Private Service, Public Viewing for Cornell in Hollywood

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell is being laid to rest Friday at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Representatives for the late singer-songwriter say private memorial service Friday will be followed by a public viewing of Cornell’s burial site.

The 52-year-old was pronounced dead May 18 after he was found unresponsive in a Detroit hotel room after a concert performance. Coroner’s officials released say preliminary autopsy results show the singer hanged himself, but full toxicology results remain pending. The singer’s family has disputed the findings and claim Cornell may have taken more of an anti-anxiety drug than he was prescribed.

Cornell was a leading voice of the grunge movement in the 1990s. Besides Soundgarden, he scored hits with Temple of the Dog and Audioslave. He is survived by his wife and two children. (AP)

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Chevy Celebrates 100th Anniversary

We saw the USA in them. We drove them to the levee. We even worked on our night moves in their back seats.

For a century, Chevrolets wonAmerica’s love with their safety, convenience, style and speed — even if sometimes they were clunky, or had problems with rust or their rear suspensions.

Chevy, which lays claim to being the top-selling auto brand of all time, celebrates its 100th birthday on Thursday.

For most of its life, Chevy stayed a fender ahead of the competition by bringing innovations like all-steel bodies, automatic shifting, electric headlamps and power steering to regular folks at a low cost.

Chevy also embedded itself in American culture, sometimes changing it by knowing what people wanted to drive before they did. Snappy jingles and slogans dominated radio and television, and bands mentioned Chevys in more than 700 songs. No other automotive brand has come close to the adoration that Chevy won from customers, especially in the 1950s and `60s.

“The American car from the mid-1930s to the end of the `60s was a Chevrolet,” said John Heitmann, an automotive history professor at theUniversityofDaytonand author of a book about the automobile’s impact on American life. “It was the car of the aspiring American lower and middle classes for a long period.”

On the way to selling more than 204 million cars and trucks, Chevy invented the sport utility vehicle and an electric car with a generator on board to keep it going when the batteries die.

But it also helped ruin General Motors Co.’s reputation for many. In the 1970s, it began cranking out rust-prone, nondescript cars with gremlin-infested motors and transmissions. Now it’s in the midst of a comeback, selling better-quality vehicles as a global brand with 60 percent of its sales coming outside theUnited States.

Chevrolet Motor Co., was launched on Nov 3, 1911, inDetroitwhen Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss-born race car driver and engineer, joined ousted GM founder William “Billy” Durant to start a new brand.

Their first car was the stylish and speedy Series C “Classic Six.” It had a powerful six-cylinder engine at a time when most cars had only four. And it came with an electric starter and headlamps, which were a rarity. But at $2,150 ($50,000 today, when adjusted for inflation), it was out of reach for most people.

Their next car, the “Little,” was smaller and less-expensive, with a reliable four-cylinder engine. It was far more successful.

But the founders clashed over the future of the company. Chevrolet wanted to pursue his dream of building high-performance cars, while Durant was determined to cater to the masses. In 1915, Durant bought out Chevrolet, who returned to auto racing.

A year after Chevrolet’s departure, the company sold about 70,000 cars, giving Durant enough cash to take control of GM. He later made Chevy a separate division of the company.

While Fords were made of wood and canvas, Chevys were steel, giving drivers more comfort and safety. Chevy had independent suspensions for each wheel that made cars ride and handle better. And it mass-produced modern hydraulic brakes, which stopped cars with less effort and didn’t pull to one side like the mechanical brakes used by Ford, according to Heitmann.

By 1927, Chevy overtook Ford as the country’s most popular brand, selling more than 1 million cars that year.

Through a combination of innovation and affordability, Chevy was the topU.S.brand for 52 of the next 83 years.

In 1950, Chevy became the first low-priced brand with an automatic transmission. But while most Chevys were practical, cheap and cost little to maintain, these vehicles also lacked a stylistic distinction from other brands.

That all changed in 1955, when Legendary GM design head Harley Earl created a car known for its beauty and speed. The Bel Air had chrome accents and was powered by a small, V-8 engine. For those who couldn’t afford a Bel Air, Chevy made plainer, low-cost versions, the 210 and the 150.

Through Earl, Chevy gave cars personalities, and made style as important as mechanics. The Bel Air was among the first car models that could be customized. Two-tone paint, four-barrel carburetors and AM radios with rear speakers were all available — for a price.

Chevy’s timing was good. The Bel Air hit the marketplace in the flush years after World War II, just as American culture was becoming more car-centric.

“Because of its design, it really woke up the culture,” said Jim Mattison, a Chevrolet sales executive in the 1960s who often speaks about the brand’s history.

Chevy sold 1.49 million or more of the cars from 1955 through 1957, the period that many consider GM’s finest.

As a 17-year-old high school student inSouth St. Paul,Minn., Kirby Lawrence borrowed $2,000 to buy a 210 hardtop and repaid the loan with the money he earned working at his father’s plumbing business.

“It was the most powerful thing around, and it was very reasonably priced,” said Lawrence, now 74 and the historian for a Minnesota-based club called Chevy’s Best, made up mainly of people who have restored 1955-57 Chevys.

As the cars caught on, Chevy’s advertising did, too. The “Dinah Shore Chevy Show” made its television debut in 1956, featuring Shore singing “See theUSAin your Chevrolet” at the end of every one-hour show. Chevy used the song in its ads after the show ended in 1963. The ads got even bigger as Chevy sponsored singer Pat Boone’s variety show and the popular western series “Bonanza.”

Chevy even arranged for the Corvette to star in the early 1960s series “Route 66,” about two men finding themselves while driving across the country.

With the 1960s came another Chevy sales boom, led by the Corvette Sting Ray, the Impala family car and the muscular Camaro. The Sting Ray, the second generation of the Corvette, came with hidden headlights and jet-like looks. Even though relatively few Sting Rays were sold, it cemented Corvette as a cool brand.

But in the mid-’60s, Chevy’s hot streak went cold.

Safety problems surfaced with the Corvair, a compact car with the engine in the rear, a feature previously found only in Volkswagens and exotic race cars. On early models, the suspension couldn’t handle the rear weight, and the car could spin out of control. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader publicized its problems in his book “Unsafe at any Speed.”

Throughout the 1970s, a variety of Chevy models, including the Vega, gained notoriety for their reliability problems. The timing couldn’t have been worse. It coincided with the rise ofToyotaand Honda, which earned kudos for reliability.

Don McLean’s hit song “American Pie” in 1971(“Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry”) and Bob Seger’s “Night Moves in 1976 (“Out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy …”) kept the brand on many lips, as did the jingle “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”

A catchy 1980s ad proclaimed Chevy the “Heartbeat of America.” But for most people, it wasn’t.

“The Chevy car moved from something that at one time captured the spirit of Americans to something so unexciting that only an old person with no interest in automobiles would buy one,” Heitmann said.

Cheap gas and a robust economy in the 1990s gave birth to a truck and SUV boom, and this helped Chevy regain some prominence. A 1991 ad campaign featuring Seger’s hit song “Like a Rock” bolstered truck sales by showing the rugged Silverado pickup at work climbing over rocks and running through mud. The campaign was so successful that Chevy stuck with it for 13 more years.

Chevy, which invented the SUV in 1935 with the Suburban Caryall wagon, sold more than 3.8 million SUVs in the 1990s alone, led by the S-Blazer, Tahoe and supersized Suburban, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank.

But Chevy’s large lineup of large cars later proved very damaging. When gas prices spiked in 2008, truck sales plummeted. Buyers looking for gas mileage found little in Chevy’s long-neglected car lineup. Battling a financial crisis and a recession, GM found itself weighed down by expensive union contracts and too much debt. GM, and its rival Chrysler, had to be saved by a government bailout and bankruptcy-court reorganization.

GM shed its Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab brands during bankruptcy so that it could focus precious marketing dollars on Chevy. The gambit paid off.

A leaner GM is making billions again, led by Chevrolet models like the compact Cruze, the crossover SUV Equinox and the electric Volt.

More than 4 million Chevys were sold last year, or half of GM’s total sales. Worldwide, it ranks fourth behindToyota, Volkswagen and Ford.

Heitmann said it’s unlikely that any car brand will be admired again like Chevy was in the `50s and `60s, but GM is trying to recapture the magic. New ads with the slogan “Chevy Runs Deep” feature the brand’s history, and marketing head Chris Perry says new products are fueling the comeback.

He points to the Cruze, which replaced the slow-selling Cobalt in 2010 and became the top-selling compact in theU.S.this year. “We went from an also-ran last year in that segment to a very, very competitive product,” he said. “When we put that product out, I think the passion for the Chevy brand comes through.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Rock Magazine Creem Plans Return to Print World

An iconic, sardonic rock `n’ roll magazine with Detroit roots that ceased regular print publication two decades ago is planning a comeback.

The publishing team behind Creem says it’s restarting the presses in September for the magazine that officially shut down in 1988, was revived a few years later and has been online-only since 2001.

They envision the quarterly publication as part of a broader music network that includes mobile apps and streaming music videos.

The aim: attract old and new readers.

Magazine expert Samir Husni says the idea is great but execution will be difficult. There was talk of another Creem return after Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical movie “Almost Famous” renewed interest. Though known for his Rolling Stone connection, Crowe wrote for Creem as a teenager under editor Lester Bangs.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Not Winning! Sheen Booed at First Show

Charlie Sheen turns around his fortunes in Chicago  AFP

What did people expect when they saw him? He’s an actor who reads lines out loud for a living? On top of that, what would you expect to see at one of his shows? This idea was only hatched a few weeks ago – shows, well live shows we’re used to seeing, take more than 20+ days to plan. I think his ‘Winning’ ways may have finally run its course. And yet I bet anything he thinks otherwise!

 

Charlie Sheen got torpedoed with the truth at the first stop in his “Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option Tour.”

The truth is when people pay money to see you, you’d better deliver what they want or they’ll boo and walk out. Which many did Saturday in Detroit. The show started well for Sheen, as the crowd stood and cheered when he and his two “goddesses” took the stage.

Not long into the show someone in the audience booed. Sheen came right back with “I’ve already got your money, dude.”

Things only got worse. Sheen had said Snoop Dogg would perform at the show, but it didn’t happen.

Last night, Charlie Sheen got a standing ovation in Chicago. Sheen made some changes to his road show. He used a talk show-style format in Chicago, with an interviewer asking questions.

He asked Sheen how many times he’d been married and Sheen said “7,000. That’s why I’m broke.” He was also asked why he’d paid for sex in the past and Sheen said because he had “millions to blow” and “ran out of things to buy.” (AP)

A Hollywood Reporter attended Detroit’s show and offered these observances:

The five most awkward moments in Charlie Sheen‘s Detroit show:

1. Telling the audience this seemed like the right city to score some crack. To say this didn’t go over well is an understatement.

2. Taunting hecklers by telling them they bought tickets without knowing what they were getting. Not a good plan to tell an audience they made a bad investment.

3. Killing time by showing RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade), a 1986 film “about redemption” that Sheen wrote and directed, with Clint Howard and a young Johnny Depp. When loud booing cut the film short, Sheen said, “OK, so RPG’s a bomb. Whatever. Tonight is an experiment.”

4. Boasting to a hostile crowd about his new app, called The Masheen: “Let’s see, I have an app, you guys have zero.” Nobody likes paying premium prices for schoolyard one-upmanship.

5. Cutting to a musical break to allow the audience to “wake up” and then not returning afterwards. When the houselights came up abruptly, the audience looked shellshocked, though the smartest thing Sheen did all night was deciding not to take a bow.

Super Bowl XLV Sets Viewership Record

For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl has set a new record for American television viewing.

The Nielsen Co. said Monday that an estimated 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers outlast the Pittsburgh Steelers in professional football’s ultimate game. That tops the 106.5 million who watched the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis.

In fact, the most-watched single play of the game was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final incomplete pass to Mike Wallace with about a minute to go, according to measurements by TiVo Inc., the digital video recorder maker. When that pass hit the ground, it clinched the game for Green Bay.

The series finale of “M-A-S-H” had held the title of the most-watched TV show in the United States for 27 years. It is now No. 3.

Fox had the advantage of a game between two of the National Football League’s iconic franchises and, even though it looked like it could be a rout when the Packers took a 21-3 lead, it went down to the final minute and held viewers’ interest.

Fox’s “Glee” took advantage of the time slot directly after the game, reaching 26.8 million viewers for its special episode. It was the most-watched scripted entertainment program on TV since Fox’s “House” aired after the Super Bowl three years ago, Nielsen said.

Meanwhile, a two-minute ad for Chrysler starring Eminem and a Volkswagen ad featuring a mini-Darth Vader that went viral before it even aired were two of the most talked-about spots during advertising’s big night, the Super Bowl, in which Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

Chrysler was one of nine automakers that took advantage of advertising’s biggest and most expensive showcase, at $3 million for 30 seconds, to try to show they’re back after two tough years for the industry.

The cinematic third-quarter Chrysler ad starred Eminem driving through Detroit and introduced a new car, the Chrysler 200 sedan, amid gritty scenes of the city. A voiceover talks about how the city has survived going through “hell and back.”

The Chrysler ad was “the big story of the night,” according to NM Incite, which tracks online buzz.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Philly likes blue: Ford color data reveals quirks

In Philadelphia, they’ve got the blues. In Cincinnati, they’ve got — well — the reds.

Cincinnati is the top market for red cars in the U.S., while Philly buyers prefer blue. That is the picture Ford Motor Co. drew Tuesday based on its internal sales data.

Sometimes, color preferences are logical. Ford says buyers in hot cities, like Phoenix and Dallas, like white cars, while buyers in colder cities, like Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, are partial to red.

But sometimes, the preferences are a puzzle. Ford says Boston is the top market for both brown and green cars, for example, while San Franciscans like silver. In Florida, they like gold.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

The Channels They Are A-Changin’ With the Times

How the lousy economy is affecting our favorite distraction from the lousy economy.

Tweaked story lines: On “Desperate Housewives,” which this season leapt five years ahead in time, Lynette Scavo’s (Felicity Huffman) pizza shop isn’t doing well because, she explains, people are cutting back on nonessentials to save money — at last, definitive proof this recession will continue past President Obama’s first term.

Star-cutting: You won’t see Huffman playing opposite co-star Nicollette Sheridan on “Desperate” next season — show creator Marc Cherry whacked Sheridan’s character after ABC told him to find ways to cut costs on the show.

ABC Studios, which produces Cherry’s show as well as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Brothers and Sisters” and a boatload of other ABC series, sent around a memo last fall telling producers to cut their budgets by 2 percent. Twentieth Century Fox Television, which produces such shows as Fox’s “24” and NBC’s “My Name Is Earl,” liked that thinking and told all its show producers the same. More recently, CBS walked away from negotiations with Candice Bergen to headline its new sitcom “Big D” because of her asking price, even though she’s a sure-fire way to draw a big crowd to the new comedy. Instead, CBS hired Broadway actress Deanna Dunagan — an unknown to most TV viewers — to take the role for a fraction of what Bergen wanted.

Less scripted prime time: It will be hard to find a new drama to love on NBC because it’s getting out of that business at 10 p.m. weekdays — turning over the time slot to Jay Leno because it will “save” the network millions of dollars every week. Of course that also means no potential for back-end big bucks (DVD sales, overseas sales, etc.) on a would-be hit drama — but it’s been so long since NBC had a hit at 10, that discussion is purely academic.

Once NBC Universal has finished the job of turning NBC into just another cable network, you can expect about as much original scripted programming on that network as on USA, which NBC Universal suits now tout as the company’s crown jewel, not NBC.

New recession comedies: Old-fashioned sitcoms with multiple cameras, shot on a set in front of a studio audience, are much cheaper to produce than single-cam comedies like “The Office,” and television execs developing product for next season have rediscovered them like they do faithful wives after a fling with the hot office blonde. Network execs and studio brass alike think Recession Sitcoms will do well in down markets — remember what a laugh riot the recession was for “Roseanne”?

Debra Messing is a laid-off CEO adjusting to full-time wife/mom-dom in a sitcom being developed for NBC.

ABC’s ordered a pilot for a sitcom called “Canned” — think “Friends,” only Joey, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Ross are all canned on the very same day.

ABC also greenlighted a pilot for yet another Kelsey Grammer-as-windbag sitcom, and this time he plays a Wall Street legend who gets sacked and has to move the wife and kids back to their small home town in flyover country where, just guessing, the jaded kids are bored and the sophisticated wife is annoyed — and hilarity ensues.

Fox, meanwhile, has ordered a pilot for a sitcom called “Two Dollar Beer,” about a group of young adults in Detroit weathering the worsening economy while refusing to move.

Recession Sitcoms are so hot right now, even Roseanne Barr herself is trying to jump back on that bandwagon. Barr and Caryn Mandabach, one of the executive producers of “Roseanne,” have pitched a blue-collar comedy to Fox in which Barr would play — the family matriarch.