Charlie Sheen On Celebs With HIV

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Charlie Sheen knows which celebrities in Hollywood have HIV too, but he’s not about to name them.

During an interview with The Kyle and Jackie O Show on Wednesday, host Jackie O asked: “Do you think there are more people in Hollywood that have HIV that wouldn’t dare come out and say it like you did?”

“There are, and I know who they are,” the 51-year-old revealed, “but I will take that to my grave.”

Sheen announced he was HIV positive in 2015, sending shockwaves through Hollywood — especially among his former costars.

As Radar reported, Jenny McCarthy famously criticized Sheen after he didn’t disclose his HIV-positive status to her during her time playing his love interest on Two and a Half Men.

“I feel like in playing a love interest, you would think there would be some type of — I don’t want to say criminal issue — but I don’t even know how to feel about that,” McCarthy said on her SiriusXM show. “I was like, ‘Wait a second, if I have to be upfront about a herpe, how could you not be upfront about HIV? I look back and I’m like, ‘OK, that would have been some valuable information.’ I mean, look how many people have played his love interest on the show.”

Sheen addressed the drama on The Kyle and Jackie O Show, slamming McCarthy’s comments.

“. . .She’s like, ‘I kissed him! I touched him!’ And I was like, ‘B***h! Your math sucks, I didn’t have it then!’”

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Chuck Barris Passes Away At 87

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Chuck Barris, the goofball host of The Gong Show who also was the manic mastermind behind two other spontaneous game-show classics, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, has died. He was 87.

Barris, who in his book, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Biography, claimed to have been an assassin for the CIA — his implausible story became a fantastical 2002 movie directed by first-timer George Clooney and written by Charlie Kaufman — died Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Palisades, N.Y., his family announced through publicist Paul Shefrin.

The Philadelphia native also penned the 1962 pop song “Palisades Park,” a tribute to the old amusement park in New Jersey that was a hit for Freddy Cannon and figured high on Barris’ list of career achievements.

With his innovative shows, Barris changed the face of reality TV but was derided but critics who nicknamed him “The King of Schlock,” “The Baron of Bad Taste” and “The Ayatollah of Trasherola.”

On The Gong Show, which aired on NBC and in syndication in daytime and primetime from 1976-80, amateurs took to the stage to demonstrate their so-called talent in front of three celebrity judges. Quite often, they made fools of themselves.

Barris’ original idea had been to create a show that featured fine performers, but in his search for talent, he frequently encountered awful acts. “I came back and said, ‘Let’s change the show, have all bad acts and one or two good ones, and people can make a judgment,’ ” he said in a 2010 interview with The Archive of American Television.

When original host John Barbour didn’t work out after about a year, NBC execs insisted that the cuddly, curly-haired Barris come on as his replacement, so he donned a tuxedo and a floppy hat and introduced the acts.

Any of the three judges (a roster that included Jaye P. Morgan, Rex Reed, Rip Taylor, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson and David Letterman) could send the bad performers packing by striking a large gong.

“Everybody could relate to somebody wearing a lampshade and dancing around,” Barris said. “Bad acts are inherent in everyone.”

Acts who appeared included The Unknown Comic (Murray Langston), Danny Elfman, Paul Reubens and Barris’ own mother, and at random moments, the host would call out Gene Gene the Dancing Machine (stagehand Gene Patton) to boogie for the audience to the tune of “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.”

On one particularly crazy show, Morgan unbuttoned her blouse to reveal her breasts to the cameras, and Barris said she never worked on The Gong Show again.

“The end of the show came because of me,” he said in the TV Archive chat. “I had a small nervous breakdown out there, doing strange things. When I see films of the last shows, I was walking around, busting up [studio] flats on the air. That was the behavior of a host who was bored to death.”

In October, ABC ordered a new version of The Gong Show to be executive produced by Will Arnett.

Barris first made his mark in the game show arena when he created The Dating Game, which bowed as an ABC daytime program in December 1965. Hosted by San Francisco radio personality Jim Lange, the program featured a bachelor or bachelorette asking three members of the opposite sex suggestive questions, then choosing one for a date.

ABC’s The Newlywed Game, produced by Barris and hosted by the cheeky Bob Eubanks, premiered in July 1966. Four couples who had been married for a year or less competed by matching answers to questions about their spouses’ likes and dislikes. Just like The Dating Game, it was a huge hit and played in primetime as well (both shows aired in tandem on Saturday nights for a time).

Barris often came off as a nut case, but he was an astute businessman. As a pioneer of first-run syndication, he sold The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game to stations after ABC canceled his shows, keeping them the air.

He formed the public company Chuck Barris Productions in 1968 and sold his shares in the firm to producer Burt Sugarman in a 1986 deal that valued the company at about $86 million ($195 million today). The firm was eventually acquired by producers Peter Guber and Jon Peters and then by Sony.

Charles Hirsch Barris was born on June 3, 1929. The son of a dentist and a housewife, he graduated from Lower Merion High School and Drexel University, then landed a job in the foundry at U.S. Steel.

After working various odd jobs, including traveling around the country selling teleprompters, Barris moved to New York and became an NBC page. He went through a management training program and took a sales job, but then the network fired everyone in the department.

He then was hired by ABC, which offered him the dubious assignment of tailing Dick Clark, the young and popular host of TV’s American Bandstand, at Philadelphia station WFIL-TV. Barris’ task was to ascertain whether Clark was involved in the illegal practice of payola.

“It was so ridiculous. If I left at 6 o’clock, what’s to say he couldn’t be doing anything nefarious after 6 o’clock?” Barris said.

Still, he wrote daily memos detailing the goings-on at American Bandstand for about a year, and his notes were presented before a House of Representatives subcommittee in Washington. Ultimately, Clark was absolved of any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, “Palisades Park” had reached No. 3 in June 1962 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (Barris would also write the theme music for many of his game shows.)

As a result of his work shadowing Clark, ABC sent Barris to Los Angeles as its director of daytime television on the West Coast. When no one would return his phone calls, he set up shop in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. His innate sense of Hollywood tribal behavior worked: Now people were getting back to him.

His first show was Poker People, a failed pilot in which two celebrity panelists attempt to guess the professions of 16 guests just by their appearance. “It was a disaster,” he recalled. “I had brought prostitutes and policewoman on the show, and the policewomen wouldn’t work with the prostitutes.”

Shortly after attending a civil rights rally in Selma, Ala., Barris left ABC to become an independent producer. Living on his royalties from “Palisades Park,” Barris developed The Dating Game and sold the show to his former employers.

“When The Dating Game came out, women had to wait for a man to call,” Lange told the Los Angeles Times in a 2002 interview. “Having them make the choices [on the show] appealed to the female population, the target demographic.”

Future sportscaster Al Michaels was a member of his staff; Burt Reynolds, Michael Jackson and John Ritter were among the contestants; and it was Barris’ idea to have Lange and the contestants blow kisses to the cameras at the end of each show.

The Newlywed Game “was the easiest show to do,” he said in the TV Archive interview. “It only needed four couples, four questions and a washer/dryer.”

In the show’s most precious moment, Eubanks asked one wife,”Where specifically is the weirdest place that you personally have ever gotten the urge to make whoopee?”

“In the ass?” she answered. Her husband then turned over a card that revealed his response: “In the car.”

In 1980, Barris directed, co-wrote (with Robert Downey Sr.) and appeared in Universal’s The Gong Show Movie. An R-rated look at the game show, it was pulled from theaters after one weekend, he said.

Barris also presided over other game shows like The Game Game, How’s Your Mother-in-Law?, Dream Girl of ’67, The $1.98 Beauty Show, 3’s a Crowd — with the premise “Who knows a husband better, his wife or his secretary?” — The Family Game and The New Treasure Hunt.

In 1968, he produced Operation: Entertainment, a variety show that had a different host (George Carlin, Dick Cavett, Dick Shawn, et al) appearing at a different military base each week.

Barris read Erich Segal’s Love Story and figured he could write an even better romance novel. So he went to France and penned You and Me, Babe, based on his relationship with his first wife; and it was published in 1974 and became a best-seller.

After “the critics had harassed me for 15 years saying that I’d lowered the bar of civilization,” he said in a 2003 interview with A.V. Club, an angry Barris holed up in a New York hotel for two years and wrote Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

The book was a dud upon its release but sold well when the film version, starring Sam Rockwell as Barris, was released.

Asked in the TV Archive interview if he really was an assassin, Barris replied: “I don’t answer that question, ever. I can just tell you that the No. 2 guy in the CIA said that I must have been standing too close to the gong when I said things like that.”

A sequel, Bad Grass Never Dies, came out in 2004.

His daughter, 36, died from an overdose of drugs and alcohol in 1998, and Barris wrote the moving Della: A Memoir of My Daughter, published in 2010.

He is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Mary Clagett. In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that donations be made in his name to the New York Police Foundation.


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‘Feud’: How Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood-Diva Miniseries Rips Celebrity Apart

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Fame – it’s a hell of a drug. Feud is like watching Robert De Niro and Al Pacino square off in Heat, except with two of Hollywood’s living legends playing a couple of dead ones. In Ryan Murphy’s new anthology series, Jessica Lange is Joan Crawford to Susan Sarandon’s Bette Davis, a pair of toxic movie divas madly in hate with each other. As Davis famously snipped, “She has slept with every male star at MGM, except Lassie.” This eight-episode fever dream celebrates how they basically invented the modern celebrity beef, on the set of their 1962 horror classic What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? And like a great rap war or WCW match, the rivalry is part theater, part real-life sincere fear and loathing. When Crawford died in 1977, her costar legendarily declared, “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good. Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

Lange and Sarandon revel in the evil vibes, cutting wrestling promos all over this project. Yet the show hits home because the story is a lot bigger than just a couple of movie stars – it’s a surgical dissection of American fame, all the brutality and blood behind the dirty business of dreams. In lesser hands, this could have been just catfight camp, but Ryan Murphy turns it into a week-by-week TV thriller, ripping into the same obsessions that drove his The People v. O.J. Simpson: money, sex, power, celebrity and L.A. as the city where all America’s most depraved fantasies come together.

Feud gets tougher as it goes on – the Oscar Night episode, written and directed by Murphy, is one of the funniest, nastiest, most brutal hours of TV so far in 2017. Both Davis and Crawford see Baby Jane as their big chance to jump back on top of the game, after years of feeling washed up. They don’t realize they’re about to get left behind by the New Hollywood explosion of the Sixties. Five years later, Davis will miss out on being on the cover of Sgt. Pepper – George Harrison stepped in front of her at the last moment, which says a lot about how fickle fame is. The show is full of old-school movie gags, like the great scene when Hedda Hopper calls up Charlton Heston to lobby against Bette Davis in the 1963 Oscar race, purring, “Chuck? It’s Hedda. I just had to call and say how much I loved you in El Cid. How I adore a man in a leather skirt.”

Lange and Sarandon chomp up the scenery – it’s a reminder that they originally made their names as stiletto-sharp comedians, before they moved into the nobility business. (Who can forget Sarandon in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or Jessica Lange asking King Kong his zodiac sign?) The whole cast thrives on the hostility: Stanley Tucci, so sleazy as studio boss Jack Warner; Catherine Zeta Jones, so catty as Olivia De Havilland; Mad Men‘s Kieran Shipka, so surly as Davis’ teen daughter. Alfred Molina plays director Robert Aldrich as a bitter schlub, floundering in the years after his classic noir Kiss Me Deadly, and still a few years away from blockbuster jock fantasies like The Dirty Dozen or The Longest Yard, reduced – the way he sees it – to directing a couple of women in a trash horror flick.

Despite all the old-school touches (like Tucci listening to John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things in his office, to show off his good taste), none of this feels dated. In one chilling moment, Bette confesses that she sleeps with one of her Oscars, to the point where she’s rubbed the gold plating off it. “Every night when I watch television in bed, I hold it. He’s the perfect companion – he doesn’t talk back, he listens, he’s patient.” When she heads off to the Academy Awards ceremony, she whispers to both her Oscars, “Wait up for me, boys. I’m bringing you home a baby brother.”

Feud has already been renewed – the second installment will be the Ballad of Charles and Diana. But the battle of Bette vs. Joan feels realer, and more contemporary. I’ve always been too much of a Bette Davis stan to accept Joan Crawford as her equal, much less her rival. But this epic miniseries captures the imperious desperation these two fighters shared. That’s why their rivalry has gone down in history. (MTV ran a Baby Jane parody in the Nineties, starring a faux Madonna and Courtney Love. Madonna chain-smokes with one hand and lifts free weights with the other, watching herself on TV – “still a pretty good video” – as Courtney brings her lunch on a tray. Scary.) It captures the raw emotional violence at the heart of America’s celebrity fantasies – both then and now.

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Betty Kennedy Passes Away At 91

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Betty Kennedy, a veteran Canadian TV broadcaster famed for her work on the CBC’s long-running current affairs quiz show Front Page Challenge, has died. She was 91.

Kennedy, who was born and raised in Ottawa, died Monday in Toronto, the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter. She joined Front Page Challenge as a panelist in 1962, and stayed with the TV show until its cancelation in 1995.

Similar to U.S. panel shows like To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line?, castmembers on Front Page Challenge were first blindfolded as they quizzed guests to guess their identity and then followed up the challenge with an in-depth interview.

During her time on the show, Kennedy and fellow panelists interviewed such celebrity guests as Eleanor Roosevelt, Tony Bennett, Boris Karloff, Errol Flynn, Mary Pickford, Indira Ghandi and former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

In 1965, the Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X was quizzed and then interviewed on Front Page Challenge just weeks before his assassination. Kennedy also hosted The Betty Kennedy Show on Toronto radio station CFRB radio for 27 years.

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Dave Chappelle On Bill Cosby And Why Trump “Makes It Harder For Comedians”

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“If you talk about him, it’s almost like you’re part of the chorus and not a soloist,” the comedian told ‘The New York Times’ about President Donald Trump.

Dave Chappelle got candid about the problem with being a comedian in the Trump era in a recent wide-ranging interview with The New York Times.

The stand-up veteran, who has three specials headed to Netflix, told the publication, “The whole Trump thing makes it harder” because “he’s so skewed, it’s hard to find an angle that sounds fresh. If you talk about him, it’s almost like you’re part of the chorus and not a soloist.”

Chappelle recalled being given the difficult task of hosting Saturday Night Live in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. As President Donald Trump racked up more Electoral College votes in a stunning upset over Hillary Clinton, the writers’ room fell silent.

“Everyone was just staring at the TV. I saw people tear up sketches they were writing. They’d assumed Hillary was going to win. Now there was essentially no show on Saturday,” he recounted. “It was like the wind got knocked out of the writers’ room. I was really worried.”

Chappelle also opened up about his reaction to the untimely death of music icon Prince, whom he frequently impersonated on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show, and the rape allegations against his childhood “hero” Bill Cosby.

“The Bill Cosby thing was tough for me. I’m not saying that to detract from his alleged victims at all. But he was a hero of mine,” he said. “So many bad things happened to our heroes: Muhammad Ali had Parkinson’s; Richard Pryor had M.S.; Prince died too young. And Bill just looked like one of the guys who was going to get to the finish line and just die of old age. And this happened. Jesus Christ. It’s awful.”

On Prince’s passing, he added, “I looked up to him like everybody did. … He fostered a community among artists. I think when he died, there was the icon dying, but then there was this pillar in the community of people dying.”

Over a decade since his abrupt exit from Chappelle’s Show, the comedian says quitting the show helped him reaffirm his love for stand-up, and he doesn’t see himself leaving the comedy world anytime soon.

“A lot of times when you’re a famous dude, you don’t really feel like a person is actually looking at you,” he told NYT. “I felt like after I quit my show, the crowds could actually see me. The audience recalibrated with me. They listened to me again. And it was great. … In the last few years, I’ve found an altitude I’m comfortable with.”

Two of Chappelle’s stand-up specials, Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin, will begin streaming on Netflix March 21.

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Ray Davies Talks Knighthood

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Ray Davies was knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, where the Kinks frontman thanked fans and met with members of the press. Davies previously received the CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – by Queen Elizabeth in 2004.

“I think these things always kind of difficult for me take,” he told Belfast Telegraph of the honor in a video interview. “I’m quite a loner person, so to be accepted to any part of society is good… I don’t know what I have to do for it, just keep on working, do good work.”

Ever since he and his brother Dave (they’ve had a storied fractious relationship over the years) reunited for a live performance at the Islington Assembly Hall in North London in December 2015, Kinks fans have been talking about a possible reunion. In an interview with ITV News, Ray revealed that he’s working on a new album, but played coy about whether Dave would be involved. “It depends on the deal offered,” he said.

On Thursday, Sir Ray Davies focused on relishing his celebratory moment. “Very kind, nervous people, great music, great hosts, great show, great theater,” he said of the investiture ceremony. “And it’s quite moving actually, seeing all the different (people). Not just people like me, people who come from all different sectors.”

Davies will return with his first solo album in nearly a decade, Americana. The album, out April 21st, is based on his 2013 memoir Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story. The legendary rocker meanwhile has been keeping busy with various projects including collaborative album See My Friends.

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Two-Season Renewal For ‘The Big Bang Theory’

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CBS has finalized its deal with Warner Bros. Television for two more seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” making the Eye’s tentpole comedy one of primetime’s long-running sitcoms, with at least 12 seasons.

The renewal has been in the works for the past few months. The big hurdle was cleared last month when the five original members of the series ensemble — Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg — struck new deals with the studio. The deal is envisioned as taking the show through its final two seasons, for a total of 48 more episodes.

The studio is said to still be in negotiations with “Big Bang” stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, who have become core members of the cast during their seven years on the show. Bialik and Rauch have been pushing for salary parity with the original five, who are slated to earn about $900,000 per episode in the next two seasons.

The original five actors agreed to take a $100,000 pay cut apiece from their current salaries to free up more funds in the budget to help provide raises for Bialik and Rauch, who have been paid far below their co-stars at around $175,000-$200,000 per episode.

“Big Bang” is among primetime’s highest-rated series and has been hugely successful in syndication for Warner Bros., in addition to spawning a recently ordered to series spinoff, “Young Sheldon. But at present, given the cast salaries and production costs, the new first-run episodes will not be a huge moneymaker for the studio or CBS.

The lack of windfall profits to come from the 48 new episodes has been a hurdle in dealmaking with all of the actors. But given the extraordinary gesture by Bialik and Rauch’s co-stars, the pressure is on Warner Bros. to find a path to making the pair feel fairly valued for their contributions to the show. Bialik earned four consecutive supporting comedy actress Emmy noms for her work as Amy Farrah Fowler, girlfriend of Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper. Rauch is a fan favorite whose marriage to Helberg’s Howard Wolowitz, and birth of their first child, has been a central storyline for the past three seasons.

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Madonna’s Ex-Boyfriend: I’ve ‘Traded Up’ With Shelley Duvall

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Madonna’s ex-boyfriend is dating mentally ill, dirt-poor actress Shelley Duvall — and in a twist he claimed it’s an upgrade!

In an exclusive interview with, rocker Dan Gilroy said the grass isn’t always greener and especially when the Material Girl is standing on it.

Gilroy, 69, has been by Duvall’s side for more than 27 years, and while Duvall may chain-smoke and ramble on about aliens under her mattress, he still insisted “he dodged a bullet with Madonna,” and that “he’s blessed to be with Shelley.”

Gilroy dated Madonna for 18 months in 1979 when they were young musicians sharing a commune in Queens, N.Y. Now, he declared he “traded up” by settling down with the batty Popeye star!

“Dan knows he and Madonna would never have worked out, and he’s much happier with Shelley than he ever was with her,” dished a pal.

As Radar revealed, an almost unrecognizable Duvall, 67, has hit rock bottom and refuses treatment for her mental problems.

Now living on a rundown ranch in rural Texas, the star of The Shining blasted Hollywood for turning its back on her, robbing her blind and leaving her flat broke!

Gilroy talked about the old days with Madonna, saying, “We formed a band, and there’s going to be a new documentary about it.”

Gilroy, who was the group’s lead singer, added that when Madge got a sniff of stardom, she struck out on her own — stiffing the band and him when they sought her support.

“They tried to get Madonna to give them a push, and she always said she’d do something for Dan. But she never looked back for a second,” tattled John Fricano, who was friends with both at the time.

“They were bitterly disappointed because Madonna got to know a lot of people in the music business and didn’t lift a finger to help.”

After his band, Breakfast Club, split up, Gilroy was cast in Duvall’s 1990 TV musical special, Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme — launching their romance.

Since then, bighearted Gilroy has remained by Duvall’s side as she’s battled mental illness.

She recently claimed her Popeye co-star, the late Robin Williams, was still alive and that she had a spying device implanted under her skin.

Today, Duvall ekes by on a monthly Social Security check of just over $1,660, and has said, “I’m very sick. I need help.”

After revealing her mental illness on TV last November, Duvall claimed she was “imprisoned” at an unnamed medical facility.

even know he [the host] was in town. They just took her to a Best Western and did that TV thing. It has been upsetting, and we know everybody means well, and everybody wants to fix things, but it’s aggravating [when they interfere].”



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Chuck Berry’s Friend Says Forthcoming Album Is ‘Sensational’

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‘Chuck’ marks the first new studio album in decades from the legendary performer, who died Saturday.

Chuck Berry’s death came just weeks before the debut single off his first new studio album in nearly four decades was scheduled to go on sale, a friend of the rock ‘n’ roll legend said.

Joe Edwards, the owner of the Blueberry Hill club in St. Louis where Berry performed regularly, said the tracks he has heard off the upcoming album, titled Chuck, are “sensational.”

“What a genius,” Edwards said Saturday. “I just miss him like crazy. I miss his laugh.”

While studios often release tribute albums of classics or unused material after an artist dies, Berry’s upcoming album featuring mostly original songs was announced in October. His last studio album, Rock It, was released in 1979.

The 90-year-old Berry died Saturday at his home near St. Louis. His classic songs “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven” echoed throughout the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Sunday as it paid tribute to the musician.

“Anybody who’s picked up a guitar has been influenced by him,” said Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris, who remembers playing the opening riff of “Johnny B. Goode” over and over again as a budding teen guitarist.

In addition to Berry’s notes, Harris said his lyrics spoke about teenage life and social issues in the 1950s.

“It’s why when we think of the greats and the forefathers, his name is right there,” he said.

Berry drew praise from all corners following his death, including a tweet from former President Barack Obama.

“Chuck Berry rolled over everyone who came before him – and turned up everyone who came after. We’ll miss you, Chuck. Be good,” Obama wrote.

Berry was the first artist in the inaugural 1986 class to go into the Rock Hall, and he closed out its concert in 1995 to celebrate the building’s opening in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards said at Berry’s induction ceremony that Berry was the one who started it all.

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Jimmy Breslin Passes Away At 88

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Jimmy Breslin, the New York City newspaper columnist and best-selling author who leveled the powerful and elevated the powerless for more than 50 years with brick-hard words and a jagged-glass wit, died on Sunday. He was 88, and until very recently, was still pushing somebody’s buttons with two-finger jabs at his keyboard.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Ronnie Eldridge, a prominent Manhattan Democrat. Mr. Breslin had been recovering from pneumonia.

With prose that was savagely funny, deceptively simple and poorly imitated, Mr. Breslin created his own distinct rhythm in the hurly-burly music of newspapers. Here, for example, is how he described Clifton Pollard, the man who dug President John F. Kennedy’s grave, in a celebrated Herald Tribune column from 1963 that sent legions of journalists to find their “gravedigger”:

“Pollard is forty-two. He is a slim man with a mustache who was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352nd Engineers battalion in Burma in World War II. He is an equipment operator, grade 10, which means he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the thirty-fifth President of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.”

And here is how he described what motivated Breslin the writer: “Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.”

Poetic and profane, softhearted and unforgiving, Mr. Breslin inspired every emotion but indifference; letters from outraged readers gladdened his heart. He often went after his own, from Irish-Americans with “shopping center faces” who had forgotten their hardscrabble roots to the Roman Catholic Church, whose sex scandals prompted him to write an angry book called “The Church That Forgot Christ,” published in 2004. It ends with his cheeky vow to start a new church that would demand more low-income housing and better posture.

Love or loathe him, none could deny Mr. Breslin’s enduring impact on the craft of narrative nonfiction. He often explained that he merely applied a sportswriter’s visual sensibility to news columns. Avoid the media scrum gathered around the winner, he would advise, and go directly to the loser’s locker. This is how you find your gravedigger.

“So you go to a big thing like this presidential assassination,” he said in an extended interview with The New York Times in 2006. “Well, you’re looking for the dressing room, that’s all. And I did. I went there automatic.”

Early on, Mr. Breslin developed the persona of the hard-drinking, dark-humored Everyman from Queens, so consumed by life’s injustices and his six children that he barely had time to comb his wild black mane. While this persona shared a beer with the truth, Mr. Breslin also admired Dostoyevsky, swam every day, rarely drank in the last 30 years, wrote a shelf-full of books, and adhered to a demanding work ethic that required his presence in the moment, from a civil-rights march in Alabama to a perp walk in Brooklyn — no matter that he never learned to drive.

The real Jimmy Breslin was so elusive that even Mr. Breslin could not find him. “There have been many Jimmy Breslins because of all the people I identified with so much, turning me into them, or them into me, that I can’t explain one Jimmy Breslin,” he once wrote.
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