MORE LOCALLY CONNECTED * Next Thursday - one night before the Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia opens its doors, Philly soulsters Billy Paul, The Blue Notes, McFadden and Whitehead, The Delfonics and The Intruders will perform for charity at the 14,000-square-foot restaurant in the Reading Terminal Head House, at 12th and Market. ``There are few cities in the world with the level of cultural and historical roots as that of Philadelphia, a city we're looking forward to becoming a part of,'' said Jim Berk, president and CEO of the tchotchke-laden cafe. Headlining the $75 event will be Cheap Trick, the Midwestern band discovered playing in a Wisconsin bowling alley in 1977. The event will benefit Historic Philadelphia Inc. and the Employment Project Inc. Doors will open to the masses next Friday.
Porno Stars at Home will reopen Summer-less next Friday at Torano's, the South Philadelphia dinner-theater. Director Stephen Stahl has hired Judy Calabrese, a local thespian, to replace the former stripper, whose 15 minutes of fame was starting to run over schedule. Summer, a.k.a. Shannon Reinert, was fired for failing to promote the show, according to Stahl. Her notoriety in the Craig Rabinowitz murder case won her an acting debut, but she said her contract with a tabloid TV show prevented her from doing any promos.
Those ivories Philadelphia high schoolers will hear Monday will be tickled by none other than Peter Nero, who will perform with students at the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. Nero will accompany the Mid-Atlantic All-Star Grammy High School Jazz Band at 12:45 p.m. Afterward, he'll receive replacements for two Grammys he won, then lost: a 1961 award for Best New Artist, and one the following year for Best Performance by an Instrumentalist with Orchestra.
FREEDOM MEDAL HONOREES * Fifteen Americans will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday. Among those in line for the highest civilian honor are two civil- rights leaders, a Cherokee Indian, and a New York socialite-philanthropist.
The list includes: Arnold Aronson, who joined the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as one of 10 leaders of the 1963 March on Washington; James Farmer, who formed the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942; Wilma Mankiller, who rose from poverty and personal tragedy to become the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1985; and Brooke Astor, who has spent a lifetime funding projects.
Sol Linowitz, a co-negotiator of the Panama Canal treaties, will receive the award, as will Elliot Richardson, who resigned as attorney general during the Watergate scandal; Harvard psychologist Robert Coles; businessman Justin Dart; the late teachers' union chief Albert Shanker; and Fred Korematsu, for urging an apology for Japanese Americans put in internment camps during World War II.
NEW DIRECTION * After preview performances that were damned with faint praise (``earnest but dull,'' said the Los Angeles Times), Paul Simon's The Capeman has got a new director.
Enter Tony-winning pro Jerry Zaks. Exit neophyte director Mark Morris.
The show was to have opened yesterday, but is now scheduled for a Jan. 29 launch. Simon's first foray into musical theater tells the true story of a 16-year-old boy who knifed two teenagers in Hell's Kitchen in 1959. Zaks has directed such hits as Smokey Joe's Cafe and Six Degrees of Separation. Morris, whose field is dance, had not directed before.
OLD STONES TO ROLL AGAIN * Encouraged by its success with early Beatles and Led Zepplin recordings, the British Broadcasting Co. is hoping to release up to 20 unearthed songs by the Rolling Stones. The BBC has designs on a 1998 CD of the material, which was recorded between 1963 and 1965 and includes four previously unreleased tracks.
First, there's the tricky matter of money. The BBC owns the copyright, but it's not clear who owns the performance rights, says John Willan, director of BBC Worldwide Music.
Willan is also in the process of negotiating with the sister of Jimi Hendrix on a similar project.
BIG BUCKS * Despite its titanic costs, the unsinkable movie about the 1912 maritime disaster is expected to actually make a few dollars. But that doesn't mean those who financed the project would do it again.
``The truth is, you don't want to be in this kind of business,'' said Bill Mechanic, chairman of Twentieth Century Fox, the primary backer of the $200 million Titanic. Mechanic estimated that the movie must gross at least $400 million for Fox just to recoup all its production and marketing-distribution costs. Essentially, that means Titanic will have to be one of the highest-grossing movies of all time - which now seems possible - just to break even.
BIG RENT * Speaking of colossal, it looks as if Donald Trump is aiming to be the first Manhattan landlord to charge $100,000 for renting an apartment.
That's $100,000 a month.
The digs are a never-lived-in penthouse atop the 45-story International Hotel and Tower that Trump had intended - pre-separation - for himself and his family. The Trump apartment, 6,000 square feet, has a house-sized living room, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms and 20-foot-high windows overlooking Columbus Circle.
BIG PICTURE * And while we're on sizable subjects, a gigantic Elvis will appear on stage at the Waterfront Entertainment Centre in Camden at 8 p.m. March 22. In Elvis - The Concert, the King will appear in a 30-foot-tall video performing such classics as ``Blue Suede Shoes'' and ``All Shook Up.''
The tour, said producer Stig Edgren, has been mounted as if Presley had not died 21 years ago. Tickets, $26 plus charges, go on sale Feb. 7.
The show uses recordings of Elvis backed by live singers and a 16-piece orchestra. The eight-city tour includes the King's first gig at Radio City Music Hall, alive or dead.
``Elvis' presence on screen is so strong, the interaction with his live band mates so seamless, and the audience reaction so intense, that, one or two songs into the show, you forget Elvis isn't really there in person,'' said Todd Morgan of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
This article contains material from Inquirer staff writer Carrie Rickey, Billboard, Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.