- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dead man talking

The late John Lennon would have frowned upon plans to publicly contact his spirit through a seance via a live pay-per-view special, scoffs Elliot Mintz, a spokesman for his widow Yoko Ono.

Maybe not, say producers of “The Spirit of John Lennon,” an otherworldly special scheduled for April 24 on cable’s InDemand service.

According to publicists for the program, the ex-Beatle and his wife held their own seance to contact deceased tenants of the Dakota, the famed New York apartment building where the couple lived — and where Mr. Lennon was slain in December 1980. The event, in fact, was mentioned in a story about the music icon published by Newsweek just weeks after his death.

“In rumpled work shirt and jeans, he roamed his clean bright living room with its Zen-like simplicity, where once he and Yoko had held a seance to commune with departed tenants of the Dakota,” the Newsweek article read.

Mr. Mintz, however, doesn’t buy it, calling the planned pay-for-view special “tacky, exploitative and far removed from Mr. Lennon’s way of life.”

“John Lennon was an amazing communicator of heart, mind and spirit,” Reuters news agency quotes Mr. Mintz as saying. “He still speaks to those who choose to listen to his recordings. That was the medium he chose to speak with us. A ‘pay per view’ seance was never his style.”

In 2003, Starcast Productions, which is hosting the Lennon seance, staged a failed but profitable attempt to summon the late Princess Diana from the dead, charging 500,000 cable viewers $14.95 a pop. Those gullible enough to sign up this time around will pay $9.95 to see psychics, colleagues and confidantes seated at a seance table in a 30-minute attempt to contact Mr. Lennon’s ghost.

“People say this is disgusting, and I accept that criticism,” Paul Sharratt, who heads Starcast, said in a story published Monday in the Columbus Dispatch. “But we’re making a serious attempt to do something that many millions of people around the world think is possible.”

From ‘Nanny’ to Neil

Nasal-voiced Fran Drescher is going from television’s “The Nanny” to playing one of Eric McCormack’s ex-girlfriends in Neil Labute’s off-Broadway play “Some Girl(s),” reports Associated Press.

Miss Drescher will portray a Boston professor in the American premiere of the play, which opens June 8 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. In it, Mr. McCormack, whose TV series “Will & Grace” is now in its final season, plays a soon-to-be engaged man saying goodbye to four ex-girlfriends as he prepares to get married.

The other three women in “Some Girl(s)” will be portrayed by Maura Tierney, Brooke Smith and Judy Reyes.

Preview performances begin May 17 for the MCC Theater production.

Mr. LaBute’s other plays include “Fat Pig,” “The Distance From Here,” “The Shape of Things” and “The Mercy Seat.”

Reunited

Bobby Brown and New Edition are getting back together — at least for one night.

The bad boy singer and the rest of the old-school boy band are set to perform together at the Essence Music Festival, scheduled for July 1-3 in Houston, AP reports. Other performers include Sean “Diddy” Combs and singers Chris Brown (no relation to Bobby) and Jaheim.

Mr. Brown, who is married to pop star Whitney Houston, left New Edition (best known for its hits “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Cool It Now”) back in the 1980s to pursue a solo career.

The Essence Music Festival originated in 1995 in New Orleans and became an annual event, held at the Superdome. With the Superdome badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina and much of the city’s black population scattered due to the catastrophe, Essence — the magazine geared toward black women — decided to temporarily move the festival to Houston.

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

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