The Baltimore Sun

Aretha Franklin plans a downloadable do-over for inauguration performance

President Barack Obama took a do-over on his oath of office. Now the Queen of Soul is following his lead.

Aretha Franklin has recorded a "preferred version" of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," which she sang at Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

Franklin said in a statement yesterday that she wasn't able to give her "very best" in the ceremony's cold weather but wants fans to have the best possible version of her singing the song.

The single, released this week, will be available online through iTunes, Rhapsody and other outlets.

Has she got a deal for you

British pop star Lily Allen is teaming up with MySpace Music and in a promotion that will offer her latest CD, It's Not Me, It's You, for the bargain rate of $3.99 until Feb. 16.

The CD is out Tuesday. MySpace Music has already been offering a free preview.

Allen, 23, is also planning to promote the album with free MySpace Music Secret Shows in London, Tokyo and New York City, where it will be held Tuesday at the Bowery Ballroom.

New CDs are usually about $10 to $20 in retail stores and on some online sites.

Hasty Pudding taps

James Franco, 31, who won acclaim for playing both a goofy pot dealer in Pineapple Express and Harvey Milk's lover in Milk, has been named Harvard's Hasty Pudding Man of the Year.

Franco will receive the award at a roast Feb. 13 by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals - the nation's oldest undergraduate drama troupe.

Renee Zellweger, the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, was honored yesterday in a parade through Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., accompanied by Harvard men dressed in drag. By tradition, many of the troupe's male members wear women's clothes for the parade.

Shakira funds fifth school

As a teenager, pop star Shakira fought illiteracy by teaching reading at a parochial school in the La Playa district of her hometown in Colombia.

Her gift to La Playa is now considerably bigger.

Shakira dedicated a $6 million school on Wednesday sponsored by her foundation, Pies Descalzos, which means "barefoot" in Spanish.

Shakira was accompanied by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who decorated her with a medal. The school will cater to 1,800 students and is the fifth the singer-songwriter's foundation has built.

More to choose from

The TV Academy is expanding the number of nominees that will be up for several key Emmy categories, including best comedy and drama series, Variety reports on its Web site.

That means six shows will compete for the Emmy in those categories instead of five. The top actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress fields in both comedy and drama will also see their nominee ranks grow from five to six.

The academy said it made the change after noticing the sixth-place finisher is quite frequently neck and neck with the fifth-place finisher.


Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, 92

Actor Mike Farrell, 70

Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, 69

Actor Michael Tucker, 65

Director Robert Townsend, 52

Rock singer Axl Rose, 47

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad