Well, Beatty has played gangsters in the movies, but who would have guessed he's into rap music?
But that's the sound he wanted for the soundtrack of his upcoming political satire "Bulworth," which he wrote, directed and stars in. So together with Karyn Rachtman (who put together the music for such recent hits as "Pulp Fiction" and "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet"), he spent the past two years building relationships with some of the top names in hip-hop to make it happen.
The result is a score that includes a collaboration by Dr. Dre and LL Cool J, another teaming Pras of the Fugees with the Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard (he of the recent Grammy outburst), plus a title song super-session featuring Method Man, KRS-One, Mobb Deep's Prodigy and Kam.
Also featured are new or previously unreleased tracks by Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang members RZA and Cappadonna and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees teamed with Nigerian star Youssou N'Dour and young rapper Canibus. A video for that track is set to be shot this week with Beatty and co-star Halle Berry joining the rappers.
Pras, long a fan of Beatty's--especially his role as crime boss Bugsy Siegel in 1991's "Bugsy"--was surprised to see the actor backstage after a Fugees show two years ago at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.
"Warren Beatty--that's like white mainstream America," says the rapper. "You don't get more mainstream than that."
Beatty, who was turning up regularly at other rap shows around that time, didn't even mention the movie. But late last year, he and Rachtman started inviting rappers to see rough cuts of the film, in which he plays a disillusioned senator who decides to go out and tell the truth. In particular, he focuses on racial and class relations--topics addressed in much rap music.
"Rap music is the music of social protest of a generation and a culture that will be heard," Beatty says in the press material accompanying the album, which will be released by Interscope Records on April 7. (The film opens on May 22.)
"Beatty is a definite appreciator of rap music and all these artists," says Rachtman, Interscope's vice president of soundtracks and "Bulworth's" music supervisor. "He gets it, gets what hip-hop culture is all about."
And it was no problem getting the rappers to appreciate what the film is about.
"I responded to the whole concept," says Pras. "I'm into the whole thing about corruption of the government."
The trick was to capture that fire in the songs without alienating mainstream Beatty fans.
"My song is totally hip-hop, but with a melody that has to go to the masses," says Pras. "But the music speaks for itself, even without the movie. It would work whether it was for Warren Beatty or Bill Clinton or the Antichrist."
'PALOOZA PLANNING: While most of the summer festivals are setting their lineups, Lollapalooza organizers have had both Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson turn down offers for their headlining slot, and both for the same reason: Each act is working on a new album and may not be finished in time for the tour.
"The reason's simply the timing," says Manson manager Tony Ciulla. "We don't want to be in a position where we're committed to touring and the record's not finished."
Several other acts are being put in place for other slots on the trek, with Green Day, Garbage and Scott Weiland all in current discussions. There's talk of the Cure signing on as the distinguished veteran presence.
HOLE STORY: One Lollapalooza veteran that won't be in the package--or on any other summer tour--is Hole. If nothing else, leader Courtney Love's movie plans seem to preclude that possibility. She's set to shoot a lead role soon in "200 Cigarettes" and is up to co-star in "Fight Club" for director David Fincher ("Seven," "The Game"), scheduled to begin filming in June--just as Hole's follow-up to the acclaimed "Live Through This" album is due for release.
The films won't interfere with promotional duties surrounding the album's release, says Hole's co-manager Cliff Burnstein.
"There will be a Hole tour around this album, but just not in summer," he says. "Summer is too crowded anyway. And you can do a lot of promotion in advance. Madonna, who we also handle, is a good example. She hasn't even been in the U.S. for a few weeks, and look how everything has broken just right in the media as the record comes out. I'm sure with Hole we'll get a lot of it done in advance."
PIER PRESSURE: The vacancy left by the July closing of the Ash Grove club on the Santa Monica Pier may be on its way to being filled. Jan Palchikoff, executive director of the Pier Restoration Corp., which manages the public facilities there, has started accepting proposals from potential operators to move in. She says the preference is for another music club, but if none qualify it could be used as a restaurant.
"We want to have the same use that was there as the Ash Grove, with an eclectic approach," Palchikoff says. Proposals must include creative ways to promote the club in order to overcome such hurdles as a perception that parking is a problem on the pier.
One possibility is the Knitting Factory, the avant-garde New York club that is looking to open an L.A. facility. Founder Michael Dorf met with Palchikoff, as well as owners of other sites, on a recent visit to the area.