- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Broadway ‘Ray’

This won’t surprise you: “Ray” producers Stuart Benjamin and Howard and Karen Baldwin are re-teaming to bring a Ray Charles stage project to Broadway.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the producers have acquired dramatic-musical rights to the project from Mr. Charles’ estate and Ray Charles Enterprises. Universal Pictures and “Ray” director Taylor Hackford aren’t involved.

The play will showcase Mr. Charles’ repertoire and avoid focusing on the singer’s drug and marital problems, unlike the Oscar-winning film, “Ray.”

“This will be more of the warmth and the personality of Ray, as well as some of the anecdotes and stories that weren’t in the movie,” Mr. Benjamin said.

‘Cinderella’ tales

Rance Howard used to cite underdog boxer Jim Braddock as a role model for his son.

Ron Howard, in turn, is set to put Braddock’s tale on the big screen with “Cinderella Man,” starring Russell Crowe as the Depression-era heavyweight champ.

“It was the first fight my dad remembers,” Mr. Howard told AP, referring to Braddock’s 1935 slugfest against Max Baer.

“[My grandfather] deemed it important enough that he loaded my father into the truck and drove 11 miles to the local pool hall to listen to the Cinderella Man fight for the heavyweight championship of the world on the radio,” Mr. Howard said.

Maestro returns

Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, who resigned as music director of Milan’s La Scala last month, made an emotional return to the opera house as a guest maestro, sparking calls for him to withdraw his resignation.

Monday night’s concert, in which Mr. Muti led the Vienna Philharmonic, had been organized before he stepped down amid a labor dispute last month after 19 years at La Scala, Associated Press reports.

The 2,000 tickets for the concert sold out two months ago, organizers said.

A giant screen was set up in a shopping mall in Milan where hundreds more watched the performance, with some signing a petition for Mr. Muti to return to La Scala.

Cream rises

British rock supergroup Cream returned Monday night to London’s Royal Albert Hall, the scene of its storied farewell concert 37 years ago.

“Thanks for waiting all those years,” exclaimed guitarist Eric Clapton (at 60, the baby of the group — Jack Bruce is 61, Ginger Baker 65) after the band opened with “I’m So Glad,” AP reports.

“We’ll probably play everything we know. We’ll play as long as we can,” Mr. Clapton said.

The Monday concert was Cream’s first show since a brief appearance in 1993.

Black-letter days

A letter that marked a key stage in the breakup of the Beatles is set to be auctioned in London tomorrow.

According to the BBC, the 1969 letter informed Lee Eastman, Paul McCartney’s then-lawyer and father-in-law, that he wouldn’t be permitted to manage the band.

The letter was co-signed by John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (under his real name, Richard Starkey), all of whom preferred the Rolling Stones’ manager — the infamous Allan Klein — over Mr. Eastman.

The letter will be sold as part of a pop memorabilia auction at Christie’s and is expected to sell for more than $100,000.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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