- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2007

Hall of Fame takes 5

Van Halen made a “jump” into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yesterday along with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., the Ronettes and Patti Smith.

A panel of 600 industry experts selected the five artists for induction at the annual ceremony, scheduled for March 12 in New York.

Van Halen was the 1980s hard rock quartet led by guitarist Eddie Van Halen, outrageous lead vocalist David Lee Roth, and later rocker Sammy Hagar, that put out hits such as “Jump” and “Dreams.”

R.E.M. was the quintessential indie rock band until breaking through to mass success in the early 1990s with songs like “Losing My Religion.”

Grandmaster Flash led the most innovative act in early hip-hop, and its 1982 song “The Message” is considered to be a letter from urban America.

Punk rock poet Miss Smith and Phil Spector favorites the Ronettes round out the 2007 class.

To be eligible, artists must have issued a first single or album at least 25 years before their nomination.

An affair to remember

The billionaire owner of 84 Lumber could have only one 84th birthday party, so Joe Hardy’s children were determined to make it unforgettable.

Christina Aguilera sang “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Hardy, who turned 84 Sunday, and Bette Midler performed with an orchestra. Oscar-winner Robin Williams was the after-dinner performer, AP reports, citing a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“When they told me I was going to Semi-colon, naturally I said, ‘Why? Am I being punished?’ ” Miss Midler quipped, referring to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Mr. Hardy’s posh hotel and spa in southwestern Pennsylvania, where the party was held.

The celebration ran from 2 p.m. Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday, so the 500 guests — including Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former Gov. Tom Ridge — could ring in Mr. Hardy’s birthday as the clock struck midnight.

Cameron returns

James Cameron is set to direct “Avatar,” his first dramatic feature since his Oscar-winning blockbuster “Titanic” in 1997, notes the Hollywood Reporter. Principal photography on the film will begin in April for a summer 2009 release.

Mr. Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment team has spent years researching a groundbreaking mix of live-action cinematography and virtual photo-realistic production techniques for “Avatar,” which will feature virtual characters filmed for 3-D release in a new digital 3-D format.

“Avatar,” the story of a wounded ex-Marine who is unwillingly sent to settle and exploit a faraway planet, marks a return to the sci-fi action adventure genre for Mr. Cameron, who directed the film “Aliens” and “The Terminator” franchise.

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

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