Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Yoko Did Sell John Lennon Out to JC Penney"

from foxnew.com - by By Roger Friedman

"Yoko Did Sell John Lennon Out to JC Penney"

Yoko Ono did sell John Lennon's rare home recording of "Real Love" to JC Penney for a commercial.

The spot began airing on Sunday night during ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" before Penney could even make the announcement.

The Beatles have had their songs licensed for commercials in the past, but with the rare exception of perhaps "Revolution" years ago, they never have allowed master recordings out. The songs are always re-recorded.

Ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi handled the deal, I'm told, with Ono directly. The much disliked widow of John Lennon has sold a number of items under her late husband's name over the years, including glasses, art, and an action figure. But using a rare, acoustic home recording – and a beautiful, haunting one at that — as the Christmas song for a department store seems particularly greedy

Ono, who should be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, does pride herself on being a "citizen of the world" who advocates peace. For years she's promoted her own charity, called The Spirit Foundation. But a check of the Spirit Foundation's recent federal tax filings shows that Ono does a lot less for charity than one might have supposed. I know I always thought she did a lot more, given that — because Lennon died — Ono as his heir receives a larger portion of his and Paul McCartney's songwriting royalties.

But here's the breakdown. From 2000 through 2005, Ono's Spirit Foundation gave away only $2.6 million — a fraction of her enormous income. In 2005-2006, her donations were: $239,000 to Foster Plan Japan (to build school classrooms in China and Africa); $15,000 to Bailey House in New York City for people living with AIDS; $10,000 to a school in Harlem; and $30,000 to a small Los Angeles charity called Real Medicine Foundation.

Ono also recently gave Amnesty International the rights to two dozen post-Beatle Lennon songs for an album of "covers" by other artists ranging from REM and U2 to lesser known names. The money goes to AI's "Save Darfur" campaign but it's not clear how much has been derived since Warner Music, the issuing label, has kept the project a well kept secret

Still, the small cash outlay is a little surprising. While no one would question Ono's generosity to these groups, it also seems like a few are missing. All this time I would have assumed Yoko Ono was giving money directly to Amnesty International, for example, and Greenpeace. Also, to record industry charities like T.J. Martell and MusiCares. How about a worthy cause like Elton John's AIDS Foundation, Sting and Trudie Styler's Rainforest Foundation, or a New York charity like the Robin Hood Foundation? But maybe that's what she'll do with the J.C. Penney money. You never know.

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