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John may compete against self for Oscar

Sir Elton John listens in the courtyard of the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris on June 21. Sir Elton John received the Legion of Honor (seen on his jacket), France’s highest award, during a visit to the presidential Elysee Palace. (AP)

Tributes to MJ flow on 10th death anniversary

LOS ANGELES, June 25, (Agencies): Elton John is going to face some stiff competition in this year’s Oscars race: Elton John.

 He’ll have two tunes in competition for the Academy Award for best original song this year. The just announced track listing for the “Lion King” soundtrack reveals he and lyricist Tim Rice did write a new end-titles number for the upcoming remake, titled “Never Too Late”, which he also performs with the help of an African choir.

 John was already an early contender in the Oscar song sweepstakes with “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”, which he and Bernie Taupin wrote to go over the closing credits of his biopic, “Rocketman”. That number, set in a bouncy retro-Motown style, was performed as a sort of identical-twins duet between John and his screen portrayer, Taron Egerton.

 What the track listing for “The Lion King” fails to make clear is whether Beyonce will join him as a competitor this year.

 In early 2018, John expressed hopes of collaborating with the superstar, who’d been voice-cast as Nala. “They need to have a new end-credits song,” he told the Sun then. “We’ve been speaking to Beyonce’s people, and hopefully Tim and I and her can cook up something. … And it will be great to work with her. So we will see.” Today’s track list announcement is the first public confirmation that that much-ballyhooed plan never panned out.

Soundtrack

 Beyonce is listed as appearing on the “Lion King” soundtrack, but only once, reprising the original movie’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” – which won the best song Oscar for John and Rice in 1995 – along with Donald Glover, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen in a new version produced by Pharrell Williams and coproduced by Stephen Lipson.

But there’s a “TBA” listed for track 14. Director Jon Favreau told Fandango that Beyonce did do a song for the soundtrack, on her own and presumably not involving Sir Elton – so bets are on that that’s the reason for the missing song title. If that proves to be true, and the tracks are in the order they appear in the film, Beyonce’s new number will come near the end of the film but not serve as the movie’s climax.

 If John (pictured above at the original film’s London premiere in 1994) does get a pair of best song nominations this year and compete against himself, it won’t be the first time. In ‘95, he and Rice didn’t just win the Oscar, they claimed three out of five nominations in the category. The other two “Lion King” songs up that year were “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata”.

 Naturally, those two numbers are back in the new version’s soundtrack, too, along with “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Be Prepared”. It had been rumored that the latter song was not being revived for the new film, but it’s on deck after all, being performed by Chiwetel Ejiofor – perhaps with new lyrics, since the track listing (uniquely among the credits here) includes the subtitle “(2019 Version)”, suggesting a substantial reworking.

 Although all the songs from the original movie are present and accounted for, none of the songs that were added for the Broadway version in 1997 are here. Besides being inserted into the theatrical song score, “Morning Report” was added to a special DVD edition of the original animated film – but it was taken back out for re-releases and even finally cut from the Broadway production in 2010, so it’s no great surprise it’s MIA here.

 The “Lion King” soundtrack comes out on digital services July 11 with the CD hitting stores eight days later, on July 19, the same day the film opens domestically.

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Michael Jackson’s estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity Tuesday as fans make final preparations for gatherings to celebrate his memory on the 10th anniversary of the King of Pop’s death.

“Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. “A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever.”

The estate called on fans to honor Jackson’s memory by engaging in charitable acts “whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way. … This is how we honor Michael,” the statement read.

Fans plan to gather at Jackson’s last home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the afternoon of June 25, 2009. He was declared dead at a hospital at age 50.

They also plan a vigil at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Jackson was laid to rest two months later.

Some planned to gather around Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The anniversary comes a few months after the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” brought back child molestation allegations against Jackson and threatened to upend an image that had been largely rehabilitated since his death. Jackson’s estate and his family have vehemently denied the stories told by two men in the documentary.

One group of fans planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence. He was acquitted of the sexual abuse of a different boy in a 2005 trial.

Co-executors John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson’s career when he was alive, have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film “This Is It”, a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalog.

Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will.

The singer’s father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael’s 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later.

The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal.

It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie.

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