- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ads irk Waits

Singer-songwriter Tom Waits has had it with European car companies using — or pretending to use — his songs in commercials.

The latest ad, involving the Scandinavian company Opel, used a singer with a voice so uncannily like Mr. Wait’s that it had the singer’s fans fooled.

In a statement saying he’s looking into legal options, Mr. Waits explained, “In answer to the many queries I have received: No, I did not do the Opel car commercial currently running on TV in Scandinavia. I have a long-standing policy against my voice or music being used in commercials. …”

“If I stole an Opel, Lancia or Audi, put my name on it and resold it, I’d go to jail. But over there they ask, you say no, and they hire impersonators,” Mr. Waits continued. “They profit from the association, and I lose — time, money and credibility.”

Finally, if there were any doubt: “Commercials are an unnatural use of my work. It’s like having a cow’s udder sewn to the side of my face — painful and humiliating.”

Not child’s play

British megaband Coldplay, whose long- delayed “X&Y;” album is set for an early June release, is said to be the product that makes or breaks struggling music giant EMI.

“This is the high-stakes album of the year for EMI,” Numis Securities analyst Paul Richards told Reuters News Agency.

EMI Group shares fell 16 percent in February after it blamed delays in releasing key albums for lower-than-expected profits.

Coldplay’s sophomore album, “Rush of Blood to the Head,” has sold more than 10 million copies. Perfectionist frontman Chris Martin called the making of the band’s third album “one of the most difficult experiences of my life.”

Desperate measures

Color us unimpressed: Ashton Kutcher has said if his new movie, “A Lot Like Love,” tops this weekend’s box-office take, he’ll model underwear.

“If we are the No. 1 movie in America, I will do a Calvin Klein underwear campaign,” Mr. Kutcher said Tuesday night on TV’s “Access Hollywood.”

“It’s actually a bet that I made with my producing partner, so we will see what happens,” he added.

‘Titanic’ mistakes

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch says he regrets letting 20th Century Fox execs bargain away half the rights to the 1997 smash “Titanic” to rival studio (and Viacom-owned) Paramount.

In an interview with World Screen magazine, Mr. Murdoch said: “As it turned out, we made our greatest mistake with ‘Titanic’ when we sold half to Paramount. When we saw the budget going over $110 million, then $130 million, we decided we needed a partner.”

The deal meant a profit somewhere between $300 million and $400 million for Viacom, whose chairman, Sumner Redstone, “hasn’t returned the compliment.”

Ghost world

Music lovers in Raleigh, N.C., are set to witness an out-of-body experience next month: A pair of long-dead piano legends will be putting on a show.

Well, maybe not in the flesh. The music will be played on a grand piano that has been specially programmed to give a note-perfect, live rendition of vintage recordings made by Alfred Cortot in 1928 and Glenn Gould in 1962.

“The piano will replicate every note struck, down to the velocity of the hammer and position of the key when it was played,” promises British magazine New Scientist.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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