Story By: G.H. Harding

Jonah Hill

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET --- I went into Marty Scorsese’s Wolf Of Wall Street not really knowing what to expect. Well, almost three hours later I emerged, shaken but mostly stirred. It’s kind of like a Departed light. Funny, well-acted, satirical in spots … but, boy, was it long. My first thought was I wondered what the almost four-hour director’s cut might be like. As great a movie as this was, and boy, it did have its moments, it could well benefit from a substantial edit.

By now, most everyone knows that the movie is based on the actual exploits of one-time Wall Street wunderkind Jordan Belfort. Starting with virtually nothing, Belfort finally joins a legitimate Wall Street firm and in no time becomes the favorite of the firm’s Matthew McConaughey - in a scene stealing moment you won’t soon forget. Branching out on his own, he meets Jonah Hill who immediately beseeches Belfort to hire him. Hill has never been better, and as Belfort’s sycophant, he is witness to every single moment of madness that ensues.

Before long, Belfort’s firm is among the most aggressive ones out there: transformed from their location in Queens to Wall Street. It’s as much a story of excesses gone wrong as anything else. Drugs, sex, insider trading, and much, much more, soon attract the eyes and ears of the FBI, and agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler).

Some of Scorsese’s set-pieces are as good as he’s ever envisioned, but others seem to go on and on. The so-called country club scene on Quaaludes, is funny at first, but then just detours almost into the absurd.

Margot Robbie, as his mistress, then wife Naomi is stunningly good; I don’t recall seeing her before; but she steals the picture’s heart and soul. Ron Reiner as Belfort’s father is astonishingly good, but at times, seems like he’s in an entirely different picture; a Billy Crystal-movie perhaps?

As things began to unravel, I found it quite novel that names like designer Steve Madden and restaurateur Rocky Aoki (Benihana) figure into the plot. What happens to them both is true, but surprising nonetheless.

Did I like the movie? Sure, crazy fun … but, a tad too over the top and a tad too much. Leo’s great, but his patented antics are beginning to wear a bit thin on me. Wretched excess? Definitely.

BYE BYE PHIL --- Phil Everly, whose beautiful harmonies with his brother Don made The Everly Brothers one of the most influential duos of the rock and roll era, died last Friday, Jan. 3 in Burbank of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Everly was 74. "We are absolutely heartbroken," Everly's wife Patti told The Los Angeles Times, noting that Phil's poor health was the result of years of cigarette smoking. During the height of their popularity in the late 1950’s and early '60s, the Everly Brothers charted nearly three dozen hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including "Cathy's Clown," "Wake Up Little Susie," "Bye Bye Love" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream." Linda Ronstadt enjoyed a huge hit with her 1975 cover of "When Will I Be Loved." In a nod to their immense influence on an entire generation of musical followers, the Everly Brothers were among the first 10 performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it launched in 1986.

But, the brothers did not get along, and Paul Simon said when he and Art Garfunkel toured with them in 2003 (and, bear in mind Simon himself was often exasperated by his on-again, off-again partner and quite accomplished on his own) couldn't help but be amused by the irony of two partnerships where real-life harmony didn't match what was onstage. Says Simon, “Phil and Don hadn't seen each other for three years before meeting in the parking lot before the first show. They unpacked their guitars -- those famous black guitars -- and they opened their mouths and started to sing, and after all these years, it was still that sound I fell in love with as a kid. It was still perfect."

Influencing dozens of artists, from The Beach Boys to The Monkess to Simon and Garfunkel. We'll never forget them.

In addition to his wife and 76-year-old brother, Don, Everly is survived by his mother, Margaret, sons Jason and Chris.

ZAENTZ CAN’T DANCE NO MORE --- Saul Zaentz, producer of One Flew Over The Cookoo’s Nest and one-time owner of Fantasy Records, has died at the age of 92.

Saul Zaentz started his career in the music business. In 1955 when he started work for the company it was the largest independent jazz label in America. Zaentz purchased the company in 1967 and one of the first signing with Saul as the new boss was the rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Zaentz not only owned Fantasy, he also owned everything CCR recorded as well as the songs that John Fogerty wrote under the band’s original contract with the label.

The bad deal by Creedence Clearwater Revival would cost the band tens of millions of dollars in royalties, all of which went to Zaentz instead. When Fogerty released his solo records away from Zaentz, Zaentz sued him for plagiarizing claiming that John Fogerty the solo artist sounded too similar to John Fogerty the CCR singer. Zaentz went for $140 million in damages from Fogerty. He lost.

Fogerty sued for costs and won. He then wrote and released the songs "Zanz Can’t Dance" and "Mr. Greed" about his former label boss.

Zaentz then sued Fogerty for defamation over the lyrics to "Zanz Can’t Dance" which went 'Zanz can’t dance but he’ll steal your money.' Zaentz also tried to claim damages for Fogerty’s hit song “Old Man Down The Road” claiming that it sounded too similar to his CCR song "Run Through The Jungle."

The defamation case was settled when Fogerty changed the title of "Zanz Can’t Dance" to "Vanz Can’t Dance." Zaentz lost the "Old Man Down The Road" case. The pressures literally destroyed the short, but brilliant career of CCR. John’s brother Tom, also in the group, passed away and the remaining two members (Stu Cook and Doug Clifford) tried to tour as CCR Revisited, but then John sued them to stop.

There were reports last year that Fogarty was going to put CCR back together, but that has yet to occur.

Zaentz also produced the movies: Amadeus; One Flew Mosquito Coast; The English Patient; The Unbearable Lightness Of Being; and, The Hobbit. He was definitely a polarizing character, but had rather exceptional taste in movies, but, not so much in music.

CCR was the only successful project that Fantasy Records launched. None of those eclectic movies would have happened without him .

CLOSING NOTES --- Micky Dolenz will be performing LIVE in a star-studded benefit concert at The Pasadena Playhouse, on Monday, Jan. 13 at 8pm. This is a one-night-only special fundraising performance, benefiting The ALS Association – Golden West Chapter. In addition to the performances, the evening will include a silent auction and a VIP post-show meet-and-greet. Proceeds will provide critical funding for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward treatments –check out the LINK HERE.

Vanilla Fudge-drummer Carmine Appice starting Rockers Records? Seems so with the indie-label releasing some vintage material from Appice’s many solo projects. I hope this is not a retread of his work with Randy Pratt and his Lizards group; that was a disaster …

Check out The Mac Wire’s M. A.Cassata book on Cher: Essential Cher, Vol. 1. Here’s the LINK.

Actor Steven Seagal running for Governor of Arizona? Could be. The Marked for Death actor told KNXV-TV that he is considering a shot at the state’s highest office and has had a talk about the bid with the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America. The 61-year-old made the comments while talking about his newly released reality series Steven Seagal – Lawman: Maricopa County.

Seagal teamed up with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for the show that was shot in Arizona and airs on cable TV’s Reelz Channel. You probably haven't seen the show, but it is even drearier than you might think. I watched a few episodes when it first came on and a few moments into it, was thinking of some of his early-classic movies. I guess his music career didn't take off …

What L. A.-based radio-production firm is going down? They've just made a seismic downsizing of their shows and personnel. Stay tuned?