Originally created 10/10/05

People in the News



NEW YORK - Ashlee Simpson sang - really, she did - without incident on "Saturday Night Live" in her return to the scene of last year's lip-synch fiasco.

"I wrote this song after my last 'Saturday Night Live" appearance," she said, introducing the mournful "Catch Me When I Fall."

She belted out the song with gusto, the only boost seeming to come with a brief echo effect on her vocal in the chorus. When she was done, Simpson smiled and hopped in relief.

It was nearly a year after Simpson's embarrassing appearance on the same stage, where her voice was heard singing the wrong song when she held her microphone at her waist. She danced an awkward jig and then walked off the stage.

The fakery made her a laughingstock and Simpson was booed lustily when she appeared at the Orange Bowl a few months later.

Leading up to this week's appearance, "Saturday Night Live" executive producer Lorne Michaels promised it would be her singing - not some tapes - when she went on the air.

"Who will be the one to save me from myself?" Simpson sang in the ballad. "Who's going to catch me when I fall?"

Later in the show she came back for a peppier number, "Boyfriend," where her vocal was augmented by a backup singer.

"Thank you so much!" she said at the end, blowing a kiss to the audience.

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JERUSALEM (AP) - A song on Madonna's upcoming album dedicated to a Kabbalist rabbi is drawing criticism from other rabbis, the Israeli Maariv daily reported Sunday.

The album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," is to be released on Nov. 15 and features a track entitled "Isaac" about Yitzhak Luria, a 16th century Jewish mystic and Kabbalah scholar.

Rabbis who oversee Luria's tomb and a seminary in the northern town of Safed are unimpressed with Madonna's musical tribute and see the inclusion of the song about Luria on the album as an attempt by the pop star to profit from his name.

Rabbi Rafael Cohen, head of a seminary named after Luria, suggested Madonna's actions could lead to divine retribution.

"Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit. Her act is just simply unacceptable and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens," Cohen told the newspaper.

Another rabbi called for Madonna to be thrown out of the community.

"Such a woman brings great sin on kabbalah," Rabbi Israel Deri told Maariv. "I hope that we will have the strength to prevent her from bringing sin upon the holiness of the rabbi (Yitzhak Luria)."

Madonna spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Sunday.

The singer and actress was raised a Roman Catholic but has become a follower of Kabbalah in recent years and adopted the Hebrew name Esther. She made a much publicized visit to Israel in 2004, when she visited many sites important to Kabbalah, but didn't travel to Luria's grave.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Actor Nathan Lane got an unwanted accessory days before the much anticipated Broadway revival of "The Odd Couple" began for previews: a broken finger swathed in a huge white bandage.

Lane, who teams again with "The Producers" co-star Matthew Broderick in the comedy, accidentally slammed his right index finger in a door and required 14 stitches, Time magazine reported. Lane said he would take off the splint and bandage for the performance.

"I'm not going to wear this in the show," Lane said, quipping: "Have you met my finger puppet Melvin?"

Broderick asked, "Is it, like, throbbing?"

"Yes, it's throbbing," Lane said. "And I mean that in the nicest possible way."

Lane plays Oscar and Broderick is Felix in the show opening Oct. 27. The entire run is already sold out, Time reported, with an advance box office of $21.5 million - the most of any play in the history of Broadway.

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) - Ludacris might perform a homecoming concert at East Tennessee State University after all, despite the city's refusal to let him perform at Freedom Hall.

The university is trying to hold the concert at the school's Mini Dome instead.

"We have been talking with the fire marshal's office today and working through whatever stipulations they would place on us if we were to have the concert," Wilsie Bishop, vice president for administration, said Friday.

Whether the concert goes on will depend on the ability to come to an agreement with the performer, because organizers had already contacted his talent agency to cancel the Oct. 27 show.

The school's homecoming committee booked Ludacris after raising the student activity fee from $4 per semester to $20 last school year to accommodate such events. Students were polled about performers they would like to see in concert, and Ludacris was the first on the resulting list who agreed to appear.

City officials cited security concerns in denying the Ludicris performance.