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Quick Takes: NPR staff releases letter

March 11, 2011

A group of National Public Radio reporters and anchors released a letter to listeners and supporters Thursday saying the comments made by a network executive about "tea party" members had damaged the organization but expressing confidence that "NPR will come out of this difficult period stronger than ever."

The journalists said they were "appalled by the offensive comments made recently by NPR's now former senior vice president for development [Ron Schiller]. His words violated the basic principles by which we live and work: accuracy and open-mindedness, fairness and respect."

Schiller resigned after his comments were made public Tuesday, and NPR's chief executive, Vivian Schiller (no relation), followed suit Wednesday.

"Those comments have done real damage to NPR. But we're confident that the culture of professionalism we have built, and the journalistic values we have upheld for the past four decades, will prevail," said the letter, whose 22 signatories included "All Thing Considered" hosts Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block.

—Lee Margulies

Greek: Classic rock, Latin acts

A near-Zeppelin live experience, a 45th-anniversary reunion of 75% of the Monkees, the return of a post-"Raising Sand" Alison Krauss to her longtime band Union Station, hit country-pop duo Sugarland, Steely Dan and a wealth of Latin pop, salsa and traditional music stars including Vicente Fernandez, Luis Miguel, Ruben Blades and Ramon Ayala highlight the 2011 seasons at the Greek Theatre and Gibson Amphitheatre to be announced Friday.

Drummer Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin's original percussionist John Bonham, brings his Led Zeppelin Experience production to the Greek on May 27 for the venerable amphitheater's 80th-anniversary season, while Spanish signer Camilo Sesto kicks off the Premiere Marquee Club joint subscription season for the Gibson. Ticket packages for both venues are on sale Friday at PMCLA.com.

Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork will sing "Hey, hey — we're the Monkees!" at the Greek on July 16 as part of their reunion tour. Although guitarist, singer and songwriter Michael Nesmith joined with his former band mates on stage in 1986, 1996 and a 1997 U.K. tour and in the studio for their first album, "Justus," since their late-'60s heyday, Nesmith is sitting this collaboration out.

—Randy Lewis

Armstrong joins 'Idiot's final days

"American Idiot," the Green Day rock musical on Broadway, has posted a closing notice of April 24. But before the curtain falls for a final time at the St. James Theatre in New York, producers will bring back the band's frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong, who will perform in the final three weeks of the show.

Without Armstrong leading the charge, "American Idiot" has been a tough sell on Broadway. Last week, the musical saw its box office revenue plunge nearly 47% after Armstrong ended his most recent set of appearances.

It remains unclear if the Broadway run of "American Idiot" will recoup its investment. But the show will launch a national tour beginning in the fall, with confirmed stops in Los Angeles (at the Ahmanson Theatre), Costa Mesa (at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts) and Boston.

—David Ng

Foo Fighters on the big screen

The Foo Fighters and "Wasting Light" are coming to a theater near you.

On April 5, the band will perform a live concert that will reach more than 80 U.S. movie theaters — a presentation that will follow screenings of the new documentary "Foo Fighters: Back and Forth," directed by Oscar-winner James Moll ("The Last Days").

The Foo Fighters will play their seventh studio album, "Wasting Light," front-to-back during the tie-in performance, which comes a week before that new collection hits stores on April 12.

The participating theaters haven't been announced yet.

—Geoff Boucher

Graceland plans are put on hold

The owner of Elvis Presley Enterprises is scaling back plans to redevelop the Graceland attraction because of a difficult economic climate.

CKx Inc. said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that expanding the visitors center and adding attractions, shops and a hotel adjacent to Elvis' former home in Memphis would take several years and substantial financial investment.

The company is exploring opportunities to build a new Heartbreak Hotel with a business partner, CKx chief executive Michael G. Ferrel said. But the other previously studied parts of the redevelopment would happen only in "incremental steps," depending on the economy, he said.

Last year, 518,940 people visited Graceland, a 4.4% drop from 542,728 in 2009.

—Associated Press

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