Kiss win Hall Of Fame fan poll

Kiss have won the public poll for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next year.

Over 1,390,000 people voted over 16 nominees and Kiss drew 17.22% of those, a total of 239,417 people. Nirvana came second with 15.69% followed by Deep Purple (11.93%), Yes (10.88%), Hall And Oates (8.1%) and Peter Gabriel (7.97%).

But it doesn’t mean Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons will be inducted – the fan choice only counts as one vote, with around 600 others to be placed by musicians, businessmen and commentators.

If they do make the grade, Simmons recently insisted founding members Ace Frehley and Pete Criss wouldn’t be invited to the ceremony in New York in April. He compared them to “cancer” and added: “How many chances in life to do you get? Those guys had three chances to be in the band. Three times they fucked it up.”

But Frehley later said: “There’s no way Gene can put a lid on it. I mean, what’s he gonna do?”

Meanwhile, guitarist Frehley’s New York home was seriously damaged in a fire over the weekend. No one was injured in the accident. Frehley is thought not to live in the building, which is instead inhabited by a caretaker, and was recently the subject of foreclosure action as a result of unpaid mortgage arrears.

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame public poll
1. Kiss: 17.22% / 239,417
2. Nirvana: 15.69% / 218,155
3. Deep Purple: 11.93% / 165,828
4. Yes: 10.88% / 151,238
5. Hall and Oates: 8.1% / 112,673
6. Peter Gabriel: 7.97% / 110,839
7. Linda Ronstadt: 6.13% / 85,252
8. Cat Stevens: 5.37% / 74,638
9. The Zombies: 3.94% / 54,764
10. NWA: 2.95% / 40,985
11. The Replacements: 2.26% / 31,490
12. LL Cool J: 1.92% / 26,740
13. Paul Butterfield Blues Band: 1.76% / 24,481
14. Chic: 1.32% / 18,395
15. Link Wray: 1.32% / 18,337
16. The Meters: 1.24% / 17,272


Santa sent millions of letters a year

Santa Claus, the Three Wise men and other guardians of Christmas traditions receive 8 million letters per year, even as the internet era has made traditional mail less popular, the UN post agency says.

The number of children's letters to these Christmas figures has risen by a third over the past five years, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) said.

Although the letters are often simply addressed to 'Santa, North Pole' or to 'Father Christmas', postal workers in countries ranging from Brazil to Finland to Lebanon make sure that they are not returned as undeliverable.

In several countries, services have been set up so that children receive actual replies to their letters.


Hobbit tops US box office with $73.7m

Undaunted hobbits trumped princess power at the multiplex.

According to studio estimates on Sunday, Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was No. 1 at the US box office with $US73.7 million ($A82.62 million), beating last weekend's No.1 film, Disney's animated fable Frozen.

Melting down to the No. 2 position, Frozen earned $US22.2 million in its third weekend, bringing its impressive overall domestic ticket total to nearly $US164.4 million.

Despite its first place position, Hobbit fell short of topping its prequel's debut. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opened this same weekend last year, gained $US84.6 million.

'Hobbit rules this date and Warner Bros has linked this brand to this time of year very effectively,' said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak.

The holiday-themed Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas came in third place with $US16.2 million.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, earned $US13.2 million for the fourth place slot. To date Catching Fire has grossed $US739.9 million, surpassing the worldwide box office total for The Hunger Games, which brought in $US691 million.

Disney's super hero sequel, Thor: The Dark World, continues to thrive as it remained in the top five with $US2.7 million, bringing its domestic total to $US198.1 million.

In its second weekend, drama Out of the Furnace, starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, dropped to the sixth place position with $US2.3 million after opening in the third place slot.

Comedy Delivery Man, with Vince Vaughn as the lead, dropped in at No.7 in its fourth weekend at the box office with $US1.9 million, bringing its domestic total to $US28 million.

Philomena, starring Judi Dench, who received a best actress Golden Globe Awards nomination for her performance as a nun in search of her son, landed in the No.8 spot with $US1.8 million.

In its sixth weekend at the box office, Fox's Nazi Germany-set The Book Thief, starring Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse, held ninth position with $US1.7 million.

Coming in at No.10 was the Jason Statham and James Franco-starring Open Road crime thriller Homefront, which gained $US1.6 million in its third weekend. Its total domestic gross is now $US18.4 million.

Opening in limited release in just six locations, David Russell's con artist tale, American Hustle, scored $US690,000 over the weekend. This aces the success of his Oscar-winning film Silver Linings Playbook, which saw $US27,687 during its opening weekend in December last year.

American Hustle, featuring stellar performances by Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, has been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild nominations.


Bob Dylan probed for racism

Bob Dylan is being probed in relation to alleged racist comments after a community organisation raised a lawsuit against him.

The CRICCF, which looks after the interests of Croatians living in France, have named Dylan in their legal action alongside the French edition of Rolling Stone.

They say quotes attributed to him, which were published in September 2012, amount to incitement of racial hatred and break national laws – and as a result he’s been placed under judicial investigation.

In the interview Dylan is quoted as making a reference to the war of independence fought between Croatian and Serb forces in the 1990s: “If you got a slave master of [Ku Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”

The CRICCF raised the complaint last November, objecting to the comparison between the KKK, Nazis and Croatians. A spokesman said: “We have nothing against Rolling Stone or Bob Dylan – but you cannot equate Croatian [war] criminals with all Croats.”

French authorities have now placed the singer-songwriter under judicial investigation. But the CRICCF say all they want is an apology.

Dylan was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in Paris last month.


Walker crash not part of street race

The neighbourhood where 'Fast Furious' star Paul Walker died in a fiery crash is known to attract street racers, but law enforcement officials do not believe the Porsche in which Paul Walker and a friend were riding had been racing another car.

Accident investigators 'have received eyewitness statements that the car involved was travelling alone at a high rate of speed,' the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement on Monday.

'No eyewitness has contacted the (department) to say there was a second vehicle.'

Walker and his friend and fellow fast-car enthusiast Roger Rodas died on Saturday when Rodas' 2005 Porsche Carrera GT smashed into a light pole and tree, then exploded in flames. The posted limit was 45mph (72km/h).

The two had taken what was expected to be a brief drive away from a charity fundraiser and toy drive at Rodas' custom car shop in Valencia, northwest of Los Angeles. Walker's publicist said the action star was the passenger.

The crash happened on a street that forms a near two-kilometre loop amid industrial office parks. It is rimmed by hills and relatively isolated from traffic, especially on weekends when the businesses are closed.

'It's well-known out here that that's a hot spot for street racers,' California Highway Patrol Sgt Rick Miler said.

Skid marks are a testament to past antics on the loop. The sheriff's department, which polices the neighbourhood, said Saturday's wreck was not the first speed-related crash there, but would not reveal specifics.

Meanwhile, investigators are consulting video from security cameras, talking to witnesses and analysing physical evidence such as on-board computer data from the Porsche.

A steady stream of fans has flocked to the crash site to leave flowers, candles and memorabilia from the action films.


Obama says health care law is working

Seeking to regroup from his health care law's disastrous rollout, US President Barack Obama has insisted that the sweeping overhaul is working and warned Republican critics that he would fight any efforts to strip away its protections.

'We're not repealing it as long as I'm president,' Obama said during a health care event on Tuesday at the White House.

'If I have to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what I'll do.'

Earlier on Tuesday, the administration released a 50-state report saying that nearly 1.5 million people were found eligible for Medicaid during October.

As website problems depressed sign-ups for subsidised private coverage, that safety-net program for low-income people saw a nearly 16 per cent increase in states that have agreed to expand it, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The White House is trying to cast the health care law in a positive light after the first two months of enrolment for the centrepiece insurance exchanges were marred with technical problems.

With the majority of problems with the sign-up website resolved, by the accounting of administration officials, Obama and his team plan to spend much of December trying to remind Americans why the administration fought for the law in the first place.

'We believe that in America, nobody should have to worry about going broke because somebody in their family or they got sick,' Obama said, flanked by people the White House says have benefited from the law.

Despite Obama's sunny presentation, officials are furiously working behind the scenes to rectify an unresolved issue with enrolment data that could become a significant headache after the first of the year.

Insurers say much of the enrolment data they're receiving is practically useless, meaning some consumers might not be able to get access to benefits on January 1, the date their coverage is scheduled to take effect.


Spotify reveals royalty payments

Spotify, the world's most popular music streaming website, has revealed how much an artist makes from each song listened to in an effort to fight criticism it shortchanges musicians.

On a new site aimed at artists,, the company defends its business model against a raft of recent accusations, including from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, that streaming sites of its ilk leave singers high and dry.

In its first attempt to fight the criticism, Spotify said on Tuesday it paid an average 'per-stream' payout of between $A0.007 and $A0.0092, though it cautioned that royalties depended greatly on where the music was produced or listened to.

Spotify said holders of rights included the artist, but could also bring in producers, managers and a record label.

'The precise division between these types of rights holders varies by territory in accordance with local laws and negotiated agreements,' it said.

In the United States, for example, the artist receives about 21 per cent of the payout.

In other words, if a hit by a US singer is listened to one million times, the artists will receive about $US1500, Spotify said.

But the company insisted the numbers told only part of the story.

'Although much public discussion of Spotify has speculated about such a rate, our payouts for individual artists have grown tremendously over time as a result of our user growth, and they will continue to do so,' the company said.

Created in 2006 by two Swedes, Spotify has yet to make a profit, unlike its US rival Pandora.

In 2012, the company said it lost 58.7 million euros ($A87.95 million), on sales of 434.7 million euros.

In July, Thom Yorke pulled his solo work from Spotify. Radiohead producer and Yorke collaborator Nigel Godrich tweeted at the time that web-streaming was 'an equation that just doesn't work.'


Maiden named leading UK business

Iron Maiden have been cited by financial experts as among of the best UK success stories of recent years.

They’ve been named one of six organisations spearheading the music industry in the 21st century, and listed as one of the 1000 most inspiring companies in Britain.

And the London Stock Exchange has hailed the NWOBHM giants’ business model of working hard and touring regularly, noting that it’s turned the potential losses caused by illegal filesharing into big profits.

Iron Maiden LLP, the band’s holding firm, oversaw an online fanbase increase of five million during their Somewhere Back In Time world tour. Over the same period they scored well in terms of steady profit, strong online communication, creating jobs and securing contracts.

Greg Mead of analysts Musicmetric tells the Guardian: “The report suggests Maiden have been rather successful in turning free filesharing into fee-paying fans. This is clear proof that taking a global approach to live touring can pay off.”

And Tom Gilbert of the London Stock Exchange says relatively small firms like Maiden hold the key to future economic achievement. “Over the last few years the biggest companies have produced very few jobs,” he explains. “Jobs recovery has come from small and medium sizes companies.

“The vast majority of companies in the UK are small or medium and their success is something of an unreported story.”