- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 21, 2004

Charles still in charge

Agence France-Presse

The late, great Ray Charles is still stirring up the music charts more than five months after his death, with his last album going multiplatinum across the globe.

The final studio release by the man dubbed the “genius of soul” has now been certified silver, gold and platinum worldwide following his death, at 73 from liver disease, his publicists said.

“Genius Loves Company,” which has been in the top 10 on the Billboard music charts since its Aug. 31 debut, has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States and more than 3 million worldwide — making Mr. Charles’ 250th album the best-selling recording of his remarkable six-decade career.

The album, which features a collection of duets sung with famous friends (such as Willie Nelson, Norah Jones and Gladys Knight), debuted in second place on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and sold 202,000 copies in its first week. During his career, Mr. Charles had five gold records, selling more than 500,000 copies each, including classics such as “Georgia on my Mind” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Meanwhile, the music icon’s life story is being told on the big screen in the biographical feature “Ray.” The film was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Taylor Hackford and stars Jamie Foxx — who’s considered a strong Oscar contender for his portrayal of Mr. Charles.

Running on faith

Reuters News Agency

Breaking with a growing Hollywood practice of heavy-handed pre-Oscar marketing, Mel Gibson and his Icon Productions partner Bruce Davey have vowed not to spend a cent on television, radio or print ads hawking “The Passion of the Christ” for Academy Award consideration, a spokesman said Friday.

However, Icon is presenting promotional screenings of “The Passion” and plans to send out thousands of DVD copies to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and other industry groups that present year-end film awards.

“This film should be judged on its artistic merit, not on who spends more money for advertising. That’s really what the academy was meant to be and to celebrate,” Mr. Davey said in a statement issued through Icon’s publicist, Alan Nierob.

Rap sheet

Associated Press

Rapper Young Buck surrendered Friday to face charges that he stabbed a man who had punched hip-hop superstar Dr. Dre during the Nov. 15 taping of the Vibe Music Awards show in Santa Monica, Calif.

Young Buck, whose real name is David Darnell Brown, turned himself in at police headquarters and was arrested for investigation of one count of attempted murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. He was released on $500,000 bail after being ordered to appear at a Dec. 20 arraignment, Lt. Frank Fabrega said.

Mr. Brown was identified on a videotape of the melee that erupted during the taping of the awards ceremony. Investigators were also trying to identify two other men seen holding knives during the fight. UPN aired the awards ceremony Nov. 16 but removed footage of the brawl.

The brawl began when a man approached Dr. Dre and punched him as he was about to receive a lifetime achievement award. Police allege that Mr. Brown, 23, then stabbed that assailant. That man was later identified as Jimmy James Johnson, 26, a parolee from Los Angeles. Mr. Johnson suffered a collapsed lung and was in stable condition Friday.

Young Buck is signed to Dr. Dre’s record label, and his debut solo album, “Straight Outta Ca$hville,” debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts in August.

Many in the constantly feuding rap community speculated that longtime Dre nemesis Suge Knight, who attended the awards, arranged for Dr. Dre to get punched. Knight, a convicted felon, has denied any involvement.

Second time around

Fort Worth Star Telegram

Oscar-winner Robert De Niro, 61, and wife Grace Hightower, 51, reportedly held a supersecret ceremony yesterday to renew their wedding vows. The couple, who met in 1987 and married a decade later, filed for divorce in 1999. The divorce was never finalized and the couple has a 6-year-old son, Elliott. The vow renewal was reportedly attended by Martin Scorsese, Billy Crystal, Chazz Palminteri, Harvey Keitel, Billy Crudup and Claire Danes.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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