- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

War of the words

With some jurors nodding their heads to the beat, lawyers sparred over whether rappers Ludacris and Kanye West stole the essence of another song to create the 2003 hit “Stand Up,” Associated Press reports.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan listened to the song “Straight Like That” by a group called I.O.F. from East Orange, N.J. Two of the 10 jurors nodded their heads to the beat of Ludacris’ song but were still during the little-known track by I.O.F.

Attorney Mel Sachs, who is representing the New Jersey group, said he will prove Ludacris heard the song before he made his breakthrough hit, even though “Straight Like That” never made it beyond some airtime on college radio after it was released in September 2001.

Hundreds of promotional copies of “Straight Like That” were distributed, Mr. Sachs said, and the New Jersey company that produced the song was contacted by one of Ludacris’ record companies. At issue are the words “like that,” repeated more than 80 times in each song, though one song precedes the phrase with “straight” while the other precedes it with “just,” Mr. Sachs said.

Ludacris, whose real name is Chris Bridges, has been praised for his music and his acting roles as Anthony in the Oscar-winning “Crash” and as Skinny Black in “Hustle and Flow.” Mr. West has won six Grammy Awards for his two multiplatinum albums, “The College Dropout” and “Late Registration.”

Stones on hold

The Rolling Stones yesterday postponed the first 15 dates of their European tour as guitarist Keith Richards recovers from a head injury.

Stones publicist LD Communications said the European leg of the band’s A Bigger Bang tour, which had been due to start Saturday in Barcelona, Spain, would begin instead in July at a venue and city to be announced. According to AP, LD Communications said the rescheduled dates would be announced in the next few days.

The postponed gigs were scheduled for Barcelona and Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium; Paris; Bergen, Norway; Horsens, Denmark; Gothenburg, Sweden; St. Petersburg, Russia; Brno, Czech Republic; Warsaw, Poland; Vienna, Austria; Milan, Italy; Athens; and Zagreb, Croatia.

Mr. Richards, 62, was injured April 27 in Fiji. News reports variously say he fell out of a palm tree or from a jet ski. He later had surgery in New Zealand to relieve pressure in his head.

Ledger lands Dylan role

Oscar-nominee Heath Ledger will play one incarnation of Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There,” a film biography of the legendary singer-songwriter, Agence France-Presse reports.

Directed by Todd Haynes, the film will cast six actors as Mr. Dylan — who yesterday celebrated his 65th birthday — to show various sides of the composer of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

Mr. Ledger, star of the Oscar-winning “Brokeback Mountain,” will be joined in the film by his girlfriend and fellow “Brokeback” star, Michelle Williams, as well as Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Julianne Moore and Richard Gere.

Lestat’ goes kaput

Producers of “Lestat,” the Elton John and Anne Rice Broadway gothic musical comedy about a vampire, yesterday announced its closing, Agence France-Presse reports.

The final curtain will fall Sunday after barely one month and 39 shows on the Great White Way.

Based on Miss Rice’s book “The Vampire Chronicles” and scored by Mr. John and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, the $12 million show — which sported the slogan “Die Young, Live Forever” — will close in the wake of unenthusiastic reviews despite receiving Tony Award nominations for best actress and best costumes.

Earlier this week, Time Magazine listed “Lestat” as one of its “6 Broadway Shows to Miss,” branding it a “predictable bore” and dismissing Mr. John’s score as “indistinguishable from Broadway’s usual power-pop Muzak.”

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

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