De La Rocha says farewell to Machine

Zack De La Rocha has quit as vocalist for Rage Against the Machine. “I feel that it is now necessary to leave Rage, because our decision-making process has completely failed,” De La Rocha said in a statement released Wednesday. “It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal. I am extremely proud of our work, both as activists and musicians, as well as indebted and grateful to every person who has expressed solidarity and shared this incredible experience with us.”

Not really words you can put to a song, but anyhow, Epic Records had no immediate comment.

The 9-year-old band with the political agenda may or may not dissolve, but the breakup comes just in time for the holiday shopping season: A live album is scheduled for a November release.

Chaos has ruled Rage since last November when they released “The Battle of Los Angeles.” Two managers got the boot, the Rhyme and Reason tour with the Beastie Boys got jacked, and bassist Tim Commerford was arrested for disorderly conduct at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The band also caused a ruckus by staging a free concert outside the Democratic National Convention this August.

PUBLIC FIGURES IN PUBLIC: The Giulianis have hit stage and screen this week. New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appeared as himself in Wednesday’s season premiere of NBC’s “Law & Order,” which introduced Dianne Wiest as Nora Lewin, the new district attorney. Meanwhile, his estranged wife, Donna Hanover, talked about female troubles when she premiered Tuesday in the Off Broadway hit “The Vagina Monologues.”

Hanover’s three-week run is nearly sold out, which spokesman Bob Fennell calls “a little unusual.” The play, based on interviews with women from ages 6 to 75 exploring their feelings about their anatomy, has attracted such actresses as Winona Ryder, Calista Flockhart and Whoopi Goldberg. Hanover and Giuliani continue to live, at least officially, with their two children at Gracie Mansion.

ROCK ME AMADEUS: Call them Bond, as in classical string quartet Bond. That might be better than their other nickname, the “Spice Girls of classical music.” The four classically trained musicians in their mid 20s are ruffled over a ruling that dumped them from the British classical charts, where their CD “Born” hit No. 2 last week, to pop. “HMV (stores) were racking it up as classical,” said an official of Britain’s Chart Information Network, “so that’s how we viewed it at first. But our classical supervisory committee felt that it was basically a pop record.”

Now the CD has shifted to No. 36 on the pop chart. The label describes the Bond members as “sassy, sexy much better-looking than the Spice Girls.” Said Bond violinist Haylie Ecker: “In a modern world, it is disappointing that the classical elite cannot embrace change.” The U.S. classical invasion is scheduled for next year.

IT’S NOT BLACK AND WHITE, JUST WHITE: The murmurings have begun over the casting of Kevin Spacey in “Pay It Forward.” Catherine Ryan Hyde’s 1999 novel has Spacey’s character as a black man. “It is a missed opportunity for a black actor losing a major movie role,” says Tanya Kersey-Henley, publisher and editor-in-chief of the trade publication Black Talent News. “It’s also a missed opportunity to portray a positive black male character who makes a contribution to our children.”

Meanwhile, Hyde tells she’ll miss her own leading man, but hey, she got Spacey. “Many will object, and I won’t say they are wrong to care. But if you ask me why I think this was done, the answer is easy. They cast Kevin Spacey because he’s Kevin Spacey. He’s a tremendous talent and it doesn’t matter what color he is, because the whole point of my book is that color doesn’t matter.”

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail