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What about young Anna Lee? She's backing Levon Helm memorial

"Young" Anna Lee Amsden, immortalized in The Band's song "The Weight," is kicking off an effort to restore Levon Helm's childhood home and extend a musical heritage the drummer from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, developed over 60 years.

The Levon Helm Legacy Project says it needs about $150,000 to preserve the green-sided sharecropper's house, erect a bust of the performer nearby and introduce young people to the blues, folk and rock 'n' roll traditions.

"One of the last things he said before he died was 'Just keep it going,'" Amsden said in an interview Wednesday.

Helm died from throat cancer in 2012 at age 71 after spending his final years at Woodstock, New York — far from the cotton fields that surrounded his old home a few miles from the Mississippi River. Characters from his youth populated his songs. In his vocals on the 1968 song "The Weight," he sings: "Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee? He said, 'Do me a favor, son, won't you stay and keep Anna Lee company.'"

"I don't think of him as a big movie star or a musical icon. I think of him of somebody that I love dearly who was a part of my family," said Amsden, who is 76 and grew up along another country road near Turkey Scratch. "The fact that he left Phillips County and made out as well as he did — people would come to his rambles and be just in awe of playing with him — he needs to be immortalized."

Helm is noted for his work as a drummer and a singer for The Band, though he also played Loretta Lynn's father in "Coal Miner's Daughter" and Capt. Jack Ridley in "The Right Stuff." His final two solo albums, "Dirt Farmer" and "Electric Dirt," each won a Grammy. The Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Arkansas tributes already are underway, even without contributions rolling in to a GoFundMe site set up for the Levon Helm Memorial in Marvell. Arkansas legislators this year designated a portion of U.S. 49 as the Levon Helm Memorial Highway.

"People from all over the world are coming to eastern Arkansas because of the music," said Rep. Chris Richey, a Democrat from West Helena who sponsored a bill to honor several performers.

While Helm's childhood home has been moved twice from its original location, there's still interest in Turkey Scratch, said North Little Rock sculptor Kevin Kresse. He has completed a bust that will be placed near the home, but needs $25,000 to bronze it.

"There's nothing there and yet people are still wanting to come" to see where Helm grew up, he said.

Joe Griffith of Marvell, the chairman of the memorial effort, said the group's initial hope is to have something concrete in place so people will realize the effort is serious. He said it hopes to raise $30,000 to qualify for matching funds from the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, which serves the area, and is also seeking a grant from the Delta Regional Authority.

"His daughter Amy said 'My dad would rather teach kids the love of music than a tribute,' but Dad ain't here to vote against it," Griffith said.


Follow Kelly P. Kissel on Twitter at

Angelina Jolie reveals Bell's palsy diagnosis in Vanity Fair

Angelina Jolie says she developed high blood pressure and Bell's palsy last year.

The actress-director tells Vanity Fair that she credits acupuncture for her full recovery from the paralysis, which was caused by nerve damage and led one side of her face to droop.

Jolie has been open about her health challenges in the past. She wrote in the New York Times about her 2013 decision to have a preventative double mastectomy after learning that she carries the gene that made it extremely likely that she would get breast cancer. She had her ovaries removed two years later.

Jolie also opens up about her divorce from Brad Pitt in the magazine's September cover story , which was released online Wednesday. Jolie filed for divorce in September 2016.

She says they care for each other and for their family and are "both working toward the same goal."

Jolie says that when she was growing up, she often worried about her mother, and she doesn't want her children to worry about her.

"I think it's very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them," she said. "They need to know that everything's going to be all right even when you're not sure it is."

Jolie says her closest friend has been Loung Ung, whose 2000 memoir "First They Killed My Father" is the basis for Jolie's latest film. The women met in 2002 when Jolie was on her first mission for the United Nations' refugee outreach.

Jolie's adaptation of Ung's memoir about the Khmer Rouge genocide that claimed her parents and siblings will premiere on Netflix later this year.

WATCH: Usher teaches James Corden to dance in latest 'Carpool Karaoke'

Usher is one of a long line of pop stars to join “The Late Late Show” host James Corden for “Carpool Karaoke.” On Tuesday’s episode, the pair sang Usher hits, danced and also performed an unexpected good deed.

>> Read more trending news

As soon as Usher got into the vehicle, Corden began playing “Yeah!” -- one of the R&B megastar’s biggest hits -- with Corden hitting every word of  the Ludacris verse.

RELATED: Ed Sheeran crushes his “Carpool Karaoke” with boyish charm and ridiculous stories

The duo then took a detour into a parking lot so Usher could teach Corden some dance moves.

After a rousing rendition of “Let It Burn,” they made another unscheduled detour to Usher’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star and give it a “spit-shine” cleaning.

RELATED: Usher allegedly paid woman $1 million after giving her herpes: reports

 “I find it odd -- you work all of these years, as hard you can, only to have people walk over you as a star,” the singer told Corden.

The drive then continued, and in the middle of their performance of “OMG,” they spotted a couple of mechanics pushing a Porsche down a street and did what any pair of celebrities would do while filming a segment for a popular TV show -- they got out and helped.

“I had no idea when I got in your car I’d end up pushing cars and cleaning my star,” Usher said before they launched back into their rendition of “OMG.”

2018 Essence Festival dates announced

The 24th annual Essence Festival returns to New Orleans next year after the official 4th of July holiday.

Organizers on Wednesday said the dates for the 2018 event are July 5-8.

The 2017 festival drew more than 470,000 attendees to its nightly concert series inside the Superdome and the free workshops and entertainment at New Orleans' convention center. It featured first-time performances by Diana Ross and Chance The Rapper, plus keynote conversations with acclaimed director Ava Duvernay and many others.

The 2018 event is presented by Coca-Cola. The lineup hasn't been released, but is expected to feature a diverse roster of musicians and speakers for the concerts and daily empowerment programming. Limited advance tickets for the nightly concert series will be available starting Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. EDT.

Report: Kim Kardashian's surrogate 3 months pregnant

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West will grow their family next year after a surrogate hired by the couple gives birth to their third child together.

>> Read more trending news

According to Us Weekly, the surrogate is already three months pregnant. 

The surrogate, a California woman referred by an agency, is in her late 20s, has children of her own and has served as a surrogate before, Us Weekly reported.

According to TMZ, Kardashian and West will pay the surrogate $45,000 in 10 $4,500 monthly installments, and the couple paid an additional $68,850 deposit to the agency. In the event the surrogate gives birth to multiples, such as twins or triplets, she will receive $5,000 for each additional child, TMZ reported.

The surrogate signed a contract agreeing to guidelines, including no drinking, smoking or drug use; no hot tubs or saunas; no raw fish; and no handling cat litter, Us Weekly reported. She also cannot apply hair dye or drink more than one caffeinated beverage per day, according to TMZ.

Kardashian, 36, and West, 40, wed in May 2014. They welcomed daughter North West in June 2013 and son Saint West in December 2015.

In a blog post, Kardashian detailed difficulties with her first two pregnancies, in which she suffered from placenta accreta, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the placenta attaches to the wall of the womb, making it difficult for the placenta to detach from the womb when a child is born.

“My doctor had to stick his entire arm in me and detach the placenta with his hand, scraping it away from my uterus with his fingernails,” Kardashian wrote in her blog post. “How disgusting and painful! My mom was crying; she had never seen anything like this before. My delivery was fairly easy, but then going through that—it was the most painful experience of my life! They gave me a second epidural but we were racing against time, so I just had to deal.”

Reports that the couple had hired a surrogate surfaced in June after Kardashian discussed the possibility with family and doctors on her family’s show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

“If the two doctors that I trust have told me it wouldn’t be safe for me to get pregnant again, I have to listen to that,” said Kardashian, according to PEOPLE magazine. “Also, the best thing is I could have a new baby and have no one know and live my life for a good year before we announce it.”

Diner featured in 'Silver Linings Playbook' closes over fire

A suburban Philadelphia diner that gained fame when it was featured in the 2012 film "Silver Linings Playbook" has been temporarily closed after a fire.

Officials say a grill caught fire at the Llanerch (LAN'-ark) Diner in Upper Darby at around 5:30 a.m. Monday, and firefighters had to break through the roof to make sure the blaze hadn't spread.

No one was hurt and the fire was extinguished in about 20 minutes.

The diner has been a local favorite for over 50 years. After it was featured in the movie, locals had to start competing with fans from around the world who wanted to sit in the same booth as stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

The co-owner tells KYW-TV he hopes to reopen in a week or so.

Anderson Cooper on Kathy Griffin: ‘I think she’ll bounce back’

Things between Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper are going well, according to the CNN night-side host. 

>> Read more trending news 

Cooper recently sat down with Andy Cohen and opened up about his friendship with his former CNN New Year’s Eve co-host after her recent scandal involving a photo of a beheaded President Donald Trump that lead to her dismissal from the network.

>> Related: Kathy Griffin says she was bullied by Trump family, claims Trump is ‘personally trying to ruin’ her life

“Yeah, we’re still friends,” he said when asked about their relationship. “Look, I said what I said ... I didn’t think what she said was appropriate.

“I wish her the best. I hope she bounces back. She’s incredibly funny, and a lot of people love her, and I think she’ll bounce back from this.”

“I do, too,” Cohen said.

>> Related: Kathy Griffin interviewed by Secret Service

After sharing the photos, Griffin faced serious backlash from many critics, including supporters of the president, first lady Melania Trump and Cooper.

“For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in,” he said in June following the scandal. “It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.”

Soon after, Griffin issued an apology and asked for forgiveness. She has been keeping a low profile in the last two months.

>> Related: Kathy Griffin tour dates scrapped amid uproar over Trump bloody head photo

France's Macron meets Rihanna at the Elysee Palace

French President Emmanuel Macron met singer Rihanna at the Elysee Palace Wednesday after the pop star appealed to him on Twitter for France to contribute to her education fund for developing countries.

Rihanna first was welcomed by first lady Brigitte Macron on the steps of the presidential palace in Paris before she went inside to speak with the couple now living there for more than an hour.

"I've just had the most incredible meeting with the president and the first lady", Rihanna told reporters in the Elysee's courtyard. "They were incredibly welcoming to us."

The popular singer, who was named the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year, said the talks "focused on the topic of education from a global aspect." She didn't reveal whether Macron had made a pledge to her fund, but said she was "so inspired and impressed" with his leadership.

The Macrons met Barbados-born Rihanna in her role as head and founder of the Clara Lionel charity foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds education and health programs for impoverished communities across the globe.

The 29-year-old is also an ambassador for Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen, two humanitarian funds with which her foundation has partnered on a multi-year initiative to support education, notably in conflict and crisis areas.

"We're going to make a very big announcement this coming September," Rihanna said without elaborating. She added "we're going to do even more work this October in Africa."

Macron didn't join his wife with Rihanna in front of photographers. Neither the president nor his office commented on the meeting.

Last month, Rihanna, who has more than 75 million Twitter followers, tweeted the newly elected French president: "bonjour @EmmanuelMacron, will France commit to #FundEducation?"

Earlier this week, Macron received pop singer and philanthropist Bono at the Elysee Palace for talks about poverty and educating girls and women in Africa.

Dead heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio to tour as hologram

Rolling Stone reports the "Dio Returns" world tour kicks off in Helsinki on Nov. 30 and comes to the U.S. in the spring. Dio's widow, Wendy, says the hologram "gives the fans that saw Ronnie perform an opportunity to see him again and new fans that never got to see him a chance to see him for the first time."

Dio died of stomach cancer in 2010 at the age of 67.

In addition to his self-titled band, Dio fronted Black Sabbath for a time.

Dio isn't the first dead performer to return to the stage as a hologram. Holograms of Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E have been showcased in recent years.

Mick Jagger still rockin' at 74

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