WildWritings.com April 2005 News:
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LFO Singer Rich Cronin Hospitalized With Leukemia
Rich Cronin, lead singer of the now-defunct boy band LFO, has been hospitalized with leukemia.

The 29-year-old was diagnosed on March 28 with acute myelogenous leukemia. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but it is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.

Cronin is being treated at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center near his hometown of Boston. He went through his first round of chemotherapy last week and will soon find out whether or not he will make it into remission. "I'm praying every second that this will come out of me," he said.

Cronin had been working on his first solo project since the 2001 demise of LFO, an Orlando, Florida, group best known for the single "Summer Girls." He began suffering from exhaustion and headaches in late February. "I started to feel tired when I would walk up stairs, and I would start getting pretty sharp headaches," he said. "But I never thought much of it, because I had always been a pretty healthy guy."

After he was finished recording in New York, Cronin traveled back to Boston to visit his parents, who quickly became concerned about their son's health. The singer went to a clinic, where he was tested for hepatitis A. When the tests came back clean, the doctors said he was suffering from a virus. "They just told me to let it run its course," he recalled.

Two weeks later, when he was still suffering from the same symptoms, Cronin's family urged him to see another doctor. The next day, he visited a family physician who told him he was suffering from mononucleosis. Cronin returned home to wait for the results of a blood test — but an unexpected call from his doctor at 10 p.m. jarred him awake.

"The doctor told me, 'You have one-third of the blood [you need] in your body, and it's putting an extreme strain on your heart. I need you to get to the emergency room right now and I'll explain everything to you when you get here,' " he said. Cronin rushed to a hospital in Boston, where a series of tests were quickly performed.

"Eventually, the doctor came in and said, 'There's no easy way to say this, Rich, but you have leukemia.' When he said that, it was like a train had barreled through the room. From that second, they've been treating me as a cancer patient."

Cronin, who had enjoyed the glitz and glamour of his celebrity lifestyle, has a different outlook now.

"In two weeks, this has completely changed my life and my perspective on it," he said. "The first thing you want to do once you hear the news is run, but you can't, because it's inside of you. You have no choice but to face it."

The singer has found overwhelming support from his family and friends, some of whom he had not been in contact with for years. 98 Degrees' Jeff Timmons, Jordan Knight, members of 'NSYNC and his former bandmates Devin Lima and Brad Fischetti have all reached out to Cronin.

Fischetti has been helping his former bandmate deal with legal matters. Cronin's insurance company is refusing to pay his medical bills due to a clerical error on their part, the singer said. "It's terrible. They're treating me like a piece of garbage." Cronin is currently paying the hefty bills out of his own pocket.

In the meantime, Lima is encouraging LFO fans to keep Cronin in their thoughts. "With all of your love, support and prayers, he will pull through this," Lima posted on his Web site.

Cronin hopes his decision to go public with his struggles will help other young patients suffering through the same experience. He said the proceeds of his forthcoming album will be put toward the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

"I'm scared to death at this point," he said. "It is a nightmare of a situation to be in, but I really want to make something positive out of this."
P. Diddy No Longer Has Total Bad Boy Control
P. Diddy agreed Thursday to sell a 50 percent stake in Bad Boy Records to the Warner Music Group. The deal, reportedly valued at $30 million, would give the label joint control over the Bad Boy catalog, which includes three hit albums from Notorious B.I.G. and Diddy's solo albums, among others.

Diddy will continue to serve as the CEO of Bad Boy, whose roster includes new boy band B5 along with Mase, Carl Thomas and Mario Winans. Neither side would comment on the terms of the deal, according to a Reuters report.

The rapper/entrepreneur bought back full control of Bad Boy three years ago from Arista Records and in 2003 estimated that the label was worth $100 million. But Bad Boy's fortunes have flagged of late, with releases slowing to a trickle. Welcome Back, last year's heralded return of former platinum-selling rapper Mase — who gave up rapping in 1999 to join the ministry — fell flat. And a comeback album by New Edition has sold only 244,000 copies, according to SoundScan.

The promise of cash and marketing resources from Warner Bros. could boost Bad Boy's output to eight to 10 albums a year, though, with the first release under the new deal coming from Atlanta rap crew Boyz N Da Hood, followed by the debut from B5.

"There have been a lot of boutique record labels that come and go, and we're still here," Combs told the AP. "This has ensured for the next couple of years that we have the right financial backing, the right financial structure, the right partners to remain a force in the music industry."
Eminem, 50, Lil Jon, G-Unit, D12 Team Up For Anger Management 3 Tour This Summer
Eminem is hitting the road this summer, and he's bringing along a lot of friends. The Anger Management 3 tour is shaping up to the blockbuster of the summer, with a roster that also includes 50 Cent, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, G-Unit and D12.

The 20-date, five-and-a-half-week tour will kick off on July 7 in Noblesville, Indiana, at the Verizon Wireless Music Center and is currently slated to conclude in Em's hometown of Detroit at Comerica Park on August 12.

Though 50 Cent will miss the first two dates because of filming on his movie debut (see "50 Cent's 'Locked And Loaded' To Be Helmed By Oscar-Nominated Director"), 50 is on board for the rest of the tour, his first-ever outing with mentor Eminem. Ludacris will fill in on the first two dates.

"We've been waiting for the right moment to go on tour, and it all finally came together," Eminem said in a statement. "We wanted to put together the best lineup we could. I'm always trying to top the last tour whenever I go out. I think we're really doing it this time."

50 also predicted the tour would be the talk of the summer. "Whenever I get together with Em you know it's going to be hot," he said. "Right now, I don't see anything that will stop this from being the tour of the summer. You better put in for that time off from the job now before somebody else beats you to it. Or quit your job so you can see every show."

Sirius Satellite Radio's Shade 45 channel, which is programmed by Slim Shady and his crew, will feature exclusive live performances and backstage interviews all summer. A live DVD from 2002's Anger Management Tour featuring sets from Em and D12 is slated for release this summer.
Jackson Testimony Turns To French Fries, Monkey Droppings
Following hours of grueling and graphic testimony on Thursday, the latest in a series of former Neverland employees took the stand Friday (April 8) and said he saw Michael Jackson inappropriately touching then-child actor Macaulay Culkin. Philippe LeMarque, a French chef who used to work at Jackson's estate, is one of a group referred to as the "Neverland 5" — employees who left Neverland soon after cooperating with authorities investigating the 1993 child-molestation case against the pop star. Both ex-maid Adrian McManus, who continued to testify Friday (see "Security Guard Claims He Saw Michael Jackson Having Oral Sex With Young Boy"), and LeMarque claim to have witnessed Jackson touching Culkin. The actor, however, has denied anything inappropriate occurred during time he spent at Neverland (see "Macaulay Culkin, Corey Feldman To Testify In Jackson Case?").

LeMarque described an incident in 1991 in which he said he got a call around 3 or 4 a.m. requesting french fries. After making them, he went to the arcade, he testified, where he saw Jackson and Culkin playing the "Thriller" video game. LeMarque said the singer was holding the boy up so that he could reach the controls, and that Jackson had his right hand around Culkin's waist and his left hand inside the boy's pants.

"I was shocked," he said. "I almost dropped the french fries."

LeMarque said he left and made a noisy re-entrance to deliver the late-night snack. He said that he didn't the report the incident because he didn't think anyone would believe him. Investigators later interviewed him in connection with the 1993 accuser's claims.

Jackson's defense attorneys attacked the credibility of both former employees. Judge Rodney Melville had ruled that Jackson's defense team could not use LeMarque's subsequent career as an Internet porn impresario against him, so Thomas Mesereau instead quizzed the former chef about how he and his wife considered selling their story to the tabloids. LeMarque admitted he once asked for $500,000 but said he backed out of a possible deal because "it was against our principles."

After court, LeMarque's attorney, Richard Herman, made a brief statement to reporters that LeMarque and his wife, who also worked at Neverland, never took any money from any tabloid for their story, despite being in bankruptcy in the early 1990s. Like other former employees, LeMarque sued Jackson after he left his job, but not for wrongful termination. He was after overtime pay, and he said his suit was settled.

In McManus' case, since she admitted she didn't tell attorneys what she witnessed when she was subpoenaed in the 1993 accuser's suit out of fear of losing her job, Mesereau suggested it was difficult to tell which of her contradictory statements were true.
'Idol' Finalist's Violent Past Revealed
Access Hollywood
An "American Idol" finalist was once arrested for felony domestic violence after roughing up his infant son's mother during a Valentine's Day fracas, according to www.TheSmokingGun.com.

According to police reports obtained by the Web site, 28-year-old Scott Savol, one of the remaining nine "Idol" finalists, was busted following a February 2001 confrontation with Michele Martin at the woman's Ohio home.

TheSmokingGun.com cites a Shaker Heights Police Department report as noting the unmarried couple had decided to "split up their living arrangement," with Savol scheduled to move his belongings out of Martin's mother's home, where the duo lived with their three-week-old son Brandon.

But when Savol and his brother arrived at Martin's home, an argument reportedly ensued, with Savol allegedly calling Martin "several vulgar names." He then grabbed the woman's hand and pulled an engagement ring off her finger and "stated he was also going to take their son," according to the police report.

The report went on to say that when Savol "grabbed the baby," Martin "stopped him from taking the child by telling [Savol] that she was going to call 911." At that point, according to the police report, Savol shoved Martin, pulled a phone from her hand, and then threw it at Martin, striking her in the chest. "This caused the phone to break," the report notes.

Savol and his brother then left the residence. When officers arrived at her home, Martin reportedly told them that Savol had "made verbal threats to her in the past by telling her to 'watch her back,'" according to the article posted on TheSmokingGun.com.

Martin, then 21, initially said she did not want Savol to be prosecuted, but rather sought a "restraining order on him." The following day, however, she signed a warrant for his arrest.

Savol eventually took a plea to a reduced misdemeanor disorderly conduct rap and was fined $500, placed on a year's probation, ordered to complete a domestic violence or anger management program, and sentenced to a suspended 20-day jail term, according to the article.

At a July 2001 sentencing hearing, Municipal Court Judge K.J. Montgomery also extended a temporary protective order (issued at Martin's request for her and the baby) through July 2002.

TheSmokingGun.com went on to report that Savol's rap sheet also includes a "no contest" plea to a 1995 misdemeanor trespass charge. He was arrested for entering Shaker Heights High School after being "warned both verbally and by letter" to stay out of the building.

In an interview on the official "American Idol" Web site, Savol stated that his son's birth was the proudest moment of his life and that a personal goal was "to make sure my son doesn't have to struggle in life as I did."

As for a "most embarrassing moment," Savol reportedly answered, "I don't have any."

According to a statement issued by Fox, Savol was "forthcoming to 'Idol' producers and the network regarding his misdemeanor" and "the situation did not warrant his disqualification."
Former 98 Degrees Member Running For Mayor Of Cincinnati
CINCINNATI — If you were wondering what Nick Lachey was going to do now that "Newlyweds" is over, cross one more thing off your list: running for mayor of his hometown of Cincinnati. Because Nick's old 98 Degrees bandmate Justin Jeffre has beaten him to the punch.

Jeffre, 32, announced his candidacy for mayor of the Queen City at his alma mater, the School for Creative and Performing Arts, on Friday (April 1).

He was introduced by Lachey, who wore jeans with a white Jeffre campaign T-shirt and said of his friend of more than 20 years: "If I could think of one person who has more pride in this city than I, it's my good friend Justin. ... In all the years I've known him, I've never been more proud of him than I am today."

Wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit and light blue shirt, Jeffre stood atop a staircase in the front hallway of his high school surrounded by the 11 members of the Baby Grande singing ensemble, who sang him onto the "stage" with a chorus of "Amazing Grace." Behind him was a campaign sign that read "Be the Change."

At the 4 p.m. press conference attended by approximately 70 friends, family and supporters, Jeffre kicked off his campaign by answering the most burning question of the day.

"I want to warn everyone up front, don't be fooled by my common-man credentials, don't be fooled by my boyish charm, and definitely don't be fooled by the date on the calendar, my candidacy for mayor is no joke," said Jeffre, putting to rest rampant rumors that the announcement was some kind of April Fool's Day prank.

"Whenever I travel, people ask me where I'm from: New York or L.A.?" Jeffre said. "And when I say Cincinnati, they say 'Why?' My answer to them is always the same: 'You've obviously never been there.' "

The low-key singer went on to give a fairly polished stump speech with plenty of applause lines for his supporters that touched on an array of subjects, from improving education to revitalizing downtown with an arts district and improving police/community relations.

Earlier in the day, Jeffre said he'd been mulling over the run for office for seven or eight months and was trying to keep it under wraps until his announcement on Friday, but word leaked out early. In fact, he said he was flattered to have already endured his first political rite of passage: a Jay Leno monologue joke.

During Tuesday night's show, Leno joked, "Former 98 Degrees singer Justin Jeffre is running for mayor of Cincinnati. Good campaign slogan, too: 'Vote for me, or I'll release another album.' "

Jeffre, who along with Lachey has been an avid booster of his hometown for years, said he stepped up to the challenge because he was tired of seeing Cincinnati beaten up in the press for negative things like 2001's riots and efforts by the KKK to erect a cross on downtown's Fountain Square. He is running a "grass-roots, bare-bones" effort campaign as a nonpartisan independent candidate. One of his campaign posters featured a waving American flag over a sea of what looked like people jumping up and down in the pit at a concert.

"Cincinnati needs a mayor who is not talking about building a party or a political career," Jeffre said, alternating the classic Bill Clinton karate-chop hand motion with his own twist: a snap of the fingers. "We need a mayor who is working on building the city!"

After the press conference, Lachey said, "People will be quick to write him off, but he really cares about this city for the right reasons, and I will help him any way I can." The former bandmates are scheduled to celebrate the announcement at a party on Saturday night at a Cincinnati nightclub.

Jeffre has a film crew following him and plans to release a documentary or even a reality show about his run. "I think my chances [of winning] are great," Jeffre said before the press conference. "I think it will be a tough race, but I have a great team already, and people in town know me and know what I'm about."

He does have name recognition, though he might want to think about his buddy Nick for a cabinet position at least. "I've heard of 98 Degrees and I know who Nick Lachey is," said Cincinnatian Julie Thorp, 31. "I know [Jeffre] was in the band with him, but isn't he, like, 30? I don't think he's ready to be mayor of Cincinnati. I wouldn't even vote for Nick at this point ... well, maybe I would, he's kind of cute."

Even if the whole mayor thing doesn't work out, Jeffre hasn't shut the door on music entirely. He's been doing some producing and "behind the scenes" management work since 98 Degrees broke up in 2002, and he said the guys have been discussing recording a reunion album (see "Nick Lachey Forging Ahead With Solo Career, Says 98 Degrees Reunion In The Cards").

Asked about the album, Lachey said with a grin, "We'll revisit the idea after my whole solo album thing is done ... but Justin will have to record his parts in the mayor's office!"
Mariah 'Digs Deep' On Upcoming Album
On this severely cold March night, Mariah Carey is inside a studio at MTV's New York headquarters taping an interview for an upcoming broadcast. Walking out of the studio, she is heard muttering to no one in particular, "The abuse I endure is never-ending."

Minutes later, ensconced in one of the cable network's many conference rooms, Carey smiles and laughs. "I'm a little dramatic at times," she says, referring to the "abuse" comment. "I know, I know, it's tough to believe. But it's true."

Sure, the multimillion-selling, two-time Grammy Award winner has experienced great highs and lows in the course of her 15-year career. But on the eve of the April 12 U.S. release of her eighth studio album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," Carey is confident, upbeat and spirited.

"The Emancipation of Mimi" —- the title comes from the singer's nickname —- arrives March 30 in Japan and April 4 in the rest of the world outside the United States. In all territories, the set will sell as a standard CD and as a limited-edition Digipak (including a pull-out poster) with different cover art.

The album is decidedly pop and R&B, with flourishes of hip-hop. Carey co-wrote the set's 14 tracks and co-produced the bulk of them. She executive-produced the collection with Island Def Jam Music Group chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid.

The album features collaborations with several heavy hitters, including Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Twista and James "Big Jim" Wright.

The collection of songs rightfully places her voice front and center. It is as if Carey is returning to the place that put her on the map. Which helps explain the sniping campaign in major markets like New York and Los Angeles that proclaims "The return of the voice."

Giggling (again), Carey says, "Oh, so you've seen the posters? That's good."

On a more serious note, she says, "The voice has been here all along. Even if you listen to the oh-so-dissed 'Glitter' [soundtrack], there is a song called 'Lead the Way,' which is one of my best vocal performances ever."

She continues, "People who only heard certain singles would be like, 'Why is she singing so breathy?' Some people are of the opinion that if you have a big voice you should use it all the time."

Though Carey admits she is a fan of big-voiced singers, "I don't want to hear someone scream at me all the time."

When Carey sings, she says, it's not about "showing off so everybody can hear me singing at the top of my lungs. But truth be told, I feel that my voice is in a better place than it has been in years."

She credits this to her Charmbracelet tour in 2003: "It was my longest tour ever, and it got me in great shape vocally."

The album's lead single, "It's Like That," is a top 20 hit on The Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. And the David Morales uptempo remix was recently sent to club DJs. Indeed, the infectious track is resonating with many.

The Brett Ratner-lensed video for "It's Like That" has been a staple on MTV and BET; it was also the focus of MTV's "Making the Video." Ratner also directed the video for "We Belong Together," which concludes the storyline that began with "It's Like That."

Along with shutting down Times Square for a performance on ABC's "Good Morning America," Carey will make several release week appearances in New York on MTV's "TRL," BET's "106 & Park" and VH1's "Save the Music" concert special. Also being discussed is an upcoming tour.

At the center of all the activity is Carey and that voice.

"Over the past several years, the [music] industry has produced many stars —- not all of which can sing," Reid says. "Mariah can sing. Hers is an extraordinary gift."