Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

April 14, 1999


By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

No one who watches TV Sunday night, or any other night, for that matter, is likely to see anything lovelier or more moving than June Carter Cash singing "Ring of Fire."

Gone are the Tex-Mex brass and train-ride rhythms of her husband Johnny Cash's famous version of the same tune; instead, it’s just June, in a shawl with her long chestnut hair falling down, playing autoharp while a fiddler and an acoustic guitarist chime in. Turns out she co-wrote the song, and here she certainly reclaims it for her own - a piece of melody steeped in dignity and sorrow old as the hills.

TNT's "All-Star Tribute to Johnny Cash" (8 p.m. EDT Sunday) runs a good two hours and, as such, naturally contains a somewhat languid stretch or two, but June Cash's moment in the spotlight isn't one of them.

Same goes for another offering later in the show, with Sheryl Crow, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris and Marty Stuart singing "Flesh and Blood." Again, it couldn't be simpler - Harris and Carpenter on acoustic guitars, Stuart on mandolin and Crow on accordion, with Harris singing lead - but it's hard to imagine music more radiant.

These artists are just the tip of the iceberg. The program, taped in New York on April 6, is filled to overflowing with appearances by Willie Nelson, Chris Isaak, Kris Kristofferson, U2, Bob Dylan, the Mavericks, Lyle Lovett and Dave Matthews, all introduced by host Jon Voight.

The occasion - paying homage to Cash as one of the monumental figures of post-war American music, as his struggle with a debilitating chronic illness continues - at least gives the very popular alt-music hero Dave Matthews a chance, for once, to refrain from over-singing. He teams with Emmylou Harris on the solemn, scary old song "Long Black Veil" and proves that he is (despite the evidence of his hit records) capable of letting great material speak for itself.
The evening gets off to a not very promising start with Crow and Nelson doubling up on the old Cash-and-Carter marital discord chestnut, "Jackson," in which the two singers seem to be fighting with the backing band as much as they are with each other's characters. A bit later, a rendition of "Big River" by Nelson,
Lovett and Kristofferson standing in a gargoyle row really brings home the fact that country-music greatness, male division, is no beauty pageant.

Cash's fellow legend, Bob Dylan, delivers a special video performance of "Love Train." Not much known as a people pleaser, Dylan is so captivated by the occasion and his feelings for his old pal - whom he thanks "for standing up for me way back when" - that he actually does a little dance while strumming and moaning in his inimitable, semi-intelligible fashion.

The all-star tunes are interspersed with mini-documentary slide shows about the great man's origins, early years, various triumphs and devotion to gospel music. Watching all this, you would think Cash never lived an adverse or wicked day in his life, except when his daughter, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, makes a passing reference to his "bouts with illness and addiction."

When Cash finally appears in person toward the end of the show, you have no trouble at all seeing evidence of both illness and addiction in his famous physiognomy. As far back as 30 years ago it was axiomatic with writers that Cash's face was a "ruin." Today, with uncountable additional miles of turbulent water under that sagging bridge, the word is even more apt. He looks pretty smashed up. But he also looks fantastic. Seeing him in this program is like watching Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" - he's magnificent and uncanny; you can't take your eyes off him.

In all, the program represents two hours' worth of evidence of a vast American conspiracy to make music that means something. "I come from this family," June Carter Cash says, "that plays honest, sincere music that's not very fancy."

In show-biz terms, this tribute demonstrates that such honesty and sincerity have legs.

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

back to top