WildWritings.com December 2005 News:
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Gwen Stefani Holding Off On That Second Solo LP — For Now, Anyway
The singer told the San Francisco Chronicle late last week that even though she's been talking about  doing a sequel to Love, Angel, Music, Baby (see "Gwen Stefani Plans Another Solo Album By Year's End"), for the moment she's changed her mind.

"I have a really good record that I could put out," Stefani told the Chronicle. "I had a fantasy about it, but I'm not doing it. I decided it's more important that I take a nap." Stefani explained that she's been going nonstop for years and is feeling "burnt."

"I literally went from the Rock Steady Tour with No Doubt into the studio [to work on "It's My Life" for the band's greatest-hits LP, The Singles 1992-2003], like the week we got off," she said. "Then it was studio torture making this record. Then No Doubt went on the 'greatest-hits' tour after that — then I put my album out, and here we are."

That's not even including acting in "The Aviator," starting and expanding her own fashion line, launching her first New York fashion show — which had incorporated snippets of the new tunes (see "Gwen Previews New Songs, Clothing Line For Diddy, Kravitz, Others") — and her ongoing Harajuku Lovers 2005 Tour (see "Gwen Stefani To Launch Tour In October, With Black Eyed Peas In Tow"). She said she'd given up her last chance at a vacation with her husband to spend time recording with Pharrell Williams (see "Gwen Cheats On Gavin To Make Family-Affair LP With Pharrell"), since the original idea was to combine leftover tracks from the Love, Angel, Music, Baby sessions with new ones recorded over the summer.

By collaborating with so many producers the first time around, Stefani had a lot of tracks that weren't used on the album; she's told MTV News about "Fine By You," "Wonderful Life for Him" (both with Linda Perry), "Parental Advisory" (with Rich Harrison), "You Started It" (with Pharrell), along with songs produced by Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and Depeche Mode's Martin Gore. Then she began work on new tracks with both Pharrell and No Doubt's Tony Kanal, and came up with "Fluorescent Lights," "Candyland," "Wind It Up," "Breaking Up" and "Orange County Girl," among others. If she were planning to release these songs by early next year, as she expressed interest in doing, she would have to shoot the first video and artwork during her current tour. No wonder she told the Chronicle, "I just need to hibernate for a minute."

Interscope had no response to Stefani's comments, which leaves open the possibility that she could return to the project at a later date. In the meantime, she's now scheduled to put out a DVD in the new year, although there's no word yet on what will be included on it.
Want to Have A Charlie Brown Christmas?
Universal Music
(Beverly Hills, CA) – “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” an enduring holiday tradition enjoyed by television audiences around the world, this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. To mark the landmark event, Peak Records will release 40 Years – A Charlie Brown Christmas, a collection of newly recorded versions of holiday favorites and Vince Guaraldi-penned Peanuts classics, such as the instantly recognizable “Linus and Lucy.”

The CD, which showcases the talents of Gerald Albright, Toni Braxton, Norman Brown, Chaka Khan, Dave Koz, Brian McKnight, Eric Marienthal, and The Rippingtons, is in stores October 4, 2005. Vanessa Williams guest-stars on “Just Like Me,” a new track written by David Benoit, who both performed on and produced the CD, and long time producer of the holiday television specials, Lee Mendelson.

40 Years – A Charlie Brown Christmas also includes two Peanuts songs not featured on the perennial favorite, multi-platinum selling A Charlie Brown Christmas from Vince Guaraldi, “Red Baron” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

40 Years – A Charlie Brown Christmas was the brainchild of five-time GRAMMY®-nominated musician, composer, and arranger David Benoit, who has been composing music for Peanuts television specials for over ten years, including the 2000 recording “Here’s to You, Charlie Brown.” 
Avril Lands A Role In Richard Gere Crime Drama 'The Flock'
She's gone from acting like a teen skate punk to a grown-up seductress in her videos, so it makes sense that Avril Lavigne would try her hand at some big-screen emoting. The singer, who recently wrapped a world tour, is taking a break from music for a part in "The Flock," an upcoming Richard Gere/ Claire Danes movie

Lavigne will be in New Mexico this week to film her handful of scenes, according to a spokesperson for her management, who said the 21-year-old singer is just testing the waters with a few lines in the indie crime drama. Lavigne went through the standard audition process to land the role in the movie, in which Gere plays a federal agent who has to track down a missing girl he is convinced has a connection to the paroled sex offender he is tracking.

The spokesperson would not reveal any more information about Lavigne's character, but said that the singer has a couple more projects she plans to work on before she starts to think about recording her third album. Among them is an upcoming role as a possum named Heather in the animated DreamWorks film "Over the Hedge," due in May. In her first film role, she'll share (virtual) screen time with William Shatner, onscreen dad Bruce Willis and Gary Shandling.

Lavigne has already begun writing songs for her next album, which she is not expected to start recording until mid- to late 2006. Though she'll be concentrating on film work and writing songs, the spokesperson said Lavigne will make select live appearances throughout 2006.
Missy Elliott Says She'll Expose Rape In Autobiographical Film
LOS ANGELES — Nothing against "Pootie Tang," but Missy Elliott wants to add a more respectable credit to her movie résumé.

In between her various music ventures, the highest-selling female rapper of all time is actually writing a biopic on the person she knows best.

"I'm working on my own movie on my life, which probably a lot of people don't know," Elliott said backstage at last week's American Music Awards, where she won Favorite Female Artist: Rap/Hip-Hop for the second year in a row (see "Will Smith Beats 50 Cent, Kelly Rowland Flies Solo At American Music Awards").

"It's a detailed [look at] Missy Elliott's life, 'cause I've been kinda like a character in the TV world as far as videos and stuff, so they really don't know my life story about my father being abusive, the rape [at age 8, by a 16-year-old cousin]. So y'all will see that soon."

Elliott's not sure if she will appear in the movie or who will play her, as she's concentrating on getting the script finished first.

Fortunately (or maybe not for her), she's had more free time than usual as of late thanks to the six-month recovery time required for the surgery she had earlier this fall to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

"It's the worst pain ever and I'll probably be like this till January," said Elliott, who alternated between a pimped-out wheelchair and crutches at the AMAs. "I always heard like it's a sports [injury], but most definitely I wasn't playing no football or basketball. I was in there dancing, doing wrong moves. So I'll be sitting down for a minute now."

Sitting down is probably not the best choice of words. Later this week Elliott's shoving off for the Kora African Music Awards in South Africa, and in mid-December she'll return to Los Angeles to shoot her next video.

Following "Lose Control" and "Teary Eyed" (see "Missy Elliott Has Lost Her Mind (In Her New Video, Anyway)"), Elliott has picked the party track "We Run This" as the third single from The Cookbook. She already performed the tune at the Spike TV Video Game Awards, which airs December 10.

Missy also just remixed Ashlee Simpson's new single, "L.O.V.E." (the "Missy Underground Mix" is available on the CD single); continues to work with Adidas on a line of clothing, shoes and accessories called Respect ME; and is included in the 2006 edition of prominent biography directory Who's Who in America. All of this prompted a journalist at the AMAs to describe the rapper as an icon.

"I ain't no icon," Elliott responded. "It's people like Patti LaBelle, somebody like that's an icon. I'm just Missy, I'm just crazy, that's all."
Th!nk The 50-Point Drop: How Did Bush Fall This Far?
For many presidents in recent history, getting re-elected has been a mixed blessing. From Richard Nixon and Watergate to Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, a second term is rarely another four-year honeymoon.

Ever since his inauguration in January — following yet another nail-biter of an election — President Bush has been on the receiving end of an almost unprecedented streak of bad news. How bad has it gotten? The president, who had a 90 percent job-approval rating in the days following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and held a higher rating three years into his presidency than Presidents Clinton, Carter or Reagan, is now staring at a rating in the 30s in the wake of the fall-out from the government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, an indictment in the CIA leak scandal and a rising tide of discontent with the war in Iraq.

On November 20, at the end of his recent trip to China, the president was just trying to walk off a stage and he accidentally went to the wrong door, yanked on it and, through a forced smile, told reporters he was "trying to escape ... it didn't work." It was, of course, a simple gaff, but you can't help but wonder if Bush wasn't telling us a bit more than he let on.

It of course hasn't been all bad news for the president, but when you look at a timeline of his annus horribilis, you can't blame him for wanting to find a trap door to slip through. How did he go from historic highs in approval ratings to near-historic lows? We've chronicled some of the biggest bumps in the road over the past year to try and find out what has led so many Americans to change their tune about our president.

December 8, 2004: A soldier serving in Iraq asks Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld why troops don't have proper armor and have to dig out scraps to protect their vehicles and Rumsfeld tells him, "You go to war with the army you have."

December 11: Bush's choice for new Homeland Security secretary, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, withdraws his nomination when it is revealed that he employed a nanny whose immigration status was suspect, that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest due to unpaid bills, that he allegedly had ties to a firm purportedly run by the New Jersey mafia, and that he used an apartment intended for Ground Zero officers to rest in for one of two reported extramarital affairs.

December 27: The administration was slammed for its slow response to the East Asian tsunami that killed nearly 130,000 and pegged as "stingy" by a United Nations representative when it initially offered $15 million in aid. That figure was bumped up to $35 million, and after further criticism, the president pledged more than $300 million.

January 12, 2005: The White House publicly admitted that it was ending the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after finding no evidence that Saddam Hussein's government had stockpiled chemical or biological weapons when the U.S. invaded the country. Saddam's alleged possession of such weapons was the administration's primary argument for the need to invade.

March 21: Though he wouldn't curtail his vacation after the tsunami, the president cuts short his Texas vacation to fly back to Washington to sign a bill at 1 a.m. allowing Congress to intervene in the case of severely brain-damaged Florida woman Terri Schiavo. Polls at the time showed that there was a measure of bipartisan disdain for the maneuver.

May 1: After a nearly two-month tour touting his plan for partial privatization of Social Security, polls show the majority of Americans oppose the president's plan. On the same day, the "Downing Street Memo" is first published in the London Sunday Times, chronicling a meeting of British government officials that suggests the rationales for the war in Iraq were "fixed" in order to justify the invasion.

May 31: Vice President Dick Cheney says the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes" and that the fighting will end before the administration leaves office. The months following the statement sees a sharp increase in deaths due to insurgent bombings.

July 4: Senior advisor Karl Rove is confirmed as one of the sources for Time reporter Matt Cooper's reporting in connection with outed CIA covert operative Valerie Plame. A week later, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says that he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation more than 20 times, though the previous October he said it was a "ridiculous suggestion" to say that Rove was involved in outing Plame.

July 26: For the first time since the beginning of the war, the majority of Americans (58 percent) don't believe the U.S. will win the battle and that the administration deliberately misled the public about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (51 percent), according to a USA Today/ CNN/ Gallup poll. But the majority still doesn't believe that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake.

August 2: The president begins the longest presidential vacation in 36 years, a nearly five-week trip to his ranch in Texas. The vacation is headline news for weeks because of a vigil by anti-war protesters outside the ranch led by Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Casey, died fighting in Iraq. Despite pleas by Sheehan, Bush refused to meet with her, and during an August 13 bike ride with journalists said, "Part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live, and will do so."

August 28-September 3: Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans and other areas on the Gulf Coast on August 29. The federal response is slow to non-existent in the first few days as televised images show desperate survivors living in the squalid Superdome and tales of looting and lawlessness are rampant. As the hurricane is making landfall and officials are warning that the levees may give, the president is flying to Arizona to promote the Medicare drug benefit program. Later in the day he will visit California for the same purpose. Bush finally makes his first statements on the catastrophe on August 31.

August 31: Between Iraq, sky-high gas prices, Katrina and the CIA leak investigation, the president's poll numbers fall to what is by this point an all-time low. According to a Washington Post/ ABC poll, more than half of Americans disapprove of how Bush is handling the presidency and his job-approval rating is at 45 percent.

September 12: Less than a week after botching the response to Katrina, Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown — whom President Bush praised in the days after the catastrophe ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!") — resigns from the agency.

October 3: President Bush nominates his personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The nomination immediately draws fire from both the right and left, who question Miers' lack of experience as a judge and virtually non-existent paper trail when it comes to significant issues facing the court.

October 4: Bush throws in the towel on his Social Security overhaul, saying in a press conference, "There seems to be a diminished appetite in the short term" for reforming the system.

October 20: FEMA official Marty Bahamonde testifies in front of a Senate committee that former FEMA boss Brown blithely ignored his warning about the devastation wrought by Katrina and was slow to send help.

October 25: After weeks of flak from his normally dependable Republican and conservative base, the president accepts Miers' withdrawal of her nomination. On the same day, the military records its 2,000th fatality in the Iraq war.

October 26: USA Today reports that the president may have overstated the threat from al Qaeda in a nationally televised speech he gave on October 6 in which he said the U.S. had foiled at least 10 al Qaeda terrorist plots since September 11, 2001. According to the report, more than half of the plots were not close to execution.

October 28: Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald announces the indictment of vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying to a grand jury and investigators looking into who leaked Valerie Plame's name to reporters.

November 1: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid calls for a rare closed session in order to discuss intelligence issues and why the United States became engaged in the Iraq war and whether the administration manipulated pre-war intelligence.

November 2: The European Union vows to investigate a Washington Post report that the U.S. has been holding terror detainees in secret CIA prisons overseas in Eastern Europe.

November 7: The New York Times reports on declassified Defense Intelligence Agency documents that cast new doubts on the White House's claims of a link between the al Qaeda terror network and Iraq that were based on information supplied by a now-discredited source.

November 9: The Times also reports that a classified report issued by the CIA in 2004 warned that interrogation methods approved by the intelligence agency following September 11 might violate the Geneva Conventions. In the meantime, Vice President Cheney continues to press senators to grant the CIA an exemption from the interrogation rules when questioning high-level terrorists overseas.

November 15: A USA Today/ CNN/ Gallup poll has the president's approval rating at a new all-time low of 39 percent, with 60 percent of Americans disapproving of the way he's handling the war in Iraq. Also, Congressional Republicans join the chorus of those asking the administration for a clear plan on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq when they sponsor a resolution asking for Iraqi forces to take the lead in policing their country next year and requiring the administration to provide quarterly reports on the war's progress.

November 17: Democratic hawk John Murtha calls the war in Iraq a "flawed policy wrapped in illusion" and tells the administration that "it's time to bring the troops home." The decorated Vietnam veteran, retired Marine colonel and senior House leader is compared to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore by Bush spokesperson Scott McClellan and branded a "coward" by Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, who quickly takes back her comments. Murtha notes that his White House critics, including Vice President Cheney, had secured deferments during the Vietnam War and had "never put on the uniform."

November 21: Iraqi leaders meeting in Cairo, Egypt, also ask for a timetable for the U.S. withdrawal from their country.
Britney Baby Photos To Appear In People
Just two months after Britney Spears gave birth — and one month after photos of her baby leaked onto the Internet — the pop star is posing with her new family for the cover of this week's People magazine.

The move comes just in time to promote her new album, B in the Mix: The Remixes, which hit stores this week (see "Surprise: Britney's Releasing An Album In Just Two Weeks").

The People story, on stands Friday, details the Federline family's plans to celebrate Thanksgiving, from watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade on television to spending the afternoon hanging out and eating such Southern-style dishes as cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potato crunch, broccoli casserole, pecan pie and bread pudding. After the feast, they plan to get guests to help out with Christmas decorations around the house. "I already started putting up a few of the decorations myself because I couldn't wait!" the singer told the mag.

Spears' other family-oriented move was to set up the Spears Family Hurricane Relief Foundation to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. "It will assist in the rebuilding of homes, removal of trees and debris, fixing roofs, support after-school programs, and provide clothing," she told People. The Britney Spears Foundation has already given grants to Habitat for Humanity and to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System to place up to 7,000 New Orleans students in their schools.

However, Spears' main plans now revolve around being a mother, with her most prized time with little Sean Preston being their afternoon naps together (see "Britney And Kevin (Finally) Pick A Name For Their Baby, Mag Reports").

Spears' camp was outraged over the leaked photos of Britney and her baby, issuing a statement that called them "stolen." A representative for People magazine — whose shoot was allegedly the source of the leaked photos — said at the time that they never had any photos of the pop star and her baby; reports suggested Spears had posed for the shots but changed her mind about releasing them afterward.