CAMDEN, N.J. — Kobe Bryant says in a court filing that he never gave his mother permission to sell mementos from his high school days and early professional basketball career.
Bryant is in a court battle over whether hundreds of items can be auctioned off.
Pamela Bryant says the NBA star told her the memorabilia was hers. She arranged earlier this year to auction it off through Berlin, N.J.-based Goldin Auctions and received a $450,000 advance.
Last week, lawyers for the NBA star wrote to the auction house demanding it cease the June sale. Goldin is suing to assert its right to sell.
In a filing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Camden, Kobe Bryant says his mother acknowledged to him recently that she did not have permission to sell the items. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — There are 36 songs in the new Broadway show “Motown: The Musical.” Actually, that’s just in the first act — 36 songs, not including a reprise of “You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Loves You.” It’s like a jukebox went completely haywire.
To be sure, the songs are probably the best America has ever produced: “War,” ”What’s Going On?” ”My Girl,” ”You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” ”Dancing in the Streets” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” But, still, 36? In comparison, “The Book of Mormon” has what now seems like a stingy 16 songs in total.
The 2½-hour show, about Motown Records under founder Berry Gordy, opened Sunday at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre completely unbalanced: The songs are staggering, the book utterly flimsy.
Both are due to one man: Gordy, who clearly knows what makes an indelible hit song, but also has an inability to write objectively about that skill. As the book writer, Gordy comes across almost divine, a true visionary who literally changed the world and race relations but was eventually abandoned by the artists he made stars when they sought to cash in. There are parts of the show that even a North Korean dictator would find excessively flattering.
Using a total of 59 songs or snippets of songs — not counting a tiny amount of the theme from the film “Mahogany” — Gordy tells the story of how his Motown empire rose and fell and then rose again.
“You built a legacy of love,” he makes Smokey Robinson say, admiringly.
The story begins and ends in 1983 — Motown’s 25th anniversary — and is a celebration of an independent record company as much as one of Gordy. Why 1983? It neatly avoids mention of the sale of Motown in 1988.
The irony is that despite having a war chest of songs, Gordy has co-written (with Michael Lovesmith) four new ones to drive home plot points. They’re pretty good, especially “It’s What’s in the Groove That Counts” and “Can I Close the Door.”
Charles Randolph-Wright proves a director with real skill, able to seamlessly juggle an insane amount of songs, dozens of scenes and harness some quite stunning performances, led by a go-for-it Brandon Victor Dixon as Gordy and Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross, who especially shines during an ad lib moment with the audience.
Other standouts include Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson, Saycon Sengbloh as Martha Reeves and Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye. Raymond Luke Jr. — one of two boys taking turns playing the roles of young Gordy, young Stevie Wonder and a preteen Michael Jackson — was astounding and got one preview crowd thoroughly jazzed.
With so any tunes, backed by an 18-piece orchestra, it’s a challenge to find logical places to put them. Many are stuffed into long recording sessions at the Hitsville USA building in Detroit or when the artists tour or make TV appearances.
Often an attempt has been made to juxtapose the song with the action onstage and it’s a technique that works unevenly: It’s clever when “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is played when there’s backdoor intrigue discussed at Hitsville. It doesn’t work as well when the iconic song “War” is used to underline some bitter legal wrangling.
Gordy even threatens to tarnish some of these songs when he puts them into service to tell his story, as when he uses “My Girl” while trying to bed Ross (“I’m going to knock it out the park, baby,” he privately boasts to Robinson.) “My Girl” is too lovely to be used so callously. (“I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” a smitten Ross says during the seduction. Of course she does)
At other times, Gordy is dishonest to history. In the show, the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. prompts a riot in Detroit, triggering the song “What’s Going On?” The riot was in the summer of 1967, King was assassinated in April 1968 and the song came out in 1971.
Choreographer Patricia Wilcox has all the cast dance in the familiar styles of their respective eras and also has a few big tricks up her sleeve, as the well-executed “Dancing in the Streets” production number in Act 1 and the “Ball of Confusion” performance that opens Act 2. ESosa’s costumes beautifully change as the decades do, with the bright and sharp ’50s turning more earthy and loose — and hairy — as the night progresses.
To be fair, Gordy’s story is a remarkable one and should be told onstage, warts and all. His songs are the soundtrack of America, but letting him tell his own story has cheapened it. He didn’t “knock it out of the park, baby.”
Two Philadelphia school principals caught up in a widespread cheating probe have surrendered their administrative credentials in lieu of discipline.
District leaders said in a statement Wednesday that they support how the state handled the case. They say there's no room for cheating in schools.
The state had been investigating allegations that Barbara McCreery changed student answers on standardized tests known as the PSSAs while leading Communications Technology High School.
Officials had been looking into similar allegations against Lola Marie O'Rourke, former principal of Locke Elementary School.
So far, a statewide probe of test results from 2009-11 has found that 15 districts or charter schools tampered with the exams.
O'Rourke and McCreery have left the district. Neither could be reached for comment. -- (AP)
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's presidency says 94-year-old Nelson Mandela is responding positively to hospital treatment for a recurring lung infection.
The office of President Jacob Zuma also said in a statement Thursday that the former president and anti-apartheid leader remains under observation.
Mandela was admitted late Wednesday to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital.
Mandela contracted tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting white racist rule in South Africa. He has repeatedly had lung problems. -- (AP)
CHESTER — The Philadelphia Union has reached a contract termination by mutual consent with star midfielder Freddy Adu.
Adu, who finalized the agreement on Monday, has signed with Esporte Clube Bahia, a Brazilian club, and the Union, in turn, acquired veteran Brazilian midfielder Jose Kleberson on loan from the same team.
Kleberson, 33, was on Brazil's winning team in the 2002 World Cup, and has appeared in 32 matches for his country.
Adu, 23, came to Philadelphia in August 2011 under former coach Peter Nowak. Adu made 35 appearances for the Union, scoring seven times with two assists.
"We would like to thank Freddy Adu for his service to the Union over the past two years," Philadelphia team manager John Hackworth said, "and wish him the best of luck as he continues his career in Brazil." – (AP)