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Quick Takes: 'Mad Men's' January Jones to play a villain in 'X-Men: First Class'

January 06, 2011

"Mad Men" star January Jones had some spandex anxiety as she flipped through the pages of Marvel Comics and got a good look at Emma Frost, the villain that Jones will play in "X-Men: First Class" when the Fox feature film is released this summer.

"The costumes are insane," said Jones, who plays the prim Betty Draper on AMC's "Mad Men." "It's a lot of very body-conscious stuff. If you look at the comic book, she's barely dressed. She's got quite the bod, which is very intimidating."

Frost's form is well known to comic book fans — the character has a penchant for especially revealing outfits that showcase her curves. Jones, who said she is encouraged to avoid the gym while shooting "Mad Men" to maintain a body typical of the period, lifted some weights for the Frost role but said she otherwise struck flattering poses and hoped for the best. The film, which opens in June, has about a month of shooting left.

—Rebecca Keegan

Dudamel takes a seat with Leno

No one is calling Gustavo Dudamel the "King of All Media" yet, à la Howard Stern. But on Tuesday night the telegenic young L.A. maestro demonstrated his growing celebrity wattage while sitting opposite Jay Leno. Dudamel had proved he was ready for prime time even before he became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, making a splash on U.S. television with appearances on CBS' "60 Minutes," which profiled the hirsute, dynamic young Venezuelan conductor.

On Tuesday, Dudamel stepped into the even brighter lights of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," his first appearance on the late-night NBC chat-variety program. During the conversation with Leno, Dudamel praised his adopted part-time home of L.A., joked about his signature hair style, and put in a plug for this Sunday's premiere of the Phil's initiative that will bring live simulcasts of some of its concerts to specially equipped movie theaters across the U.S. and Canada.

Responding to Leno's query about his wild and woolly tresses, Dudamel said that growing his hair had occurred more or less accidentally, albeit with the encouragement of his wife, Eloísa Maturén. Asked by Leno how he managed to fire up his orchestra mates, Dudamel modestly replied it was the music that deserved the credit.

—Reed Johnson

Swift leads pop chart in 2011

A new year in pop music begins, and out of the gate it looks awfully similar to the way the most recent one started 12 months ago. Country starlet Taylor Swift heads into 2011 with the No. 1 album on the U.S. pop chart, according to Nielsen SoundScan, as her "Speak Now" has sold a total of 2.9 million copies in just 10 weeks.

After Christmas, sales are typically depressed, and Swift tops the U.S. pop chart, which is maintained by industry trade Billboard, with just 77,000 copies sold. With the holidays out of the way, America's interest in U.K. vocalist Susan Boyle's album "The Gift," which was No. 2 last week, falls to No. 32. Nevertheless, her sophomore effort managed to rack up 1.8 million in sales in just eight weeks.

Other familiar names dot the top 10, including Eminem, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Kanye West. R&B pop chameleon Mars sees his "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" jump from No. 20 to No. 7, giving it a total of 458,000 copies sold. Meanwhile his single, "Grenade," continues to rack up digital sales, selling an additional 425,000 downloads this week, according to Billboard.

Sales for the final week

of 2010 were down 8%

when matched against the comparable week the year before.

—Todd Martens

Dickens 'Twist' in Pasadena

As the Pasadena Playhouse continues to work toward full financial recovery, leaders have been gradually announcing new main-stage productions, short of committing to a full season. On Tuesday, the company added another show to its roster — the new musical, "Twist," based on the Charles Dickens classic, "Oliver Twist." It is set to open June 25.

"Twist" had its world premiere in 2010 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. The musical transposes Dickens' story of an orphan boy who falls in with a gang of pickpockets to New Orleans on the eve of the Great Depression. The score is by songwriters Tena Clark and Gary Prim, and the book is by Tony award nominee William F. Brown.

Debbie Allen directed and choreographed the Atlanta production and will return for the Pasadena version. The cast for the musical will be announced at a later date.

The musical will begin preview performances on June 14 and is scheduled to run through July 24.

The Pasadena Playhouse shut down its main stage in February due to crushing debt and other financial pressures. The company emerged from bankruptcy in July. Since reopening its main stage, the company has mounted productions of the solo show "FDR," starring Ed Asner, and "Uptown Downtown," starring Leslie Uggams.

In February, the Pasadena Playhouse will start performances of the new musical "Dangerous Beauty," based on the 1998 movie of the same name.

—David Ng

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