- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Elton goes digital

Elton John says he will make his back catalog of more than 30 albums available for digital download, Associated Press reports.

Beginning Monday, the tracks, more than 400 in all, will be available through Apple Inc.’s ITunes until April 30, and then will be made available on other download services. The newly digitized albums include Mr. John’s 1969 debut, “Empty Sky,” and perennial favorites such as “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.”

The move coincides with Mr. John’s 60th birthday Sunday and the release of a new compilation album, “Rocket Man,” on March 29.

Mr. John said he would also release some of his singles as cell phone ringtones. Several of his best-known video clips — including the duet “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee — will be available through digital music services.

Mr. John’s back catalog is owned by Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group.

Spears leaves rehab

After nearly a month of seclusion in a luxurious rehabilitation center, Britney Spears has moved on.

The pop star checked out of Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility “after successfully completing their program,” Miss Spears’ manager, Larry Rudolph, said late Tuesday evening.

Miss Spears, 25, entered the facility Feb. 22 after a bout of bizarre behavior that included shaving her head, getting tiny lips tattooed on her wrist and beating a car with an umbrella. She filed for divorce from aspiring rapper Kevin Federline in November, citing irreconcilable differences. Under a temporary agreement, the two have joint custody of their sons, Jayden James, 6 months, and Sean Preston, 18 months.

Miss Spears hasn’t disclosed why she sought treatment at Promises, which offers detox, counseling and 12-step programs. According to AP, a 30-day stay at the Mediterranean-style villa tucked in the Santa Monica Mountains costs $48,000.

With her stay, Miss Spears joined a long list of celebrities who have trekked to Promises to overcome addictions, including Ben Affleck, Charlie Sheen, Diana Ross and Matthew Perry.

Diva wins undies spat

Opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa prevailed yesterday in a lawsuit that sought damages from her because she had canceled appearances with an Australian pop singer after learning women threw their underwear at him on stage.

The New South Wales state Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, which sought up to $1.5 million in damages, AP reports. Miss Te Kanawa was sued by concert promotion company Leading Edge Events after the planned concerts in 2005 with singer John Farnham fell through.

Judge Patricia Bergin found there was no binding contract between Miss Te Kanawa and Leading Edge at the time she pulled out of plans for the concerts in Australia and her native New Zealand, but she ordered Miss Te Kanawa’s company, Mittane, to pay $102,000 to Leading Edge for costs.

The trial made headlines when the 63-year-old soprano testified that she watched a Farnham concert DVD and was disturbed by what she saw. “I was concerned about the knickers or underpants … being thrown at him and him collecting it and … holding it in his hands as some sort of trophy,” said Miss Te Kanawa, whose international performances include the 1981 wedding of Britain’s Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.

“How could I, in my classical form, perform in this way?” Miss Te Kanawa rhetorically asked the court in February.

Another first for Paul

Paul McCartney was introduced yesterday as the first artist signed to Starbucks Corp.’s new record label. The former Beatle made an appearance via a video feed from London at the company’s annual meeting, AP reports.

The world’s largest specialty coffee retailer announced earlier this month that it was partnering with Concord Music Group to start the Los Angeles-based Hear Music label. The McCartney announcement is another big step for Seattle-based Starbucks’ attempts to spin part of its consumer appeal into the entertainment business. Concord, which controls several other labels, helped Starbucks sell the Grammy-winning “Genius Loves Company,” an album of Ray Charles duets.

Hear Music has been used as a brand on other releases developed for sale in Starbucks stores.

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

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