Ice Cube has been busy with his film career--he got strong reviews last year for his role in “Three Kings,” and his work as writer-producer-star on “Next Friday” is now paying off nicely at the box office. But watch this week for the veteran rhymer to take a break from Hollywood to return to the rap scene. Cube’s new album, “War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc),” hits stores Tuesday, and retailers expect it to debut near the top of the charts. The disc features one track, “Hell Low,” produced by Cube’s former N.W.A cohort Dr. Dre, a collaboration that prompted Cube to wax nostalgic for the days when the pair created the foundation of West Coast gangsta rap. “Working with him, it’s comfort, man,” Cube said. “Know how you snuggle up in your bed? It’s your bed, you’re comfortable and safe. That’s how it is with Dre.” That’s also why talks will continue this week about an N.W.A reunion. The group--Cube, Dre and MC Ren (along with Snoop Dogg, filling in for the late Eazy-E)--performed together for the first time in a decade on Saturday for an episode of “Farmclub.com” that will be seen on USA Network next Monday. And while Cube’s managers caution that a lot of details need to be ironed out, the rapper says the new-look N.W.A crew hopes to begin work in June on a new album and follow it with a stadium tour with guest stars such as Eminem and Mack 10. “Just think about it,” Cube said of the all-star lineup and the prospect of hard-core rap’s first stadium tour. “It’d be unbelievable.”
American Comedy Awards Go Online
Giving away money is lately all the rage in prime time, so small wonder the American Comedy Awards are getting into the act. The 14th annual edition of the ceremony airs Thursday on Fox, and the come-ons to tune out NBC’s “Must-See TV” lineup include a $10,000 prize for the best joke submitted via the Internet at https://americancomedyawards.com. Producer George Schlatter will also allow viewers wide access to what went on backstage during the taped ceremony throughout the TV broadcast--providing an example, he insists, of the coming convergence between computers and TV. “This is what’s next,” the former “Laugh-In” producer said. “It’s really exciting.” What isn’t so exciting is the Thursday time slot, as Fox has shuffled the Comedy Awards around a bit in recent years, having seemingly thrust more of its resources into another new made-for-TV awards ceremony involving its sister publication, TV Guide. The festivities include Steve Martin receiving a life achievement award, and if the Web access isn’t enough, comedy junkies with cable can see a special previewing the Fox special Wednesday on--where else?--Comedy Central.
At Least Oscar Has a Handle on Scalpers
It’s been a tough Oscar season for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. First, the Oscar ballots don’t get delivered to academy members on time, so new ones had to be hurriedly mailed out. Then someone steals 55 of the coveted Oscar statuettes, which vanished from the loading dock of a trucking company. The Chicago manufacturer of the statuettes had to shift into overtime to make replacements. But on another front, at least, it appears that the academy has made significant headway: ticket scalping. “I may be optimistic,” said academy executive director Bruce Davis, “but I think over the last six or eight years we’ve almost entirely eliminated that problem.” When thousands of academy members, celebrities and the media descend this Sunday on the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, academy security will be checking to see that only legitimate ticket-holders are seated inside. Around the time of the Persian Gulf War, when threats of terrorism were rampant, security experts took a hard look at the entire security operations at the Academy Awards and found one gaping hole--the black market in Oscar tickets. At the time, ticket agencies were buying and selling the tickets, commanding thousands of dollars per ducat in some cases. “If you had $10,000 and a cause,” Davis recalled, “you could pick up tickets at any of several ticket agencies and come into the show with a gun or a bomb strapped at your waist or whatever. At about the same time, the celebrity stalker phenomenon started to get attention.” So academy attorneys went to the ticket agencies and won agreements from them not to buy or sell Oscar tickets. They also received assurances from newspapers and Hollywood trade papers that they would not publish ticket ads. Still, people slip through the security. One year, Davis recalled, a couple from another country bought two tickets for $10,000 from a broker. Security was tipped off, however, and evicted the trespassers when they arrived at their seats. Davis said that academy members who sell their Oscar tickets will be ousted from the organization. This year, he noted, legitimate tickets are being sold by the academy to members for between $40 and $250.
--Compiled by Times Staff Writers