Stop The Presses!

Dec. 22-29: Blue Christmas

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

Hello, and welcome to the final edition of That's Really Weekfor 2008. Next time you visit this space, we'llall be one year older and--though we'renot making any promises here on our own behalf--one year wiser. But before thatball drops, let's ring in one moreweek of '08 news.

First off, it was a blue Christmas for fans of Eartha Kitt this week. Ironically, just as her distinctive,seductive voice was heard worldwide--crooning the perennial and much-loved Christmasclassic "Santa Baby" on radios from the North Pole to the South--the self-described"sex kitten" and former TV Catwoman was purring herfinal purr. Eartha died on Christmas Day from colon cancer at age 81,making this the saddest Christmas celebrity death since James Brownpassed away on Christmas 2006. Eartha will be very missed, but we will alwaysremember her fondly--especially when we hear "Santa Baby" during allthe holidays seasons to come.

Another legend rumored to have possibly fatal health issuesthis week was the long-suffering Michael Jackson.Such rumors began when Jacko biographer Ian Halperin claimedthat the King Of Pop is supposedly suffering from alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency, emphysema, and chronicgastrointestinal bleeding. Ian told British paper The Sun: "Heneeds a lung transplant, but may be too weak to go through with it. He also hasemphysema and chronic gastrointestinal bleeding, which his doctors have had alot of trouble stopping. It's thebleeding that's the most problematicpart. It could kill him. He can barely speak. The vision in his left eye is 95percent gone." Michael's brotherJermaine was cryptically quoted in thesame article as saying: "He'snot doing so well right now. This isn'ta good time."

While this was quite depressing news considering howvivacious and vital Michael was in his Thriller prime,Jacko rep Dr. Tohme Tohme (yes, that's his actual name) quickly denied the author's story, issuing a statement Monday thatthe "wild allegations concerning Mr. Jackson'shealth are a total fabrication. Concerning this author'sallegations, we would hope in the future that legitimate media will notcontinue to be exploited by such an obvious attempt to promote thisunauthorized 'biography.'"

Michael's doctorfurther insisted that his client is in fact so robust that he's prepping for a career comeback, not major life-savingsurgery: "Mr. Jackson is in fine health, and finalizing negotiations witha major entertainment company and television network for both a world tour anda series of specials and appearances." But considering that earlier, Jermaine-circulated rumorsof a Jackson 5 reunion with Michael turned out to be untrue, we're not sure if we believe this last part of some oddly named doctor's story.

Speaking of reunions, Robert Plantruined every rock fan's Christmas byonce again publicly stating that that chances of a full Led Zeppelinreunion tour are slim to none. What a Scrooge! But rockers, rejoice: It wasalso reported this week that the Darkness areconsidering getting back together in 2009. Sure, it'snot quite the same...but it'll have to do for now.

Back to the subject of health scares, BackstreetBoy Brian Littrell--who underwent open-heart surgery in 1998,and is the founder of the non-profit organization Heart Healthy Kids--revealedthis week that his 6-year-old son, Baylee, washospitalized recently. Baylee was diagnosed with a rare affliction called Kawasaki disease, which causesinflammation of the arteries. While Kawasakidisease sufferers are at risk for potentially life-threatening coronary arteryaneurysms, with early treatment such risks are greatly reduced, so hopefullylittle Baylee will fully and rapidly recover.

"We want to thank everyone who prayedfor us as well as all of the emails and phone calls," the Littrells toldwell-wishers and fans in a statement this week. "We are humbled by the loveand compassion that people have for our son all over the world, thankyou!"

In other, very different, much happier news having to dowith kids being threatened, the Recording Industry Association of Americaannounced this week that it will abandon its policy of suing music fans forsharing songs protected by copyright. Since 2003, the RIAA has filed suitagainst roughly 35,000 people for swapping songs online--sometimes seeking upto $1 million in damages for just seven illegal downloads (or $150,000 per song)under the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of1999. In most cases the targeted defendants did not have the means to hire a lawyer to fightthe RIAA, so they had to settle out of court.

With the RIAA'santi-piracy lawsuit campaign suspended, that doesn'tmean kids are free to illegally download willy-nilly; the RIAA will stillwork with Internet service providers to put the kibosh on file-sharing. But as RIAAChairman and Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol stated this week: "[The RIAA is] at a point where there's a sense of comfort that we can replace one formof deterrent with another form of deterrent. Filing lawsuitsas a strategy to deal with a big problem was not our first choice five yearsago. It's much easier to sendnotices than it is to file lawsuits."

"I think it'sa good thing that they've ended thiscampaign of going after people," declared attorney Brian Toder,who once represented single mom Jammie Thomasin a landmark $222,000 copyright lawsuit filed by the RIAA. "But they needto change how people spend money on records. People liketo share music. The Internet makes it so easy. They have to do something tochange this business model of theirs."

Finally, speaking of court payouts, this week Britney Spears'father, Jamie Spears, was awarded $51,000 inbackpay for being his daughter'shard-working conservator over the past year. This decision retroactively increased his monthlysalary from $10,000 to $16,000. Sure, that might sound like a pretty heftyraise--especially in these economically troubled times of widespread layoffs anddownsizing--but just think of how difficult a job it must be to oversee thelife and career of a high-maintenance client like Britney. And given how wellshe's rebounded professionally with Circus, it seems like Jamie has certainly earned his keep.

And so, this concludes another week--and another year--inmusic news. Have a very rockin' NewYear's Eve, and rest assured we're making a New Year'sresolution to keep bringing you more headspinning headlines in 2009.



1) Eartha Kitt'sNine Lives Run Out- The legendary "Santa Baby" sex kitten dies on Christmas Day.

2) Is Michael Jackson Feeling"Bad"? -A biographer claims Jacko needs a lung transplant.

3) Off The Record - The Recording IndustryAssociation of America is no longer going to sue illegal downloaders.

4) Britney'sDad Gets A Raise -Jamie Spears will now earn $75 an hour for minding his daughter's affairs.

5) Brian Littrell Gets To The HeartOf The Matter - TheBackstreet Boy, a sufferer of heart problems himself, reveals that his young sonis also having health issues.

6) Robert Plant's Song Remains The Same - He continues to insist he willnot join the Led Zeppelin tour.

7) Auction Is A Smashing Success - A smashed Kurt Cobain guitarfetches $100,000.

8) Star Wars: The Musical - The ewoks are headed to Broadway,baby.

9) What'sThe 411? A Lawsuit!- Mary J. Blige's producer isaccused of plagiarism.

10) The Darkness Finally Seeing TheLight? - Thehair-metal revivalists are considering reuniting for a 2009 festivalappearance.


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