- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tough act

Acting, shmacting. Robert Downey has tried his hand at music, and he finds the medium considerably tougher than acting.

“Because it’s so autonomous, you know?” the actor-pianist told AP. (His first album of original compositions was released on Sony Classical this week.)

“I can’t say, ‘I’ve got this director who didn’t know what he was doing.’ Or, ‘Can you believe those words I had to say? This guy who wrote those things is a real hack.’”

Mr. Downey, 38, who has struggled with drug addiction and spent untold hours in courtrooms and jail cells as a result, said music helped him out of a psychic jam.

“Music is great therapy. It really is,” he said.

The album’s title — “The Futurist” — “means a lot of things, if you look at its definition,” Mr. Downey noted. “But, essentially, to me, it means I’m not as I was before. And I look forward to everyone being able to express themselves in ways they wouldn’t have imagined possible.”

Melting pot

For what’s surely the first — and probably the last — time, Ozzy Osbourne and Liza Minnelli will both perform at the annual Royal Variety show in the presence of Prince Charles at London’s Coliseum Theatre Dec. 14, organizers said yesterday.

It will be the only British performance this year for Mr. Osbourne, who earlier this week tackled a burglar who had stolen jewels worth an estimated $3.6 million from his mansion in Buckinghamshire in southern England.

It’s the first time Miss Minnelli has appeared in a Royal Variety show.

Others on the bill, according to Associated Press, include Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John and Gwen Stefani. Nathan Lane and Lee Evans will perform a medley from the West End hit musical “The Producers.”

Destiny’s destiny

Singer Beyonce Knowles on whether the Destiny’s Child trio, recently reunited for “Destiny Fulfilled,” will continue:

“Our main focus is for us to maintain our friendship,” she told AP. “If in three years, five years, 10 years, whenever we decide we want to do another Destiny’s Child record, then we’ll do it. We just want to eventually have kids that play together.”

Stepping out

In local theater news, Ethan McSweeny, former assistant to Shakespeare Theatre artistic director Michael Kahn, will be directing a production of his own for the company sometime in the 2005-06 season, title not yet selected.

Mr. McSweeny, who took Columbia University’s first theater and dramatic arts undergraduate degree in 1993, is no novice, having directed Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” on Broadway.

The son of Dorothy McSweeny (chairman of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities)and Bill McSweeny (a Kennedy Center trustee) made his mark locally when Eric Schaeffer, artistic director of Signature Theatre, tapped him to direct “Never the Sinner” in 1997.

Ann Geracimos

Radical sheik

When David Kelly — aka “Capital D”— raps, he doesn’t boast about women, cars, jewelry or having survived multiple gunshot wounds.

Instead, the Chicago rapper rhymes about Allah, criticizes the war in Iraq and blasts corporate America.

Mr. Kelly is among a new group of Muslim rap artists gaining popularity among Muslim Americans looking for entertainment that reflects both their mainstream tastes and their religious beliefs, AP reports.

“Muslims in the United States are not going away. They’re part of the culture, but they’re not creating their own culture,” Mr. Kelly said. “I try to show them that you can be creative, artistic, happy and still be Muslim.”

“The music says I’m still an American, and I still want my culture. But I want to refine it so I can incorporate Islam into it, too,” said Mike Shapiro, 23, who hosts the Web site www.muslimhiphop.com. “Muslims in America and Muslim youths really need this. They don’t have anyone to relate to.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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