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March 06, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-06

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 6, 2000


Elliott Smith ready
to deliver 'Figure 8'

Kathie Lee set to
step down at 'Live'

The Los Angeles Times
OK, strike the Oscars set - it's
back to reality for Elliott Smith.
And he couldn't be happier about it.
"On the last record, I don't know,
it just got so weird because of other
extraneous happenings," the
acclaimed singer-songwriter said.
"This movie stuff that started
going on in the middle of recording,
it was kind of distracting to say the
"This movie stuff" was a career
opportunity that fell into the cult
hero's lap when director Gus Van
Sant peppered "Good Will Hunting"
with fellow Portland, Ore., resident
Smith's songs. Nominated for an
Academy Award for "Miss Misery,"
the rumpled troubadour found him-
self in the glittering company of
Celine Dion, Michael Bolton and
Triha Yearwood, performing his
tune on the 1998 awards telecast.
Smith.didn't take home an Oscar,
but the episode set the stage for the
subsequent release of his major-
label debut album, "XO," on
Though it sold like a cult hero's
record (only around 150,000 to

date), the album moved him from
the indie-rock niche into the critical
It finished No. 5 in the bellwether
Village Voice critics' poll, position-
ing Smith as the artist who would
merge the venerable singer-song-
writer tradition with a post-Gen X
Not a monumental move from the
outside, maybe, but it shook things
up for the shy, soft-spoken artist.
"It's the difference between your
friend taking a picture of you just to
remember that time and someone
taking your picture to publish it
somewhere," he said during an
interview at his manager's home in
Los Angeles' Silver Lake district.
"It's kind of unnerving in a way...
You can kind of feel the outside
world more... It was kind of excit-
ing for a while and it was kind of a
bummer for a while, and now it just
seems like a long time ago.
"I'm not the most introspective per-
son in the world, but I am used to my
internal musical landscape being
unpeopled, and for a while there were
lots of people camping out in there. It
seemed kind of crowded. It wasn't bad,
it was just weird.

Courtesy of The Los Angeles
Elliott Smith is set to release his latest album, "Figure 8," on April 18.

"Now I'm kind of in a place where
I feel free to do whatever comes up
musically. There's not as much focus
on one bizarre event in my life, like
the Oscars were... So I'm just kind of
floating along now, seeing what hap-
pens to float up next to me."
At a Hollywood club date in Feb-
ruary, Smith unveiled some of that
flotsam, singing several songs from
his new album, "Figure 8," which
comes out April 18. Between shouts
for favorites from his early, inde-
pendent albums, the fiercely devot-
ed audience listened raptly and then
roared their approval to Smith's lat-
est dispatches from his ongoing,
expedition into the emotional bad-

The album's dynamic range goes
from simple guitar and piano
accompaniment on the haunting,
intimate numbers to atmospheric
string orchestrations to stinging
folk-rock. These elements often
meet in bracing, unpredictable fash-
ion - a reflection of Smith's intu-
itive approach in the studio. His
higher profile has made him even
more determined to experiment.
"It seems like it would be easy to get
locked into a kind of safe mode of,
well, maybe if people are looking at me
then maybe I'd better not do anything
too - like if you walk into a room and
feel like people are looking at you, then
you don't want to crack a joke or some-
thing or act weird.
But then it's kind of more impor-
tant to crack a joke," Smith said.
"It's definitely too boring to just
do stuff that you know for a fact
you can do."

The Washington Post
Kathie Lee has forsaken us-final-
Kathie Lee Gifford announced
Tuesday that she's going to hang it up
as co-host of "Live With Regis and
Kathie Lee" after 15 years on the day-
time talk show. Her last show will be
in July.
This time she really means it, unlike
all those other years when she let float
rumors that she might call it quits.
And just when we were starting to get
the hang of tolerating her perky bab-
ble without succumbing to the desire
to kick anything nearby that was cute
or cuddly or named Cody.
Gifford's reasons for stepping down
are varied - and muddled.
"When I first began as the co-host of
'Live' in 1985, I was single and child-
less, and talking about my life for a liv-
ing, as Regis and I do every morning
during 'Host Chat,' was simple and
impacted no one but myself," the 46-
year-old Mrs. Frank Gifford said Tues-
day in a statement..She "no longer feels
comfortable sharing the ordinary, inno-
cent, everyday details of my family life,
only to watch the tabloid media turn
them into harmful, misleading and
libelous stories,'she said.
Those stories include the revelation
that her clothing line was produced in
foreign sweatshops. And her hus-
band's 1997 tryst with a flight atten-
dant, allegedly set up by a tabloid
On the other hand, she also said she


was leaving because "performing on
Broadway, recording a new album,
writing songs and making a (TV)
movie this past year have reminded
me of how much I miss my first loves"
-- and no, she's not referring t*
hubby's original hair color.
But getting back to this retirement
thing - this is a terrible, terrible mis-
take. Is Kathie Lee doing this so she
can leave on top, we wondered?
"Live" is a solid fourth in the syndi-,
cated talk show market, behind Oprah
Winfrey, Jerry Springer and Rosie
O'Donnell, and:its ratings are down
about 10 percent this year, as the talk
show market in general has been
It's true that Katnie Lee has been
insinuating that she's going to leave
the show for so many years that it's
become a kind of "Live" annual rite of
spring. But the folks at Disney, which
syndicates the show, were taking the
news very seriously.
Of course, that meant the obligatory
statement from Mr. Personality,
Michael Eisner, Disney's chairma
and CEO:
"Throughout the 1990s, Kathie Lee
Gifford started the day for millions of,
people. Now it is a new decade and
she has set her sights on new avenues
of achievement. I will miss her. But I
understand she is an irrepressible spir-
it who is always seeking out fresh
challenges and I wish her well."
Philbin sources say he's going find
another co-host. Rege's 'Live" con
tract runs through August 2001.
Continued from Page 5A
would only snigger. He was right.
The audience I saw this with chortled,
until they realized what they were
doing and started to groan.
As an added bonus for Michigan-
ders, the casino that Gabriel wants to
knock off is one of the ubiquitous I
an installations that we all love seen
billboards for. "Reindeer Games" takes
place in the upper peninsula and unfor-
tunately misses a great opportunity for
fun by denying Sinise the pleasure of
working his mouth around a yooper
accent. It's a pity, because it might
have actually sent the movie finally
careening over the edge into self-
parody, where it would have been a
far more entertaining exercise. As it
stands, "Reindeer Games" takej
itself a little too seriously, failing to
go all the way in its Christmas fun. I
guess that's what happens when you
try to have Christmas in February.


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