Monday, June 30, 2008

Exclusive! Hudson Brothers semi-reunion!

A full 24 hours before their "official" concert reunion at the Las Vegas Fest for Beatles Fans. Mark and Brett Hudson were onstage in the Mirage Hotel grand ballroom for their first performance since 1981 with their hit, So You Are A Star, which both insist is not about Goldie Hawn, Kate Jackson or Lyle Alzado.

Exclusive! Reunited Hudson Brothers announce Chicago showing of The Seventh Python

On the heels of a blockbuster two-night premiere for The Seventh Python at the Mods & Rockers Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, star and subject Neil Innes, producer Brett Hudson, music supervisor Mark Hudson, director Burt Kearns and festival impresario Martin Lewis landed in Las Vegas for the opening of the Fest for Beatles Fans at the Mirage Hotel (home of the Love show). After catching a performance of Spamalot at the Wynn across Las Vegas Boulevard, Neil Innes made a surprise appearance onstage at the Fest and brought the house down with Rutles favorites.

But first, two-thirds of the Hudson Brothers appeared onstage with Lewis to talk about the new DVD collection of their Seventies TV series, and to announce that The Seventh Python will be shown at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans, beginning August 9th.

The film will be screened in the grand ballroom of the Hyatt Regency OHare Hotel at 11 am as an "early bird special" for the fans queueing up for the noon opening of the fest.

It will be screened later in smaller fest venues.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Seventh Python review: "A marvelous, thought-provoking, important meditation on art and fame... asking very deep questions"

The two-night festivities for the world premiere of The Seventh Python that included last night's rousing solo performance by Neil Innes (attended by the likes of Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh and Dan Castellenata, was a rousing success for the Mods & Rockers Film Festival, the American Cinematheque and our pals at Frozen Pictures, who are getting some of the best reviews of their careers. One of the latest comes from David Isaak, author of the new book, Shock and Awe on his Tomorrowville website:

"The Seventh Python was a marvelous, thought-provoking film. Rather than a rehash of the career of Neil Innes, it was an important meditation on the problem of art and fame….

"Neil Innes lives permanently on the edge between fame and anonymity, and it's clear that particular edge is an uncomfortable place to reside. He obviously doesn't want to be a celebrity--but he also needs to maintain a certain degree of public prominence to have the means to do his art.

"Anyone who works in the creative arts, from the very public world of performance to the more private world of writing, ought to see this film. Beneath a light, fluffy surface, it is asking some very deep questions."

More pix from the premiere and concert to follow...

Israel Baseball League update: Our Man Elli finds big obstacles to a second, four-team, 20-game, three-week, "momentum-keeping" mini-season

Well, we’re a month away from the promised opening of the four-team, 20-game, three-week “momentum-keeping” second season of the Israel Baseball League—or first season of the new improved, based-on-the-Broadway-musical version of the Israel Baseball League, and just as it was when we picked up the story in earnest last August, we have a bunch of US-based businessmen throwing around big promises and unequivocal statements while hiding from questions (and behind a feelgood documentary film) and pretending the elephant in the room is the size of a creamcheese-filled bagel. On the plus side, this little tabloid news and media watchdog site has proven its worth as a clearinghouse for opinion on both sides, as the lively exchange of views in our comments section can attest.

Anyway, we checked in with Our Man Elli in Israel before the Sabbath.

Tabloid Baby: Give us some news.

Our Man Elli in Israel: I wish I could give you all the answers. But I can’t. Everyone’s playing it close to the vest. They made their big announcement and now in a holding pattern.

What are they waiting for?

What else? Money. It’s not there today. Everyone’s waiting for tomorrow.

No money? Opening Day’s in four weeks. No money?

Stop pretending to be so naïve. They announced the league is still alive because of their agreement from the first season.

With the Israel Association of Baseball.


But the IBL removed the certification in January (January 9th—as we reported exclusively). How can they have the balls to announce with no money?

They HAD to announce it. And they have to make it happen. Otherwise they’d have been in breach of last summer’s contract, which says they have to have a second season. Someone close to the IAB board told me that the IAB board hasn’t even had a formal meeting on the subject. Here’s a quote. I’m reading: “It’s been a lot of emails and phone calls so far. But they can’t keep going like this, there’s going to have to be a formal board meeting, and soon.”

How soon?

Probably next week. I’m reading from the source again. Hold on. Here: “The board will have to sit and look at exactly the commitments they-- that’s the IBL-- are giving, what they say, then ask for clarifications, then send them a response on the clarifications, and then prepare a position among themselves on each contingency, depending on what they—again, the IBL-- say.” They may not to be able to get the full board together on such short notice, but they have to call the meeting. My source said he’s not convinced the IBL can pull it off, and that the IBL is-- quoting again-- “grabbing at straws in order not to be in breach of contract. It’s a dubious proposition. However, if they can pull it off, okay. Let’s see.”

A lot of people commenting in the site are saying the same thing.

I like the debate.

Yeah. It’s a good month. And the story’s going to get bigger. Anyway, is it going to happen or not?

We simply don’t know.

Great. Not. So what do you know? What about the players?

It’s never hard to get guys to play baseball, if you pay them, but how good is the quality going to be? That’s one of the questions the IAB is wrestling with. They don’t want to be embarrassed in their own backyard.

So who’ll play?

Well, every professional league has started play already, even short season Single-A, so the better players are already committed. That leaves the bottom half of the league. The players from last year were sent invitations in the past couple of months. They had until today to make the commitment.

Anyone bite?

Mostly it’ll be the American players who played last summer – we know Leon Feingold is coming.

The competitive eater.

Yeah, the pitcher.

What a (redacted by editor). Why does that guy hate us?

Eh. Comes with the territory. Plus there are supposed to be three Israelis on each of the four teams.

How much will they be paid. Or owed?

Ha. The players will be paid $750 for the three weeks. That's the pro-rated salary they made last year-- $2,000 for eight weeks. But of course the dollar has dropped, so for the Israeli players it’s a lot less. And speaking of Israeli players-– the American players are supposed to stay at Neve Ilan. It used to be a kibbutz and now it’s a moshav, just outside of Jerusalem, with guest houses and hotels.

The catch is that the IBL is asking the Israeli players not to stay there, so they can save that expense. Some of them are upset, because a large part of the experience last summer was having them all stay together-– remember, there were no bean-ball wars and no fights among the players, in part because of the camaraderie from living together.

One father of a pissed-off Israel player told me-- here’s a quote, you'll love this one:

“It’s like being at summer camp and participating in the activities, and then told you can’t sleep in the bunk with the other campers.”

What are they? Babies?

It’s a boy’s game. Sure. Even the older ones are being kids.

Sheesh. How about managers?

No word yet, except for Ami Baran. He was manager of the Netanya Tigers last season, and he’s back. They list him as” director of Israeli operations.”


They’re supposed to play at Kibbutz Gezer. But the kibbutz won’t give permission unless they pay up from last season, and pay for this season in advance. The kibbutz residents are very leery—

I can imagine.

There was a rumor going around the kibbutz this week that they were told the IBL wired the money to the IAB last Friday. But apparently, as of Wednesday, it wasn’t in the bank.

We don’t print rumours.


“The check’s in the mail.”


So where’s Larry Baras fit in? Or does he?

All we have is what they say on the IBL website. Here’s the lineup:

Dan Rootenberg
In-Coming President

Gary Woolf
Martin I. Berger
Director of U.S. Operations
Ami Baran
Director of Israeli Operations

Dan Duquette
Director of Baseball Operations
Geller Sport, Inc.
Field Engineering

I’m not sure what “In-Coming President” means. Is he president, or isn’t he? How long is he “in-coming”? When does he come in?

Incoming! (explosion sound)

Anyway, the real story is the financials, a certain Mr. Solomont from Boston, and a Boston investment banking firm that was hired to sell equity in the league.

Great! Finally, we get to the good part. David Solomont! What is up with this guy? He’s got quite a background—and family—

Right. But as much as I’d like to continue with the details, I have to answer to a higher authority. Shabbat is coming in. And here we know exactly when Shabbat is “in-coming”: 7:11 in Jerusalem. So I’ve got to say “Shabbat shalom" to you and yours.

Wait a minute-- are you (redacted by editor) serious??!!

Catch you on the other side.


Click. Brrrrrr...

Porn-pushing TMZ covers up and runs from itself!

Now that they're facing a federal lawsuit and judge's order that lumps them definitively with porn promoter Kevin Blatt and porn distributor SugarDVD, the cowards at the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com have removed the clips of the private sex video that Troyer claims was stolen, and begun a backtrack that is not only desperate but bizarre.

Probably on advice of high-level attorneys financed by its corporate overlords at AOL and Time Warner, the site has posted an article about Troyer's lawsuit-- which tells half the story and ends with this line:

"Calls to TMZ were not returned."

The cowardly TMZ boys grabbed their towels and ran from their own calls for comment??!!

To quote the sleazebags: "We're just sayin'!"

"...Corporate, porn-pushing gossip site..."

From the Los Angeles Times:

A federal judge ordered the gossip site TMZ.com Friday to remove clips of a private sex tape actor Verne Troyer says was stolen from his residence.

Troyer, best known for his portrayal of Mini Me in the "Austin Powers" films, filed suit Thursday seeking more than $20 million in damages for posting portions of a tape the actor made with a former girlfriend.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued a temporary restraining order against TMZ and two other parties allegedly attempting to sell the video after ruling that Troyer "demonstrated a strong likelihood of success" in his suit.

According to court papers, the video of Troyer and former girlfriend Renae Schrider was stolen from the actor's residence in the last few months and "was never intended . . . to be shown to the public."

The judge's order prohibits TMZ, promoter Kevin Blatt and SugarDVD, an online distributor of adult films, from selling or distributing the video.

On Wednesday, TMZ broadcast clips from the video on its television show and posted clips on its website, according the suit.

TMZ reported that Blatt, who brokered the sale of Paris Hilton's sex tape, "is entertaining a $100K offer from Sugar- DVD to distribute the video"...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Review of The Seventh Python: "Proves that the exhibition of emotional scars is not needed to provide insight into the heart of a person"

When The Seventh Python, the film about Neil Innes from our pals at Frozen Pictures, premiered at the Mods and Rockers Film Festival in Hollywood last night, Elise Thompson of the LAist website was there.

Today she posted the film's first major review. Here are sime highlights that are bound to make you rethink your prejudices about tabloid, definitely want to see the picture and say, "Cheers!" to the Frozen gang:

"...The Seventh Python manages to pull it all together using visual effects, editing techniques and witty commentary, all the while keeping focused exclusively on Innes' professional life.

"The film is subtly enhanced with a sprinkling of animation. Bonnie Rose, who founded www.neilinnes.org adds a style that is clearly in tribute to Terry Gilliam, even down to the crushing foot of fate. Other visual effects such as... duplication and split screens are used to keep the eye entertained while the ears do the heavy lifting.

"In a particularly inspired moment, Innes' attention to an airplane flying by cuts to a shot of an airplane, then to a shot of Terry Jones, whom we have already mentally established is in some distant location, as he pretends to hear the same plane pass overhead. It is an inspired moment that harkens back to the overlapping skits that made Monty Python great .

"'Rockumentaries often have trouble finding the right balance between music and narrative. Most rock docs have no patience and start narrating over songs just as you are finding the groove. The Seventh Python strikes a nice balance, knowing to back off and allow 'The Philosopher's Song' and 'Let's be Natural' to play uninterrupted, while cutting into some of the longer, less iconic tunes...

"This film traces Innes' career... and offers lots of fun, insider tidbits to chuckle over on fan sites.

"Naturally, the commentary is hilarious; we would expect nothing less with friends like John Cleese and Michael Palin. Phil Jupitus is particularly funny, driving the audience into hysterics simply talking about Innes wearing a hat.

"What you won't see up on the big screen is Innes' personal life. The closest you get is a short commentary from his wife, and some nostalgia regarding the death of George Harrison that Innes quickly nips in the bud. Such respect for the boundary between Neil Innes the man and Neil Innes the performer can only come from Burt Kearns, a director who penned the exposé on tabloid journalism.

"Kearns proves here that the exhibition and evaluation of emotional scars large and small is not needed to provide insight into the heart of a subject. This movie makes you admire Innes. It makes you like him as a person. It makes you want to be his friend. He comes off as quick-witted, approachable and clever. Even at his most mischievous he remains guileless...

"This movie succeeds by coaxing its subject to open up just enough so that we do feel like his friend. The Seventh Python allows the audience to walk out of the theater with more than a taste of Neil Innes, but without having swallowed him whole."

The Seventh Python is a hit at Hollywood premiere! Reviewer: "Made me want to stand up and cheer!"

The premiere of The Seventh Python last night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood was a rousing success for movie subject Neil Innes, Mods & Rockers Film Festival impresario Martin Lewis and our pals at Frozen Pictures who produced the film. And leave it to legendary blogger and Internet journalist Luke Ford to be first out of the gate with a review of the picture:

"A sweet and funny documentary!
The Seventh Python made me

want to stand up and cheer
for a good and funny man!
A must-see for any Monty Python fan!"

--Luke Ford

Chelsea Handler, Mark Hudson and music legend Chris Montez were seen in the crowd, which roared with laughter, applauded with approval and joined in a standing ovation!

Luke did the interviews above. See more here.

More to come...


Larry Baras, the beleaguered Boston bagel baron who founded the Israel Baseball League, then left Israel while the final game of the first season was still being played, leaving behind a million dollars in unpaid bills and riding into a future of lawsuits, acrimony, accusations and chaos, has come out of hiding to bask in the new, folksy, heroic image he's been given in the new IBL documentary, Holy Land Hardball.

Baras, whose name is not used in the launch of the "new" IBL's four-year, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping "mini-season," emailed Giants baseball fan Jay Roberts' Jaybird's Jottings site, in response to a Hardball review that painted Baras as a dreamer facing an "enormous challenge":

The Boston entrepreneur, reflecting on his faith, wanted to do something special for Israel. A lover of baseball, he was inspired to put together the Israel Baseball League, which made its debut season last summer... Giants fans will be interested to know that at the beginning of the film, when Baras was at his home, he talked about his father Hyman who was a Giants fan. Baras pulled out a well-worn Giants SF hat out of a drawer, worn by his Dad and a momento of the times they shared...

Roberts writes that Baras emailed the site with even more recollections:

"I'm not precisely sure how my father became a Giants fan, but I know he was a fan of the team his whole life. Even during World War II, when he served in the Philippines, he maintained a correspondence both with one of the players and with a reporter who covered the Giants.

"In my house, the Giants were treated as if there was some sanctity attached to them. For the first ten or fifteen years of my life, I would often listen to Giants games with my father via a green transistor radio that he had bought me that got games clearly even from as far away as Chicago, Cincinnati and St Louis. When there were games that ended after I was asleep already but had a dramatic and fortuitous ending, he would come into my room, wake me up, and recreate the ending for me as if it were taking place live.

"In the mid-60s (I think I am correct on the period), NBC started to broadcast the Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons. Sometimes, the Giants would be on. This presented a problem in our household because we were Sabbath observant and couldn't turn on the television. For the first time, my father went out and bought a timer, connected it to the TV, set it for 2 pm on Saturday, and we would actually watch television on the Sabbath, albeit in strict conformance with the rules of the day."

Baras last surfaced in April, when he was quoted in an article about Fenway Park hotdogs. Before that, his last public comment was recorded on November 20, 2007, when, amid our exclusive revelations of an IBL-related federal security fraud lawsuit filed against him, he wrote to Our Man Elli in Israel, accusing the journalist of “destroying” him because of the IBL-related stories he had broken.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

'Charming and illuminating!" LA Times returns to The Seventh Python hours before world premiere

The LA Times has certainly taken notice of the world premiere of The Seventh Python tonight at the Mods and Rockers Film Festival in Hollywood. Hours after the publication of a full-length feature in the Guide section, music writer Randy Lewis-- who got a sneak preview of the film-- writes this afternoon:

You can tell a lot about a person from their heroes. There are those who cite great statesmen or politicians; others look up to athletes, scientists, philosophers or artists.

For British musician and humorist Neil Innes, it’s Brian Dunkleman, who quit his job co-hosting “American Idol” with Ryan Seacrest because he didn’t like the way contestants were being treated.

“Dunkleman turned his back on a fortune, and people ridicule him for it — I think he’s a hero,” says Innes, one-time member of the inner circle of the Monty Python comedy troupe who’s often referred to as “The Seventh Python.” That happens to be the title of a new film documentary on Innes’ career, which also has included membership in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Eric Idle’s Beatles satire project The Rutles, for which Innes wrote all the delightful Fab Four-esque songs.

“I say we should start a ‘Dunkleman for President’ campaign,” he said.

His admiration for a pop culture footnote goes to the heart of the charming and illuminating documentary by director Burt Kearns who, like many of those he interviewed for his film, laments that Innes never has received wider recognition for his creative wit and musical acumen...

“That’s the problem I’ve had all my life,” Innes said, an ever-present lilt in his voice. “The truth is there is a lot of music out there that isn’t trying to be funny, but it still is. The Bonzos used to point this out in the ’60s. There’s that thing that you can’t ignore what you see, and the human condition is funny.”

So is much of “The Seventh Python” — even to its subject. “There’s a wonderful moment when they’re on the street showing a photo of me and no one can identify it. Then one person looks into the camera and says, ‘I know what you’re doing — you’re making a documentary about someone nobody’s ever heard of.’ I just adored that.”

Read the entire article here.

LAist's Innes interview on morning of premiere

The LAist has Bob Thompson's great interview with Neil Innes, hours before the premiere of the Innes biopic, The Seventh Python (from our pals at Frozen Pictures) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Some highlights (though personally, we like the juxtaposition of the two photos on the webpage):

Director Burt Kearns’ previous work will probably be familiar to many in the audience, though they may not know and might not admit it: much of his resume is in tabloid TV... His experiences on the front lines of exploitation led him to write the book Tabloid Baby, which he calls “part mea culpa, part expose”, in 1999... With this film, he hopes, if not to make Neil Innes into an actual celebrity, at least to level the market share a little. Innes himself hasn’t seen the final cut of the film yet. “I’m not sure if I’ll have to walk round the theater until it’s over,” he says from his room in Hollywood. Despite any last-minute jitters, he sounds more than pleased to be here, and talks most excitedly about his latest work, including a 2007 Bonzos album, the first full-length since 1971. Being the subject of a documentary, which I presume you’ve now seen, was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself while watching it? No question, it’s one of the oddest things I’ve ever found myself doing in my life. Because it’s not my film. And it shouldn’t be my film. But it’s funny to see my friends saying nice things because they’re normally very rude to me. So it’s a little bit hard to take (laughter.) I am still naturally quite shy. But a lot of it I quite like. I think John Cleese is very funny, Phil Jupitus is very funny. But I haven't seen the final cut, I saw it when it had everything and I did say, cut it down so that someone who never knew anything about me would get something, but don't dwell on things too much. What can you tell us about the live show on Friday? Is this a band show?
I’d love to have had a band… the daft thing is, basically, I’m doing a benefit for Cinematheque. Most people come out to Hollywood to get in a movie and make a lot of money; I come to Hollywood and do a benefit for a cinema. But that’s true to form. (Laughter.) You see, Cinematheque and I have a lot in common, both of us are non-profit. No, it’ll be a one-man show. There just wasn’t time to do that sort of thing. Actually a couple of guys, Ken Simpson and Ken Thornton, are coming from Illinois… and they’ll pop up and play a bit.

Neil Innes performs in concert at the Egyptian tomorrow night. Both shows at 7:30 pm; tickets here.

A Steve Dunleavy sighting!

With his long absence from the pages of The New York Post, Jim Brady's interview that read like one of those New York Times video obituaries where people get to talk from beyond the grave, and what we've been hearing secondhand, we were getting a bit worried that tabloid legend, superstar and damn good guy Steve Dunleavy would soon be knocking back vodkas with Elvis.

So it was heartening to receive this email this morning from a mutual friend:

"I just ran into Steve Dunleavy on the street. He was impeccably dressed in a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt and a power tie. Aside from the cane he looked great (after all those things I'd read about his ill health)."

We'll drink to that!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Neil Innes concert is LA Weekly's Rock Pick

Slightly overshadowed by tomorrow's world premiere of The Seventh Python, the Neil Innes biopic from our pals at Frozen Pictures, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, is the solo concert that Neil Innes is performing at the Egyptian the following night.

Overshadowed perhaps, but not overlooked by the LA Weekly, which lists Neil's show ast the top critic's pick for Friday:

"...The documentary (which screens on Thursday, July 26, at this theater) celebrates the merry life and mad career of this songwriter, who’s often underrated because of his 'joke' songs, but also writes gorgeous melodies along with those sarcastic lyrics. Tonight he’ll play a set encompassing his many phases and incarnations, which should make up for the keen disappointment when he appeared — but didn’t sing — during the festivities surrounding Rutlemania... in Hollywood earlier this year..."

Both tomorrow's film and Friday's concert begin at 7:30 pm. Tickets available at ModsandRockers.com.

LA Times on tomorrow's Seventh Python premiere

The Los Angeles Times has run another feature on The Seventh Python, the Neil Innes biopic from our pals at Frozen Pictures that has its world premiere in less than 24 hours at Martin Lewis' ninth Mods & Rockers Film Fest (a division of American Cinematheque).

Susan King writes:

"Over the last four decades, the 63-year-old singer-songwriter has fronted the beloved British group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band; performed and written songs for the comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus; and played the John Lennon-esque Ron Nasty in the 1979 Beatles' spoof 'The Rutles,' which was created by Innes and Python Eric Idle. "So it's fitting that Innes is front and center at the ninth edition of the American Cinematheque's Mods & Rockers Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre. The festival's opening tonight features the world premiere of the 2008 documentary 'The Seventh Python,' as well as the 2007 documentary 'The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band 40th Anniversary Concert.' And on Friday, Innes will perform in concert. "'It's really nice,' Innes says from England about the Mods & Rockers' honors. 'A lot of people can't get around the fact that I have met all of these people and worked with all of these people and still kept out of the limelight. I don't like that side of it.'"

Read the entire article here.

Showtime is at 7:30 pm. Neil Innes himself will be there; a Bonzo Dog Dooh Dah Band concert film follows, and on Friday, Neil is performing an unprecedented solo show at the Egyptian!

Tickets at ModsandRockers.com.

Why we call TMZ a "porn pushing" gossip site

When it comes to our coverage of the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com, we're often asked why we refer to the operation as "porn pushing." We then go into the hostory of their marketing tapes with late celeb porn broker David Hans Schmidt, their teasing and advertising of the coprophiliac "Screech sex tape," the "Jimi Hendrix" sex tape, and the making of Kim Kardashian, among others.

But today we have a concrete example, as Harvey Levin and his West Hollywood cream team spread their kink across the Internet and Main Street America by advertising a "dwarf sex tape" starring Verne Troyer of the Mike Myers films. And clear as day, TMZ is marketing, advertising, even doing audience research for the porn company.

Did TMZ actually acquire the tape and hand it over to the distribution arm? Do TMZ, Harvey Levin or any of his boys get a kickback from sales? What do the Time Warner and AOL overlords think about this sleazy business?

Who knows? We'll leave it to you "mainstream" journalists who get paid to rewrite wire copy. Meanwhile, let's parse the post:

"Come on, you know you wanna watch ..."

That could be the ad line on the DVD cover. TMZ is using an age-old advertising ploy to generate interest in the porn product.

"Yes, that's Mini-Me Verne Troyer in a sex tape shot with his former live-in girlfriend at the couple's apartment. A third party has snatched up the tape and although no deal has been made, we hear dealer Kevin Blatt, who brokered the deal for Paris' video, is entertaining a $100k offer from SugarDVD to distribute the nastiness."

The use of the words "snatch" and "nastiness" are heavy-handed double entendres meant to whet the public's appetite.

Writing the name of the DVD company as one word is an easy reference to the company's website, which is sugardvd.com.

"We would have thought the tape was worth at least ONE BILLION DOLLARS."

A cheap Austin Powers reference-- but to the uninitiated porn buyer, it attests to the quality.

"A rep for Troyer could not be reached for comment."


"Would you buy it?
__Hell yes
__ Not in a billion

TMZ does the audience research for the porn company, gauging potential interest in the tape.

Your move, Mr. Stelter.

Premiere eve: CityBeat meets The Seventh Python

On the eve of the world premiere of The Seventh Python, the Neil Innes biopic from our pals at Frozen Pictures, the LA CityBeat weekly newspaper is running a prominent interview in its issue that hits stands later today:

In a town full of fame junkies and discarded icons, the affection held for the unglamorous likes of Neil Innes is heartening. A nimble musical satirist in the jolly company of W.S. Gilbert and Spike Jones... the low-key and eccentric Innes is the subject of the documentary The Seventh Python, premiering Thursday at the venerable “Mods & Rockers” festival at the Egyptian Theater, and performs a solo concert there on Friday...

CityBeat: Hello and how do you find yourself this morning?

Neil Innes: Well, I just rolled back the sheets and there I was!

Tell us about The Seventh Python. It sounds a bit like Harry Reems meets Ray Harryhausen.

Bonnie Rose and Laurie Stevens started this Web site a couple of years ago in L.A. and they decided to get in contact with me and asked if I’d come play there. I was coming through in 2003 on my way to a comedy festival in Melbourne, and said if they can find a couple of rooms, we’d play. A little band was put together and, in typical fashion, the Iraq war and the Oscars happened that weekend, so L.A. was pretty much gridlocked. But nevertheless, the filming took place and the movie began to take shape, and it soon turned out they were making a movie about someone who didn’t really want to become rich and famous! [wheeze] So they had to work hard to make it interesting, and they have the rest of the Pythons on there talking through their trousers. I haven’t seen the finished thing, but it’s quite sweet and fun for me to hear people go on about my songwriting in a grown up way, since I muck about so. It’s not a career move, but hopefully an interesting thing, as it was born out of love.

Read the entire interview here.

The Seventh Python is the opening selection in Martin Lewis' ninth Mods & Rockers Film Fest (a division of American Cinematheque). Showtime is at 7:30 pm. Neil Innes himself will be there; a Bonzo Dog Dooh Dah Band concert film follows, and on Friday, Neil is performing an unprecedented solo show at the Egyptian!

Tickets at ModsandRockers.com.

Blogger reviews Holy Land Hardball

Blogger Jay Roberts, a longtime Giants fan who started up the Giants Journal in 1999, offers the latest review of Holy Land Hardball, the independent documentary on the Israel Baseball League.

From Jaybird's Jottings:

Holy Land Hardball

Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to start up a professional baseball league from scratch. Now, throw in the difficult task of doing so in a country eight time zones away, a place that has never had such a league and whose people know very little about the game.

That's the enormous challenge Larry Baras presented to himself two years ago. The Boston entrepreneur, reflecting on his faith, wanted to do something special for Israel. A lover of baseball, he was inspired to put together the Israel Baseball League, which made its debut season last summer.

The story of this unlikely new chapter in baseball history is told in Holy Land Hardball, a documentary by Brett Rapkin and Erik Kesten. We saw its second showing on Sunday at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring. The film, one of 45 chosen out of 2,000 submissions, is being shown as part of the annual SilverDocs Film Festival.

After the film was over, Kesten, Rapkin and a half dozen players answered questions. The filmmaking pair said they were thankful to have complete access to the players and Baras and his team of executives that included Dan Duquette, former GM of the Red Sox.

The film produced moments of laughter from the audience of about 75, as well as some tears as the league finally came together on Opening Day. Obstacles were many and, especially in the beginning, supporters few.

Giants fans will be interested to know that at the beginning of the film, when Baras was at his home, he talked about his father Hyman who was a Giants fan. Baras pulled out a well-worn Giants SF hat out of a drawer, worn by his Dad and a momento of the times they shared.

The New York Giants always wanted a Jewish star player, or even a pretty good Izzy Goldstein. If the Heavenly League would send such a player to Baras, he would be most grateful.

The timing would be good too. The Israel Baseball League starts its second season in a couple of weeks.

Just as interesting as his Holyland Hardball review is Jay Roberts' biography, which begins with:

Jay Roberts has been cutting his teeth on the Giants since the mid-60s. He first started writing about the orange and black in February 1999 at his website The Giants Journal.

Jay is a member of The Society for American Baseball Research. SABR (sabr.org) published his article, “Juan Marichal: An Opening Day Dandy,” in their annual Baseball Research Journal (Volume 30/01).

Jay and his wife Roberta live in Alexandria, Virginia. He is retired from the Air Force but is very active in the pet care industry.

Email is jaybird926@aol.com

...and continues here.

Exclusive! Death of Hardee's founder is the eighth demise of a fast food legend this year. So far.

The story is simple:

Fast food pioneers and legends are dropping like flies on the grill in 2008.

Sooner or later, the mainstream media will be forced to catch on.

Wilbur Hardee, founder of the Hardees's chain, makes eight. Eight deaths of fast food moguls in the first six months of 2008. So far.

Today, we add Wilbur Hardee to the list of the dead:

Carl Karcher
founder of Carl’s Jr. (January 11);
Lovie Yancie
founder of Fatburger (January 23);
Al Copeland
founder of Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken (March 23);
Herb Peterson
inventor of the Egg McMuffin (March 25);
Irvine "Irv" Robbins
co-founder of Baskin-Robbins (May 5);
J.R. Simplot
king of the frozen french fries (May 25);
Neil Baker
Baker's Drive-Thru and Taco Bell (May 31)
Wilbur Hardee
founder of Hardee's (June 20)
???? ?????

???? (???? ??)

The list speaks for itself. No?

Hardee's first drive-in restaurant didn't have tables or carhops, but built a loyal following o who stopped in for 15-cent hamburgers cooked on a charcoal broiler. The menu also featured cheeseburgers for 20 cents, French fries, sodas, coffee and apple pie.

Today, there are 1,900 Hardee's across the Midwest and Southeast and in 200 international locations.

Hardee's Monster Thickburger contains 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat.

Wilbur Hardee died Friday of unspecified causes.

He was 84.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exclusive! The "new" Israel Baseball League's new backer brings his own scandals to the game

Move over, Boston bagel baron, here comes the Boston business bigshot brother. Our Man Elli in Israel reports that the new bright and shiny Israel Baseball League, crouched behind its player-turned president Dan Rootenberg, is being bankrolled to a large extent by controversial businessman David Solomont, best known in Boston for a 2004 lawsuit in which he was accused of siphoning more than a million dollars in funds from a software firm while he served as its CEO.

In an uncanny similarity to a federal lawsuit filed against IBL founder Larry Baras, the start-up scandal lawsuit stated: “Solomont has become overextended, and is robbing Peter to pay Paul..." (See our teaser story.)

Our Man Elli reports that his sources have mentioned the 56-year-old Solomont as the "money "behind the league. And that Solomont has been contacting some IBL creditors, telling them they won’t be seeing any money for a month. “This could be another syndication deal, with Solomont fronting a little money to make some payoffs needed to get off the ground or licensed by the IAB,” says a source .“And he could be raising the bulk of the money from other investors.”

Solomont himself has been hinting at his involvement online for weeks, on his “Twitter" page:

working on the "best" deal ever, other than my family:) 02:10 PM May 20, 2008 from web

Humming, "take me out to the ballgame" 10:16 AM May 25, 2008 from web

Humming "Take me out to the ball game", and soon you will know why:) 06:27 PM May 30, 2008 from web

Planning to be in the big apple tomorrow, Thursday, still humming "take me out to the ballgame" Can't wait to share:) 12:47 PM June 04, 2008 from web

working on a baseball deal, if you hadn't already figured this out from my humming:) 03:32 PM June 11, 2008 from web

Holy Land Hardball, http://holylandhardball.com, engaging documentary telling amazing story about IBL, http://israelbaseballleague... 0:36 PM June 19, 2008 from txt

Solomont’s brothers have also made the news. Younger brother Jay Solomont was reportedly in jail in Israel for misappropriation of funds. Other brother Alan Solomont is a wealthy businessman and major Democratic fundraiser-- in fact, he's the former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which is yet another link between the IBL and the next President of The United States.

From The Boston Business Journal

Friday, January 9, 2004
Boston Business Journal

Angel investor accused of diverting funds

by Sheri Qualters
Journal Staff

CHESTNUT HILL -- Software financial services company PLEJ Inc. is suing former CommonAngels investor David Solomont for allegedly siphoning money from PLEJ while he served as chairman and CEO of the startup.

According to a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court late last month, Chestnut Hill-based PLEJ Inc. believes Solomont "diverted and concealed more than $1 million (worth) of money invested in PLEJ" over a year and a half. Founded in 2002, the startup is developing software that links credit cards to gift cards and customer loyalty programs. Earlier this month, the court granted PLEJ's motion to freeze $1.2 million worth of Solomont's assets at four banks while the lawsuit is pending.

PLEJ's lawsuit accuses Solomont of using his Chestnut Hill-based HeathHill Cos. Inc. holding company as a conduit and overcharging PLEJ for services performed by HeathHill. According to the court papers, Solomont siphoned $437,500 for real estate and office expenses and $120,000 in unauthorized salary money. More than $439,000 is also missing from PLEJ's books, according to the documents.

PLEJ is seeking recovery of the missing funds, reimbursement of its legal costs and triple damages under the state's Consumer Protection Act.

PLEJ claims it first discovered Solomont's alleged misappropriations after it appointed an audit committee last November; the board demanded his resignation on Dec. 10, according to the court papers. PLEJ in its filing said that PLEJ president Jason Pavona "learned for the first time" on Dec. 11 that Solomont did not have enough remaining of investors' $2.5 million to cover about $25,000 in payroll. Pavona did not respond this week to multiple telephone calls and e-mail requests for comment.

"For reasons to be discovered, Solomont has become overextended, and is robbing Peter to pay Paul," states the PLEJ lawsuit, which references two other recently settled Suffolk County lawsuits against Solomont from companies seeking to recover money from him.

Solomont, who was away on vacation from Dec. 23 through Jan. 6, according to a copy of a Solomont e-mail entered as evidence in the case, did not respond to several telephone calls and e-mails from the Boston Business Journal. The lawsuit noted that Solomont was "leaving the country" for vacation, and Solomont's e-mail specified that he would go out of town "without my cell phone, Blackberry, or any other 'connection' to business."

Solomont's Dec. 17 e-mail states that he wired $275,000 to PLEJ-controlled accounts, but the lawsuit claims only $200,000 was sent and an additional $400,000 was due.

"I do not believe that PLEJ was overcharged by HeathHill Companies," Solomont wrote in his e-mail, refuting the allegation that HeathHill charged too much for some services and rents to PLEJ as the lawsuit alleges. "There are charges for equipment and furniture that were never passed on and substantial expenses incurred that were part of the 'package.' "

Bruce Miller of Aloisi & Aloisi, who was Solomont's lawyer for the other Suffolk County lawsuits but whose connection to the latest suit isn't known, also did not return calls. Documents gave no indication who might be working as Solomont's lawyer in the PLEJ suit.

The other lawsuits referenced in the PLEJ complaint were filed against Solomont in Suffolk Superior Court earlier this year. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, which filed a lawsuit in April 2003 after Solomont defaulted on a $500,000 promissory note, got a $564,000 judgment from the court last September.

Advantage Payroll Services of Concord filed and settled a lawsuit in November, after it covered defaulted payrolls for PLEJ and Candide Media Works Inc., a New York-based production studio where Solomont serves as chairman. Advantage lost more than $42,000, according to the lawsuit, but the matter was settled for about $37,000.

Through a spokeswoman, Citizens said it does not comment on litigation or specific customer matters. Advantage president Michael Young also declined to discuss his company's litigation.

Solomont's current relationship with CommonAngels is unclear. Although Candide's web site and several published reports refer to Solomont as a Common-Angels' founder and organizer, and a Boston Globe article published earlier this year referred to him as a "managing director," Solomont was no longer on CommonAngels' web site by midweek.

As recently as last month, on the same day PLEJ's board demanded Solomont's resignation, Solomont participated in an MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge in his role as a managing director of CommonAngels and chairman of PLEJ. The Forum stages educational events for technology entrepreneurs that feature venture capitalists and company executives as guest panelists.

CommonAngels managing director James Geshwiler did not respond to telephone calls from the Boston Business Journal.

Solomont, whose software career spans 25 years, according to Candide's site, is also a founding trustee and past chairman of the Massachusetts Software & Internet Council, according to published reports.

IBL vet Leon Feingold reviews Holy Land Hardball

One of the most colorful characters to emerge from the troubled first season of the Israel Baseball League was Leon Feingold, a pitcher for the Netanya Tigers-- and in the offseason, a real-life professional competitive eater. Leon's never been a fan of our coverage, but we've always been a fan of his, and we're happy to find that he took a break from shoving hard-boiled eggs and (we hope kosher) weiners into his gaping maw to give us the first IBL player review of the acclaimed (Variety: "Socko!") IBL documentary film, Holy Land Hardball. Unfortunately, he uses the occasion to take an unnecessary cheap shot at Our Man Elli in Israel and the Tabloid Baby staff, completely misunderstanding the role and obligations of a hard-hitting journalist, which is not to sniff the jocks of nudniks like Leon, but to ask the tough questions that if others had followed suit, may have resulted in a happier sequel to the inaugural IBL season than a four-team, 20-game, three-week "momentum-keeping" miniseason. In fact, Leon should be wiping the yolk from his lips and thanking us not only for finding his review tucked away all by itself on our archive site, but for providing him and his fellow IBL vets and fans with the only one-stop shopping site for all the news and comments, not to mention the forum for him to air his views... and to print this latest rave for Holy Land Hardball!

Take it, Leon...

"The IBL documentary 'Holy Land Hardball' made its world premiere in the prestigious Silverdocs festival in Washington DC this past weekend; the movie itself was great, and *extremely* well received by both audiences - it was universally hailed as one of the top films of the festival.

"It was also an evenhanded picture of the plusses and minuses of the events leading up to last season - and many of the players in the audience were able to enjoy the view from management's perspective as well as be reminded of some of the events which made last year so special. This was a completely independent documentary done by Eric Kesten and Brett Rapkin, beholden to no one other than the audience - and they did an exemplary job putting together the kind of newsworthy piece Elli only imagines in his wettest of dreams.

"Speaking of whom, it was brilliant watching Elli try to trash the league from BEFORE day one - so much for his claims to legitimate journalism. What a tool!!!

"Oh, and now that the league is back, it will be nice to have the rest of the world to turn to for news on the IBL rather than TabloidBaby. For nothing else, they've been good for keeping alive some degree of buzz about the league and baseball in Israel. So... thanks! I guess there really is something to the saying that even bad publicity is good publicity.

"I'll be back this year, and the arm feels great - looking forward to seeing who else will be."

Leon Feingold, Netanya Tigers

Monday, June 23, 2008

TMZ exposes itself with George Carlin posting

The crass simpleton headline about the death of genius comedian George Carlin on the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com is not the same headline that the mental deficient pinheads had posted originally. That one demonstrated that they'd been admonished by their corporate overlords and AOL and Time Warner for making fun of the passings of accomplished Hollywood stars, as well as their utter lack of pop culture knowledge or any sense of the true celebrity chain of command:

George Carlin headlining in Heaven.

Anyone who's ever cracked a People magazine would know that Carlin was one of the world's leading misanthropic atheists, so "Heaven" would not be the likely place for him to be appearing with a celestial microphone.

In any case, the regular weekday web team, their banana hammocks tucked away til next weekend, obviously saw many news reports highlighting his routine on the "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" (on the screens at the gym), realized it was safe to slip into the vulgarity mode that Harvey Levin's sewage site is well known for ("Prince William Pitches A Tent" or "Former Celtic Has No Pot of Gold to Pee In," anyone?).

But though they changed the headline, they did not change the URL of the story, which still reads

Exclusive! Team that beat Judge Judy at the Emmys

Senior producer Lisa Brennan and executive producer Peter Brennan flank star Cristina Perez and Emmy, after picking up the award for Outstanding Legal/Courtroom program at the 35th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood Friday night. The win was a surprise, since some believed the new category had been created so Judge Judy could win an award after years of going up against talk shows. The catch is that peter Brennan was Judge Judy's original executive producer, and credited with Judy's initial success before doing the same for a new generation with Cristina.