Noel Gallagher Discusses ‘Seinfeld’ And Many Other Things

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ng“Not great, not bad, just a fucking ‘nother day,” Noel Gallagher says with a bored sigh. It’s afternoon in London, and the famously sour-tongued songwriter is calling while on a break from tour rehearsals for Chasing Yesterday, the second album by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the solo project he began after Oasis’ 2009 split. Gallagher produced the LP himself, calling in session players to create a lush psychedelic vibe unlike anything he’s ever done. “I’m loving the solitary aspect of being in the studio on my own,” he says. “I spent 20 years in a band making records by committee. I’m fucked if I’m going to do that now. I think Oasis was at its best when I was solely in charge, anyway.”

How are rehearsals going? Are you excited to tour this album?
Of course. It’s the yin to the album’s yang, isn’t it? Who would want to be Brian Wilson, sitting in a studio in a nappy, eating a fucking carrot with your little fat feet in a sandpit, not going on tour? Fuck that.

Are you feeling good about the album?
Oh, yeah. There’s no way you would be even getting to hear it if I didn’t fucking like it. The last record was produced by a professional producer, and it sounded expensive. This one was produced by me, so it’s more rough around the edges. It’s got more character. And there’s a bit more guitar action on this one, where the last one was very choral and symphonic. Apart from that, they’re fucking identical.

Your new song “Riverman” has a Pink Floyd-style saxophone solo, which is pretty unexpected. What would you have said back when Oasis were getting started if someone had suggested adding a sax part to, say, “Live Forever”?
[Laughs] Well, that conversation wouldn’t have lasted very long, and it would’ve ended with somebody being shown the exit door. But that was 20 years ago. You can’t stay playing a Les Paul through a Marshall stack forever.

What’s your lifestyle like now compared to those days?
If I can give you an analogy
back in the early days of Oasis, my lifestyle was like a wild fire-breathing dragon. My lifestyle now is like a faithful sheepdog. When you’re 24 in the biggest band in the world, I’m sure you can work out all the nonsense that entails. When you’re a 47-year-old solo artist, it’s different. You become a fucking pussy, is what happens. But if you still behave at 47 the way you were behaving at 24, you’d be a bit of a dick, wouldn’t you?

Do you live full-time in London these days?
Yeah, I live right in the heart of the city. I did spend a bit of time in the late Nineties out in the country, and it’s got its benefits. But I was born in the city, in Manchester, so I’m very, very used to noise and traffic and police cars and junkies and fucking beggars and prostitutes and all that kind of thing. And that’s just for breakfast.

Do you go out much in the city?
I do have a very active social life in London. Trying to make a record there and not disrupt my social life was quite the challenge
more of a challenge than producing the album, I’ve got to say. And I managed to pull off both. I hate to use the word party  it was a word that was invented by your countrymen, party but we do go out regularly on a Thursday evening and not get in until Friday afternoon. So there wasn’t a great deal of work done on Friday [laughs].

Do you go to clubs? Are you out dancing at night?
I wouldn’t go out to a nightclub in London. That would be fucking chaotic. But I do go to Ibiza
that’s where I met my wife, on a dance floor in a nightclub in Ibiza. There’s an image for you. So yeah, I do like dance music. I was there right at the birth of acid house in 1987, and it was fucking outrageous. It was the revolution. Still is, in many ways.

How do you feel about being a lead singer? Do you like how your voice sounds on the new record?
I come from the Neil Young and Bob Dylan school of thought on this. I don’t give a fuck what anybody says about me as a singer. Is Neil Young the greatest singer in the world? No, he’s not, but he’s Neil Young, ain’t he? And I’ve heard a billion covers of “Like a Rolling Stone,” and they’re all shit. You want to know why? Because Bob Dylan ain’t singing it.

What about Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower”? Even Dylan likes that one.
Nonsense. I mean, yeah, it’s fucking great
but by its very essence, it’s only a watered-down version of the original.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
Ah, well, it depends. At the end of the last tour, I took a year off. If you’re asking me what I did in that year, I have no fucking idea! You just exist, don’t you? But I write every day. I’ve always got a guitar in my hands. If I’m sitting at home, fucking about, I’m known to go through the Beatles’ repertoire. Currently, I’m in a period of David Bowie songs on the acoustic guitar. “Ashes to Ashes” is great when you’re watching TV with the sound down.

What are your favorite TV shows?
I still can’t get enough of Seinfeld. It’s still the best thing that’s ever been filmed. It reminds me of the Nineties
 good times. I was the only person in England who was watching it! That’s a fact. Certainly the only person in Manchester who watched it. I identify with Jerry. When I met my wife 15 years ago, she’d never seen it, and I was like, “If we’re going to be together, you’ve got to be into this shit, because this is important.” Luckily, she fuckin’ loves it.

Do you have a favorite Seinfeld episode?
I was watching “The Summer of George” last night. That’s pretty fucking good. The one where George starts doing the opposite
that’s a good one. There’s one where somebody talks dirty into Jerry’s tape recorder at the comedy club which is great, as well.

Did you watch this year’s Grammys?
No. I can’t really stomach things like that. Everybody’s too nice. You cannot have a room with 5,000 people, who are all fans of each other. That’s not real.

Have you ever gone?
I’ve never been to the Grammys because I’ve never been nominated. It seems like it would be a very, very long ceremony to me. It’s, like, four hours. There can’t be that many fucking awards for music, can there?

What did you think of Kanye West’s statement that Beck should “respect artistry” and give his Album of the Year award to Beyoncé?
He’s a character, I’ll give him that. And I love his track “Black Skinhead.” But somebody needs to buy that dumbass a dictionary so he can look up the word “artistry.” Beck can play the banjo, for fuck’s sake. Nobody plays the banjo! Get him a dictionary from me, I’ll fuckin’ sign it and give it to him so he can look it up.

You’re friends with Bono. What do you talk about when you hang out?
Of all the people I know, he’s the most fun to hang out with, for sure. He’s a funny fucker, and he can drink. And he’s got big ideas
for his band and for my music as well, which is astonishing. He’s always giving me titles for songs and albums. I call him Father Bono.

What did you think of U2’s new album?
I like it. Some of the greatest moments of my musical life have involved U2. Anybody who doesn’t like The Joshua Tree is a cocksucker, for a start. And anybody who went to see the Zoo TV tour and didn’t think it was the greatest of all time at that time is also a fucking idiot.

Have you heard any other music that you’ve liked lately?
Do you know that track by Alt-J, “Left Hand Free”? That is a great track. But Alt-J can fuck right off as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great tune, and I paid 79 pence for it, but I am in no way a fan of Alt-J.

Why not?
I don’t know. One of them’s got a mustache, and that’s unacceptable.

You recently said that you didn’t want to live in a world where Ed Sheeran was headlining Wembley Stadium. Unfortunately, he is. Should we be worried about your well-being?
Am I going to take my own life, is that what you mean? No. He’s all right, Ed. He took it with good humor, which is how it was meant. I was bemoaning the fact that the biggest rock bands in England can’t even sell out Wembley, and yet pop music can.

Do you listen to much pop?
No. It’s fucking awful. Modern pop music is bland nonsense. There isn’t even a word yet that’s capable of describing it. If it was a color, it would be beige. Do you know what color beige is?

I do, yeah.
It’s like a milky brown. Not for me.

What about Taylor Swift? She’s a pop star, but many people praise her talent as a songwriter.
[Laughs] Who says that? Her parents?

Lots of people.
Who’s “people”? Name these people. You’re fucking lying. She seems like a nice girl, but no one has ever said those words, and you fucking know it.

What about One Direction, do you like them?
I know Harry Styles. We’ve hung out a couple of times. They’re lovely lads. But I’ve got to say, I have difficulties with people who don’t write their own songs, who’ve got a team of songwriters who work for your record label.

Well, One Direction co-write a lot of their songs, to be fair. And many of the great Motown artists had teams of songwriters behind them is that how you feel about them, too?
If you’re trying to insinuate that what’s going on now is akin to what was going on at Motown  what, were you out late eating magic mushrooms? Not equivalent. Not in the slightest.

Is songwriting still as fun for you as when you started out?
Oh, yeah. I still think tomorrow might be the day that I write the greatest song of all time. It’s like going fishing. The guitar is your fishing rod, and if I’m not fishing for that song, fucking Bono will get it, and if he’s not, Chris Martin will. And fuck those two guys, because they’ve got enough. We’re all fishing in the same river, and it’s cutthroat, baby.

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New ‘Game Of Thrones’ Confirms One Big Story

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Game of ThronesIt’s clear that dragons are coming, but that’s not even the biggest reveal in HBO’s new “Game of Thrones” Season 5 poster.

The image shows Tyrion aboard a ship looking at a huge dragon that appears to be Drogon. But, other than just being awesome, what does it mean? Well, from the poster, the exchange between Varys and Tyrion in the trailer (where they talk about who should sit on the Iron Throne) and the events that happen in George R.R. Martin’s novel A Dance with Dragons, the image seems to confirm that Tyrion will definitely be crossing paths with Daenerys in Season 5.

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Pee-Wee Herman Returns For ‘Big Holiday’

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PeeWeeHermanPee-wee Herman’s next feature-length adventure will be coming to a screen near you courtesy of Netflix, with the streaming service securing the rights to Paul Reubens and Judd Apatow’s upcoming movie, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.

According to a press release, the new film centers around a fateful encounter that inspires Pee-wee to embark on his first holiday vacation. The movie will be directed by John Lee, a go-to director for shows like Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer who’ll make his feature film debut with Big Holiday. Production is scheduled to begin in March.

Rumors about a Pee-wee movie have been floating around since Apatow and Reubens began formulating the project several years ago. Both are set to serve as producers, while Reubens also wrote the script with comedian Paul Rust, whose credits include Comedy Bang! Bang! and Arrested Development.

“Judd and I dreamt up this movie four years ago,” Reubens said in a statement. “The world was much different back then  Netflix was waiting by the mailbox for red envelopes to arrive. I’ve changed all that. The future is here. Get used to it. Bowtie is the new black.”

Reubens began developing the Pee-wee Herman persona while studying improv comedy in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He adapted the eccentric character for the stage with The Pee-wee Herman Show, which garnered national attention after being filmed and released by HBO as a 1981 special. Following the success of the Tim Burton-directed movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Reubens launched the cult-classic TV series, Pee-wee’s Playhouse. However, the characters next feature film, Big Top Pee-wee, missed the mark both critically and commercially.

In 1991, Reubens was arrested for masturbating in an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida and went on to retire the character. Reubens brought back the character in 2007 for Spike TV’s Guy’s Choice Awards; in 2010, he jumpstarted Pee-wee’s big revival by mounting The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway. Last year, all five seasons of Pee-wee’s Playhouse were remastered and released on Blu-ray via Shout! Factory.

“I felt like it was a mission and this was what I was supposed to do; I considered it important work,” Reubens told Rolling Stone last year upon the release of a new Pee-wee’s Playhouse box set. “I always sort of thought that this would have a positive effect on kids. And they picked up on that, I think. [Pause] I’ve spent a lot of time rewatching these episodes during the restoration process for this set, and I’m still really proud of what we all did.”

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Stevie Wonder Owes Millions, Claims Ex-Lawyer’s Widow

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stevieWhat makes an effective entertainment lawyer?

According to a new lawsuit by Susan Strack, her late husband, Johanan Vigoda, was exactly that because he represented Stevie Wonder for four decades. And in that time, the singer’s “deals with music companies went from oppressive to … among the most lucrative contract terms in the music industry.”

Then again, maybe an effective lawyer is one who figures out how to enrich himself in the process.

Strack’s lawsuit filed in Nevada federal court on Thursday also says that Vigoda negotiated a 6-percent fee of Stevie Wonder’s revenues “forever” and that the fee would transfer to Vigoda’s heirs.

Here’s more proof that Vigoda was “effective” in his representation of Wonder, whose real name is Stevland Morris.

“To ensure that Morris, who has been blind since shortly after his birth, was clearly aware of the terms of each of the agreements that he entered into with Vigoda, Morris had a witness read to him the complete terms of each agreement,” states the lawsuit. “Once the terms were acceptable to Morris, he confirmed his (and his companies’) agreement to the terms by affixing his mark to the agreement usually his fingerprint and the witness who read the terms to him also signed the agreement below Morris’ mark, certifying that that witness had read to Morris all of the terms of the agreement.”

Now Strack is looking to collect her inheritance after Vigoda passed away in 2011. The payments allegedly stopped in 2013, and then Wonder’s reps “sought to negotiate a settlement of the dispute for ‘pennies on the dollar.’ ”

The lawsuit alleges at least $7 million in damages.

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Duhamel, Hudson Suit Up For ‘The Wrong Stuff’

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downloadJosh Duhamel and Ernie Hudson who last worked together opposite Hilary Swank and Loretta Devine in the ensemble drama You’re Not You from eOne, are coming together again in the baseball drama The Wrong Stuff, based on the bestselling memoir by ex-pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Richard Lally. The film is being directed by Brett Rapkin and produced by Stephen Nemeth, co-produced by Betsy Stahl and executive produced by Ron Shelton (White Men Can’t Jump) and Eric Gagne. Rapkin also penned the script. Shooting is expected to begin next week in Los Angeles.

Set in the 1980s, the film chronicles the downward spiral of Major League pitcher Lee, a hot-tempered, self-serving madman unable to see himself as anything other than a baseball player. Duhamel is cast as the volatile Lee. Hudson will portray Joe, the only black player and first baseman for the all-white, French Canadian Longeuil Senators amateur club. Hudson’s character, an experienced player with 30 years in the sport, is the stabilizing force on the scrappy team.

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Bill Cosby’s Secret Settlement Talks With Sex Accusers Fail

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cosbyLawyers for Bill Cosby and three women who accuse the comedian of sexual abuse have failed to reach a settlement of their defamation lawsuit, according to court documents obtained by Both sides began secret meetings for a deal on February 18 with a Friday deadline. But a new filing by Cosby’s lawyers suggests the federal court battle will continue.

Although the alleged sexual assaults happened decades ago and the time limit for criminal and civil action has passed, the defamation case filed by three women could lead to a very public retelling of the dozens of accusations against Cosby that have been reported in the last six months.

The women involved in the suit contend that statements made by Cosby representatives in recent months denying he ever touched the women and calling them liars have defamed and harmed them.

Tamara Green, who claims Cosby drugged her during lunch and groped her in the 1970s, initially filed the defamation lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts late last year. Therese Serignese, who accuses Cosby of raping her backstage as a Las Vegas show in the 1970s, and Linda Traitz, who also alleges she was drugged and assaulted in the same timeframe, joined the defamation case in January.

“Mr. Cosby denies each and every one of the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at him by Plaintiffs Green, Serignese and Traitz,” the motion to dismissed filed on Friday says. “But this is not an action for sexual assault. This lawsuit is, rather, a misuse of the law of defamation to attempt an end run around the relevant statutes of limitations for the alleged assaults.”

Cosby has a right to defend himself against media reports quoting women who accuse him of sexual assaults, his lawyers argue. “The law does not require that one stand idly by while he is publicly attacked. Instead, the law entitles an individual who is accused of serious wrongdoing to rebut the allegations without facing defamation claims,” the filing states.

Cosby’s publicist never called the women “liars,” the filing claims. “Rather, in a series of statements made to media outlets, Mr. Cosby’s spokespersons issued comments that responded to several of Plaintiffs’ attacks and explained the reasons why the public should question their claims as well as the media’s rush to put those accusations into circulation,” says the document.

Cosby also argues the statements were “substantially true” and did not harm the women’s reputations.

Lawyers for the female accusers have a month a make their arguments against Cosby’s motion to dismiss.

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Leonard Nimoy Passes Away At 83

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Leonard Nimoy DiesLeonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Nimoy announced last year that he had the disease, which he attributed to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.

His artistic pursuits  poetry, photography and music in addition to acting  ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge.

Yet he also acknowledged ambivalence about being tethered to the character, expressing it most plainly in the titles of two autobiographies: “I Am Not Spock,” published in 1977, and “I Am Spock,” published in 1995.

In the first, he wrote, “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”

“Star Trek,” which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, made Mr. Nimoy a star. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the franchise, called him “the conscience of ‘Star Trek’ ” an often earnest, sometimes campy show that employed the distant future (as well as some primitive special effects by today’s standards) to take on social issues of the 1960s.

His stardom would endure. Though the series was canceled after three seasons because of low ratings, a cultlike following  the conference-holding, costume-wearing Trekkies, or Trekkers (the designation Mr. Nimoy preferred) coalesced soon after “Star Trek” went into syndication.

The fans’ devotion only deepened when “Star Trek” was spun off into an animated show, various new series and an uneven parade of movies starring much of the original television cast, including besides Mr. Nimoy  William Shatner (as Capt. James T. Kirk), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), George Takei (the helmsman, Sulu), James Doohan (the chief engineer, Scott), Nichelle Nichols (the chief communications officer, Uhura) and Walter Koenig (the navigator, Chekov).

When the director J. J. Abrams revived the “Star Trek” film franchise in 2009, with an all-new cast  including Zachary Quinto as Spock he included a cameo part for Mr. Nimoy, as an older version of the same character. Mr. Nimoy also appeared in the 2013 follow-up, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond “Star Trek” and crossed genres. He had a starring role in the dramatic television series “Mission: Impossible” and frequently performed onstage, notably as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” His poetry was voluminous, and he published books of his photography.

He also directed movies, including two from the “Star Trek” franchise, and television shows. And he made records, on which he sang pop songs, as well as original songs about “Star Trek,” and gave spoken-word performances to the delight of his fans and the bewilderment of critics.

But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew: both a colleague and a creature apart, who sometimes struggled with his warring racial halves.

In one of his most memorable “Star Trek” episodes, Mr. Nimoy tried to follow in the tradition of two actors he admired, Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff, who each played a monstrous character Quasimodo and the Frankenstein monster  who is transformed by love.

In Episode 24, which was first shown on March 2, 1967, Mr. Spock is indeed transformed. Under the influence of aphrodisiacal spores he discovers on the planet Omicron Ceti III, he lets free his human side and announces his love for Leila Kalomi (Jill Ireland), a woman he had once known on Earth. In this episode, Mr. Nimoy brought to Spock’s metamorphosis not only warmth and compassion, but also a rarefied concept of alienation.

“I am what I am, Leila,” Mr. Spock declared. “And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

Born in Boston on March 26, 1931, Leonard Simon Nimoy was the second son of Max and Dora Nimoy, Ukrainian immigrants and Orthodox Jews. His father worked as a barber.

From the age of 8, Leonard acted in local productions, winning parts at a community college, where he performed through his high school years. In 1949, after taking a summer course at Boston College, he traveled to Hollywood, though it wasn’t until 1951 that he landed small parts in two movies, “Queen for a Day” and “Rhubarb.”

He continued to be cast in little-known movies, although he did presciently play an alien invader in a cult serial called “Zombies of the Stratosphere,” and in 1961 he had a minor role on an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” His first starring movie role came in 1952 with “Kid Monk Baroni,” in which he played a disfigured Italian street-gang leader who becomes a boxer.

Mr. Nimoy served in the Army for two years, rising to sergeant and spending 18 months at Fort McPherson in Georgia, where he presided over shows for the Army’s Special Services branch. He also directed and starred as Stanley in the Atlanta Theater Guild’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” before receiving his final discharge in November 1955.

He then returned to California, where he worked as a soda jerk, movie usher and cabdriver while studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He achieved wide visibility in the late 1950s and early 1960s on television shows like “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide” and “Perry Mason.” Then came “Star Trek.”

Mr. Nimoy returned to college in his 40s and earned a master’s degree in Spanish from Antioch University Austin, an affiliate of Antioch College in Ohio, in 1978. Antioch College later awarded Mr. Nimoy an honorary doctorate.

Mr. Nimoy directed two of the Star Trek movies, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984) and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), which he helped write. In 1991, the same year that he resurrected Mr. Spock on two episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Mr. Nimoy was also the executive producer and a writer of the movie “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.”

He then directed the hugely successful comedy “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), a far cry from his science-fiction work, and appeared in made-for-television movies. He received an Emmy nomination for the 1982 movie “A Woman Called Golda,” in which he portrayed the husband of Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel, who was played by Ingrid Bergman. It was the fourth Emmy nomination of his career the other three were for his “Star Trek” work although he never won.

Mr. Nimoy’s marriage to the actress Sandi Zober ended in divorce. Besides his wife, he is survived by his children, Adam and Julie Nimoy; a stepson, Aaron Bay Schuck; and six grandchildren; one great-grandchild, and an older brother, Melvin.

Though his speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor, the critical consensus was that his music was mortifying. Mr. Nimoy, however, was undaunted, and his fans seemed to enjoy the camp of his covers of songs like “If I had a Hammer.” (His first album was called “Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space.”)

From 1995 to 2003, Mr. Nimoy narrated the “Ancient Mysteries” series on the History Channel. He also appeared in commercials, including two with Mr. Shatner for He provided the voice for animated characters in “Transformers: The Movie,” in 1986, and “The Pagemaster,” in 1994.

In 2001 he voiced the king of Atlantis in the Disney animated movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” and in 2005 he furnished voice-overs for the computer game Civilization IV. More recently, he had a recurring role on the science-fiction series “Fringe” and was heard, as the voice of Spock, in an episode of the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”

Mr. Nimoy was an active supporter of the arts as well. The Thalia, a venerable movie theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, now a multi-use hall that is part of Symphony Space, was renamed the Leonard Nimoy Thalia in 2002.

He also found his voice as a writer. Besides his autobiographies, he published “A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life” in 2002. Typical of Mr. Nimoy’s simple free verse are these lines: “In my heart/Is the seed of the tree/Which will be me.”

In later years, he rediscovered his Jewish heritage, and in 1991 he produced and starred in “Never Forget,” a television movie based on the story of a Holocaust survivor who sued a neo-Nazi organization of Holocaust deniers.

In 2002, having illustrated his books of poetry with his photographs, Mr. Nimoy published “Shekhina,” a book devoted to photography with a Jewish theme, that of the feminine aspect of God. His black-and-white photographs of nude and seminude women struck some Orthodox Jewish leaders as heretical, but Mr. Nimoy asserted that his work was consistent with the teaching of the kabbalah.

His religious upbringing also influenced the characterization of Spock. The character’s split-fingered salute, he often explained, had been his idea: He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended.

But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. “Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

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Robert Plant Turned Down Millions For A Reunion

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Robert plantLast month a rumor hit the Internet that Robert Plant had turned down $800 million from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson to reunite Led Zeppelin for a proposed 35-date tour. It would have been an easy near-billion who doesn’t know the words to “Stairway to Heaven”? It may have been eventually shot down as merely an invention of social media, but that astronomical figure doesn’t seem too far out of line for the best band to ever rock a stadium, especially one in the midst of an ambitious campaign to remaster and reissue its formidable back catalog.

Nor does it seem out of character for Plant to reject that offer. Aside from a one-show showing in 2010, which produced the excellent live album “Celebration Day,” the singer has shown no interest whatsoever in revisiting those old songs or reliving previous glories. A solo artist for three decades nowthat’s three times the tenure of his former bandhe has produced a large and multifaceted catalog that ranges from the pop-oriented sounds of his early albums to the retro-crooner stylings of his sole Honeydrippers release to the American roots rock of 2002’s “Dreamland” and 2007’s “Raising Sand.” The latter, a collaboration with bluegrass artist Alison Krauss, went multiplatinum and won approximately all the Grammys.

Plant could easily have settled into a career as a roots musician, but he has changed course dramatically. His latest release, the oddly titled “lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar,” sounds like all of his previous records played at once. Musically omnivorous and beautifully sung by a man who at 66 still has one of rock’s most expressive voices, these songs move from the foothills of Appalachia to the dancefloors of Bristol, from the avenues of New York City to the plains of Africa. It might have been a mere exercise in musical cross-pollination if the songs themselves weren’t so sturdy and mysterious, full of graceful melodies and spiritually generous sentiments. As such, it’s one of the most adventurous albums of 2014.

Plant has always been a man on a journey, even as far back as his days with Led Zeppelin, who in the 1960s and 1970s proved themselves imaginative synthesists of transatlantic genres. Many of that band’s songs recount dangerous treks across forbidding landscapes, whether away from some great battle or toward some unknown destination. “They choose the path where no one goes,” Plant sang on “No Quarter,” which anchored the band’s recently reissued 1973 album “Houses of the Holy.” “They carry news that must get through.” Plant has been living up to those lyrics ever since, restlessly moving from one sound to the next, navigating by instinct and with no set destination in sight.

In a year when oldsters like Springsteen and U2 have embarrassed themselves with shoddy albums (so much so that Rolling Stone apparently felt compelled to rescue them), Plant has emerged as one of the few artists of his generation intent on seeing what’s over the next hill or past the next horizon, and that determination lends “lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar” a sense of musical and conceptual urgency. During a recent stop on his American tour with the Sensational Space Shifters, Plant spoke to Salon about his new musical obsessions, his favorite band from Duluth, and his ongoing quest to keep moving.

The album begins and ends with the same song, “Little Maggie.” What drew you to that particular folk tune?

I think it was about 2006 when I was invited to appear at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame presentation in Cleveland with Odetta, Harry Belafonte and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. The event was to celebrate the life and work of Leadbelly, and that’s how I got to know Alison Krauss. There had been some talk of us playing that TV show “Crossroads” together, which involves two artists coming from absolutely opposite ends fo the track. What better place to find out how we would get on together than a show that would require just three or four songs? So I met Alison in Cleveland and we rehearsed and played some Leadbelly tunes and had an amazing night. I had asked Los Lobos to come and play with us, but only to bring their acoustic instruments. It was a bit like “La Pistola y el Corazon,” that great album they made, and it was a great experience. Then Alison and I went on to shoot “Crossroads,” and we really did fit together well. So we started preparing an album. “Raising Sand” really surprised us both, and during the making of that record, we tried to record “Little Maggie.” I guess you were wondering when it was going to get around to your question.

How did it go?

We didn’t really give it a lot of time, so we made a real hash of it. It was very funny, a complete mess, and we laughed a lot and just left it. But I thought there was something there in that song. I liked the idea. I liked the lyrics. There are so many throwaway lyrics in American music from a particular period, all those murder ballads and songs like that—”Frankie and Johnny” and that kind of thing. But “Little Maggie” is fantastic. “Little Maggie sitting by the sea, with a .44 all around her and a banjo on her knee.” The idea of a woman sitting there like that is quite evocative and quite funny for an English guy. If you’re in her way, it could be quite unfortunate. I figured the best thing to do would be to spend at least four or five minutes checking that out as a piece of music and see how we would approach it with the Sensational Space Shifters. Nobody’s claiming that we’re great bluegrass banjo players or anything, but we are scallywags and thieves. I liked the idea of visiting the song again, especially since it’s a standarda piece of American history championed by the Stanley Brothers in the 1940s and so many artists who have passed through Nashville. Which is of course where I had been spending quite a bit of time.

I’m guessing it went better this time than it did during the “Raising Sand” sessions.

It took us the better part of about 10 minutes to record the track. I liked the idea of starting off the album with that song and that sound, then turning it into something far more British, with that Bristol trance beat. It seemed like a good sort of introduction to the album, and also a good finale. For this collection of songs, I thought it was appropriate that we go out the way we came in. The second version is much more of a British-meets-West-African kind of thing, with Juldeh Camara singing in Fulani, the language of West Africa. It’s even more trance, even more far out. They’re bookends, and within all that lies the bed of the structure of the songs and the story of my time.

That song plays like a nice pivot point from your previous couple of albums, which were all confined to American soil, to this new album that explores a more global sound. It immediately announced a new set of stakes.

Exactly. I just wanted to drive a stake through the heart of the whole thing and say, I love this music but here’s another way of looking at it. And it’s so infectious to play live. It’s a great audience moment really, when even the most subdued audience member can be returned to life, given a pulse, and made to get excited.

I appreciate that you’re compartmentalizing these sounds. It’s not like there’s the Bristol trance song, the West African song, the Americana song. Everything flows together more organically.

It’s a mélange. The tabernacle of bluegrass and the tabernacle of world music, all that stuff… to me it means nothing. To me it just represents a lot of great ideas, and sometimes they need to have a shotgun wedding. I think we represent a lot of different experiences in the Sensational Space Shifters. Justin Adams produced the first and third Tinariwen albums and played with Sinead O’Connor and Jah Wobble. The avenues he’s chosen to go down have always been stimulating and exciting. Everybody in the band has got a story that isn’t just going right down Main Street. We compressed a lot of stuff on the record to make it sound more junkyard, more calamitous, but we do our best to build a sturdy shed onstage every night.

How did the Space Shifters come together?

We had played together already in the early 2000s as Strange Sensations, up until I ran off with Alison. Now “Sensation” remains part of the name, but our previous drummer went off with Radiohead, so Dave Smith took his place. And Juldeh brought in those ritti and kologo cross-rhythms. It’s become a really big churning space machine, really. So we’re out there and I’m working this record because I don’t want to end up being compartmentalized along with my peer group. I don’t want to be stuck in the ’70s or the ’80s. I just keep moving. That’s my intention. That’s my stimulus. Otherwise, I’d be at home doing the garden.

And your solo work has always been so forward looking. Even when you’re looking backwards, as with something like the Honeydrippers, you make a point not to repeat yourself.

I’ve been listening to music with an attentive ear for 50-odd years, so there’s always something new coming around the corner. There’s a lot of dross, of course, and a lot of opportunism and a lot of crap and a lot of people who stay with one thing too long. But if you’re born into this great game, you have to stimulate yourself. You have to stay lightfooted and keep moving.

I’m a restless guy who’s happy to be restless. I find that I’m always inquiring and I’m always in the middle of new situations. It’s just life experience, I guess. But I’ve been around quite a while. I realized that sometimes I move so fast I don’t even see where I’ve been with any great perspective. I look into the now and slightly into the future, but rarely into the past. Searching and querying and mining the great terrain of life and relationships is where I’m at right now. I’m pretty furtive, and I guess this record comes at a time in my life we’re I’m having to stop and regroup lyrically. I’m not singing about chicks in truckstops.

With that in mind, have you been reapproaching some of your older solo tunes with the Space Shifters?

We’ve been looking at “Like I’ve Never Been Gone,” which is a beautiful piece of music [from 1982’s “Pictures at Eleven”]. The actual chordal and musical construction is very different from what we’re using now, but when we’ve played it recently it’s been very emotive and evocative. But at the same time it can be very spare. But I don’t like to reinterpret myself. I’m not postmodern. I’m actually very pre-modern, I would say.

It sounds less like a reinterpretation than an artist having a conversation with his younger self.

I did hear a Joni Mitchell selection recently called “Travelogue,” and she did a track called “Amelia” and another called “Woodstock,” which is a song that you wouldn’t think could have any new life breathed into it. But she breathed more life into those two songs that you could possibly imagine. It was absolutely stunning, because her voice has changed from the days when she sang in ’67 or ’68 and they rearranged the songs accordingly. It was a revelation. She had to go back and visit those songs again. It was brave to record. Doing them live is one thing, but orchestrating them is brave. I wouldn’t want to make a career of it, but it’s great stuff.

You sound like someone who follows your musical obsessions wherever they might lead. What are you listening to lately?

Would it be that I could. I did go to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see Natalie Merchant and some other people perform with the Kronos Quartet. It was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nonesuch Records, and I must say that some of these areas that Nonesuch has been exploring are new to me. So I’ve been checking out some new zones since I signed with them. It’s similar to the adventures of Jac Holzman with the Elektra Explorers series. I remember stealing a lot of it in the early ’70s with Page.

And of course, one of my great loves is from Duluth, the group that is whatever it is that is called Low. On the “Band of Joy” album, we cut two tracks from their “Great Destroyer” album. Their most recent album, “The Invisible Way,” is excellent, too. I follow them because I think their dynamism is amazing. It’s supermusic. I saw them in London at the Barbican. It’s the complete other end of the scale from what I do, because there’s so little physicality to the music. There’s just this great portent. It’s all about mood.

You’re also someone who surrounds himself with good musicians, whether it’s the Space Shifters or Alison Krauss or the Band of Joy. How important is that collaborative aspect to your craft?

It’s all important. These people are all great players, but more than that they’ve all got great spirit and warm hearts, which allows us to be out there on the edge of space and time. In the great fantasy of super uber fame, that’s not always a good place to be. It can be quite a prickly place to be, in fact. I’ve been there. So I have to choose my bedfellows very carefully. It has been paramount that I have a great societyif I can use that termthat is healthy musically, personally, and socially.

“Little Maggie” is one of the only covers on the album. The rest is original songwriting, which seems like a new development compared to your last few albums.

You’re right. “Poor Howard” is a Leadbelly song that was brought over from the United Kingdom. It was a kids’ song in the early nineteenth century, and it had a very different theme but the same melody. The rest I can’t really tell you about. As you keep moving, you come up with ideas and topics and themes: musicality, drama and texture. The previous two records with Band of Joy and Alison Krauss were basically me leaving my gift at the temple of great American music, I guess. Some people leave a harmonica and a bottle of whiskey at Sonny Boy’s grave. I just left my voice in some beautiful American songs.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

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Harrison Ford Set To Return For ‘Blade Runner’ Sequel

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ford1Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Rick Deckard in a sequel to “Blade Runner.” Alcon Entertainment announced the news in a press release, while also touting that Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”) would replace Ridley Scott in the director’s chair. Scott, who directed the acclaimed first film, is still on board as executive producer.

“We are honored that Harrison is joining us on this journey with Denis Villeneuve, who is a singular talent, as we experienced personally on ‘Prisoners,'” Alcon co-founders and co-CEO’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson said in a statement. “Hampton [Fancher] and Michael [Green], with Ridley Scott, have crafted a uniquely potent and faithful sequel to one of the most universally celebrated films of all time, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with this amazing, creative team.” Fancher was the original film’s co-writer.

Ford was officially offered the role back in May of last year. “We would be honored, and we are hopeful, that Harrison will be part of our project,” Kosove andJohnson said at the time.

In December, Scott said Ford was excited about the project. “I sent him this [script] and he said it’s the best thing he’s ever read,” Scott told MTV. “It’s very relevant to what happened in the first one.”

According to the press release, the story for the new film will pick up “several decades” after the conclusion of 1982’s “Blade Runner.” Production is expected to start in the summer of 2016.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

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Gary Glitter Sentenced To 16 Years In Prison

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ggFormer British pop star Gary Glitter was on Friday sentenced to 16 years in prison. A judge in London announced the sentence. BBC, Sky News and other media reported the sentence.

Glitter was last year charged with a slew of sex offenses involving teenage girls. He was recently convicted of six charges involving three girls.

The charges against Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, were related to girls as young as 12, with the offenses taking place in the late 1970s and 1980.

The 70-year-old former glam rocker was arrested in Oct 2012 as part of the so-called Operation Yewtree, a national investigation launched in the wake of a child abuse scandal surrounding late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile.

Glitter is known for his hit “Rock & Roll (Part 2).” He previously spent two months in a British jail for possession of child pornography after a 1999 conviction. He was also sent to prison in Vietnam in 2006 during his time in the country for molesting two girls aged 11 and 12, according to the BBC.

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