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Los Angeles Times –

From the Los Angeles Times’ Ministry of Gossip blog:

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BEYONCE, ROSEANNE BARR, MORE CELEBS NOTE ETTA JAMES’ PASSING

In the wake of Etta James’ death Friday at age 73, Beyonce and other celebrities expressed their sympathies over the singer’s passing.

“This is a huge loss,” Beyonce, who played James in the movie “Cadillac Records,” said in a statement on her website. “Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime.”

Beyonce said James’ music inspired her to be a stronger artist.

“When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”

James, whose condition was pronounced terminal in December, succumbed to complications of leukemia Friday morning at a hospital in Riverside, according to her son Donto and her personal doctor. Best known for the song “At Last,” she had battled serious infections for years and also suffered from dementia.

Beyonce was far from alone in expressing herself.

“Some of you young’ns may not be too familiar with Etta James but … many of you are definitely familiar with her biggest hit song At Last (which Beyoncé performed at the inauguration of President Obama back in 2009),” Pink explained Friday on her website.

“Though she’s gone, her classic songs and undeniable influence on the music world will live on,” said “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon, recently out of the hospital himself. Wife Mariah Carey added on Twitter, “Rest in peace to one of the world’s most influential singers Etta James, you will be missed.”

Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am tweeted, “Showing respect appreciation and love for all the wonderful music and joy #ettajames brought to the world…#ettajamesforever,” and rapper Flo Rida said, “I’m deeply saddened by the passing of the Great Etta James and I will be forever grateful for the gift she Blessed me with.” (He’d sampled her “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” for a recent record, and added, “Etta James I dedicate “Good Feeling” to you #RIP to a #Legend.”)

Amber Riley of “Glee” remembered “such a unique & beautiful voice,” while Alyssa Milano said simply, “Rest in peace, Etta James.” Adam Lambert, Mya, LeAnn Rimes, Cyndi Lauper and Chaka Khan also chimed in.

Roseanne Barr, who in 2002 had suggested gastric-bypass surgery to James, pointed her Twitter followers to a different title in the singer’s body of work: “Etta James-Rest In Peace, dear lady-read her book “A Rage to Survive” -great american feminist.”

Barr also shared an anecdote about the late singer (“Etta James let me sing “you can leave your hat on” by randy newman with her on my talk show-it was a dream come true-she was so sweet.”) and expressed her displeasure about President Obama’s inauguration, when James was “dissed,” she said, “when she was ill,” in favor of Beyonce.

—Christie D’Zurilla

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SUNDANCE PARTY PREVIEW: DRAKE, LIZZIE OLSEN TO HIT THE SNOW

No sooner do Golden Globes gowns and tuxedos hit the floor than snow boots and knits come on, as Hollywood migrates to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.

Here’s the Ministry’s guide to the most anticipated parties, performances and star gatherings that will light up Park City.

Bing Bar: The search engine company returns to the former Claim Jumper Hotel with three floors of space to accommodate film junkets, cast dinners and after-parties. Cast members of “Lay the Favorite” will chow down there after their festival premiere, which could see Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis and Joshua Jackson. On Saturday evening, Drake is set to light up the main stage.

Village at the Lift: Normally reserved for skiing enthusiasts, the lift at the base of Main Street will once again host T-Mobile’s hospitality hub for filmmakers, celebs and media. By day, the frost-bitten will enjoy Wi-Fi access and treats from the McCafe lounge and salon services at the Miami Oasis Suite. By night, it will house the festival’s biggest celeb party draw: the Tao nightclub pop-up.

Acura Studio: The official festival sponsor will host vehicles (natch), chief among them a special treat for film fans: a peek at the Acura Super Car, featured in the upcoming superhero epic “The Avengers.” The 528 Main St. space will also see celebrations for films including “Your Sister’s Sister” with Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass.

7 Fresh Faces: Denim house 7 For All Mankind and Gen Art team each year to toast a generation of talent to watch, and this year’s crop includes actresses Ari Graynor, Olivia Thirlby and Lizzy Caplan, held at the Bertoli Meal Soup chalet (the popular Sky Lodge space).

Blue Door experience: Grey Goose hosts a bunch of events, including a bash for the new season of the Sundance Channel’s “Iconoclast” series. Paul Simon will host a conversation about the series, and celebrations are also expected for shows such as “Redlights,” starring Elizabeth Olsen and Sigourney Weaver.

Chefdance: The annual culinary celebration returns to Main Street to feed frozen toes. This year, expect cameos from the likes of Hung Huynh, a winner of “Top Chef.”

Swag time: Naturally, a built-in component for the festival are the giveaways. Folks like CanWeStudios.com, creators of the smartphone app for CanWeMeet and CanWeNetwork, are giving away the iPad 2 and Apple TV device to select celebs.

—Matt Donnelly

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ZOE SALDANA PLAYS REAL-LIFE HERO TO ELDERLY CAR CRASH VICTIM

In “Colombiana,” Zoe Saldana plays an assassin hellbent on vengeance — but off-screen in Culver City, Calif., the actress used her powers for good.

Saldana on Wednesday rushed to the aid of an elderly woman who was involved in a car crash, helping her from her vehicle to the curb and dialing 911.

“Zoe witnessed the car accident, and was very quick to help,” a witness told People. She “immediately got on the phone with 911 and she seemed very concerned.”

Photos of the scene showed serious cuts to the driver’s face. Saldana stuck by until paramedics arrived.

“While waiting for help to arrive, Zoe returned to the woman’s car and picked up the woman’s handbag and sweater. Zoe was very caring and sweet to the woman,” the witness added.

Saldana, currently rumored to be dating actor Bradley Cooper, will take her heroics this weekend to the Sundance Film Festival, where she’ll promote her and Cooper’s thriller “The Words.”

—Matt Donnelly

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