STONEWALL JACKSON DIES
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Stonewall Jackson, who played the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years, has died after a long battle with vascular dementia. The Opry says he died early Saturday at the age of 89. He said in a 2006 AP interview he went straight from the farm to the Opry in 1956. He was the first act to play there without a recording contract. Once he got one, the hits kept coming: “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water,” “B.J. the D.J.,” “Why I’m Walkin’,” and “Waterloo.” Stonewall Jackson really was his name. He said while having a famous name could have bumps along the way, it never was a problem for him.
JONI MITCHELL, BERRY GORDY AMONG KENNEDY CENTER HONORS RECPIIENTS
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Kennedy Center Honors have paid tribute to the careers of Joni Mitchell and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. During a White House reception, President Joe Biden said Mitchell’s songs “touch the deepest parts of our soul” and praised Gordy for “creating one of the most iconic businesses” in U.S. history. Last night at the Kennedy Center, Mitchell heard her songs sung by Nora Jones, Brandi Carlile, Ellie Goulding and Brittany Howard, while Gordy’s tribute featured a Smokey Robinson speech and performances of Motown hits by Andra Day and Stevie Wonder. The night ended with a group performance of Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
UNIV. OF FLORIDA GIVES PH.D. TO TOM PETTY
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Tom Petty now has a Ph.D. from a school where he never attended. The board of trustees at the University of Florida voted to give Petty an honorary doctoral degree in music. Petty grew up in Gainesville and worked as a groundskeeper at UF, but never was a student there. His song “I Won’t Back Down” is a regular feature at Gators games. Petty died in 2017.
MARK HOPPUS DID NOT MEAN TO TELL WORLD ABOUT HIS CANCER
NEW YORK (AP) – Ever push the wrong button and accidentally tell the wrong group of people your personal information? That happened to Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, when he accidentally told the world he was being treated for cancer earlier this year. Hoppus tells GQ magazine he meant to send the photo of himself in a chemotherapy chair with the caption, “Yes hello. One cancer treatment, please,” to a close group of friends on Instagram. Instead, he sent it to his one million followers. The concerned phone calls started coming, even while Hoppus still was woozy from the treatment. He took down the post but then issued a statement to clarify. Hoppus recently announced his lymphoma is in remission.
MARIAH CAREY PLEDGES TO REPLACE CHRISTMAS LP MISSING FROM CONGRESSWOMAN
BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is upset that her beloved Mariah Carey Christmas album has gone missing. But not to worry – she has been promised a replacement copy courtesy of the five-time Grammy winner herself. On Friday, the Democrat tweeted a message to whoever “borrowed” her Carey Christmas vinyl to return it. Before long, Carey tweeted back that she’d “send you a new one!!” Pressley responded with surprise, asking to make sure the response was from, quoting here, “really THE one and only, the incomparable, iconic and legendary (at)MariahCarey aka Mimi?”
NEW ORLEANS CONSIDERS RENAMING STREET FOR ALLEN TOUSSAINT
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A New Orleans city council member is pushing to rename Robert E. Lee Boulevard after Allen Toussaint, the late musician, songwriter and record producer. Councilmember Jared C. Brossett has introduced an ordinance to rename the street for Toussaint, who died in 2015. The city’s planning commission has 60 days to hold a public hearing and present a report before it goes before the full council.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” CHIEF LORNE MICHAELS AMONG THOSE FETED AT KENNEDY CENTER
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Kennedy Center Honors were taped in Washington last night. But for part of the annual gala, the stage looked more like the one for “Saturday Night Live” – and the reason was the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels. Organizers of the gala set up three “Weekend Update” bits, featuring several SNL mock news anchors over the decades. Among those taking part were Kevin Nealon, Seth Myers and Amy Poehler – as well as the current “news team” of Michael Che and Colin Jost. Che joked that President Joe Biden would be asleep before the end of the hours-long taping of the show. Biden was the first president since 2016 to attend the Kennedy Center Honors.
BETTE MIDLER GETS KENNEDY CENTER HONOR
WASHINGTON (AP) – Two of Bette Midler’s closest buds were on hand to pay tribute to her at the Kennedy Center Honors last night. Actors Goldie Hawn and Barbara Hershey spoke on her behalf. For the musical side of Midler’s career, Tony Award winner Billy Porter belted out her iconic song, “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” which was featured in Midler’s movie “Beaches.” Others honored last night included Motown founder Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels and musician Joni Mitchell.
KENNEDY CENTER HONORS REVIVE PRESIDENTIAL APPEARANCES AS BIDEN ATTENDS WITH WIFE
WASHINGTON (AP) – This year’s Kennedy Center Honors marked a return to political normalcy – and civility. For the first time since 2016, a U.S. President attended. And not only did Joe Biden show up at the Kennedy Center, he also hosted the recipients at the White House. That revived a tradition that died during the Donald Trump years. He decided to skip the 2017 honors after some recipients said they’d boycott them if he came. He skipped the following two years and last year, the pandemic shut down the public event altogether. The return of presidential swag didn’t go unnoticed. When the president and first lady Jill Biden entered their box, they got a sustained standing ovation. This year’s Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast Dec. 22 on CBS.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT TRIAL ENTERS FINAL PHASES
CHICAGO (AP) – Will he or won’t he? That’s the big question still to be answered when it comes to testimony in the Jussie Smollett trial. It’s up to the actor and his attorneys to decide if the former “Empire” star takes the stand to defend himself against charges that he staged his own hate crime nearly three years ago. Of course, no defendant has to testify – and juries are told not to read anything into it should someone not do so. But legal experts are weighing the pros and cons of whether Smollett should. Some say the only chance Smollett might have to beat the rap is to testify, especially since the two men initially charged with beating him say he set the whole thing up – and defense lawyers did little to shake their stories on cross-examination. Court resumes today after a three-day break.
UNDATED (AP) – Imagine chowing down on Thanksgiving leftovers more than a week after the holiday. That’s the situation movie fans had going into the weekend. There were no big releases hitting screens – and that was reflected by the box office numbers. The three top movies from last weekend held their positions, but with lower revenue. Topping the list is “Encanto,” with $12.7 million, less than half its take from its opening weekend. It’s followed by “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “House of Gucci.”
CHRIS CUOMO GONE FROM CNN
NEW YORK (AP) – The end of the Chris Cuomo era at CNN leaves a hole in the middle of the network’s weekday primetime TV lineup. Cuomo was fired Saturday, amid criticism that he breached journalistic ethnics by trying to help his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, beat sexual harassment charges. Cuomo was generally the most-watched personality on CNN, while competing against TV heavyweights Sean Hannity on Fox News and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Michael Smerconish will substitute for Cuomo this week.