. She died while they wheeled her out of the hospital. They hadn't come to help her, however. The police had come to arrest the dying woman for a parole violation.

ssR.I.P., Edith Rodriguez, whose shocking lack of treatment at a Los Angeles hospital's emergency room led to her demise
What policy, directive or threat could these hospital workers possibly have to justify so heartlessly ignoring this dying woman? It turns out the hospital already was on a 23-day probation for mishandling too many previous cases.

Adding insult to injury is the facility's name: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Harbor Hospital. Every African American employee, in particular, who walked past the dying Rodriguez should hang his or her head in shame...

Filmmaker Michael Moore challenges the healthcare system in his new movie, Sicko
Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore's new documentary, "Sicko," hits theaters on June 29 -- and not a moment too soon. A film that confronts a complacent American public for not demanding more humane treatment for those struggling to afford decent health care, "Sicko" importantly focuses its audiences on this, according to the Guardian Unlimited:

That the United States ranked only 37th on the WHO list, just two slots ahead of Cuba, particularly infuriates Moore: With more wealth and technology than any other country, we nevertheless have 50 million citizens without insurance, 9 million of them children. As "Sicko" anecdotally documents, many Americans eligible for insurance can't afford it, and a long inventory of preexisting conditions limits the insurability of those who can.

Among "Sicko's" villains are politicians who pocket millions from HMOs and pharmaceuticals while denouncing universal care as little better than a Communist plot.

Say what you will about Michael Moore's stance or tactics, but he continues to be a hero in my eyes. His is arguably one of the most important voices in America, period. I'm sure that poor Edith Rodriguez and no less than Dr. Martin Luther King would agree.

Links:
~ CNN transcript: Where the presidential candidates stand on healthcare

~ New York Times: "911 Tapes: Dying Woman Was Denied Help"

~ L.A. Times: Slide show covering Edith Rodgriguez's homegoing service

~ MichaelMoore.com

~ Michael Moore's interview at Time.com

~ Technorati Tags:

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Saturday

Rihanna : Hot Piranha Twirls 'Umbrella'


Barbados, where pop singer Rihanna was reared, is a lovely island, where the beach umbrella signifies a chilled-out life.

You may think it's time for a summer vacation, but it's not. It's back-to-school time, boys and girls. And what's today's lesson? We're studying the music industry, particularly that all-important function called Artist & Repertoire. It's listed on your syllabus as "Pop Star 101: The Making Of a ..."
Sexy Rihanna, pop sensation on Jay-Z's Def Jam labelUnder the "umbrella" of covering exotic pop sensations, some of the Internet's most-trusted music critics have filed highly entertaining articles reviewing Rihanna's new CD, "Good Girl Gone Bad." Not one of the reviews we're referencing outright flatters her for vocal talent. Yet, all praise her new set as a pop-music success infused with reggae and new wave-ish elements.

Don't miss these excellent reviews of "Good Girl Gone Bad" by Jay-Z's smoldering "it girl" on Def Jam:

~ A seriously thoughtful piece at the Village Voice, "The Battle For the Heart of R&B," critiques the potential of Rihanna versus Amerie, another Jay-Z / Def Jam artist whose moment a few summers ago seems to have timed out.

~ A second Village Voice writer, in "Mediocre Girl Gone Good," herald's Rihanna's "triumphant, only occasionally cringeworthy pop-coronation."

~ And Clay Cane's review of Rihanna for Edge New York not only warns listeners of her penchant to fall in the pop music category, he also cautions the 5'9" princess from Barbados may be what Hall & Oates dubbed a "man-eater."


It's plain to see why all eyes are on Piranha. I mean Rihanna. And we all know why: Music fans are baiting / awaiting her cat(fish) fight with Jay-Z's girl, Beyonce.




Ring the alarm, indeed; school's definitely not out. And the one thing we may learn, class, is this: As CEO of Def Jam, the "Mike Jordan of recordin'" is also an A&R genius -- for casting the net causing so much hype for a most luminescent, new vixen.

Links:
-- Rihanna nets Billboard trifecta with "Good Girl Gone Bad"
-- Rihanna's biography at Billboard
-- Discover, Dream, Enjoy : Barbados.org
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Friday

Paris Hilton : A Manolo Blahnik Walk Back to Jail


Hilton Hotel heiress Paris Hilton cries en route back to jail, where The Simple Life apparently isn't so simpleOkay: I give! The Paris Hilton (back in) jail drama wins... As hard as I tried not to type the words Paris Hilton here, I need to go ahead and get it out of my system. You might say I walked in Paris's Manolo Blahnik sandals yesterday. But today, you could say I'd like to chuck a sexy pair of Manolos at the whorish legal system...

I'd like to chuck one of Paris Hilton's gorgeous Manolo Blahnik sandals at the person who permitted Paris to live above the law.I had to go to Traffic Court yesterday for not paying an undeserved (!) ticket. I arrived alone and not worried, but then noticed a few other alleged traffic offenders -- with attorneys. Soon, the judge arrived and explained the process. I couldn't hear her over the security guard fussing behind me, at someone about cell phone use. All I heard the judge say was "... $100 ... plead not guilty ... jail."

I grew nervous. Traffic Court was more serious than I knew. I didn't want to wind up anywhere near(er) Paris Hilton's situation. When the cop pulled me over, he claimed I "sort of" rolled through a stop sign. Ticked off for feeling picked on when far more serious incidents are happening, I didn't mail the ticket payment. So now, I wanted to plead not guilty, but didn't want to risk having to deal further with the system by doing so.

If something so shocking as jail could happen to Paris Hilton, it could certainly happen to me, I'd finally realized.

Now I didn't think my minor, first-time offense alone could land me in jail. But I knew that my attitude about the situation possibly could. I couldn't trust myself to pipe down or say the right things to get off, if/when the ticketing officer told his side of our encounter. I prayed for mouthal control and hoped I wouldn't get myself slapped with contempt of court.

But the gods were on my side: The arse of a cop who wrote me the ticket failed to show up. So the judge dismissed my case. I got to keep that $100 in my pocket and barely had to open my pie hole. I made a mad dash out of the building -- before the judge changed her mind! All but kicking my heels. They were hardly Manolos, though...

Outside the courthouse, I ran into my cousin's ex-boyfriend, whom I'll call Greg. He'd just escaped from Traffic Court, too -- but without as much luck. Like the Shawshank Redemption's anti-heroes bonding, Greg and I decided to grab lunch together to chat the details. But McDonald's, he said, was all he could afford. He'd just have an ice cream cone...

A handsome and domineering 36-year-old who moved here from Germany six years ago, Greg said over lunch that his traffic incident had shattered his life. As a result of allegedly running a red light after a Super Bowl party, everything had come unglued. A lady cop had stopped him; knowing him, he grew indignant with her. She'd wanted him to take a sobriety test; he'd refused. She called for back-up to search (ransack) his car. Of course, nothing illegal was found. But the lady cop kept Greg's license; his driving privilege was revoked.

Unfortunately, Greg drove a short-distance hauling van for a living, so he lost his job. He also had to let go of his leased van: The City would have impounded it, since he now had no license to drive. Poor thing, he's had to learn the city's public transit system and lives deep in the suburbs, where absolutely little happens. With his heavy German accent (and attitude), he's having a tough time finding work.

I was in disbelief. The invisible arm of the law had reached in and grabbed this proud man by the throat and strangled him out of a livelihood. And with it, quite a bit of his dignity...

An hour or so later, I learned that Paris Hilton -- a fellow traffic offender -- was released from jail. Humph.

Manolo Blahnik shoesWasn't Paris Hilton once in the same shoes as Greg -- but worse? Unlike Greg, Paris took the sobriety test, and failed it. Unlike Greg, Paris kept her car(s), and obviously used them, unlicensed. From what I've read, she was stopped twice after losing her right to drive for suspect driving... Fortunately, no one was killed.

In Paris Hilton's situation, I see a compelling Shawshank Redemption storyline the writer might have deleted from the script. And to the hilt I'd say Hilton & Company have played it. This wealthy, make-believe Shawshank character speaks to the role of money and influence, and the special privilege they can create.

I don't doubt that Paris Hilton verged on a nervous breakdown in jail; I could have had one just thinking about it while I sat in Traffic Court. But what about the worries of people like Greg whose lives are devasted by the law? And what about the inmates Paris Hilton left behind? Don't most of them cry and fret and lose their appetite and pass out or whatever at some point?

I mean, really: How many people gleefully click their Manolos behind bars? Oh wait: No one in jail probably even owns a pair of Manolos, except a brat on a three-day hiatus from her Simple Life. Jail's not supposed to feel like a Hilton Hotel, you know.

Paris Hilton, Hilton Hotel heiress, was returned to her jail cell about an hour ago, to serve the remainder of her 45-day sentence. My friend Greg is free to come and go as he pleases -- but only on the bus or subway, in search of an income he may never find.

It seems as though Greg got the tougher sentence.
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Thursday

Summer Fun : Cool Cocktails, Grilling & Music


Ready for hot fun in the summertime?  Well, break out your BBQ grill, cocktail mixer and let's get started!

It isn't officially summer yet... But isn't it high time we get in the spirit of the season's hot, sweaty fun? Now's the time for spiritual chilling, for sloughing-off that dull winter skin. So check out these awesome summer cocktail, grilling and music highlights:

I first learned the word 'mojito' in Paris.  Mojito is the name of a super-cool dance club we partied at in the sleezy Pigalle section of Paris.  What fun!  Since then, the mojito cocktail has become one of my 'absolut' favorite drinks~ Here at the Original CyberLounge, we only serve you "mental" martinis. But if possible, I'd be slinking to your table on the patio with your beverage choice from the Food Network's awesome Top 10 Summer Cocktails list. My Absolut favorites are the Cape Codder and Mojito. But with eight more cool offerings on the Food Network's summer drink menu, you're bound to find something tasty to ward off the heat.

Summer grilling is fun, but it can also be dangerous.  So watch out for those flames!  Always keep plenty of water nearby. ~ While some like it hot, others like it sizzling -- everything from oysters and salmon steaks to turkey burgers and apple crisp, that is. Check out RD Living's menu of Summer Grilling Recipes and Food & Wine's Summer Grilling Perfect 10. They'll bring Sexyback to your backyard; you'll be smelling lighter fluid by the end of this post.


~ Now that you've got your drink on like Will Farrell's landlord [video] and your grillz as hot as Nelly and Paul Wall's [video], all you need is some smokin' new music. Check out these best bet new CDs coming soon to an outdoor sound system near you...

Jay-Z's got something hot cooking on the BBQ grill, too, it seems.  But as Concrete Loop says, 'What Beyonce doesn't know won't hurt her.
~ Rihanna's "Good Girl Gone Bad" (see Clay Cane's music review)... Clay doesn't exactly give Jay-Z's sultry pop protege a glowing write-up, but if you know Clay's hilarious way with words...

~ Jazz master Chick Corea joins fusion banjo wiz Bela Fleck on "The Enchantment," reviewed with big thumbs-up at Billboard

~ R. Kelly Flirts His Way to No. 1 Chart Debut, says Billboard, with his newly released album Double Up

~ If you're a fan of Big & Rich, stomp on over to Billboard for the music review of "Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace"

~ For jazz, see Billboard's music review of "We All Love Ella," featuring the songs of Ella Fitzgerald performed by Linda Rondstadt, Queen Latifah, and others.

~ And dance club diva Ultra Nate' is back with "Grime, Silk and Thunder"! Don't miss her visually arresting video for her cover of the Pointer Sisters classic, "Automatic."
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Monday

Fergie : The Fergalicious Dutchess On Tour


Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas stands outs among pop stars, perhaps demonstrating the true spirit of the next 'Madonna'

Fergie Concert Tickets Here
Chicago House of Blues, Sun., 6/10



Fergie's Glamorous Party
details,
6/10 in Chicago



Scroll Down For All Verizon Concert Tour Details,
Thru Late July





There are a good number of top-selling female artists today who are nearing the commercial cross-over success of legends like Madonna and Tina Turner. But not all of today's super-girls have the DNA for je ne sais quoi that makes a Madonna or Tina so much extra in their own time.

You might, for example, agree that Beyonce Knowles is an exciting, contemporary version of the legendary Tina Turner. But if you look closely, you may also detect in The Dutchess -- i.e., Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas -- a sassy secret sauce that eventually landed a young Madonna atop a unique pedestal in pop music history.

[Hear Fergie's hot CD, "The Dutchess," in the right sidebar --->]

Sure, the industry today is crowded with sexy pop stars who're contenders for the "Madonna crown." But you've gotta admit there's something so distinctive... so soulful... so ... so Fergalicious about Stacy Ann Ferguson that she's practically, well, Like a Virgin!

Lil' Stacy Ann Ferguson on Kids Incorporated




Fergie's Verizon concert tour will soon hit St. Louis, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Boston and Anaheim.  Scroll down for remaining 2007 concert tour dates Not just "like" a virgin, hopefully Fergie was a real one at that young age...



But back to the here-and-now... The next time you listen to the super-cool song Glamorous, imagine the sophisticated and reinvented Madonna having sung it. And Fergie's sexually playful tune London Bridge? Isn't it similar to those funky, energetic classics by Madonna, too?

Conversely, if anyone ever records a cover of Madonna's mega-hit Vogue, who else but Fergie could take it to the next level? Make such a fly and fashionable gem sound even more... glamorous?

Still, there are Fergie critics... Note: When she's not just funning around in a song, Fergie has a beautiful sonora and stealth vocal control. Singing well sounds effortless for her; she has no need to bellow throughout a song to win approval. These are marks of distinction in that illustrious field of cross-over superstars.

Fergie's hit songs may have done well had they been recorded by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera or Gwen Stefani. But the umph with which Fergie delivers them earns only her humps extra lumps of sweet, street cred.

Only time will tell if Fergie's popularity will command her to further reinvent and go officially solo from the Black Eyed Peas. If that day ever comes, I'd say scoot over Madge of London. There's enough room on your famous bridge for a little Dutchess from Kids Incorporated to cross into mega-stardom with you.

Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas makes her solo concert debut in Chicago on June 10, 2007
Links:

~ Fergie's 2003 interview @ Chicago Sun-Times




~ FergieWorld at YouTube




~ The wicked Wiki on Fergie




The Fergie Verizon VIP Tour 2007 Schedule
Sun., 6/10 ---------------- Chicago @ House of Blues
Mon., 6/11 ---------------- St. Louis @ Pageant
Wed., 6/13 --------------- Detroit @ State Theatre
Tues., 6/19 --------------- Boston @ Mass. Avalon
Thurs., 6/21 -------------- New York @ Roseland
Tues., 7/17 --------------- Anaheim @ House of Blues
Wed., 7/18 --------------- Los Angeles @ Wiltern Theatre
Thurs., 7/19 -------------- Phoenix @ Dodge Theatre
Sun., 7/22 ---------------- Denver @ Fillmore
Tues., 7/24 --------------- Portland, Ore. @ Crystal Ballroom


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Sunday

Don't Cha Wish Your Video Was Funny Like Farrell's?


In the category of humor is as humor does... Comedy Business Turns to the Web, a New York Times Techology story, interviews comedian Will Farrell about his FunnyOrDie.com venture with partner Adam McKay.

Creators of the brilliantly funny and, so far, viewed 30 million times video short "The Landlord," Farrell and McKay say that sketches starring more A-List celebrities are the next big thing. Brooke Shields, Bill Murray and boxer Oscar De La Hoya are among those who have or will shoot comedy videos for Funny or Die.

Hollywood star-power aside, the Saturday Night Live alums will have a tough time beating these standouts found at Farrell's burgeoning funny site:


"Bill Vendall" as Sanjaya as "Bill Vendall":
The Sanjaya Installation



"The Landlord" Out Takes:
The Landlord Out Takes

Rachel Ray Parody:
Rachael Ray Parody -

Don't Cha Wish Your Boyfriend Was Bald Like Me:
DON'T CHA WISH YOUR BOYFRIEND WAS BALD LIKE ME



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