Category Archives: Music

Turn Off The Spiderman Musical

Ray Gustini at The Atlantic:

With a history of sending spandex-clad stunt doubles hurtling towards earth and terrible buzz, there was little suspense about how the nation’s top theater critics would review Julie Taymor’s latest musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. On Monday night, they posted their reviews, breaking an embargo that was supposed to last until the show opens on March 15, and it became clear that the true contest was to see which critic could craft the most withering put-down.

Patrick Healy at NYT:

“Spider-Man” has not even officially opened yet. The date has been delayed five times to fix myriad problems, with Sunday afternoon being preview performance No. 66 and the opening planned for Monday night being pushed back five more weeks to March 15. But this $65 million musical has become a national object of pop culture fascination — more so, perhaps, than any show in Broadway history.

Starting with Conan O’Brien’s spoof of Spider-Man warbling in rhyme on Nov. 30, two nights after the musical’s problem-plagued first preview, the show has been lampooned on every major late-night comedy show and by The Onion, which portrayed the producers as still being optimistic about the show despite a nuclear bomb’s detonating during a preview. Recently, Steve Martin slyly referred to it in a series of tweets about watching the “Spider-Man” movies at home.

“Settling in to watch Spiderman 3 on deluxe edition DVD, but I fell from hanging cables in screening room. 2 hour delay,” he wrote.

Media celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Glenn Beck and the hosts of “Morning Joe” have all raved about the musical, especially Mr. Beck, who said in an interview on Friday that he had seen it four times.

Mr. Beck has framed its appeal on his radio broadcast as a face-off between regular Americans and cultural snobs (i.e., liberals). In the interview, however, he was more fanboy than fire breather, rattling off plot points and design elements with the practiced eye of a Sardi’s regular.

“The story line is right on the money for today, which is to be your better self, that you can spiral into darkness or — ” here he quoted one of the show’s anthemic songs — “you can rise above,” said Mr. Beck, who estimated that he sees a dozen shows a year. “In fact, I just wrote an e-mail to Julie” — Ms. Taymor — “about how much I loved the new ending.”

Last month, “Spider-Man” became the first Broadway show since “The Producers” to land on the cover of The New Yorker; the cartoon, by Barry Blitt, who also did “The Producers” cover in 2001, showed several injured Spider-Men in a hospital ward.

“For our cover we always ask ourselves, would our one million readers know what we were making reference to?” said Francoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker. “But in no time at all, ‘Spider-Man’ has gotten enough notoriety that we knew the cover would make people laugh. Even the show’s producers laughed; they’ve been hounding us to buy copies of the artwork.”

Nina Shen Rastogi at Slate:

Reading through the reviews this morning, it became clear that the main character in this drama isn’t Peter Parker—it’s Julie Taymor. Theater directors rarely receive the kind of mainstream attention that their Hollywood brethren do. (Do you know who Daniel Sullivan is?) But in this case, the specter of steely, uncompromising Taymor looms large over the critical discussion.

There’s a reason for this: Spider-Man is very clearly Taymor’s production, stamped with her trademark mix of spectacle and folklore. (She first gained widespread fame for her shadow-puppets-on-the-savannah production of The Lion King.) And she seems to have created a proxy for herself with Arachne, Spider-Man‘s ancient, eight-legged antagonist.

Scott Brown at New York Magazine:

Some of my colleagues have wondered aloud whether Spider-man will ever be finished — whether it is, in fact, finishable. I think they’re onto something: I saw the show on Saturday night, and found it predictably unfinished, but unpredictably entertaining, perhaps on account of this very quality of Death Star–under–construction inchoateness. Conceptually speaking, it’s closer to a theme-park stunt spectacular than “circus art,” closer to a comic than a musical, closer to The Cremaster Cycle than a rock concert. But “closer” implies proximity to some fixed point, and Spider-man is faaaar out, man. It’s by turns hyperstimulated, vivid, lurid, overeducated, underbaked, terrifying, confusing, distracted, ridiculously slick, shockingly clumsy, unmistakably monomaniacal and clinically bipolar.

But never, ever boring. The 2-D comic art doesn’t really go with Julie Taymor’s foamy, tactile puppetry, just as U2’s textural atmo-rock score doesn’t really go with the episodic Act One storytelling. Yet even in the depths of Spider-man‘s certifiably insane second act, I was riveted. Riveted, yes, by what was visible onstage: the inverted Fritz Lang cityscapes, the rag doll fly-assisted choreography, the acid-Skittle color scheme and Ditko-era comic-art backdrops. But often I was equally transfixed by the palpable offstage imagination willing it all into existence. See, Spider-man isn’t really about Spider-man. It’s about an artist locked in a death grapple with her subject, a tumultuous relationship between a talented, tormented older woman and a callow young stud. Strip out the $70 million in robotic guywires, Vari-lites, and latex mummery, and you’re basically looking at a Tennessee Williams play.

Kamelia Angelova at Business Insider:

We loved the show, and here is why we think people will see it:

• Flying is awesome.

There are aerial acrobatics; airborne fight scenes; the actors fly up and land among the audience. The wires are visible but don’t obstruct any of the view or movements of the actors.

• The story is familiar, yet fresh.

It is based on the classic comic books, and the movie, so the audience knows what to expect — nerdy Peter Parker gets bit by a mutating spider and acquires superpowers. After his uncle is killed, he becomes a crusader against crime. And, of course, Peter is in love aspiring actress Mary Jane who is in love with Spiderman.

Spiderman faces off with a bunch of villains, most notably the Green Goblin.

There are only two new story elements that the writers have introduced: the Geek Chorus — four teenagers that are obviously creating/narrating the story of Spiderman that unfolds before our eyes; and a new villain — Arachne, a character from Greek mythology, that tempts Spiderman to give in to his powers and cross over to some abstract dimension to become her boyfriend.

These new elements make Spiderman: The Musical fresh and different that the usual Spiderman adaptation. And who is to complain about an old-fashion love triangle plot?

• The sets are creative.

Unfolding backdrops, huge video screens; most of the set invokes the theme that this is a comic book story. The sets move surprisingly quickly, given how massive and detailed they are.

• The music is by Bono and The Edge.

The songs are very U2 and very rock at times, and it’s loud. As it should be.

• The cast

My favorite were the villains — the Green Goblin and Arachne.

• The choreography

Cool slow motion sequences.

• It’s the most expensive show ever.

With a price tag of $65 million, this is indeed the most expensive Broadway show ever produced — which is another reason why tourists and locals alike would flock to see it and judge it for themselves.

The show needs to make about $1 million a week to break even, and should run about 2-3 years to be profitable. Since the start of the previews in December 2010, Spiderman’s weekly gross earning have been about $1.2 million on average.

So if there are no more injuries, and the production irons out the technical glitches that do occur and are tolerable during previews but will be unacceptable once the show opens, Spiderman should pull through for its investors (who include theater veterans like James Nederlander and Terry Allan Kramer, as well as Disney via its acquisition of Marvel, the franchise for the Spiderman comics.)

Sorry, esteemed Broadway critics, but we are with Glenn Beck on this one.

Brian Clark at Movieline:

And so, while we usually reserve our “Most Scathing Reviews” feature for movies, we’ll make an exception for this Broadway production that seems to wish it was a movie.9. “Never mind turning off the dark. I spent much of this dreadful new musical muttering Please, Lord, make it stop.” — Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

8. “For without a book with consistent rules that a mainstream audience can follow and track, without characters in whom one can invest emotionally, without a sense of the empowering optimism that should come from time spent in the presence of a good, kind man who can walk up buildings and save our lousy world from evil, it is all just clatter and chatter.” — Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune

7. “Spider-Man is chaotic, dull and a little silly. And there’s nothing here half as catchy as the 1967 ABC cartoon theme tune.” — David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

6. “More dispiriting is the music… [Bono and the Edge] transformed their sound into stock Broadway schlock pop—sentimental wailing from the early Andrew Lloyd Webber playbook, winceable lyrics and the kind of thumpa-thumpa music that passes for suspense in action flicks.” — Linda Winer, Newsday

5. “Or wait, maybe the bottom of the barrel is a weird on-the-runway sequence, in which a cadre of second-tier villains with names like Swiss Miss and Carnage do a bit of high-fashion sashaying. In the running, too, is a bizarre military number, as well as the first-act closer, a rip-off of a Rodgers and Hart song. The latter is sung by – get out your score cards – the other main-event evildoer, the Green Goblin, a former scientist played by the talented classical actor Patrick Page.” — Peter Marks, The Washington Post

4. “Who exactly is “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” for anyway? The only answer I can come up with is an audience of Julie Taymor types who care only about panoramic sensibility— a bit of slow-mo choreography here, a smattering of diabolical mask work there. Much as I enjoyed the clever shifts in perspective during the skyscraper scenes, it was hard for me to picture adults or young people yearning for a second visit, never mind critics who may feel obliged to check back in with the production when (or should I say if?) it officially opens. Nothing cures the curiosity about “Spider-Man” quite like seeing it.” — Charles McNulty, The LA Times

3. “After all this expenditure of talent and money, “Spider- Man” is probably unfixable because too much has gone into making humans fly, which is not what they are good at. It imitates poorly what the “Spider-Man” movies do brilliantly with computer graphics — and without putting live actors in jeopardy.” — Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg

2. “This production should play up regularly and resonantly the promise that things could go wrong. Because only when things go wrong in this production does it feel remotely right — if, by right, one means entertaining. So keep the fear factor an active part of the show, guys, and stock the Foxwoods gift shops with souvenir crash helmets and T-shirts that say “I saw ‘Spider-Man’ and lived.” Otherwise, a more appropriate slogan would be “I saw ‘Spider-Man’ and slept.” — Ben Brantley, New York Times

1. “It’s by turns hyperstimulated, vivid, lurid, overeducated, underbaked, terrifying, confusing, distracted, ridiculously slick, shockingly clumsy, unmistakably monomaniacal and clinically bipolar…At this point, I honestly hope they never fix the (non-injurious) glitches: They puncture the show’s pretense and furnish meta-theatrical opportunities that can’t be staged. We’ve had Epic Theater, we’ve had Poor Theater — is this the dawn of Broken Theater?” — Scott Brown, From his review in New York Magazine, which is actually neither negative, positive or even neutral, but seems to sum up the irrationality of the whole enterprise better than any other.

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Seriously, There Is No Better Way For 2010 To Go Out Than This Mash-Up

Justin Elliott at Salon:

Andy Sullivan, a construction worker and Brooklyn native, has been one of the loudest opponents of Park51, the planned mosque and community center near ground zero. Founder of the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge — under which construction workers vow not to work at the mosque site — Sullivan has been a regular presence on television, known for wearing his signature American flag hard hat and talking tough about radical Muslims.

So it was quite a surprise this month to read that Sullivan has set his sights on a new target: Canadian teen pop superstar Justin Bieber.

Mosque foes recently started a boycott of Bieber after he made comments in support of the mosque project in an interview with Tiger Beat, a teen fan magazine, Sullivan told WYNC earlier this month. Now, his 8-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son have been banned from attending Bieber performances.

“I informed them, ‘Hey guys, guess what? Justin Bieber spoke out for the ground zero mosque,” Sullivan explained to Salon in an interview. “My little girl took down his poster and said she didn’t want to have nothing to do with him anymore. These are my kids. They’re living this thing.”

A Facebook page has been set up by an ally of Sullivan publicizing the boycott of Bieber and several other pro-mosque celebrities. It has attracted nearly 500 fans.

Intrigued by the idea that Bieber would weigh in on one of the most polarizing political issues of the day, I began looking for his interview with Tiger Beat.

The magazine does cover Bieber obsessively (“Justin Bieber Dodges Dating Selena Gomez Question!” and “Did Justin Bieber Grow a Mustache?” are two recent features). But I couldn’t find any sign of an interview on Park51. There is, however, a post on the website CelebJihad.com purporting to describe a Tiger Beat interview. It reads in part:

In an interview with Tiger Beat, the pop sensation stressed that freedom of religion is what makes America great, and went on to say that those who oppose the Mosque are motivated by bigotry.

“Muslims should be allowed to build a mosque anywhere they want,” the singer said. “Coming from Canada, I’m not used to this level of intolerance, eh.”

Bieber went on to say that Muslims are “super cool,” Christians are “lame-o-rama,” and that the mosque will help “start a dialogue” with all religions about which Justin Bieber song is the most awesome.

“I was like seven when September 11th went down, and frankly I’m surprised people are still going on about it. Move on, already!”

Celebjihad.com seems to specialize in softcore celebrity porn, but poke around a bit and you find this disclaimer:

CelebJihad.com is a satirical website containing published rumors, speculation, assumptions, opinions, fiction as well as factual information

I was able to reach the proprietor of the site, who confirmed that the Bieber item is in fact a hoax. “[T]he fact that some people take it seriously is hilariously depressing,” he said in an e-mail.

John Del Signore at The Gothamist:

Welcome to The United States of Dumberica, 2010 2011. Andy Sullivan, a construction worker who’s been at the forefront of the “Ground Zero mosque” resistance, says his eight-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son have been banned from attending Bieber concerts. “I informed them, ‘Hey guys, guess what? Justin Bieber spoke out for the ground zero mosque,” Sullivan tells Salon. “My little girl took down his poster and said she didn’t want to have nothing to do with him any more. These are my kids, they’re living this thing.”

And a Facebook group has added Bieber to their list of “companies who support the Ground Zero Mosque.” In the weeks since, Bieber—his career in ruins—has been spotted singing backup in a Bachman-Turner Overdrive cover band, gigging in shabby hotel lobbies across the rust belt. But the former pop star still begins each set, performed for a smattering of his last die hard fans, with a defiant shout of Allah Hu Akbar. Then it’s all Takin’ Care of Business.

Wonkette:

Let’s go to the Facebook comments!

Her avatar clues us in to the fact that she has very modern views.
Haha, this CHILD is so immature he has probably never even called a Muslim a mean name! Spending your time on Facebook opposing the theoretical construction of a single building in a city of skyscrapers thousands of miles away is how you act like an adult, you idiot!

Actually, a lot of periods!
Those Canadians just do not understand that you have to bomb Muslim countries and in turn get bombed by crazed Muslims. It’s called being a hero!

Jesus! Hey! Over here! There's a pop star in trouble!
Poor Canada, living peacefully and inclusively with its peaceful Muslim population for decades. Perhaps, if we let Jesus know, He will help them murder the Muslims in their sleep.

Jim Newell at Gawker

Glynnis MacNicol at Business Insider:

Meanwhile the rest of us are left to wonder whether the August news cycle is going to be a 12 month affair in 2011.

David Weigel:

There’s some point to be made here about the gullibility and outrage addiction that kicked off the “GZM” furor in the first place, but it’s probably too obvious.

Doug Mataconis:

If you needed confirmation that American political culture was in fact totally absurd, you’ve just found it.

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News Of The Week In Music Vol. 70

#1 End of the Iraq War? Obama’s speech

#2 Palestine/Israel talks

#3 Discovery channel hostage situation

#4 GOP’s 10 point Gallup lead

#5 Franzen’s new book

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News Of The Week In Music Vol. 69

#1 Economy struggles

#2 Glenn Beck rally

#3 Cab driver stabbed in NYC

#4 Stem cell ruling

#5 Katrina, 5 years later

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News Of The Week In Music Vol. 68

#1 Unemployment numbers rise

#2 Combat troops leave Iraq

#3 Egg recall

#4 Blago verdict

#5 Dr. Laura and Sarah Palin

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News Of The Week In Music Vol. 67

#1 Obama comes out for the “Ground Zero” mosque

#2 Pakistan flood aftermath

#3 GM’s turnaround

#4 The week of Steven Slater

#5 Dr. Laura’s rant

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“Everytime I Make A Run, Girl, You Turn Around And Cry”

Wyclef Jean at The Huffington Post:

Dear Reader,

My four-year-old daughter, Angelina, and my wife, Claudinette, are the angels of my life — and I know this year has been especially trying for them, as my efforts for Haiti have taken so much more of my time since January, when the devastating earthquake nearly destroyed my home country. In fact, my concern for my family was my primary thought as I was being urged by others to seek the presidency of Haiti.

But then I came to realize that I have to make this decision for them, and especially for my daughter, as much as for myself and my country. At age four, my daughter has already seen so much suffering in Haiti, but we’ve done our best to have her also witness the beauty of the country and the beautiful spirits of its people. I have always believed in the need to parent her by example, to show her that her dad is a man of action and a man of his word. I’ve told her throughout her life that Haiti’s future lies in our hands — including hers, as one of the young people of the country — and I want to show her by example what I’m willing to do to make Haiti a better place. I believe that to move Haiti forward, it’s going to be necessary to embrace the energy of its people, to unite around a common goal of moving ahead together. Taking all of these factors into consideration over the last few weeks, I have decided to run for president of Haiti.

I’m happy to have my family as my biggest supporters. They’ve been right there with me, helping with the programs of my NGO, Yele Haiti, over the years. Angelina and Claudinette and I were all in Haiti a few weeks before the earthquake, in fact. We went to Cite Soleil, one of the country’s most dangerous neighborhoods, to give toys and backpacks to the kids. The hotel where we had stayed was destroyed by the earthquake, crumbled to the ground. We escaped death by only a few weeks — my daughter, wife and I would have been under the rubble.

Once, I told Angelina she was going to perform with me on Nickelodeon, and she asked me if she was going to get paid. I asked her, “What are you gonna do with the money?” When she said she needed it to send to the kids of Haiti, I cried tears of joy! And when some people attacked my involvement with Yéle Haiti and tears rolled down my cheeks on Oprah, she said, “Daddy, you are too tough to cry. I’ve never seen you cry.” I said to her, “I’m not crying for myself; I’m crying for the people of Haiti.”

Some negative stories continue to be written about me. People might question my motives. Because our daughter is so young, we have shielded her from the negative stories, but when she is a little older, we will talk about those (and there might be many more to come in the next few months — or years, even, depending on how things go in my campaign to make a brighter future for Angelina and the rest of the youth of Haiti).

Christopher John Farley at The Wall Street Journal:

Jean called The Wall Street Journal today to talk about his decision to run for president of his homeland.

The Wall Street Journal: You have decided to run for president of Haiti.

Wyclef Jean: Yes, the decision is made.

Why did you decide that Haiti would be best served by you running?

Well, my whole country, my whole life since I was a kid, the country has had political turmoil. The reason why is that there’s never been one person who can unite all parties and get them to work together. And Haiti has a history of coup d’états. And after Jan. 12, I felt there would be a new beginning and the international would be more involved, America would be more involved, and I call myself more connected. I’m someone who can connect the parties together and basically be a leader for the youth for what they’ve been crying for for years. If you have a population that can’t read and write that’s been around 200 years and the majority of the population is a youth population, it’s basically modern slavery. And for me to just sit back, and if you’ve watched my career, I’ve been singing about this my entire life, not just the Haitian cause whether it’s Tibet or human rights, the idea is to not just shame but to turn it into policy and to really engage in another manner. I always say that Wyclef Jean is not running for the presidency of Haiti, I’m being drafted by the people of Haiti.

Haiti has so many problems. What are your plans to try and overcome some of them?

Well, I think the reality of it, to rebuild Haiti is going to take 25-30 years. But I think there are issues we can start tackling—the education, the literacy problem, the job creation problem, the agricultural component. The idea that if everything is being imported how do we get our export back. National production. These are some of the things that I feel we can start tackling. And when I say job creation, the infrastructure, the reconstruction of Haiti, should not only [involve] international contractors, but there should be local Haitian contractors too.

The Economist:

“ELECTION time is coming,” begins a song entitled “President” by Wyclef Jean, the Haitian hip-hop star. Election time is indeed coming in Haiti, with the presidential vote scheduled for November 28th, and Mr Jean’s vision may very well come true. He will formally announce his candidacy this Thursday night during an appearance on Larry King Live, a television programme.

Mr Jean might seem a longshot. He has no prior experience in politics, and he may have trouble speaking to voters, given that his French is dicey and his Creole is heavily accented. (He left the country when he was nine, before it became a democracy). However, as Leslie Voltaire, Haiti’s envoy to the UN, puts it, the world’s most famous Haitian “speaks rap”. In a country where 65 percent of the population is under the age of 30, and where voters have long been disgruntled with la classe politique—the cadre of politicos that has kept a chokehold on electoral politics for more than 20 years—that may be enough to win.

Mr Jean’s candidacy would be a mixed blessing for Haitian democracy. Undoubtedly, it would boost turnout: less than ten percent of eligible voters showed up for the last Haitian elections, in April 2009. And his love for his native country seems heartfelt. In 2005, he set up a charity called Yéle Haiti, which supports schools, street cleaning, and culture programs. It took in some $9 million in donations following the earthquake that devastated the country on January 12th.

Charles Blow at NYT:

It is a fascinating bit of celebrity news. But it’s also a very serious pursuit by an utterly untested and unqualified candidate who has a strong chance of actually becoming the president of that crippled nation.

Jean, a Haitian citizen who grew up in Brooklyn and New Jersey and who many simply call Clef, enters a crowded field. It includes his own uncle, Raymond Joseph, the distinguished silver-haired Haitian ambassador to the United States, whom Jean himself had encouraged to run.

But Jean has been catapulted to the front of that field because celebrity trumps solemnity. If he can prove that he meets the residency requirements, which some doubt, he has a serious chance.

So we must take his candidacy seriously. The question for Wyclef becomes: “Why, Clef?”

It’s a pressing question because whoever wins takes over what many considered a failed state even before the devastating January earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and worsened an already desperate situation.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer put the question to Jean on Thursday on “Larry King Live.” Here is the sum total of Jean’s rambling, somewhat incoherent, answer: “Well, after Jan. 12th, I would say over 50 percent of the population is a youth population. And we suffered for over 200 years. Now that our country has a problem, it’s a chance to rebuild from the bottom on up. And I don’t even say I’m trying to be president. I’m being drafted by the youth of Haiti. Right now is a chance for to us bring real education into the school, infrastructure, security and proper jobs. So this is some of the reasons that I’m running.”

Wow! Let’s just say that he’s no Demosthenes.

Tyler Cowen:

Here is one response:

A sad day for Haiti. No experience. No plan. No education. Can’t speak the language let alone proper English plus a history of not being able manage his own personal affairs based on foreclosures, IRS tax liens and his nonprofit scandal.

Here is another:

Wyclef Jean owes the IRS 2.1 million dollars, had his house sold at auction and stole money from his own Haiti ‘charity’.

Those points would appear to be well-taken, but as an economist so often does, I would rephrase the question in terms of “how much” rather than “whether.”  What is the probability that the “added media scrutiny and international attention” effect will create benefits which outweigh his other deficiencies for the job?  I say about ten percent.

Marjorie Valbrun at The Root:

Dear Wyclef,

It pains me to have to tell you this — especially in public. Particularly because it goes to the heart of someplace and something we both care deeply about. But I have to, because as much as I love you, I love Haiti more — so much so that I’m unwilling to put her fate in your hands.

So here goes. Wyclef, you’re making a big mistake. Running for president of Haiti is a bad idea. Bad for you and bad for Haiti.

Yes, over the years, your words and deeds on behalf of our beloved little island have been commendable. You’ve inspired legions of young Haitian people both here and back home. You’ve done the Lord’s work with a zealot’s commitment and a salesman’s enthusiasm. We love you for it; we really do.

Who can forget the television images of you on the ground in Haiti just days after the earthquake, helping to carry and bury battered bodies, going on the evening news to call for faster and better organized relief efforts?

I, for one, thank you on behalf of other Haitian-Americans who didn’t have the means, the connections, the public platform or the gumption to do what you did.

[…]

Now, more than ever, Haiti needs a highly educated and experienced technocrat who understands the intricacies of governing and diplomacy. Someone who can wage a successful civic-education campaign and get different sectors of civil society all working on the same page and tamp down the country’s cyclical social unrest. Someone who knows how to get things done and knows how to build schools, hospitals and neighborhoods, as well as sewer systems, electric grids and roads. Someone who can feed the people and give them jobs. Someone schooled in international affairs and who will be respected by the international community. Someone who can rebuild Haiti and ultimately restore its dignity.

Frankly, Wyclef, that someone is not you.

You’re just not qualified. You’re fame and hype, but Haiti needs sure and steady. You have an entourage of “yes” men, but Haiti needs an army of yeomen. You’re a uniquely talented music man, but Haiti desperately needs a credible statesman. And then there are your messy financial problems and the questionable accounting practices at your charitable foundation. It’s too complicated to get into here, but it doesn’t look good and will be a distraction throughout the campaign. Had you not built up so much goodwill over the years, your finances — both personal and professional — would have totally undermined your standing.

John Nolte at Big Hollywood:

As usual, Sean Penn just can’t say enough bad things about America — and could he be more humorless? The real story here, however, is Penn’s relentlessly brutal trashing of the Fugee’s Wyclef Jean as some kind of stooge for American corporate interests. In-between a ton of innuendo and phrases like “I don’t know,” and “allegedly,” Penn’s obviously attempting to strangle the rapper’s bid to be the next Haitian president in the cradle.

If Jean, who was born in Haiti, is smart, he’ll rip a page from the Barack Obama playbook, not answer any of Penn’s charges and simply write the actor off as a racist.

Oh, wait, maybe that’s not so smart.

Who knows, Penn might be  right about Jean. Then again, Penn might just be an elitist, socialist, narcissist, busybody who sees himself as the Great White Liberal Hope of Haiti which somehow makes it okay for him to poke his ignorant movie star nose into the domestic politics of a country other than his own (not that he’s a whole lot of help here).

I think you all know where my money is.

My initial reaction — not that I’ve been able to summon enough interest to study up on it — was to cynically assume Jean was a celebrity opportunist looking to burnish his ego with an attention-getting political bid. Now that I discover Penn agreeing with me, it’s time to completely rethink that position. And from the looks of that earthquake ravaged country, a little American corporate interest is exactly what they need. So…

Wyclef Jean — Yes Haiti Can!

Regardless, I’m sure we can all agree that there’s no better way to enter the promise of a new weekend than with a couple of Hollywoodists ripping one another apart.

David Itzkoff at NYT:

The people of Haiti will not officially make their presidential preference known at the polls until the election scheduled for Nov. 28. But Wyclef Jean, the hip-hop artist who declared this week that he would run as a potential successor to President René Préval, has already lost one-third of the crucial Fugees vote. Pras, a cousin of Mr. Jean and a fellow Haitian-American performer who worked with him in that influential rap group, told The Daily News of New York that he backed one of his former bandmate’s rivals. In a statement, Pras, whose name is Prakazrel Michel, told The Daily News that he supported Michel Martelly “as the next president of Haiti because he is the most competent candidate for the job,” and wrote on his Twitter feed, “I support and believe in my heart that Michel Martelly is prez for Haiti!” Like Pras and Mr. Jean, Mr. Martelly is also a Haitian musician, and performs under the stage name Sweet Micky

UPDATE: Wyclef Jean at Huffington Post

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