— John Mayer is distancing himself from his repugnant Playboy interview, one sixth grader at a time.
At Mayer’s concert in Philadelphia Sunday night, an enterprising 11-year-old named Austin Christy held a sign in the front row that read, “Can I play ‘Belief’ with you?”
Mayer invited Christy onstage, and the two jammed before the crowd of 25,000. At the end of the set, Mayer gave Christy a parting gift: an autographed guitar. But that’s not all the sixth-grader got from the performance — his own star is rising too. Christy performed Thursday on the local NBC station, and he’ll be on Access Hollywood as well.
The singer hasn’t publicly discussed his controversial Playboy interview since apologizing via Twitter and onstage at a concert shortly after the interview was published.
But his ex, Jessica Simpson, might be bringing it up — she’ll be appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as part of the press blitz for her new show, “The Price of Beauty.”
‘Idol’ boosts ratings for ‘Ellen’
Any Simon Cowell-induced headaches that Ellen DeGeneres is enduring are probably worth it.
DeGeneres’ ratings for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” are up since she began appearing on “American Idol.” According to Nielsen, “Ellen” ratings were up 12 percent for the week ending Feb. 14, the same week she debuted on “Idol.”
Many of the new fans are younger viewers, the same target audience as “Idol.” Among women 18 to 34, “Ellen” is up 45 percent in the ratings over last year. Expect the ratings to continue to climb: Part of DeGeneres’ deal with “Idol” is that she gets to interview the previous night’s castoffs.
Ed Harris signs on for WWE film
Before you dismiss the WWE for starting its own film studio, consider this: They just signed actor Ed Harris to its first feature film.
The actor (who’s been in “Pollock” and “Apollo 13,” among others) will star in “Big Red,” a “coming of age film,” according to the studio, that also stars his real-life wife, Amy Madigan. WWE superstar Randy Orton is also attached to the film, which is scheduled to be released in early 2011.
‘Cop Out’ should shine
Bruce Willis returns to his cop-genre roots this weekend with “Cop Out,” opposite Tracy Morgan. The flick has had some early buzz thanks to its director, Kevin Smith, being booted off a Southwest Airlines flight, but that’s not the reason the film will score at the box office. It opens in 3,150 theaters and is a genre that works well.
The other contender, “The Crazies,” will give it a run for its money, though. It’s a horror film opening in 2,476 theaters, which bodes well for box-office numbers. However, its R rating is a handicap, since both “Cop Out” and last week’s holdover, “Shutter Island,” are rated R as well.