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Audra, Oprah -- Oprah, Audra, Strange Bedfellows, Free Ink

Wednesday, Nov 10 1999
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Audra, Oprah -- Oprah, Audra About three weeks ago, by the grace of Oprah Winfrey, film crews descended on the Covered Wagon Saloon. It's just another part of Oprah's continuing efforts toward media dominance: She's the co-founder of Oxygen, a woman-focused cable network set to launch next year with a variety of shows about fitness, health, celebrity chat, and programming for teenage girls -- which is where Audra Angeli-Morse comes in.

As the producer of Incredibly Strange Wrestling and the CW's "Stinky's Peep Show," Angeli-Morse was approached as subject of a segment of Trackers, a two-hour show for 12- to 17-year-olds. "They thought I was apparently a good role model for teen girls," she says, "which I think is hysterical." Film crews covered Angeli-Morse doing everything from getting a manicure to hanging out with the wrestlers and "Stinky's" go-go dancers; additional interviews were done with CW staffers and bands. "It's a story on me and [Incredibly Strange Wrestling], as a female promoter in the music business kind of thing." The idea for the segment came from Sarah Jacobson, until recently a San Francisco-based independent filmmaker (Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore), now in New York as a segment producer for Trackers. The segment is set to air in February, when the Oxygen network begins broadcasting.

Also, regarding the CW's recent financial difficulties ("Clubbed, Part 1," Sept. 29), Angeli-Morse notes that "things are doing much better, and November's looking good for us. I think we'll be OK."

Strange Bedfellows For a person who once ruled over a large portion of the major-label music industry -- and then got burned by it -- Danny Goldberg comes across as surprisingly genial and laid-back. Until about a year ago, Goldberg reigned as chairman of Mercury Group, which owned the Mercury, Motown, and PolyGram Classics and Jazz labels, and where he helped steer the careers of Hole, Reba McEntire, Lucinda Williams, and a host of other stars. But with the Seagram's-PolyGram merger and massive staff cuts that followed, Goldberg made his way to the door -- with a reported $10 million severance package -- and started Artemis Records earlier this year as part of Sheridan Square Entertainment, a company that plans to expand into music publishing, artist management, and e-commerce ventures. Since July, Goldberg's kept busy with deals and acquisitions, setting up distribution with Sony's RED Distribution and building partnerships with R&B and hip-hop company ANTRA Music Group, y'allternative icon Steve Earle's E-Squared label, and signing Warren Zevon.

Goldberg's latest move, announced late last month, is a partnership with local rock label Man's Ruin, the stoner-rock and acid-eating punk label owned by famed underground poster artist Frank Kozik. The arrangement is set up as a mutually beneficial one: Man's Ruin gets an influx of cash to support the bands it's signed, improved national and international distribution -- switching to RED from local distributor Mordam -- creative independence, and the ability to designate a handful of bands each year for the Artemis label that will get, in industry parlance, the big push. "We wanted some West Coast intelligence in the rock area," says Goldberg from his New York offices. "I had a specific eye on Man's Ruin. I've known [Kozik] as an artist, and a lot of the staff here were fans. If he had turned me down, we would've looked for something else, but it's definitely the first place I went. Frank has a talent for identifying great music early."

"I have complete autonomy," says Kozik. "Basically, [Goldberg's] paying me a lot of money for an opinion." Kozik started Man's Ruin here in 1995 and has since released a steady stream of singles and CDs from bands around the world who've garnered their own sizable cults (Fu Manchu, the Hellacopters, Queens of the Stone Age) as well as local rock and "weird psycho indie punk" groups like Drunk Horse, Lost Goat, Jack Saints, and Men of Porn. "The label has been doing pretty good these days, and I wanted to take it to the next level, get some decent distribution," says Kozik. "I was nosing around and hooked up with Goldberg." No decisions have yet been made about which Man's Ruin groups will make the jump to Artemis.

Free Ink Bands interested in applying for a showcase at March's South by Southwest 2000 -- Austin, Texas' annual five-night tribute to rock, pop, and heavy alcohol consumption -- need to send packages to the conference's coordinators by Nov. 15. Applicants should send a CD or cassette demo, bio, photo, and press kit along with the $20 application fee and completed form (available at sxsw.com or by calling 512/467-7979). Bands selected to perform at the festival will be notified by Feb. 15.

Oops Last week's item on Pitchfork's list of the top 100 albums of the '90s ("What, No Journey?" Nov. 3) misstated the Web zine's location. Pitchfork is based in Chicago. We apologize for the error. "And oh yeah, the first Weezer record is an amazing pop-rock record," challenges Pitchfork review team member Brent DiCrescenzo, who corrected us.

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mathitakis@sfweekly.com, or mail them to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

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Mark Athitakis

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