- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

List-makin’ Aiken

Clay Aiken, a self-described “skinny little dork,” is a humble dude. Either that or he’s got self-image problems.

The 25-year-old singer, named one of People magazine’s sexiest celebrities, told the Houston Chronicle that he can’t figure out why he’s so popular.

“I would not get that worked up over me at all. It’s all very baffling to me,” he said. “I guess that’s why it’s so hard to wrap my mind around it when people are waiting outside the venue after a concert and cheering. I’m amazed that they’re actually doing that, because I would never do it,”Mr. Aiken added.

“I especially wouldn’t do it for some skinny little dork.”

Imagine that

You can say she’s a dreamer, but, apparently, she’s not the only one.

Madonna drew big cheers from a crowd at Paris’ Bercy Stadium when she dedicated a cover version of John Lennon’s pacifist ode “Imagine” to the victims of the Russian hostage crisis.

Addressing the audience midway through her Sunday night show, Madonna spoke briefly about the Islamic terrorist massacre at a school in the southern city of Beslan that left at least 330 dead.

According to Associated Press, as video images of war and children were broadcast behind her on giant screens, she urged fans to ponder what happened in Russia in the context of Mr. Lennon’s Utopian lyrics.

Commander and chief

Jack Valenti is back — in France.

Mr. Valenti, the recently retired head of the Motion Picture Association of America, was named a commander in France’s prestigious Legion of Honor.

Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres presented Mr. Valenti with the award Monday in Paris in a gilded room decorated with a crystal chandelier and French and American flags. The highly-coveted “commander” title is the third of five honorary ranks.

“I am so grateful to you and to the president that I don’t know how to say thank you, except to say thank you,” the AP quotes Mr. Valenti as saying.

Last dance

Rollingstone.com reports that Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and the late Barry White will be among the disco greats slated for induction into the Dance Music Hall of Fame on Sept. 20 at the New York nightclub Spirit.

For the record

Reader — and occasional contributor to these pages — Dan Campbell has written to set the rock ‘n’ roll record straight on “Festival Express,” the recently released documentary about a 1970 tour of Canadian cities featuring the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, the Band and others.

In it, Ken Walker, a promoter, blames music fans for the tour’s lack of financial success, chiding them for their post-Woodstock allergy for, uh, paying for tickets.

Our correspondent, who saw the Festival Express in Calgary, writes, “It kills me at the end when the promoter says if he had it to do over, he wouldn’t have given the public so much.

“A number of bands that were promised didn’t show, and no explanation was given. We were in front of the stage at the end, screaming for Ten Years After and Mountain, and the announcer just shrugged and walked off. They were lucky they didn’t end up with another riot.”

Cause du jour

The refugee crisis in Sudan has entertainers briefly focusing on a cause other than the defeat of President Bush.

Waxploitation Records, a rap and electronica label, announced yesterday that it will release a charity CD to raise money for humanitarian relief efforts in Sudan.

“Genocide in Sudan” is slated for a late November release and includes songs from Yoko Ono, Gorillaz, Jill Scott, Jurassic 5, the District’s Thievery Corporation, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, DJ Spooky and several others.

All proceeds from the album will go to groups such as UNICEF and the U.N. Relief Agency, according to Waxploitation CEO Jeff Antebi.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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