- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

Body shots

R&B; singer Usher just happens to be making his film debut — as a playboy New York City disc jockey in “In the Mix,” also starring Emmanuelle Chriqui — around the same time that rapper 50 Cent made his.

Time magazine notes that both movies see the stars baring some skin. Does Usher think he’s the better man?

Says Usher: “I’m a smaller guy. 50’s got the arms, I got the abs.”

The singer also has dating advice to offer. “Women love compliments, you know what I mean? Buy her a drink,” he says. “Talk to her about whatever it is that she wants to talk about. As long as you keep her laughing, you got it.”

“In the Mix” opens tomorrow.

Cars revving up

Good news first: The Cars are reuniting.

Now the bad news: without frontman Ric Ocasek, who wrote and sang the band’s hits.

According to Billboard.com, Cars principals Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes will forge ahead as the New Cars with plans to tour and possibly release a new album next year.

Here’s the really interesting part: Stepping in for Mr. Ocasek will be rocker Todd Rundgren. Mr. Rundgren defended the decision in a post on the Web site TRConnection.com. “So now an opportunity has arisen for me to pay my bills, play to a larger audience, work with musicians I know and like, and ideally have some fun for a year,” he wrote.

“The catch is, a lot of people have been counting on something else,” he said in reference to fans’ hopes for a reunion of the Rundgren-fronted ‘70s band Utopia.

Instrumental aid

U2 guitarist the Edge is leading a new bid to help New Orleans-based musicians who lost instruments in Hurricane Katrina.

Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin also will take part in the Music Rising initiative, which will devote proceeds from sales of a limited-edition Gibson guitar, Agence France-Presse reports.

Says the Edge on the Music Rising Web site: “Providing replacement instruments through Music Rising will not only help thousands of professional musicians affected by the hurricanes to regain a foothold on their future, but will also ensure one of the Gulf Coast’s greatest assets, its music, rises again.”

Magnetic attraction

Rocker David Bowie is in talks to play inventor Nikola Tesla in “The Prestige,” a thriller from director Christopher Nolan (“Batman Begins”).

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cast also includes Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine in a tale of rival magicians in early-20th-century London. The Tesla character is based on the real-life Serbian American who discovered the rotating magnetic field.

Hard labor

Terry Gilliam’s love for the quirky and surreal earned him the Stockholm Visionary Award — but the Monty Python alum says his career has been anything but a laugh.

“I never thought it was fun,” Mr. Gilliam told Associated Press. “I just thought it was a hard job. And I wish I wasn’t obsessed with making movies; then I could have a happier life.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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