- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007

War over words

They didn’t mind when he scolded Don Imus, but hip-hop’s moguls are bristling now that the Rev. Al Sharpton is telling them to watch their mouths.

As he prepares to welcome presidential hopefuls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, former Sen. John Edwards and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to this week’s National Action Network convention, Mr. Sharpton told the New York Daily News that he’ll use the four-day conclave to deliver a thundering jeremiad against offensive rap lyrics.

Don’t expect the music men to sit still for his sermon. Even as Mr. Sharpton kicks off his convention this morning, Jay-Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jermaine Dupri and other urban-music honchos will be huddling at a meeting that Hip-Hop Summit Action Network heads Russell Simmons and Benjamin Chavis Muhammad are having at the home of Warner Music chief Lyor Cohen. Also expected are top music execs such as Chris Lighty, Steve Stoute, Craig Kallman, Kevin Liles and Steve Rifkind.

Mr. Simmons denies the meeting is in response to Mr. Sharpton.

“The Rev and I may disagree on this one,” Mr. Simmons said Monday from Chicago, where he and Mr. Muhammad had debated Mr. Sharpton and Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch on “Oprah.”

“But we need talk about mentorship — not censorship. I’m not saying all rap is good. But most of what I hear from rappers is an honest depiction of what they know. The poet is just reflecting the truth of society. If [Mr. Sharpton’s] convention creates an environment to help artists take personal responsibility, then that’s good. It’s creative aggravation.”

Mr. Simmons also says his group bought two tables priced at $50,000 each to a gala convention tribute Mr. Sharpton organized for [Island Def Jam chief] L.A. Reid but says “maybe we’ll give them back to the Rev and he can sell them.” Adds Mr. Muhammad: “Stanley Crouch can sit at both of them by himself.”

Ouch.

WWII gets Burns touch

After tracing the history of America’s pastime (1994’s baseball) and America’s music (2001) documentarian extraordinaire Ken Burns is turning his attention to the battle fought by America’s “greatest generation” — and he’d like your help.

The filmmaker breezed into town on Monday to announce a joint community engagement initiative designed to gather firsthand recollections of the diverse men and women who served our nation during wartime. The public outreach campaign begins this spring and will continue beyond the broadcast of Mr. Burns’ new film, “The War,” scheduled to air on PBS beginning Sept. 23.

The seven-part series will offer a partial snapshot of the World War II experience through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four geographically distributed American towns: Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif.; and the tiny farming town of Luverne, Minn.

Stone love

Witnesses in Malawi say orphans threw stones yesterday at journalists who tried to follow Madonna into their orphanage, according to VOAnews.com.

There were no reports of injuries from the incident.

The disturbance apparently subsided after Madonna made a brief statement to the reporters. The pop star was visiting the orphanage with 1-year-old David Banda, the Malawian boy she hopes to adopt.

Madonna was expected to meet the boy’s biological father during her visit to Malawi. Controversy erupted when she took the boy home to London after a trip to Malawi last year.

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


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