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Quick Takes: Ailing Levon Helm's 'journey'

April 18, 2012

The Band singer and drummer Levon Helm is in the final stages of cancer, according to a note posted on his website Tuesday by his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Amy.

"Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey," the note said. "Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration . . . he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage."

At Saturday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland, former Band guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson told the audience, "We all need to send out love and prayers to my Band mate Levon Helm," but he did not elaborate.

As one of three lead singers for the Band, along with Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, the Arkansas-born Helm was the dominant voice on such signature songs as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Rag Mama Rag" and "Daniel and the Sacred Harp."

—Randy Lewis

Amazon reaches Bond book deal

Amazon announced Tuesday that it has purchased the North American rights to Ian Fleming's James Bond books.

James Bond, of course, is the debonair British superspy 007, whose exploits in books such as "Goldfinger," "Thunderball" and "Dr. No" have become an iconic big-screen movie franchise.

Under the agreement, Amazon will retain republication rights for 10 years to both the print books, which have sold 100 million copies worldwide, and the e-books, which have not. Yet.

Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., said, "We believe that Amazon Publishing has the ability to place the books back at the heart of the Bond brand, balancing traditional publishing routes with new technologies and new ways of reaching our readers."

—Carolyn Kellogg

Winning bid for Superman check

The $412 check that DC Comics wrote to acquire Superman and other creative works by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has sold for $160,000 in an online auction.

Stephen Fishler, chief executive of and Metropolis Collectibles in New York, said Tuesday that the 1938 check was auctioned online to an unnamed buyer.

The check was made out to Siegel and Shuster and deposited. It includes a line item for $130 showing DC paid for full ownership and rights to Superman.

Siegel and Shuster created Superman together while teenagers in Cleveland, Ohio, in the early 1930s. His first appearance was in "Action Comics" No. 1 in April 1938.

—Associated Press

Stars push arts in Washington

Celebrities including Alec Baldwin visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to shine their spotlight on federal funding for the arts.

Baldwin and others including actors Hill Harper, Melina Kanakaredes, Tiffani Thiessen and singers Ben Folds and Clay Walker were part of the artistic delegation for Americans for the Arts. The nonprofit organization works to advance arts and arts education across the country.

Baldwin told a news conference that the arts stimulate children's education.

With about $147 million in federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts this year, the group hopes to increase funding to $155 million next year.

—Associated Press

Courtroom date for ABC shows?

Two Nashville men plan to file a class-action suit against "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," claiming that the ABC dating shows intentionally exclude people of color.

Representatives for Nathaniel Claybrooks, described as an "All-American football player," and Christopher Johnson, described as an "aspiring National Football League player," contend that both shows over the last 10 years and 23 combined seasons have never featured a person of color in the central role.

They said they plan to file their complaint in federal court on Wednesday.

Among those being named in the suit are ABC Inc. and Warner Horizon Television Inc.

ABC and Warner Horizon representatives declined to comment Tuesday.

—Greg Braxton


Returning: Bravo has renewed its L.A.-based reality series "Shahs of Sunset" for a second season. The first-season finale drew more than 1.5 million viewers.

Honored: Steven Koblik, president of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, has been elected to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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