Your Weekend Entertainment–Here’s Mr. Sam Cooke


April 30, 2016

Your Weekend Entertainment–Here’s Mr. Sam Cooke

May 1 is also Freedom Day for Malaysia

Tomorrow  is May 1, 2016. It is Labour Day. It should be renamed Human Resources Day. Old economics treated labour as a factor of production. Today, perception has changed rather dramatically. Labour is a strategic resource which combined with technology enhances productivity that enables a country to compete in world trade.

Today, Dr Kamsiah and I choose to pay tribute to men and women around the world for their contributions to global prosperity. Your services and sacrifice are no longer to be taken for granted. As they say, “you have come a long way baby”. For Malaysia, May 1 should also be dubbed Freedom Day.

So this weekend, we have chosen to feature the sound, voice and music of Sam Cooke, one of the pioneers of soul music.

Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur.

Influential as both a singer and composer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music. His pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Billy Preston, and popularized the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder wrote that Cooke was “the inventor of soul music”, and possessed “an incredible natural singing voice and a smooth, effortless delivery that has never been surpassed”.

Cooke had 30 U.S. top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, plus three more posthumously. Major hits like “You Send Me“, “A Change Is Gonna Come“, “Cupid“, “Chain Gang“, “Wonderful World“, and “Twistin’ the Night Away” are some of his most popular songs. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the Civil Rights Movement.-www.wikipedia.org

We hope you like our choice for this weekend.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Here comes your Weekend of Songs


April 23, 2016

The Weekend Entertainment: Joni is Back

Last Weekend, I was in Kuala Lumpur with my dearest wife, Dr. Kamsiah Haider. Now back in Phnom Penh, I have decided to bring back the sultry voice of Joni James to entertain us. Of course, the songs she renders are of ‘5os and 60’s.

My generation enjoys her singing style and unique voice very much. Others may disagree, but they should nonetheless listen and decide why my contemporaries and I are still Joni’s diehard fans. I dedicate these tunes to Dr. Kamsiah and her generation. Let us sit back and relax.–Din Merican

Your Weekend with The Best of Bread (1973)


April 16, 2016

Your  Weekend with The Best of Bread

It is indeed great to play songs of a bygone era for your weekend entertainment, our friends. Enjoy your Freedom but never take it for granted. It has to fought and defended  against those who abuse their electoral mandate at home here in Malaysia and elsewhere. We also dedicate songs by Bread to our good friend, Haris Ibrahim, who may have to go jail for sedition.

Bread, a vocal group of 1970s, led by singer and composer, David Gates, makes good music. You can look back to 46 years and reflect on what the world was like then. Technology and the Internet  have transformed our lives and changed the way communicate to another. No Facebook,no Twitter and so on, way back then and we were spared the agony of having to bear the twitts of our fawning Inspector-General  Police.

Our beloved Prime Minister, Najib Razak would have had an easy time with the 1MDB scandal,  and the unfolding lies and spins, the latest one being the statement by the youthful looking Saudi Foreign Minister. Forget all that, just enjoy your weekend with Bread.–Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

Your Weekend Entertainment: Tribute to Merle Haggard


April 9, 2016

Your Weekend Entertainment:  Tribute to Merle Haggard

For this weekend, Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican pay to tribute to Country Music Legend Merle Haggard who passed on recently after short illness with double pneumonia. He was 79. Merle was known for his rendition of Okie from Muskogee ( here with Willie Nelson). Do  have a good times and enjoy Merle’s legacy to country music USA.–Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

 

Your Weekend Bash: Afro-Cuban Jazz


April 3, 2016

Your Weekend Bash: Introducing Flutist Herbie Mann and Afro-Cuban Jazz

Guys,

Dr. Kamsiah Haider is taking a break after two day visit to Bangkok where she attended an orthodontics course conducted by Taiwan’s renown Orthodontist, Dr. Chris Chang.  So, it is my pleasant task to be your solo host for this weekend. I have chosen to feature Herbie Mann, the jazz flutist and Afro-Cuban/Latin  Jazz exponent. I first heard of Herbie when I was a student in Washington  DC in the late Sixties (1968 to be exact). His renditions of Memphis Underground and Push Push were what attracted me to his music. I will play them shortly for you.  But first this album, Herbie Mann-Bossa Nova.

Herbie Mann was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents, Harry C. Solomon (May 30, 1902 – May 31, 1980), who was of Russian descent, and Ruth Rose Solomon (née Brecher) (July 4, 1905 – November 11, 2004), who was born in Bukovina, Austria-Hungary but immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 6. Both of his parents were dancers and singers, as well as dance instructors later in life.He attended Lincoln High School in Brighton Beach. His first professional performance was playing the Catskills resorts at age 15. In the 1950s Mann was primarily a bop flutist, playing in combos with artists such as Phil Woods, occasionally playing bass clarinet, tenor saxophone and solo flute.

Herbie was an early pioneer of the fusion of jazz and world music.[citation needed] In 1959, following a State Department sponsored tour of Africa, he recorded Flautista!, an album of Afro-Cuban jazz. In 1961 Mann toured Brazil, returning to the United States to record with Brazilian musicians, including Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist Baden Powell. These albums helped popularize bossa nova in the US and Europe. He often worked with Brazilian themes. In the mid-1960s Mann hired a young Chick Corea to play in some of his bands. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Mann played duets at New York City’s The Bottom Line and Village Gate clubs, with Sarod virtuoso Vasant Rai.

Following the 1969 hit album Memphis Underground, a number of disco-style smooth jazz records brought criticism from jazz purists but allowed Mann to remain active during a period of declining interest in jazz. The musicians on these recordings are some of the best-known session players in soul and jazz, including singer Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney Houston), guitarists Duane Allman and Larry Coryell, bassists Donald “Duck” Dunn and Chuck Rainey and drummers Al Jackson, Jr. and Bernard Purdie. In this period Mann had a number of pop hits — rare for a jazz musician. According to a 1998 interview Mann had made at least 25 albums that were on the Billboard 200 pop charts, success denied most of his jazz peers.”[6]

Mann provided the music for the 1978 National Film Board of Canada animated short Afterlife, by Ishu Patel.

In the early 1970s he founded his own label, Embryo Records, distributed by Cotillion Records, a division of Atlantic Records.[7] Embryo produced jazz albums, such as Ron Carter‘s Uptown Conversation (1970); Miroslav Vitous‘ first solo album, Infinite Search (1969); Phil Woods and his European Rhythm Machine at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival (1971); and Dick Morrissey and Jim Mullen‘s Up (1976), which featured the Average White Band as a rhythm section; and the 730 Series, with a more rock-oriented style, including Zero Time (1971) by TONTO’s Expanding Head Band. He later set up Kokopelli Records after difficulty with established labels. In 1996, Mann collaborated with Stereolab on the song “One Note Samba/Surfboard” for the AIDS-Benefit album Red Hot + Rio produced by the Red Hot Organization. Mann also played horns on the Bee Gees‘ album Spirits Having Flown.

His last appearance was on May 3, 2003, at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and he died less than two months later on July 1, 2003, at the age of 73, after a long battle with prostate cancer. He died in his home in Pecos, New Mexico, leaving his wife, Susan Janeal Arison, and four children: Paul Mann, Claudia Mann, Laura Mann-Lepik and Geoffrey Mann.–wikipedia.

Memphis Underground (1969)

Push Push (1970)

Our good wishes for this Sunday.–Dr. Kamsiah  Haider and Din Merican

 

 

The Secret Money Behind ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’


April 2, 2016

The Secret Money Behind ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

Investigators believe much of the cash used to make the Leonardo DiCaprio film about a stock swindler originated with embattled Malaysian state development fund 1MDB

by Bradley Hope, John R. Emshwiller And Ben Fritz

LOS ANGELES—Despite the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese, the 2013 hit movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” took more than six years to get made because studios weren’t willing to invest in a risky R-rated project.

Help arrived from a virtually unknown production company called Red Granite Pictures. Though it had made just one movie, Red Granite came up with the more than $100 million needed to film the sex- and drug-fueled story of a penny-stock swindler.

Global investigators now believe much of the money to make the movie about a stock scam was diverted from a state fund 9,000 miles away in Malaysia, a fund that had been established to spur local economic development.

The investigators, said people familiar with their work, believe this financing was part of a wider scandal at the Malaysian fund, which has been detailed in Wall Street Journal articles over the past year.

The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, was set up seven years ago by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. His stepson, Riza Aziz, is the chairman of Red Granite Pictures.

The 1MDB fund is now the focus of numerous investigations at home and abroad, which grew out of $11 billion of debt it ran up and questions raised in Malaysia about how some of its money was used.

Don’t look so sad, just sue WSJ if you dare, Mr Najib

Investigators in two countries believe that $155 million originating with 1MDB moved into Red Granite in 2012 through a circuitous route involving offshore shell companies, said people familiar with the probes. This same money trail also is described by a person familiar with 1MDB’s dealings and supported by documents reviewed by the Journal.

The story of how “The Wolf of Wall Street” was financed brings together Hollywood celebrities with a cast of characters mostly known for their connections to the Malaysian prime minister. It detours through parties in Cannes and aboard a yacht, and spending on such embellishments as a rare, million-dollar movie poster and an original 1955 Academy Award statuette.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued subpoenas to several current and former employees of Red Granite and to a bank and an accounting firm the company used, according to people familiar with the subpoenas.

“Red Granite is responding to all inquiries and cooperating fully,” said a spokesman for the company, based in West Hollywood, Calif. He said it had no reason to believe the source of its financing was irregular.

The 1MDB fund and Mr. Najib’s office didn’t respond to questions about Red Granite. In the past, both have denied any wrongdoing. Representatives of Messrs. DiCaprio and Scorsese didn’t respond to numerous requests for comment.

The film grossed about $400 million and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture. There is no indication any profits from it flowed to 1MDB or Malaysia.

The movie, heavy on depictions of Wall Street debauchery, wasn’t distributed in Malaysia after authorities there demanded more than 90 cuts to comply with local morality laws, a Malaysian official said.

Red Granite Pictures was set up in 2010 by Mr. Aziz, the Malaysian prime minister’s stepson, now 39 years old, and Christopher McFarland, a Kentucky businessman who is 43.

Mr. Aziz had worked in finance in London, left to travel and ended up in the U.S., he once told the Hollywood Reporter. Mr. McFarland, called Joey, invested in various ventures and moved to Hollywood to try to make movies, people who know him say.

The two were introduced by a mutual friend: a peripatetic Malaysian businessman named Jho Low, who became a fixture on the party circuit in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York starting in 2009. Mr. Low gained media attention for a lavish lifestyle that brought him into the orbit of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

Mr. Low knew Mr. Aziz from the U.K., where both had studied, and forged ties to Mr. Aziz’s family, including Prime Minister Najib. In Malaysia, Mr. Low, whose full name is Low Taek Jho and who is 34, played a role in setting up the fund that became 1MDB.

Messrs. Aziz and McFarland worked for a time out of L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, a luxury hotel owned by a company Mr. Low founded. The aspiring movie moguls later set up an office on Sunset Boulevard that they filled with Hollywood memorabilia.

These included a poster for the 1927 Fritz Lang science-fiction film “Metropolis,” a rare original that cost $1 million, said people familiar with it.

Red Granite burst on the scene in 2011 by throwing a million-dollar beach extravaganza at the Cannes film festival with fireworks and performances by Kanye West, dressed all in white, and Pharrell Williams. A few months later its first movie was released, “Friends With Kids,” starring Adam Scott and Kristen Wiig.

“They definitely came off as high rollers when they started,” said Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, the distributor of Red Granite’s first film.

In the insular movie business, many were surprised to find the high-energy but inexperienced Mr. McFarland overseeing dealings with filmmakers. “Joey is their mouthpiece, and Riza—he said maybe 20 words to me,” said Charles Wessler, a producer of a later Red Granite-backed film.

Messrs. Aziz and McFarland next turned their attention to “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Mr. Low, the Malaysian financier, made a key connection: He knew Mr. DiCaprio and introduced him to Red Granite, according to people familiar with the introduction.

Mr. DiCaprio had long been interested in a movie based on the memoirs of a penny-stock operator who went to prison for fraud, Jordan Belfort. But the actor and other boosters couldn’t find a studio that believed a film so expensive and potentially offensive would find a big enough audience.

Red Granite was willing to take the risk. Shooting began in August 2012. Three months later, when Mr. DiCaprio had a birthday, the Red Granite principals forged a closer tie to him with an unusual gift: the Oscar statuette presented to Marlon Brando in 1955 for best actor in “On the Waterfront.”

Marlon Brando’s 1955 Oscar for ‘On the Waterfront’ was presented as a gift to Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo: Associated Press

People who described the gift said the statuette had been acquired for around $600,000 through a New Jersey memorabilia dealer. Marlon Brando’s 1955 Oscar for ‘On the Waterfront’ was presented as a gift to Leonardo DiCaprio.

Mr. Aziz, asked about Red Granite’s financing in a 2014 New York Times interview, identified the main investor as a businessman in Abu Dhabi named Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny. “There was no Malaysian money,” he said.

Mr. Al-Husseiny (above) is an American who then headed Aabar Investments PJS, which is an arm of an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund known as IPIC. The state-owned firms did business with 1MDB. For instance, IPIC guaranteed some of the Malaysian fund’s bonds.

In connection with the IPIC guarantees, 1MDB reported in corporate filings that in 2012, it sent $1.4 billion to Aabar as collateral.

Investigators believe this money never got to Aabar in Abu Dhabi but went instead to a separate, almost identically named company that Mr. Al-Husseiny had helped set up in the British Virgin Islands, called Aabar Investments PJS Ltd., said people familiar with the probes.he investigators believe about $155 million of this money then flowed to Red Granite Capital, a firm Mr. Aziz had formed to fund the film company.

Documents reviewed by the Journal show three transfers to Red Granite Capital: of $60 million, $45 million and $50 million in 2012.

The $60 million and $45 million transfers were booked by Red Granite Capital as a loan from the British Virgin Islands company that had a name almost identical to Aabar Investments.

Most of the $50 million moved to Red Granite from that same British Virgin Islands company, via intermediaries, the investigators believe.

Among the intermediaries, according to people familiar with investigations and the person familiar with 1MDB: Telina Holdings Inc., a company that had been set up in the British Virgin Islands by Mr. Al-Husseiny and his boss, Khadem Al Qubaisi.

Representatives of the two men, who have been removed from their posts in Abu Dhabi, declined to comment.

A November 2012 loan agreement from Telina Holdings, reviewed by the Journal, shows the $50 million was to fund “The Wolf of Wall Street.” This loan has been repaid, said people familiar with it.

The spokesman for Red Granite said it “has been repaying and will continue to repay all of its loans in accordance with their terms.”

It isn’t clear to whom Red Granite could repay the $105 million loan. The British Virgin Islands firm that extended it was liquidated last June.

“Red Granite had no reason to believe at the time that the source of Aabar’s funds was in any way irregular and still believes the loan to be legitimate,” said the film company’s spokesman.

Once “The Wolf of Wall Street” was in production, Messrs. Aziz and McFarland were sometimes on the set and involved.

On December 31, 2012, around the end of filming, many of those involved celebrated New Year’s festivities in Australia and then flew to Las Vegas on a rented jetliner in time to celebrate it again, according to people familiar with the trip, who said the celebrants included Messrs. Aziz and Low, “Wolf of Wall Street” stars Mr. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, along with singer and actor Jamie Foxx, an acquaintance of Mr. Aziz. A representative of Mr. Foxx declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Hill didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Six months after the movie’s debut, Messrs. DiCaprio, Aziz and Low attended the Brazilian World Cup and spent time on the Topaz, a 482-foot yacht owned by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund IPIC, according to people familiar with the excursion. Sheikh Mansour, who is also Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, didn’t attend, they said.

The success of “The Wolf of Wall Street” established Red Granite as a player in Hollywood. It went on to produce “Dumb and Dumber To,” a sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels comedy, and another comedy, “Daddy’s Home,” with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It is planning to bring out a film about George Washington.

Investigations of 1MDB “will not affect our ability to move forward with the exciting projects Red Granite is developing,” the firm’s spokesman said.

Erich Schwartzel and Tom Wright contributed to this article. Write to Bradley Hope at bradley.hope@wsj.com, John R. Emshwiller at john.emshwiller@wsj.com and Ben Fritz at ben.fritz@wsj.com