Mellencamp measures success by response

Mellencamp measuressuccess by response
INDIANAPOLIS -- John Mellencamp is pleased with having something of a commercial rebound, but says that at age 50 he is "irrelevant" in terms of the charts and MTV.
His 16th studio recording, "Cuttin' Heads," debuted at No. 15 on Billboard magazine's albums chart last month. "John Mellencamp," his 1998 release, opened at No. 40 and slipped off the top 200 in a matter of weeks.
Mellencamp does measure success, however, by personal responses to the music.
"Did you like the record? Did you relate to any of the songs? I had a frustrating -- but good -- time making the record," he says. "That's how I feel about it."
After promoting "Cuttin' Heads" heavily on radio and television in recent weeks, the Indiana native is on hiatus until a 50-date arena tour begins in March.
The album has fared well critically, with many reviewers comparing it to his 1980s releases "Scarecrow," "The Lonesome Jubilee" and "Big Daddy."
"All of these records seem the same to me," he says. "That's why I'm so surprised when people distinguish that one record is better than another. I've been writing the same way for years. I go up to my art studio, I have an acoustic guitar, and I have nothing particular in mind that I want to write about until I start noodling around.
"I try to express a few things that aren't too offensive or, you know, too sappy."
It's Harley workfor Leno and stars
GLENDALE, Calif. -- Jay Leno led a pack of stars for the 18th annual charity Love Ride.
An estimated 20,000 people parked their motorcycles on a blocked-off road Sunday while Leno wisecracked and introduced a lineup of celebrities.
"Thank you very much for helping out with the metal drive. Just leave your bikes there and someone will pick them up," he said.
Leno, who has participated in 16 of the 18 Love Ride events, said this year's outing was significant because at least $100,000 of the donations would go to New York relief effort.
Participants pay a minimum of $50 to join the celebrities in the 50-mile ride from Glendale north to Castaic for a barbecue and concert. It's expected to generate at least $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Los Angeles Times' "Reading by 9" literacy initiative and other charities.
As Times Publisher John Puerner was introduced, Leno quipped, "He's also pledged to bring Harley riders to a third grade reading level."
Others joining the ride include "The X Files" star Robert Patrick, Ian Ziering of "Beverly Hills 90210," biking daredevil Robbie Knievel and family members of the Davidson half of Harley-Davidson.
Singer-actor Billy Ray Cyrus sang his 1992 song dedicated to veterans, "Some Gave All," along with the national anthem. His fan club collected $5,000 which Cyrus handed to Leno.
"The best way to show your love for this country is to give thanks to a veteran," Cyrus said.
Big Apple celebshope to draw crowds
NEW YORK -- Several Big Apple-based celebs have shot commercials attempting to persuade tourists to head back to the city, says E! Online.
Remember, they are supposed to entice visitors to New York.
So picture Billy Crystal in a turkey suit, opposite his "Analyze This" sparring partner Robert De Niro, who is decked out in full Pilgrim regalia. A dejected Crystal is upset that he has to play the gobbler at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
De Niro: "You know, it's not a big deal. All you do is, you know, 'cluck, cluck, cluck...'
Crystal: "First of all, we don't cluck, we gobble. OK?"
De Niro: "You want me to be the turkey?"
Crystal: "Yeah."
Another spot features a woman poring over the menu at the famous Stage Deli, where the sandwiches are named after stars.
"I'll have the Ben Stiller," she tells the server, "with Bacon on the side." The waiter then bellows, "Stiller, table 3." Right on beat, Stiller emerges from the kitchen. "With bacon!" shouts the waiter. Then Kevin Bacon comes out.
Yet another shows Yogi Berra conducting the New York Philharmonic ("Who is Phil Harmonic?").
Each commercial ends with Mayor Rudy Giuliani's spouting the theme of the campaign: "The New York miracle. Be a part of it."
The ads will air nationwide in the coming days.
Huey Lewis raises funds
SAN FRANCISCO -- Huey Lewis and the News kicked off a fund-raiser for disadvantaged youth with an a capella version of the national anthem.
The event Saturday raised money for Willie Mays' Say Hey Foundation, which supports community groups that work with youth and funds college scholarships.
The evening included a cocktail reception, dinner and performances by Lewis, Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.
Some of the proceeds from the event, called a "Night of Heroes," will benefit victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Today's birthdays
Actor Jack Elam is 85. Actress Madeleine Sherwood is 79. Producer-director Garry Marshall is 67. Country singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard is 55. Actor Joe Mantegna is 54. Actress Sheila Frazier is 53. Actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg is 46. Actress Caroline Goodall is 42. Actress Tracy Scoggins is 42. Rock musician Walter Kibby (Fishbone) is 37. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel is 34. Actor Steve Zahn is 33.

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