Originally created 09/21/04

People in the news



SHANGHAI, China - A word of advice from Elton John to up-and-coming musicians: Pay your dues.

"Bands today have to learn their craft by putting the hard work in that we did when we were young performers," said John, who was in Shanghai on Saturday for the first China shows of his four-decade-old career.

"We didn't just make a video, then go out on the road. We were on the road before we had gotten a record contract," said the singer and pianist, who started out in the early 1960s toiling on the British pub circuit with the soul act Bluesology.

John performed two concerts Sunday.

After a career that has spanned styles from the bouncy rock-and-roll of "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" to the soundtrack for Disney's "The Lion King" and a London musical based on the film "Billy Elliott," John said he listens to new artists for a dose of "energy, rawness, and instinctiveness."

"I get my inspiration from young bands, young songwriters," John said.

Asked with whom he would most like to work, John named Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, his collaborator on 2001's "Songs From the West Coast."

"The greatest songwriter on the planet at the moment is Rufus Wainwright," John said.

John also spoke of taping a duet with Ray Charles of John's "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word" - the last recording by Charles before his death in June.

"It's etched on my memory as one of the saddest and most uplifting days in my life," he said.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Roy Disney said he had heard the myths at Walt Disney Co. for a long time - that Salvador Dali's artworks from a long-forgotten project were somewhere in the studio's archives.

It turned out not to be a myth.

The surrealist master had worked with Disney's uncle, Walt Disney, from 1945-46, producing seven paintings and hundreds of ink drawings for an animated film that never got made, Disney said.

The artwork - which Disney valued at $5 million to $10 million - sat in the studio unseen by the public for 58 years. That is, until now.

Disney said the company loaned about a dozen Dali pieces to a traveling exhibit in Europe, one of several celebrating the 100th anniversary of Dali's birth on May 11, 1904. Dali died in 1989.

"It is truly the only Dali stuff in the world that was never seen up until this year," Disney said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Disney, 74, nephew of Walt Disney, spoke of his discovery while in Albuquerque, where he attended a gala opening of the Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center over the weekend.

On Sunday, Disney attended a showing of the animated short film "Destino" at one of three new theaters in the complex. The film was the product of the artwork Dali completed at the Disney studios over nine months. The film was nominated for an Academy Award this spring.

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SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain - The world premiere of Oliver Stone's follow-up documentary on Cuban President Fidel Castro met timid applause from a half-full house at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Titled "Looking for Fidel," the documentary presents a more balanced portrait of the Communist leader and life on the Caribbean island than Stone's 2002 film "Comandante."

Despite ample publicity, the Saturday premiere attracted less than 200 viewers on the second day of the nine-day festival, where 19 films from Iran to Argentina are vying for the top prize, the Golden Shell. The film, by the director of blockbusters such as "Platoon" and "JFK," was not competing.

"It's a very spontaneous movie," Stone said at a news conference after the screening. "It's not a left-wing documentary and I hope Americans will see it that way."

Lukewarm applause marked the end of the hourlong piece, which attempts to give voice to all the major players in Cuba through interviews with prisoners, dissidents and rights advocates as well as Castro and his supporters.

Stone's first film on Castro, "Comandante," was based on three days Stone spent with the Cuban leader in early 2002.

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LOS ANGELES - She's one of Spain's most well known flamenco dancers, but every time Maria Bermudez comes to Los Angeles, it's a homecoming.

"It feels warm, it feels comfortable, they're so appreciative and so supportive. People here know my story," Bermudez said between sets of a show Friday night at the John Anson Ford Theatre in Hollywood that kicked off a U.S. tour.

Her story is that of a woman born in California and raised in Los Angeles who fell in love with flamenco 20 years ago and moved to Spain's Jerez de la Frontera to study the dance's pure Gypsy style.

"When I got bit by the bug I got bit hard, and I decided I had to go to the source," Bermudez said of moving to Spain.

"It's a very difficult place to go as an outsider," she continued. "The Gypsies have a way of wanting to keep their traditions and culture for themselves. I was very lucky because I hung back and kept my mouth shut and learned little by little until they let me in."