Elton John calls 'American Idol' voting racist

New York

Elton John thinks there's something "incredibly racist" about viewer voting on Fox TV's "American Idol."

John, who rehearsed with the show's wannabe pop stars during a recent week in which they performed his songs, said three performers he was really impressed with "happened to be black, young female singers, and they all seemed to be landing in the bottom three."

"These three girls would have the talent to be members of The Royal Academy or Juilliard," the British singer-songwriter told reporters. "They have great voices. The fact that they are constantly in the bottom three, and I don't want to set myself up here, I find it incredibly racist."

Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said Wednesday the network had no comment.

Haven of checkmates


Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov plans to take part in a Cuban attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most people playing chess simultaneously.

Organizers expect some 13,000 people to show up today at the inland city of Santa Clara in central Cuba to play chess in homage to revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

"This will be an event not only for Cuban chess but for global chess," Karpov told reporters Tuesday, the day after his arrival on the island.

The current Guinness record also was set by Cubans, when 11,320 people -- including President Fidel Castro -- played 5,660 simultaneous games of chess Dec. 7, 2002, at the Jose Marti Revolution Square in Havana.

Yo-Yo Ma show to air tonight

New York

It's a TV show that lures about as many viewers as "Sex and the City" did -- without the sex.

Up to 7 million people, on average, watch the public television series "Live from Lincoln Center," which today will feature cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra under Ton Koopman.

From the 1,100-seat Alice Tully Hall, Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in B flat major and Franz Joseph Haydn's Concerto in D major "will get to a TV box in North Dakota, in Wyoming, into living rooms across the country," Ma said.

"Live from Lincoln Center" airs at 7 p.m. on PBS. Ma performed April 17 at the Lied Center in Lawrence, Kan.

MTV asks Beastie Boys to perform at movie awards

New York

The Beastie Boys are set to perform at the MTV Movie Awards next month, along with D-12 and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a network representative told The Associated Press.

The irreverent awards show will be taped June 5 in Culver City, Calif., outside Los Angeles, and broadcast June 10 on MTV.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" has the most nominations with six, including best movie and best on-screen team for co-stars Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom.

Other performers and presenters are to be announced later.


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