Sunday, December 12, 1999

Local grad gets noticed in N.Y.




BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Well for goodness sakes, look who the slick entertainment magazine Paper is raving about in its current edition.

        It's former Cincinnatian Rebecca Finnegan, a 1987 School for Creative and Performing Arts grad and Hot Summer Nights alum (Nine, Grease), who moved to New York after college on the trail of fame and fortune.

        She's finding them. Well, fame at least. Fortune comes later.

        According to a full-page story in Paper, she and singing partner Susan Blackwell are “the snappiest, slap-happiest, most talented twosome to storm the downtown scene in years.” And furthermore, writer Tom Murrin adds, Finnegan “has a singing voice that belongs in a Broadway musical. ... She can belt out a song the way they used to.”

        A couple of things have Murrin worked up:

        • Her work in SparkleFEST 2000, a whacky, outrageous musical — “an all-out abstract comedy-radical musical” is what Murrin calls it.

        • Work on the monthly Talent Show at the Cornelia Street Cafe, where she and Blackwell perform and screen emerging talent for a once-a-month show.

        Murrin doesn't mention, but could, her role in Laguna Beach at a club called Here. It's an ongoing Broadway soap opera where she plays a nurse whose face was blown off by a matzo ball bomb. Screamingly funny, we hear.

        AIRY TUNES: Meanwhile, out in cyberspace, Cincinnati musician John Kinney is blazing his way across the Internet.

        Consider planetjam.com, the new subscriber Web site that “tries to provide exposure for emerging talent in the music industry,” CEO Chris Bell says.

        But not just any talent: “We screen the music ferociously,” Bell says. “We accept only the best of the new talent, because we want subscribers to think of them as cream of the crop.”

        He apparently saw lots of cream rising in Kinney's music. The single “Porch” (from his So, What Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up? CD) is featured as an “essential track” — a planetjam rating meaning you gotta hear this — on page one of the site. Three other tracks from the CD are also featured on the site.

        And that was the right choice, Bell says: “We're completely psyched about John. His stuff has been extremely popular; I'm not sure how often he has been downloaded, but it's a lot.

        Oh yeah, one more thing: “Porch” is also featured on Music Choice, a digital cable music service that goes in to 10 million homes. He's featured twice a day, complete with a short bio.

        CAT LOVERS: Never mind being the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Never mind 24 distinguished years in the U.S. Senate. Never mind an equally distinguished record as a pilot in the Korean War.

        This is how you know John Glenn has really arrived:

        He and wife Annie are what May is all about in the plenty-popular Purina Celebrity Calendar. Well, them and their Persians Nala and Pumba.

        Glenn shares the calendar with an assortment of celebrity cat lovers: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Bob Costas, Ashley Judd, Sammy Sosa and more.

        The calendar, the 16th annual, raises money for the Animal Rescue Foundation — usually $120,000 or so a year.

        It's available from Purina as a mail-in deal with food labels (prices vary) or at www.catchow.com

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.