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Quick Takes: RCA closes subsidiaries

October 08, 2011

RCA Music Group is slimming down for the holidays by shuttering its Arista, Jive and J Records subsidiaries, a move by new label execs to strengthen the identity of the RCA brand.

Artists who have been with those three imprints, which have been home to Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Rod Stewart, Pitbull, Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake, Barry Manilow, R. Kelly, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Dido, Jennifer Hudson, Leona Lewis and others, will be shifted to RCA.

Jive produced several of the biggest-selling albums of all time in the midst of the youth pop boom a decade ago, including the multi-platinum hits for 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys and Spears.

The changes do not affect the Arista Nashville label, or the other three country music labels that are under the Sony Music Nashville umbrella: RCA, Columbia and BNA.

—Randy Lewis

Men at Work lose court bid

In singing of Vegemite, they plundered a kookaburra.

Australian rockers Men at Work lost their final court bid Friday to prove they did not steal the distinctive flute riff of their 1980s hit "Down Under" from another of the country's most famous songs, the children's campfire staple "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree."

The High Court of Australia denied the band's bid to appeal a federal court judge's earlier ruling that the group had copied the flute melody from "Kookaburra," a song about an Australian bird whose call sounds like laughter. But because the lawsuit was filed only two years ago, the band won't have to give up royalties from its heyday.

"Down Under" and the album it was on, "Business as Usual," reached No. 1 on the Australian, American and British charts in 1983, the year Men at Work won the Grammy Award for best new artist.

"Kookaburra" was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition. Sinclair died in 1988, but publishing company Larrikin Music — which now holds the copyright for "Kookaburra" — filed a lawsuit in 2009.

—Associated Press

CW axes reality series 'H8R'

In what some might call the ultimate sign of being a hater, the CW has axed the Mario Lopez-hosted series "H8R."

The reality series featured celebrities (think reality starlet Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria) as they confronted their biggest critics to try to change their opinions of them. The series premiered Sept. 14 to a tepid 1.3 million viewers and failed to boost that by much in the three weeks since.

Repeats of Tuesday drama "Ringer," starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, will air in its place at 8 p.m. Wednesdays beginning next week.

It's the third cancellation of the young season, with NBC having axed "The Playboy Club" and "Free Agents" earlier this week.

—Yvonne Villarreal

Label drops 'Idol' DeWyze

Lee DeWyze might have taken the crown on "American Idol" last year but today he needs a new label to call home.

The 25-year-old rocker has been dropped by RCA Records, the long-running home of "Idol" winners.

DeWyze will continue to be managed by 19 Entertainment and is "in a good place" as he works on new projects, a spokesperson for the management company said.

DeWyze's debut, "Live It Up," arrived to mostly stale reviews and logged sales of only 39,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its No. 19 debut was the lowest for any "American Idol" winner.

—Gerrick D. Kennedy

Recognition for dead poets

The founder of the Dead Poets Society of America traveled to Massachusetts on Friday to visit graves and other sites associated with Jack Kerouac and five other famous poets in his effort to recognize fallen bards.

The "Dead Poets 2011 Magic Bus Tour" aimed to pay homage to John Whittier, Anne Bradstreet, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Louisa May Alcott and Kerouac, said Walter Skold, who has visited the graves of 225 American poets since founding the Dead Poets Society of America in 2008.

Skold, a Freeport, Maine, resident, is keeping busy since leaving his job as a public school technology teacher to pursue his passions of poetry and photography. These days, he's often known simply as the "dead poet guy" after covering 30,000 miles while visiting poets' graves to work on a film and book.

—Associated Press

Director, actor honor Poe

Actor Luke Evans and director James McTeigue laid a wreath at Edgar Allan Poe's grave Friday in Baltimore as they paid their respects and talked about their upcoming film "The Raven," which re-imagines the American writer's last days.

Evans, 32, plays a young Baltimore detective hunting for a killer who is using Poe's grisly stories as the inspiration for a string of murders. John Cusack plays Poe, who joins the hunt.

Poe died in Baltimore on Oct. 7, 1849.

—Associated Press

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