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Prince Amps Up Funk and Soul on Two New Albums

'Plectrumelectrum' and 'Art Official Age' mark the artist's return to Warner Bros. after acrimonious split from the label. New song "Clouds" is streaming now.

It's been five years since Prince put out a new record in the United States, since he limited the release of his 20Ten LP, but that will change this fall. On September 30th, the artist will release two new records: Plectrumelectrum, his long-teased album with the group 3rdEyeGirl, and his recently announced solo LP, Art Official Age. He will reportedly hold a series of special events and live dates around the world, details for which are forthcoming, to celebrate the albums' release. Both records are available separately as pre-orders, via the website ArtOfficialAge.com, and include "instant gratification" downloads.

Art Official Age is being billed as "classic Prince," since it was produced, arranged, composed and performed by the musician (alongside singer-songwriter Joshua Welton).  The record reportedly contains a mix of soul, R&B and funk. The pre-order includes the songs "Breakdown" and "Clouds," as well as three digital singles. The funky, jazzy  latter track is now streaming atComplex.

Prince has already released the video for album track "Breakfast Can Wait" and he played "Funknroll" during his appearance on Arsenio earlier this year, though the version on Art Official Age is "funkier and nastier," according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune writer who got an early listen. The reporter also claimed that "This Could Be Us" was a ballad inspired by Prince's Purple Rain costar Apollonia Kotero and that "The Gold Standard" had lyrics "wild and rude." The writer also said the album contained an "aggressive and menacing" rap song featuring Rita Ora.

Plectrumelectrum, a "classic band album" that is said to be an "electrifying funk-rock statement," features the singer leading the all-female group ThirdEyeGirl. The ensemble test-drove a number of the record's songs on their recent Hit and Run tours. "No one can play like this band," Prince told Rolling Stone about the record. "People are going to try, but they won't be able to."

He also previewed the record at a late-night listening session in New York City, which revealed the hard-rock guitar number (and pre-order instant-gratification track) "Pretzelbodylogic," as well as the original version of "Funknroll." Notably absent from the record is Prince's duet with Zooey Deschanel, "Fallinlove2night," which got its debut on The New Girl in March.

The records mark Prince's return to Warner Bros., the label he split from acrimoniously in the Nineties after wearing the word "slave" on his face as a protest to his record contract. "When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave," he told Rolling Stone in 1996. "That's where I was. I don't own Prince's music. If you don't own your masters, your master owns you." Earlier this year, Prince worked out a deal with the label where he now owns the masters to his recordings. The label previously announced a plan to put out a deluxe, digitally remastered, 30th anniversary release of the Purple Rain soundtrack, though it has yet to announce a release date.

"Prince is one of just a handful of visionary artists who have truly reshaped and redefined modern music and culture," Warner Bros. Chairman & CEO Cameron Strang said in a statement about the two new records. "For the past 35 years, he has never stopped evolving, challenging himself, reinventing his sound and pushing boundaries. In true Prince fashion, he has just given us not one, but two extraordinary albums that express the incredible range and depth of his talent. All of us at WBR are immensely proud to be working with Prince to bring this brilliant new music to his legions of fans around the world, and needless to say we are thrilled to be working in partnership with him again."

Art Official Age track list:
1. "Art Official Cage"
2. "Clouds"
3. "Breakdown"
4. "The Gold Standard"
5. "U Know"
6. "Breakfast Can Wait"
7. "This Could Be Us"
8. "What It Feels Like"
9. "Affirmation I & II"
10. "Way Back Home"
11. "Funknroll"
12. "Time"
13. "Affirmation III"

Plectrumelectrum track list:
1. "Wow"
2. "Pretzelbodylogic"
3. "Aintturninround"
4. "Plectrumelectrum"
5. "Whitecaps"
6. "Fixurlifeup"
7. "Boytrouble"
8. "Stopthistrain"
9. "Anotherlove"
10. "Tictactoe"
11. "Marz"
12. "Funknroll"

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/prince-new-albums-plectrumelectrum-and-art-official-age-20140825#ixzz3BRQxv3tL
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Apple iPhone 6 screen snag leaves supply chain scrambling

By Reiji Murai
TOKYO (Reuters) - Suppliers to Apple Inc are scrambling to get enough screens ready for the new iPhone 6 smartphone as the need to redesign a key component disrupted panel production ahead of next month's expected launch, supply chain sources said.
It's unclear whether the hiccup could delay the launch or limit the number of phones initially available to consumers, the sources said, as Apple readies larger-screen iPhones for the year-end shopping season amid market share loss to cheaper rivals.
But the issue highlights the risks and challenges that suppliers face to meet Apple's tough specifications, and comes on the heels of a separate screen technology problem, since resolved, in making thinner screens for the larger iPhone 6 model.
Cupertino, California-based Apple has scheduled a media event for Sept. 9, and many expect it to unveil the new iPhone 6 with both 4.7 inch (11.94 cm) and 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) screens - bigger than the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5s and 5c.
Two supply chain sources said display panel production suffered a setback after the backlight that helps illuminate the screen had to be revised, putting screen assembly on hold for part of June and July. One said Apple, aiming for the thinnest phone possible, initially wanted to cut back to a single layer of backlight film, instead of the standard two layers, for the 4.7-inch screen, which went into mass production ahead of the 5.5-inch version.
But the new configuration was not bright enough and the backlight was sent back to the drawing board to fit in the extra layer, costing precious time and temporarily idling some screen assembly operations, the source said.
Output is now back on track and suppliers are working flat-out to make up for lost time, the supply chain sources added.
Representatives for those three suppliers, and for Apple, declined to comment.
Apple is known to make tough demands on its parts suppliers for new iPhones and iPads as it competes to create designs, shapes, sizes and features to set it apart and command a premium price in a fiercely competitive gadget market.
This can cause glitches and delays, including screen problems that crimped supplies at last year's launch of a high-resolution version of Apple's iPad Mini.
It also highlights the danger for suppliers of depending too heavily on Apple for revenues, creating earnings volatility.
Earlier this month, Japan Display, said to be the lead supplier for the new iPhone panel, said orders for "a large customer" - which analysts said was Apple - arrived as expected, but shipments may be delayed in the July-September quarter.
Japan Display's reliance on Apple's cyclical business has spooked some investors. UBS Securities has forecast that Apple will contribute more than a third of the Japanese firm's total revenue in the year to March 2015. Japan Display's share price dropped to a 12-week low of 501 yen after first-quarter earnings on Aug. 7 lagged market expectations.
In Taiwan, home to several Apple suppliers and assemblers, export orders grew less than expected in July, even as factories rushed output ahead of new smartphone launches, reflecting the erratic nature of the business.
"Currently, there's a small shortage in supply of a specialized component for our communication devices," said a spokesman for Pegatron <4938.TW>, which assembles iPhones. "This kind of problem regularly occurs and the impact on production is negligible."
Supply chain sources had previously said challenges with the new iPhone's screen in-cell technology, which eliminates one of the layers in the LCD screen to make it thinner, caused a delay in the production of the larger 5.5-inch version. One display industry source said the in-cell issues had now been resolved.
The pressure on Apple for stand-out products has increased as Samsung Electronics Co <005930.KS> and, more recently, a clutch of aggressive, lower-cost Chinese producers such as Xiaomi Inc and Lenovo Group Ltd <0992.HK> have eroded the U.S. company's market dominance.
The iPhone 6 unveiling has been widely anticipated to bolster momentum for Apple shares, which have risen by a third, to above $100 each, since the company posted strong first-quarter earnings in late-April.
(Additional reporting by Michael Gold in TAIPEI, Sophie Knight in TOKYO and Christina Farr in SAN FRANCISCO; Editing by Edmund Klamann, Miyoung Kim and Ian Geoghegan)

To Have and Have Not

 Matt Tyrnauer
She’s one of the last of Hollywood’s golden-age stars—the girl who stole Humphrey Bogart’s heart at age 19 and has been grappling with their dual legend ever since. Now 86, Lauren Bacall looks back on a lucky, if often difficult, life as she gives it straight to Matt Tyrnauer, talking about the effect of Bogie’s fame on her and their kids; her very brief engagement to Frank Sinatra; her stormy second union, to Jason Robards; and why she hates the Oscar she received, in 2009.

The apartment is cavernous, on a high floor of the Dakota, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Huge windows overlook Central Park, 30 feet above the tree line, with the grand residential buildings of Fifth Avenue in the distance. My meetings with Lauren Bacall, who is 86, are at three P.M. in the winter, so the light is silvery blue in the wood-trimmed parlor, where Bacall has set the scene for our sessions. A tall wooden chair, for her, is positioned in the center of the room, near a low, white-and-green-upholstered club chair, for me. A single lamp burns in a distant corner. She is dressed, every time, in a black shirt, black pants, and black orthopedic shoes. She always has with her Sophie, an excitable papillon, and what she refers to as “my friend,” her aluminum walker, with tennis balls on its feet. The “fucking fracture that I’ve got on the hip” is the result of a bathroom fall a few months back, a frustrating how-do-you-do after a life of near-perfect health. “Can you imagine? It’s the only time I have been in the hospital except for the times when I gave birth,” she says. A fighter by nature, Bacall has begun to venture out, supported by her walker, onto 72nd Street, going alone to physical therapy, for the most part unrecognized, just another senior citizen. “People don’t pay any attention to me or the walker,” she says. “The other night I was going into a doctor’s office, and some son of a bitch came out of the building, almost knocked me over. I said, ‘You’re a fucking ape!’—screaming at him. He never even turned around. Couldn’t care less, this big horse of a man.”
“Patience,” Bacall wrote in her memoir, By Myself (1978), “was not my strong point.”
She hands me a box of Bissinger’s chocolate bark and instructs me to tear off the cellophane. “This is going to be our snack,” she says, explaining that she is the St. Louis-based chocolate company’s spokesperson. “I just said ‘Bissinger’s is the best chocolate’ into a microphone when I was in St. Louis touring with Applause [the Broadway musical, in 1971], and every year the boxes of chocolate keep coming, so I guess I am still their spokesman.” The cellophane is hard to puncture, and she suddenly snaps, “What’s taking you so long to open that box? Get over here and sit down!”
There is a pause as I make a note on this aria.
“Uh-oh, he’s thinking too much,” she says. “You are going to cut me to ribbons, I can tell. What’s the argument for this story? That I am still breathing? I don’t talk about the past,” she proclaims, taking a piece of Bissinger’s and pushing the rest in my direction. Nevertheless, the past is present everywhere in this room and all over the apartment. It is, in fact, never far from her thoughts. She has lived in great comfort in this place since 1961, when she bought it for $48,000. “I called my business manager in California and said, ‘Sell all of my stock’—what little of it I had—and it’s the only smart financial move I ever made,” she says. The north wall of the parlor, which she faces, is a map of memories in the form of framed photos, drawings, and ephemera, testifying to the fact that she knew the greats from a tender age. “It’s not about me. It’s about all the people who were my friends,” she says. The centerpiece is a vermilion portrait of her as the character Schatze in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) by that film’s director, Jean Negulesco. She was at the height of her beauty then.
“My son tells me, ‘Do you realize you are the last one? The last person who was an eyewitness to the golden age?’ Young people, even in Hollywood, ask me, ‘Were you really married to Humphrey Bogart?’ ‘Well, yes, I think I was,’ I reply. You realize yourself when you start reflecting—because I don’t live in the past, although your past is so much a part of what you are—that you can’t ignore it. But I don’t look at scrapbooks. I could show you some, but I’d have to climb ladders, and I can’t climb.”

The Prettiest Usher

‘Bogie was 25 years my senior,” she begins. They were married on May 21, 1945, when she was 20 and he was 45, at Malabar Farm, in Lucas, Ohio, the home of Bogart’s great friend the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Louis Bromfield. Bogart liked to refer to himself as “a last-century boy,” having been born in 1899. “I fairly often have thought how lucky I was,” she tells me. “I knew everybody because I was married to Bogie, and that 25-year difference was the most fantastic thing for me to have in my life.” She points to the wall—to signed photos of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Robert Benchley, Clifton Webb, Noël Coward, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, John Gielgud, and Truman Capote—and says with a sigh, “It’s like all the talent’s gone. It’s very sad.
“Bogie started in the theater not as an actor but as a stage manager, and he got on the stage by accident, because one of the actors did not show up for a performance one evening, so he went on for him. And he said, ‘O.K., this isn’t too bad.’ I don’t know why he ended up in California, because he was brought up in New York. His mother was an artist, Maud Humphrey. His father was a doctor, Belmont DeForest Bogart. How do you like that for a name? He was Humphrey DeForest Bogart.”
There may be some mystery as to how Bogart ended up in Hollywood, but how Lauren Bacall got there, 67 years ago, from her native New York is the stuff of legend.
She was born Betty Joan Perske, in the Bronx, on September 16, 1924. Her mother and mother’s mother were Jewish immigrants from Romania. Her father, William Perske, abusive and unfaithful, fled when Betty was six. She took her grandmother’s name, Bacal, at age eight, eventually adding the second l to make it easier to pronounce. The family’s finances were always shaky. Bacall’s mother worked multiple jobs to support her only child. Betty’s dream from her very early years was to be an actress, specifically the second coming of Bette Davis, whom she worshipped, imitated, and literally stalked when Davis was in New York in the early 40s, staying at the Gotham Hotel, off Fifth Avenue.
While a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, in Manhattan, Bacall relentlessly pursued a theatrical break: barging into the office of Broadway producer Max Gordon and begging for a part, striking up a friendship with the actor Paul Lukas, selling the casting tip sheet Actor’s Cue outside Sardi’s, going on an age-inappropriate date with the notoriously lecherous star Burgess Meredith, whom she had met while volunteering at the Stage Door Canteen. (Bogart always believed that Meredith had taken her virginity and later confronted him about it. Meredith and Bacall denied it, but, she says, “Bogie didn’t believe him.”) During this period she was also an usher at the St. James Theatre, and she got the first augury of immortality—if you don’t count being crowned Miss Greenwich Village 1942—when the theater critic George Jean Nathan gave her a glowing notice. As she recalled in By Myself:
The day after her 18th birthday, Bacall made her stage debut in a George S. Kaufman play,Franklin Street, which closed after its Washington, D.C., tryout. However, the smoldering good looks that had caught Nathan’s eye landed her in front of Diana Vreeland, then the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar, for a model casting. She made the cover in March 1943, and that photo of her, standing in front of a Red Cross office door, caught the attention of Nancy “Slim” Hawks, then the wife of movie director Howard Hawks, who suggested to him that he give Bacall a screen test.

Her Own Svengali

‘Of course, it was Howard Hawks who changed my life,” Bacall tells me. “Despite all of his great accomplishments—Bringing Up Baby [1938], Scarface [1932], some of the best pictures to that date—his one ambition was to find a girl and invent her, to create her as his perfect woman. He was my Svengali, and I was to become, under his tutelage, this big star, and he would own me. And he would also like to get me into his bed, which, of course—horrors! It was the furthest thing from my mind. I was so frightened of him. He was the old gray fox, and he always told me stories of how he dealt with Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth, how he tried to get them to listen to him and they didn’t, so they never got the parts they should have gotten, and their careers took much longer to take off.”
Hawks and his producing partner, Charles Feldman, put her through Hollywood boot camp. She was in awe, and scared to death. “You can’t imagine how beautiful L.A. was then. Of course, it’s all ruined now,” she says. She aced her screen test, but, as she wrote in By Myself, the Hollywood machine “was so much more complicated than I had thought, so much grander.” Slim Hawks and Feldman’s wife, Jean Howard, both social paragons, took her under their wings and showed her off around town. Elsa Maxwell gave her a 19th-birthday party and invited Hedda Hopper, who wrote about it. Bacall started to appear at Cole Porter’s regular Sunday-night dinners at his house in Brentwood. In By Myself, she recalled:
He always had a few soldiers who had no place to go—no home nearby—to dinner and always invited young actresses to dine and dance with them One day I was having lunch at his poolside and was the last to leave. Finally he walked me to the door. At that moment the door opened. Standing there in white shirt, beige slacks—with a peach complexion, light-brown hair, and the most incredible face ever seen by man—was Greta Garbo. I almost gasped out loud as Cole introduced me to her. No make-up—unmatched beauty. It was the only time I saw her at anything but a distance.
Studio makeup artists attempted to alter Bacall, putting her in terror as they moved in to pluck her eyebrows, shave her hairline, and straighten her teeth. She thwarted their efforts: “Howard had chosen me for my thick eyebrows and crooked teeth, and that’s the way they would stay.” She insisted on doing her own hair, in the style that would become her trademark: “The wave … on the right side—starting to curve at the corner of my eyebrow and ending, sloping downward, at my cheekbone.”
Hawks had been thinking hard about a new name for his discovery. “At lunch in the green room one day,” Bacall wrote, “Howard told me he had thought of a name: Lauren. He wanted me to tell everyone when the interviews began that it was an old family name—had been my great-grandmother’s.” Previously he had asked her what her real grandmother’s name was. “Sophie,” Bacall answered. That, clearly, would not do. Hawks, determined to make her into a sex symbol for every warm-blooded American man, was, she feared, an anti-Semite. “He once made some remark about a Jew and I turned cold,” she noted. “I’m sure I paled visibly I was panic-stricken.” She prayed he would never ask her about her religion. It’s a small irony that she has never been comfortable being called Lauren Bacall. Her friends call her Betty. Bogart and his compatriots called her Baby.
On a Saturday morning in 1942, in New York City, Bacall’s mother and her aunt Rosalie had taken her to the Capitol Theatre to see Casablanca. “We all loved it,” Bacall wrote in By Myself.“And Rosalie was mad about Humphrey Bogart. I thought he was good in it, but mad about him? Not at all. She thought he was sexy. I thought she was crazy I couldn’t understand Rosalie’s thinking at all.”
That was when Betty Bacall was 18. Now, at 19, Hawks had in mind casting her opposite Bogart or Cary Grant. “I thought, Cary Grant—terrific! Humphrey Bogart—yuck!” she tells me. In the end, Hawks decided to put her in To Have and Have Not, an adaptation of a Hemingway novel, with Bogart. He presented the ingénue to the star one day on the set of the film Passage to Marseille.
The filming of To Have and Have Not was marked by two bombshell experiences for Bacall. The first was her discovery that she was so terrified in front of the camera that she could barely function. No matter what Hawks tried, she couldn’t gather her wits to perform her role as the femme fatale Marie, whom Bogart’s character in the film, Steve, nicknames Slim (in homage to Slim Hawks). She recalls being “ready for a straitjacket [on the first day of shooting]. Howard had planned to do a single scene that day—my first in the picture. I walked to the door of Bogart’s room, said, ‘Anybody got a match?,’ leaned against the door, and Bogart threw me a small box of matches. I lit my cigarette, looking at him, said ‘Thanks,’ threw the matches back to him, and left. Well—we rehearsed it. My hand was shaking. My head was shaking. The cigarette was shaking. I was mortified. The harder I tried to stop, the more I shook. What must Howard be thinking? What must Bogart be thinking? What must the crew be thinking? Oh God, make it stop! I was in such pain.”
The only way she could “hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin low, almost to the chest, and eyes up at Bogart.” That stance accidentally became Bacall’s signature attitude on-screen, known as The Look.

Robin Williams Dead: Beloved Actor Dies In Apparent Suicide

By Alana Horowitz

Beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead on Monday, police reported.

He was 63.

The apparent cause of death was suicide, authorities said. According to his publicist,Williams had been battling severe depression.

Williams was best known for his starring roles in classic comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He rose to fame while playing Mork the alien in the TV show Mork & Mindy, a Happy Days spinoff.

Most recently, Williams had starred in the new CBS sitcom 'The Crazy Ones.' It was cancelled after just one season.

Susan Schneider, the actor's wife, released the following statement to the New York Times' Dave Itzkoff:

"This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one if its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin's death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."

Here is the full press release on his death, courtesy of Marin PD.
Fellow actors took expressed deep sorrows on the death of the popular actor.

Leaning Right in Hollywood, Under a Lens


LOS ANGELES — In a famously left-leaning Hollywood, where Democratic fund-raisers fill the social calendar, Friends of Abe stands out as a conservative group that bucks the prevailing political winds.

A collection of perhaps 1,500 right-leaning players in the entertainment industry, Friends of Abe keeps a low profile and fiercely protects its membership list, to avoid what it presumes would result in a sort of 21st-century blacklist, albeit on the other side of the partisan spectrum.

Now the Internal Revenue Service is reviewing the group’s activities in connection with its application for tax-exempt status. Last week, federal tax authorities presented the group with a 10-point request for detailed information about its meetings with politicians like Paul D. Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter and Herman Cain, among other matters, according to people briefed on the inquiry.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the organization’s confidentiality strictures, and to avoid complicating discussions with the I.R.S.

Those people said that the application had been under review for roughly two years, and had at one point included a demand — which was not met — for enhanced access to the group’s security-protected website, which would have revealed member names. Tax experts said that an organization’s membership list is information that would not typically be required. The I.R.S. already had access to the site’s basic levels, a request it considers routine for applications for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Friends of Abe — the name refers to Abraham Lincoln — has strongly discouraged the naming of its members. That policy even prohibits the use of cameras at group events, to avoid the unwilling identification of all but a few associates — the actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer, or the writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd, for instance — who have spoken openly about their conservative political views.

The I.R.S. request comes in the face of a continuing congressional investigation into the agency’s reviews of political nonprofits, most of them conservative-leaning, which provoked outrage on the right and forced the departure last year of several high-ranking I.R.S. officials. But unlike most of those groups, which had sought I.R.S. approval for a mix of election campaigning and nonpartisan issue advocacy, Friends of Abe is seeking a far more restrictive tax status, known as 501(c)(3), that would let donors claim a tax deduction, but strictly prohibits any form of partisan activity.

The group is not currently designated tax-exempt, but it behaves as a nonprofit and has almost no formal structure, people briefed on the matter said. The I.R.S. review will determine whether Friends of Abe receives tax-exempt status that would provide legal footing similar to that of the People for the American Way Foundation, a progressive group fostered by the television producer Norman Lear and others. If not, Friends of Abe could resort to the courts, or it might simply operate as a nonprofit, but it would be unable to receive tax-deductible contributions.

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Jeremy Boreing, executive director of Friends of Abe, declined on Wednesday to discuss details of the tax review, but said the group would continue regardless of outcome.

“Certainly, it’s been a long process,” he said.

“Friends of Abe has absolutely no political agenda,” he added. “It exists to create fellowship among like-minded individuals.”

People for the American Way, Mr. Lear’s group, stands as something of a liberal counterpart to Friends of Abe, though the organization is far larger, with an affiliate that spends millions of dollars a year on issue advocacy in Washington and beyond. But the entertainment industry has been crisscrossed by progressive groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, which maintains a tax-exempt educational adjunct under the 501(c)(3) provision, and includes the producer Laurie David and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio among its trustees. Another, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, is a nonprofit that supports marriage rights for gay people and counts the producer Bruce Cohen and the writer Dustin Lance Black among its founders.

In the request last week, tax officials combined broad questions about membership criteria and social events, according to the people briefed on the matter, with pointed queries about meetings with a Los Angeles mayoral candidate, Kevin James, and Republican politicians like Mr. Ryan, Mr. Cain and Rick Santorum.

Officials particularly wanted to know why a speech introducing Mr. Cain at a Friends of Abe event in November 2011 — when he was a presidential candidate — should not be regarded as potentially prohibited political campaign support.

While tax-exempt groups are permitted to invite candidates to speak at events, it is not uncommon for the I.R.S. to scrutinize such activities to determine whether they cross the line into partisan election activity. One issue is whether the organization invites all the qualified candidates.

“The I.R.S. would say that if you are inviting only conservative candidates, that’s a problem,” said Marcus S. Owens, a former director of the I.R.S.’s exempt organizations division. “But it’s never really been litigated.”

Friends of Abe began about nine years ago as little more than an email chain linking conservative stars, filmmakers and other Hollywood figures who were generally reluctant to openly discuss their views. The name is a take on Friends of Bill, the circle of loyalists who have adhered to Bill Clinton over the years.

Mr. Sinise was a leading voice among those who in early 2005 gathered at Morton’s Steakhouse here for an informal dinner that members have since identified as the group’s closest approach to an actual founding moment.

As Friends of Abe grew, however, Mr. Sinise withdrew from active leadership, and Mr. Boreing, a film producer and director, took charge.

Membership has been defined mostly by access to a private website (there are no dues, but enhanced online access requires a small fee), and attendance at a growing number of events that have included meetings with political operatives like Karl Rove and Frank Luntz; politicians like Michele Bachmann and John Boehner; and media figures like Ann Coulter, Dennis Miller and Mark Levin.

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The recent I.R.S. query did not mention the earlier request for access to the names of members, people briefed on the query said.

But a remaining question is whether at least some of the group’s politically oriented encounters will be interpreted as campaign activity, and weigh against its bid for tax exemption as a 501(c)(3) organization, devoted to educational or charitable work.

A spokesman for the I.R.S. on Wednesday said it was prohibited from commenting on specific taxpayer activity.

Tax officials and congressional overseers have been embroiled in a debate over the enforcement of rules that restrict campaign activity by tax-exempt groups since last year, when an I.R.S. official acknowledged that officers had improperly targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. But most of those groups were seeking recognition as so-called 501(c)(4) groups, whose ability to conduct a limited amount of campaign activity is governed by a vague patchwork of rules and standards. In November, in an effort to make the process both more transparent and more rigorous, the I.R.S. announced that it would begin formulating new rules.

Michael Cieply reported from Los Angeles and Nicholas Confessore from New York.