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Taking Names: Johnny Ramone autobiography set for April release

- - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eight years after Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer, his autobiography finally is being published.

"Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone" is set for release April 2 by Abrams Image. In an interview Tuesday, his widow, Linda, described the book as "kind of his last word that he knew would be out."

"That is the biggest, most powerful thing, writing a book when you know you're dying," she said.

Johnny Ramone, whose real name was John Cummings, was one of the founding members of the legendary New York City-based punk band the Ramones, members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Considered one of the most influential guitarists in rock, he died in 2004 at age 55 after battling cancer for five years.

The 176-page book is filled with pictures selected by his wife. It includes Ramone's musings from his childhood to his struggle with cancer. It also features other personal stories, including an attack on him that left him hospitalized, his altercation with Malcolm McLaren and his romance with Linda, who once dated Joey Ramone, the Ramones' frontman, leading to a years-long rift between the two musicians.

Band mate Tommy Ramone, the only surviving member of the original band, wrote the foreword. In a statement, he said: "Johnny Ramone's autobiography is a no holds barred, straight-forward book written in a no-nonsense style that is Johnny personified. His story is written in his own actual words, so the reader gets an insight into what made him the unique, charismatic and exciting individual that he was. It also gives a great view of The Ramones from Johnny's perspective."

The epilogue was written by close friend Lisa Marie Presley.

Singer Bruno Mars cleared in felony cocaine charge

Pop star Bruno Mars was cleared of a felony cocaine possession charge in Nevada on Wednesday after his attorneys told a state court judge the Grammy-winning pop star stayed out of trouble and met other conditions of a plea deal reached almost a year ago.

According to the Associated Press, Clark County District Judge Jessie Walsh dismissed the case against the 26-year-old singer-songwriter of hits including "Just the Way You Are" and "It Will Rain."

Mr. Mars, whose real name is Peter Gene Hernandez, didn't appear in person for the brief hearing in Las Vegas.

He pleaded guilty last Feb. 16 to cocaine possession, but the judge postponed accepting the plea. She gave Mr. Mars probation, fined him $2,000 and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service and have eight hours of drug counseling.

Mr. Mars acknowledged having 2.6 grams of cocaine when he was arrested in a bathroom in September 2010 after a nightclub performance at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Clooney to lead A-listers in gay-marriage play

A star-studded group of A-listers will help George Clooney perform in the Los Angeles premiere of the gay-marriage play "8."

The groups Broadway Impact and American Foundation for Equal Rights say Jamie Lee Curtis, Martin Sheen, Yeardley Smith, George Takei, Matt Bomer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and several others will perform.

The play is based on the trial transcript and interviews from 2010's court fight over California's gay-marriage ban, Proposition 8. It will be performed as a reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre one night only, March 3.

The play made its world premiere on Broadway last year starring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Edwards, John Lithgow and Cheyenne Jackson. More than 40 readings are scheduled in more than 17 states.

'Spider-Man' producers file countersuit against director

Producers of Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" have fired back in their legal fight with one-time director Julie Taymor, claiming the woman whom they once called a visionary later failed to fulfill her legal obligations, wrote a "disjointed" and "hallucinogenic" musical and refused to collaborate on changes when the $75-million show was in trouble.

In a countersuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Ms. Taymor and her company, LOH Inc., the producers argued that the show "is a success despite Taymor, not because of her."

The lawsuit, which quotes from several private emails from members of the creative team, further exposes the deep rift that has opened between former collaborators who seemed to have reconciled — at least through forced smiles — on the red carpet this summer when the musical finally officially opened.

Ms. Taymor, who had been the original "Spider-Man" director and book co-writer, was fired from the musical in March after years of delays, accidents and critical backlash. The show opened in November 2010 but spent months in previews before officially opening a few days after the Tony Awards in June.

In November, the Tony Award-winning director slapped the producers — led by Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris — as well as Glen Berger, her former book co-writer, with a copyright-infringement lawsuit, alleging they violated her creative rights and haven't compensated her for the work she put into Broadway's most expensive musical.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports