"IN TIME, all music will be digital, everything will be on iTunes and YouTube. It's the way of the future, of the now."
That's what singer Ruben Studdard said to me recently during an interview (Ruben laughed at the old-fashioned tape recorder I used during our chat.) "Where do you even get cassettes?!"
I was reminded of his comment when Beyonce released her latest album "Beyonce" directly to iTunes last week. The gorgeous Mrs. Jay-Z says that releasing albums the old fashioned way, is "boring" to her. She wants an immediate connection to her fans, and doesn't want to be told when or how to release her music.
This is a big story; all the morning news shows did segments and commented. Everything changes, and the music industry has seen so many configurations over the past 20 years--from vinyl to CD (What a struggle that was, for the industry and consumers!) Then from CDs to the digital age of iTunes and downloading and record companies trying to hold onto their product--and their stars.
Now, the companies have to deal with singers who are truly independent and want to do exactly what they want with their music. This is better than the bad old days when the artists often ended up broke, or attached to record labels that demanded certain kinds of music, no matter that the artist felt he/she knew better. (Remember Prince and his battle with Warner Records? He shaved the word "slave" into his hair and didn't use his own name. Or any name. He was just a glyp.)
But in all this new technology and attitude there's a bit of a silver lining for listeners of a certain age or sensibility -- vinyl is making a slow but steady comeback. Oh, it won't become the new wave again, but even a lot of younger people have to admit that there's just "something" about vinyl. It has a certain warmth, texture and body that not even the most advanced digitalization can recreate.
• COMING SOON from Tate Publishing is a charming and dishy little book titled "A Nobody in a Somebody World," by Lorraine Holnback Brodek. Ms. Brodek was once the VP of Marketing at Warner Bros, from 1985-91.
Obviously, she met a lot of celebs during her tenure. But it was nothing new, because Lorraine had grown up in Hollywood, the child of well-to-do parents. They weren't "in the biz," but if you have money and live in the Hills of Beverly, you will invariably run into a star or twenty.
Lorraine tossed jacks with Nora Ephron...played tennis with Rick Nelson...went to Sunday school with Eleanor Powell and the children of Glenn Ford and Jimmy Stewart...she partied with Ava Astaire. And most significantly (for her), she was best friends with the late author and columnist Erma Bombeck. Lorraine is also close with rock chick Pat Benatar. (Ms. Brodek is nothing if not eclectic in her choice of pals!)
Lorraine's reign at WB ended on a ugly note. She was sexually harassed. But she fought back, enlisting the then not-so-well-known Gloria Allred.
But Lorraine's memoir doesn't go down that road much. She keeps it light and charming. Apparently, according to Pat Benatar, this is much like the lady herself.
• YIKES! Rolling Stone magazine certainly doesn't pull its punches. In commenting on the annual awards season, which is heavily upon us, RS writer Peter Travers refers to "The dumb and dumber Golden Globes." In cataloging this years omissions and misfires in the nominating process, he calls the annual festivities "the joke Globes." Travers says the Foreign Press corps idea of comedy is "crazy" when one looks at some of the films in that category. ("Nebraska"..."Her"..."American Hustle.")
But, Travers, like all of us, has to admit the GGs throw the absolute best awards party of the year. Liquor is served with a heavy hand and the stars sit at tables jammed close together, so there is lots of stellar back and forth, with the multiple cameras trained on every gesture, eye-roll, grimace, genuine and phony hug or air kiss.
It's all good tinselly fun, but that's about it.
IT'S THAT time of year -- Christmas cards! One of the earliest and most ravishing is from The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. There is Miss Taylor in a Roddy McDowall photograph taken on the set of "The Sandpiper." Wearing a windbreaker, with her hair long and loose, she is tenderly caressing a tiny bird--a sandpiper.
For all her raucous movie-queen excesses, and her uninhibited love of those excesses, this photo represents the side of the star that her friends and family cherished -- the private woman who was always there for a "bird with a wing down." She never turned her back on a friend in need. And the needier, lonelier, more misunderstood by others, the more she defended them.
In time, she took this altruism and extended it to strangers--the needy, the lonely, the dying and despised of the AIDS epidemic. If you want to remember Elizabeth in the way she'd most appreciate, donate something to her organization. Find out how at email@example.com
Personally, it was kind of an unhappy shock to open a card "from" Elizabeth and not see her own sprawling handwriting on the inside, wishing me a Merry Christmas. (Often accompanied by chocolates!)
But I am always happy to be reminded of her and her amazing friendship.