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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Guide to the Stars




What do you need to unite the nation emotionally in its most difficult period? A pop song, of course.


At least that was the answer provided by a motley crew of Russian celebrities who have recorded a New Year's song to get the masses jolly in time for Russia's favorite holiday. Pop stars ranging from the manly middle-aged leader of the patriotic pop group Lube, Nikolai Rastorguyev, to the clowning couple Sasha and Lolita took part in the project, which this week was presented to the press at the Beverly Hills club, a palace of American kitsch.


The artists were provided with a recording studio by Yevgeny Osin, a strange man, once beloved by high-school girls who adored his song "Girl Crying in the Phone Booth." Osin achieved his world fame as the man who danced with Boris Yeltsin during his re-election campaign in 1996.


The New Year's song is not likely to get very high on the charts. It is a far cry from "We Are the World" or even the Soviet version "Closing the Circle." But Osin's answer to criticism at the presentation was "In our country, not the best songs become hits."


But that's beside the point. Even if the producers swear that no money was involved and everything was done just on everyone's good will it is probably the first time that I agreed with my girlfriend, who is far from removed from the world of Russian show biz. "They have no aim," she said. "'We Are the World' had an aim - to raise money for children - but they just want to make people watching TV happy."


Still looking for the national song? Look at Vladimir Zhechkov, head of the advertising branch of the Premier SV agency, who along with his boss Sergei Lisovsky came under attack by the tax police and had his house searched for hidden assets this week.


Despite his alleged legal transgressions, Zhechkov, 38, remains a big star. The whole country is crazy about the song he recorded with his group, "White Eagle." And the song "It's a Crime to Be So Beautiful" is 10 times better than this week's New Year's dreck. A staid-looking businessman, Zhechkov did what many professional singers still haven't learned to do: He made us feel good. So, hands off, tax police. Is it really a crime to be so beautiful?