Tag Archives: Elton John

Good News Friday: A cure for AIDS may have been found, and it’s miraculous. Tom Jones and Jennifer Hudson make music magic together. And Elton John teams up with the man playing him in an upcoming biopic

Happy Friday, my dear readers. Wow there was a lot of bad celebrity news this week, from Alex Trebek, the beloved “Jeopardy” host, announcing he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, to baseball legend Tom Seaver telling the world he’s suffering from dementia and will no longer appear in public, to the Kardashians still being famous for some reason (OK, that last one was a joke, as are they.)

But it’s Friday and we’re here for all the Good News this week, and before I get to two amazing musical performances that made me smile, a major health breakthrough this week on a disease that terrified so many of us for so long: HIV/AIDS.

If you missed the news, for just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

According to this N.Y. Times story, “the news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.

The investigators are to publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.

Publicly, the scientists are describing the case as a long-term remission. In interviews, most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances.”

I know, I know, it’s only been two patients, and “cured” is a dangerous word for any disease. The cure involved a bone-marrow transplant, which is dangerous sometimes, and expensive, always.

But still… think about where we were with AIDS just 30 years ago, in 1989. There was so much hysteria, and paranoia, about how one acquired AIDS, and what happens if you got it, and how it was pretty much a death sentence for everyone.
And then slowly, treatment drugs got better and better, we learned more about the disease and the paranoia and intolerance and hatred toward those who were diagnosed with it began to fade.

And now, just a few decades later, maybe, there’s a cure. Science gives me hope for the future, in so many areas.

**Next up today, the first of two musical collaborations that made me beam with joy this week. First, from the U.K. version of “The Voice,” two amazing voices teamed up to sing “It’s a Man’s World.” The great Tom Jones, age 78, and Jennifer Hudson, age 37, with a couple of minutes of just pure beauty.

He’s 78 and still sounds that good!

**And finally, you may have heard that there’s a movie in the works about the legendary Elton John, and the actor playing him, Taron Egerton, has gone all-in in trying to be like Sir Elton.

Including sounding like him. Check out this clip of Elton and Taron singing “Tiny Dancer,” and be amazed like I was at how much the actor sounds like Elton.
Yeah I am totally seeing this movie.

Good News Friday: A 100-year-old Rangers fan gets to meet her heroes. Elton John and James Corden in carpool karaoke. And a 10-year-old’s clean energy project helps hundreds


And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m still buzzing in amazement at that remarkable Duke win over North Carolina Wednesday night; truly one of the most improbable and shocking wins I’ve seen in 30 years as a Blue Devils fan.

But since that win is only “good news” to the small portion of us that root for Duke, let’s move on to some more universally-accepted good news.

Like, for example, a woman hitting the century mark and getting to meet her heroes.

Mila Zavodni went to her first hockey game in 1926, 90 years ago. Her father took her to a Rangers exhibition game in Czechoslovakia when she was 10, and she got hooked on the sport.

Zavodni, who lives in White Plains, N.Y., watches Rangers games on TV all the time, and is a huge diehard fan. So a few weeks ago her neighbor and good friend, Tim Khachetoorian, contacted the Rangers and let them know about their biggest fan’s birthday milestone.

So Tuesday Zavodni got to go to a Rangers practice, meet star players Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan, and got a ton of souvenirs.

“It’s beautiful. It’s perfect,” Zavodni told the Journal-News of Westchester. “It’s not the same as watching on television. You don’t sense the physicality of what they do. These boys are so tall and majestic, and they glide across the ice like ballerinas.”

I loved this quote from her, too.

“It was so fun, I can’t wait to call my sons and tell them about it,” she told the paper. “I love watching hockey because it makes you forget about your problems. This sport is so full of joy, full of life. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so old, because it can be hard. But then, there are moments like this.”

God bless her. I hope at 100 I’m still able to watch the Rangers and complain about their awful penalty killing and refusal to shoot the puck.

**Nezt up, these James Corden Carpool Karaoke segments keep getting better and better. This might be my favorite one yet, with the legendary Elton John. His story about how “Your Song” was written is just beautiful, and I thought it was really interesting to hear him talk about how other new and exciting music still motivates him, after all these years.

Plus, James Corden’s wig…


**Finally today, I love stories like this, of little kids taking on huge problems and actually making a difference.

From Upworthy.com comes the story of Cassandra Lin, who at 10 years old began learning about global warming and how if the world’s addiction to fossil fuel continues, her home state of Rhode Island would be completely underwater by 2100.

So Cassandra and her friends decided they wanted to do something about it, and hit on an idea: She formed the Turn Grease Into Fuel organization, soliciting restaurants to, instead of throwing away used cooking oil, transferring it into biofuel, energy that is much, much better for the environment than fossil fuels.

Cassandra got the town of Waverly, R.I. to help out, and since its launch seven years ago TGIF has, with the help of 132 local restaurants, used the biofuel to heat the homes of 400 local families.

They’ve also recycled enough cooking oil to offset 3 million pounds of CO2 emissions, according to the EPA’s estimations.

What an amazing kid.


A very cool “Muppets” museum exhibit. “The 2-minute date” revisited. And “Boardwalk Empire,” a show you should definitely be watching

A huge part of my early childhood was spent watching “The Muppet Show.”
I remember when I was little it was on Saturday nights, and we’d watch it in the living room and laugh really, really hard.
I loved the Muppet movies over the years, and even briefly enjoyed the Saturday morning “Muppet Babies” cartoon.
So when I heard there was a Muppets exhibit at a museum very close to my apartment in Queens, I was totally on board.
Went to see it Saturday, which happened to be the late Jim Henson’s 75th birthday. It was fabulous.
Some things I learned:
— Jim Henson was an enormous talent (duh), but also had his hand in way more projects than I realized, not just the Muppets. One of the best parts of the exhibit was seeing his original drawings for some of the characters.
— Fozzy was woefully underrepresented in the gallery. I loved me some Fozzy.
— There was an early clip of Rowlf the Dog on the Jimmy Dean variety show from 1966. All the adults in the room were laughing hysterically. Most of the kids, too.
— There was a movie shown with clips from a lot of the musical performances from “The Muppet Show.” Many were good. This one from Elton John must be clicked on, because Sir Elton’s outfit defies description.
— It fascinates me how a man can take puppets and make them so real, so full of human qualities, so full of heart and humor and intelligence. Jim Henson was a true visionary and a genius, and I’m so glad his life’s work continues to live on through yet another generation.
If you live in New York, the exhibit is at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens through Jan. 12.

**So I gave up on “How I Met Your Mother” two years ago, after watching it from the beginning.
I just thought the storylines had gotten really weak, I was sick of all the stopping and starting and the teases of Ted meeting women and the writers leading us to believe that this is really going to be the one he ends up with.
But I watched the season premiere last week and it was really funny, and Monday night’s episode was good, too.
Glad to see a show I once loved get its mojo back.
So since I was feeling the show tonight, here’s my favorite clip ever from it. Ted and Stella’s 2-minute date (if you’ve never seen the show, Stella’s this new girl Ted is trying to woo, but she said she only has two minutes for a date. So he takes her on a two-minute date.

** Season 2 of “Boardwalk Empire” started Sunday night on HBO. So happy to have it back. Last year’s debut was fantastic, though I expected nothing less from a show created by a former “Sopranos” writer. (Terrence Winter)


Great opening scene with Chalky White and the Klan (though I expected Chalky to get all Omar Little (his old “Wire” character) on those guys. I think the whole Jimmy/Eli/Nucky dynamic is going to be fascinating; I loved how Eli went to arrest Chalky (for his safety, so he wouldn’t be lynched by a white mob) about a half hour after he had tried to have Chalky killed).
The editing and direction of the episode was awesome; the scene where Nucky gave two speeches to two different groups was brilliant. I also think there’s a lot of interesting stuff in Richard, Jimmy’s disfigured friend from the war. Between he and that FBI Van Alden guy, there’s plenty of creepiness to go around in this show.

So great to have it back. If you’re not watching it yet and get HBO, you really should be.

“Nurse Jackie” ends wonderfully. “Tara,” not so much. And the rage at Elton John

Two of my favorite shows ended on the same night Monday. One ended on a high note. The other, not so much.

(By the way, I’m not ignoring the season finale of “Glee.” I’ll probably have thoughts on it on Thursday. Right now I’m trying to decide if I hated it or loved it. I’m thinking a little of both.)

I’ve been raving about “Nurse Jackie” on Showtime to anyone who’ll listen for a couple of years now, and after some uneven episodes, this year, the writers absolutely gave us a killer season finale.

Edie Falco, as Jackie, was finally caught in all her lies by her husband, and her best friend. The awesome storyline of Zoey and Lenny got even more interesting. Dr. Cooper got punched, always a good thing.

This is a really good show, showing how a drug addict like Jackie can wrap everyone in her life around her finger, and giving us some fantastic acting, especially by Zoey (Merritt Weaver). I wish more people watched this show.

Here’s a clip of the season finale, when Jackie’s friend Dr. O’Hara discovers she faked an MRI to obtain more pain pills:

Then there was “United States of Tara,” a show that I discovered last year and was blown away by its fabulousness. Toni Collette is amazing as a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder, and we see how her behavior affects her family.

Last year the show was brilliant. This year, it took a significant nose-dive. They introduced way too many new “alter-egos,” let the storylines drift so far away from any sort of reality, and never really got into a groove with the writing. (My friend Brian Hickey, a fellow devotee, also wondered what the hell happened between Seasons 1 and 2).

I kept hoping it would turn around, but Monday’s finale was as strange and disjointed as the rest. We got no real answers, characters acted very strangely (all of a sudden daughter Kate wants to stay in this house with these crazies, instead of living on her own?), and it just sort of ended.

Ugh. Not good. I’m willing to give “Tara” a few episodes of Season 3 to win me back, just because Toni Collette is so freaking brilliant.

**It’s been a couple of days since I heard about it, and I’m still quite puzzled.

Elton John, music icon, and for decades one of the most powerful voices speaking out on behalf of gay rights, performed at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding last weekend.

Rush, of course, is among other things on the record hundreds of times as being bigoted against gay people, believing they shouldn’t have the right to marry, they’re immoral heathens, etc.

So why? Why would Elton John do it? Money? He certainly can’t need the dough (word is he got $1 million for it). Personal friendship? Unlikely.  He’s stirred up an awful lot of anger in the gay community, and I can’t really blame them.

Look, I’m not asking Elton John to be a role model. But performing at the wedding of a man so clearly at odds with what you believe, and who has said so many hateful things about those like you, seems like a very, very bad move.

A move that will likely cost Sir Elton some fans.

“Field of Dreams” is up for sale; I am sad. And the most bizarre cover of Journey you’ll ever see

If you’re a good friend or a relative, you probably know that I’m a little obsessed with the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Not only is it my favorite movie ever, not only do I believe that there are two kinds of people in the world (those that love “Field of Dreams” and those that don’t have a heart), but as a teenager (I was 14 when it came out) I often delighted my father by simply blurting out parts of the movie, verbatim.

I could spend 3,000 words explaining why I love the movie, even after 100 viewings. I could tell you that visiting the actual movie site in Dyersville, Iowa is on my “Bucket List.”

But you don’t want to hear all that today. Instead, I’ll just tell you I was sad to hear that family who owns the farm the movie was filmed on has decided to sell.

Becky and Don Lansing, who actually only own 2/3 of the property the movie was made on (don’t ask me why I know that), have kept the field exactly as it was in the movie, and don’t charge admission at the field.

People of all ages come out there, April-November, and play baseball. With strangers. And they walk out of the corn field and wait for magic to happen.

Sure it’s just a movie site. But to those of us who worship the film, it’s a shrine. So I just hope that whoever buys Becky and Don’s property don’t turn the field into something tacky.

I hope they don’t overcommercialize it, and add on all kinds of crap.

Just leave it alone, I’d ask the new owners. It’s a sacred place.

**So at a benefit to save the rainforests the other night in New York City, there stood on stage one of the oddest collections of musical singing talent you’ll see.

Elton John, Lady Gaga, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Debbie Harry, and Shirley Bassey all gathered round to sing “Don’t Stop Believin.” It was pretty awesome, especially when the mostly-naked men came on toward the end. Enjoy: