Jermine Dupri Says Usher's 'Getting The Bug Again'
LOS ANGELES — Busy churning out hits for the likes of Mariah, Janet, Usher and many more, and with a horde of up-and-comers waiting in the wings, Jermaine Dupri seems to be finding little time for himself these days.

"I makin' no more records," Dupri said of putting his own music career on halt. "I'm kind of off the market and in producer mode [right now], so I'm just in one studio to the next trying to mold artists. I've got so many that are in the stables, and they gettin' real antsy, like, 'Hey, it's our turn to go.' "

That comes as no surprise for the established hitmaker and Virgin executive, who in the last year alone has scored Mariah four chart-toppers (for "It's Like That," "We Belong Together," "Shake It Off" and "Don't Forget About Us"). It also garnered the singer eight Grammy nods, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year for "We Belong Together," as well as Album of the Year for The Emancipation of Mimi (see "Mariah Carey, Kanye West, John Legend Lead Grammy Nominees").

Carey may be the reigning performer of the moment, but 2004's breadwinner, Usher, is itching to reclaim his title. Dupri said he's already been approached by his good friend about returning to the recording studio.

"He called me like three or four days ago and was like, 'It's about that time,' " said Dupri, who ushered Mr. Entertainment to the top of the Billboard albums chart two years ago with Confessions and produced his smashes "Burn," "Confessions Part II" and "My Boo" featuring Alicia Keys.

"I think [Usher's] getting the bug again," Dupri continued. "It's kind of boring for him to just be sitting around. He wants to hear himself on the radio and see himself [back] on television."

Also eager to make her way back onto the scene after a brief hiatus is Dupri's main squeeze, Janet Jackson. The two have been working on her still-untitled forthcoming LP, which is set to drop later this year and whose first single is due out by the summer.

"We're in the studio every day trying to get her record together," said Dupri. He's teaming up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the famed production duo who catapulted the R&B singer to stardom when they helmed her 1986 album, Control, and have been staples on her records ever since.

"If I can give you anything to look forward to on her record, it's gonna have the greatness of Jimmy and Terry, and I guess you could say the greatness of me [and Janet] combined into one record," he continued.

Dupri said he's also considering a collaboration between Mariah and Janet, which would mirror Whitney Houston and Mariah's 1998 hit "When You Believe."

"That's been on my mind for a couple weeks now," Dupri admitted. "The hardest part is figuring out a song that fits both of them, because you have two different styles of artists, and the thing when you're dealing with divas is you don't want to overshadow either one, so if you were to do a song for them, it would have to work where both of them would feel they were on the same pedestal, or else someone's gonna have a problem."

In addition to Miss Jackson's LP, Dupri is also finishing up Monica's latest, Street Butterfly; setting up joints for LL Cool J, Ludacris, Da Brat and Bow Wow; and readying the sophomore disc from Dem Franchize Boyz, due February 7. All the while, Dupri's co-authoring his autobiography, "Young, Rich and Dangerous: My Life in Music" (see "In Book Proposal, Dupri Calls Em A Hater, Says Usher's Confessions Are Really His").

"I wanted to put a book out because I feel like I'm one of the leaders in the industry right now, and I think kids have been missing a person to follow," said Dupri, who cites childhood mentor Quincy Jones for paving his way.

One trick of the trade is to always be on the lookout for new talent, says the hip-hop producer, who helped bolster the careers of Usher, Ludacris, Kris Kross and even Kanye West, when he brought on one of the aspiring rapper's beats on his 1998 solo album, Life in 1472.

"You never know who's standing in the room with you," he explained. "Always check it out because that person could be the next superstar."

"For me to say I gave Kanye his actual start, that's history that goes down in the books," Dupri continued, "and I always wanted to be part of history. In everything I do, I try to make sure it goes down in some way people [will remember]."
Road To The Grammys: The Story Behind Mariah Carey's 'We Belong Together'
Sessions that produced 'We Belong Together' — Mariah's 16th #1 single — almost didn't happen.

Mariah needed a miracle.

In November 2004 she was still mired in a deep slump that was on the verge of killing her career ("Glitter," anyone?). But she had a full album's worth of hot new material in the can that she was sure would rocket her

However, Mariah's label boss, L.A. Reid, thought she needed a little insurance, and suggested she try just one more session to sprinkle some final fairy dust on her emancipation proclamation, The Emancipation of Mimi. "L.A. was like, 'You and Jermaine Dupri make magic together, why aren't you in the studio with him?' " Carey recalled. "I said, 'I love Jermaine, is he free? I know he's doing a million things, Usher and this and that.' But Jermaine said, 'Come on down.' "

Dupri, of course, is one of the biggest hitmakers of the past 20 years, having crafted hits for Usher, TLC, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Nelly, Aaliyah, Kris Kross and many others in addition to Mariah. When she arrived at Dupri's studio in Atlanta the next day, the two of them worked nonstop, popping off two songs in two days: "Get Your Number" and "Shake It Off."

Up to that point, Carey and Reid had planned to make "Say Somethin'," a collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams, her new album's first single. But once Reid heard the Dupri-helmed songs, Carey recalled, "He was like, 'Oh no! Now we've got to change the single, make these singles one and two.' "

Carey agreed. "Nobody could tell me that 'Shake It Off' wasn't going to be my first single. It was my favorite song, just from the demo."

Dupri had quickly sized up what he felt the album needed. "The records that I made are very melodic records, regardless of their hip-hop influence," Dupri said. "I think that's what she was missing."

And since he and Mariah had come up with those two songs in two days, why stop? "Then it was like, 'You want to go back down to Atlanta again?' " she said. So the pair teamed up again, coming up with "It's Like That" and "We Belong Together" — the first two songs in the album's final sequence — in two days. "We said, OK, we love 'Shake It Off,' " Carey recalled. "We don't know how we're going to top that, but let's just try.' It turned out that 'It's Like That' was the right fire-starter, and 'We Belong Together' was the bigger record." "We Belong Together" — which is nominated for Grammys in both the Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories — became Carey's sweet 16: her 16th #1 hit, the most ever by a female artist. (Mariah has since broken her own record with "Don't Forget About Us.")

Dupri may deserve as much credit for what he got Mariah not to do. For someone so associated with multi-octave vocal gymnastics (look up "melisma" in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of Mariah), Carey is a model of restraint on "We Belong Together": She doesn't even raise her voice until the song is near its end. She sings the chorus as if she actually were resigned to not having what she wants, and that understated approach makes the song far more powerful than it would have been if she'd belted it.

"People have to learn the art of subtlety," she said. "We realized that once we did it, it was an inspiration in terms of how I was singing it. It was obvious that if it was touching us, it was going reach other people too."

Carey also reversed her usual technique of singing as many notes per syllable as she possibly can, and her comparatively spare, hip-hop-inspired delivery is what pushes the song forward (the instrumental backing is primarily a beat and just a few simple piano chords).

"We just went back and forth with concepts for the beat and melodic ideas, which I didn't expect from Jermaine, because usually I'm the one that dictates the entire melody," Carey said. "But he had some really great ideas."

The rest of the song is classic heartbreak. For the second verse, Mariah said she and Jermaine "had a pow-wow," trying to figure out what it makes certain songs so special, how they "just hit you, and you're like, 'Oh, man!' You know?"

They came up with Bobby Womack's "If You Think You're Lonely Now" and Babyface's "Two Occasions," which Carey quotes in "We Belong Together" as she flips across a radio dial: "I gotta change the station/ So I turn the dial, tryin' to catch a break/ And then I hear Babyface/ I only think of you and it's breaking my heart/ I'm trying to keep it together but I'm falling apart."

Carey reverses the melancholy at the end with vocal lifts that imply she's bound to get her heart's desire anyway, through sheer determination.

Kind of like the way she's revived her career.

"It's like, damn, two years ago she was the craziest person in the funny farm, and that [image] don't even exist no more," Dupri said. "And she never got nominated this many times when she was the Mariah of old. It felt like the rebirth of the person you know as Mariah Carey." "I am so grateful I went to Atlanta," Carey said. "And I have to say, we wrote some of my favorite songs on the album. I'm so proud of Jermaine — he's so focused, and he knew what had to be done.

"You can never write off talent," she added. Especially not her own.

Jennifer Lopez Pregnant? 
A source tells Jeannette Walls of that Jennifer Lopez and hubby Marc Anthony have been doing "tons of shopping" for baby clothes lately. "He was at Fred Segal [on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles] last week and bought a Guys Infant Gear diaper bag for $120," a source said. "He said something that made it pretty clear that it wasn't a gift — that he intended to use it — but I don't want to repeat it or he'll know who talked to you."
Notorious B.I.G.'s Family Awarded $1.1 Million From City Of L.A.
The city of Los Angeles was ordered by a federal judge on Friday to pay $1.1 million to the family of the Notorious B.I.G. for intentionally withholding evidence in the rapper's 1997 death, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The family's civil suit was ruled a mistrial in July (see "Notorious B.I.G. Wrongful-Death Case Declared A Mistrial") after it was discovered that the Los Angeles Police Department withheld statements that linked two rogue LAPD officers, David Mack and Rafael Perez, to the shooting. A retrial is set to begin later this year.

At the time, city attorneys argued that the statements had come from a jailhouse informant seeking special treatment, and a police detective, Steven Katz, insisted that he had "overlooked" the evidence in his desk, according to the Times.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled on Friday that the information was important to the trial and ordered the city to pay the family $1.1 million for all of its attorney fees and court costs, as well as security costs for the family's attorneys and witnesses.

Cooper said that Katz and perhaps others had deliberately concealed the information and said it could have strengthened the family's contention that Mack was involved in the killing.

The family had sought $2 million (see "Notorious B.I.G.'s Family Seeks $2 Million In Legal Fees"), but Cooper left the door open for the family to recoup an additional $300,000, according to the Times.

B.I.G. (real name: Christopher Wallace) was killed at the age of 24 on March 9, 1997, after attending a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles (see "Notorious B.I.G. Gunned Down In Los Angeles").

The slaying remains unsolved.
Jamie Foxx Helping Kanye Go For The 'Gold' At Grammys
Jamie Foxx will take the Grammy stage with multi-nominated cohort Kanye West when the Grammys are held February 8 in Los Angeles. West and the Oscar-winning performer will team up for Record of the Year candidate "Gold Digger," which will be part of a Late Registration medley.

Foxx, who's been dominating the Billboard albums chart lately with his sophomore album, Unpredictable, might find himself onstage a second time if he wins Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his rendition of Luther Vandross' "Creepin'," from the collection So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross.

The nod pits him against John Legend ("Ordinary People"), Mario ("Let Me Love You"), Usher ("Superstar") and Stevie Wonder ("So What the Fuss").

Foxx joins a list of Grammy performers that already includes Mariah Carey and Legend, who like West have eight nominations apiece (see "Mariah Carey, Kanye West, John Legend Lead Grammy Nominees").

As this year's Grammys approach, keep track of all the nominees, performers and more in our Grammy Awards hub.
Christina Aguilera Tears Nipple
Anonymous writes "New Idea Magazine's January 2006 issue reports that vocal artist Christina Aguilera was taking a shower in her home and went to brush her hair and the brush hooked on Aguilera's nipple ring and tore the nipple. Hubby Jordan Bratman ran to the sound of Christina's scream but nearly passed out because of all the blood. Christina was rushed to hospital. The doctors were able to save the nipple and sew it back on, but her nipple won't fully recover for 4 months. Christina said, "I was afraid I would have a retarded nipple."
Eminem Remarries Ex-Wife Kim Mathers
A month after telling a Detroit radio station he was back together with ex-wife Kim Mathers, Eminem remarried his high school sweetheart Saturday in an intimate ceremony at Meadow Brook Hall, a 110-room mansion located in Rochester, Michigan.

"Family and close friends were in attendance, including members of D12, 50 Cent, Obie Trice and members of G-Unit," Em's publicist, Dennis Dennehy said. The rapper's hype man, D12 rapper Proof, served as best man.

Eminem and Kim arrived by limousine as news helicopters flew above and paparazzi flocked around them. Dennehy said that New York DJ Lord Sear entertained at the reception as lobster tails and filet mignon were served. The couple will take their honeymoon later this year.

Eminem ended the couple's first marriage after two years in October 2001 (see "Eminem's Divorce From Kimberly Mathers Finalized"), and launched a legal fight for custody over their young daughter, Haylie Jade.

Kim, who has been the unflattering subject of violent songs like "Kim" on The Marshall Mathers LP, in which Em rapped about killing his wife, attempted suicide in the couple's home in 2000 following a hometown concert by the rapper at the Palace of Auburn Hills and was arrested on drug charges in 2003 (see "Eminem's Ex-Wife Kim Mathers Charged With Drug Possession").

The rapper, 33, and his ex, 30, reconciled last year, before Em's announcement last month on WKQI-FM's "Mojo in the Morning" (see "Eminem Says He's Back With Ex-Wife Kim").
Report: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt Confirm Pregnancy
Do they make leather onesies? It's time to find out, because the worst-kept tabloid secret in Hollywood has been confirmed: Angelina Jolie is pregnant with Brad Pitt's baby.

People magazine reports that on Monday Jolie told a charity aid worker in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, "Yes, I'm pregnant." Reps for both stars later confirmed the pregnancy, according to the magazine. It is the first biological child for Jolie, 30, who is the mother of son Maddox, 4, whom she adopted from Cambodia and daughter Zahara, 1, adopted from Ethiopia in July.

Due this summer, the baby is also the first child for Pitt, 42, who had no children during his four-year marriage to Jennifer Aniston, which ended in divorce in October. Pitt recently began the process of adopting Maddox and Zahara, including changing their last names to Jolie-Pitt.

Friends told People that Jolie is ecstatic about the baby, due this summer. "This is a woman who values her relationships with her children more than anything," a source told the magazine. "Now she is creating a family in the context of an adult relationship."

Jolie — who has been spotted everywhere from Kenya to England, Tokyo and Pakistan with Pitt over the past few months — is in the Dominican Republic filming "The Good Shepard" with Matt Damon.
Lindsay Lohan Denies Eating Disorder, Denounces Vanity Fair Article
Despite what she is quoted as saying in the current issue of Vanity Fair, Lohan is disputing that she ever had an eating disorder (see "Lindsay Lohan Admits Eating Disorder, Drug Use In Vanity Fair Interview"). She and her spokesperson say the quotes she gave to reporter Evgenia Peretz about bulimia were taken out of context.

"I'm appalled with the way [the article] was done," the singer/actress wrote in an e-mail sent out by her publicist to various media outlets earlier this week. She accused Peretz of lying and "changing my words."

The article quotes Lohan as saying, "I was sick. Everyone was scared. And I was scared too. I had people sit me down and say, 'You're going to die if you don't take care of yourself.' " Later in the story, Lohan describes an intervention staged by "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels and castmember Tina Fey, during which Lohan was "bawling." "I knew I had a problem and I couldn't admit it," Lohan is quoted as saying.

Lohan's spokesperson stressed that the singer/actress was only upset with the reporter, not the magazine, adding that she loved her photo spread. She told MTV News that Lohan has never been bulimic or anorexic, and noted that many Hollywood starlets weigh far less than her, even with her small frame. "Lindsay is upset," Leslie Sloane Zelnick said. "Things were taken out of context. Liberties were taken."

Vanity Fair, however, disputes Lohan's claim that it changed her words or took what she said out of context.

"Evgenia Peretz is one of our most reliable reporters," Vanity Fair spokesperson Sara Switzer said in a statement. "Every word Lindsay Lohan told her is on tape. Vanity Fair stands by the story."

New: Introducing Music!
Duncan Sheik became a household name with his very first single, the smash hit "Barely Breathing" from his Grammy®-nominated gold-selling debut album. But his mainstream success may belie the depth of his work; he has scored for film and the stage, produced ambitious records for other artists, and captured audiences around the world with his remarkable voice and songcraft. 'White Limousine' is Sheik's most realized work yet - a set of catchy, thoughtful compositions that are pro-love and anti-war, both perfectly simple and breathtakingly vast. Included in the 'White Limousine' package are two discs, labeled MINE and YOURS. MINE is Duncan's version of these songs; YOURS is a DVD-ROM enabling listeners to create their own versions. Using the software provided, the listener can isolate and remix 'White Limousine''s many sonic layers. This may be the first time a recording artist has released the entire contents of his or her album, instrument by instrument, giving listeners the ability to re-imagine the songs as they see fit.

Click here for more on the Introducing page.
Looking For The Ultimate Shredder!
Island Records new band Damone and are looking for the Ultimate Shredder!  They are looking for people that are tired of toiling away at their day jobs and want to do nothing but play guitar! 

Guitar playing prowess can be proved by sending in videos of you raining down fiery bolts of lighting with your fingers.  Contestants will be judged on a combination of sound, skill, technique and passion, so bring your “A” game because this competition is going to be nasty!

Winners will win a brand new Gibson SG ’61 Reissue guitar and a chance to appear in an upcoming Damone video.  Go to to enter, get official contest rules, see an example shredder video, and check out Damone!
Linkin Park Can Get Back To Making Music After Settling Label Dispute
Linkin Park's confidence in Warner Bros. Records has been restored. The band, who earlier this year angrily demanded a release from its contract with the label, has re-signed with Warner and is expected to release the first album in the new deal by the middle of next year.

According to a report in The New York Times, the band reached a deal last week with Warner that will pay an estimated $15 million advance on its next album and gives the label an option for up to five more albums from the group, one more than was called for in their original contract. The deal also calls for the band's royalty rate to be bumped up to an estimated 20 percent, which nudges the multi-platinum six-member group nearer to the upper echelon in that category.

Neither the label nor the band would comment to the Times on the contract (and neither could be reached by MTV News at press time), but in a joint statement said, "We would like to thank Linkin Park fans worldwide for their continued support. Despite initial concerns after last year's change in ownership, the band is pleased with the direction of the company and in Warner Brothers Records' ability to effectively market their music worldwide under the leadership of [label chairman] Tom Whalley."

The band's feud began in April, when its representatives sent a letter to Warner seeking a cut of the label's upcoming initial stock offering, according to the Times. Warner said no artists would receive any stock proceeds, but the label was open to discussing the band's deal.

Talks broke down, and in May, Linkin Park demanded a release from its contract after intense negotiations with the label collapsed on the eve of the stock sale. The group said in its statement that the cutbacks expected before the IPO would make the company too weak to promote Linkin Park's album and might result in "a failure to live up to W.M.G.'s fiduciary responsibility" to market the band's music. The statement alleged that while the stock offering meant Warner's owners would be "reaping a windfall," the band said, "Linkin Park, their biggest act, will get nothing."

At the time, Warner executives chalked the band's complaints up to what they said was a time-honored negotiating ploy to get a more lucrative deal, one employed in the past by such artists as the Dixie Chicks, Beck and Incubus. The group's members have kept busy during the talks, with Mike Shinoda recently releasing The Rising Tied, the debut album from his hip-hop side-project, Fort Minor (see "Linkin Park MC Gets Director With Flair For Video With Flares"), and singer Chester Bennington recording his first solo track for the upcoming soundtrack to "Underworld: Evolution."

While many of the same faces were seen in courtrooms in 2005, including Courtney Love, R. Kelly and DMX, the bulk of this year's media focus was devoted to three huge cases: Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial, Lil' Kim's perjury case and the federal money-laundering trial of Irving and Christopher Lorenzo, better known as hip-hop moguls the Gotti brothers.
MTV News 2005 Rewind
Jacko, Courtney, Gotti and Kim spent a lot of time in court, Tom Cruise went public, 50 Cent ruled the charts and natural disasters took a devastating toll.

Both Jackson and the Gottis were exonerated. Kim wasn't so fortunate, as she was convicted on three counts by a Manhattan jury in March and began serving out her year-and-a-day prison sentence on September 19 in a federal detention center just outside Philadelphia. Jail time didn't seem to affect Lil' Kim's record sales, though: Her new album The Naked Truth opened at #6 on the Billboard albums chart in October.

Jackson's full acquittal on 10 criminal counts — including lewd acts on a child under 14 and conspiracy to kidnap a child — came on June 13, ending months of drama both inside and outside the courthouse. But as the year came to a close, Jackson became embroiled in additional legal troubles that could consume his 2006. Late this month, his lawyers continued to try to sort out an overdue $270 million loan, which could put his Neverland Ranch as well as his stake in the Beatles catalog in jeopardy. Also, ex-wife Debbie Rowe claimed the singer lied about having sole custody of his children and asked a judge to demand Jackson return the children to the U.S.

For the Lorenzos, redemption was granted on December 2 — just nine days after the start of their trial. Absolution came more than 11 months after the Gottis were first arrested for money laundering and almost three years after dozens of law-enforcement agents raided the offices of their record label, the Inc. In the end, though, the government's case against the rap moguls faltered and there wasn't enough evidence for the jury to support a conviction — which elated Jay-Z, Ja Rule and Ashanti. After a year of courtroom shockers, one can only wonder what surprises 2006 will bring.
Mariah Carey Outguns 50 Cent On Year-End LP Sales Chart
Mariah Carey's great year just got its topper. Along with the flood of awards, chart records and accolades she's gotten for The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey took the lead over 50 Cent in a close race for the year's best-selling album. With just a few reporting days left, Mimi slipped ahead of 50's The Massacre by 32,000 copies. In the latest numbers from Nielsen SoundScan, Carey has sold 4.866 million copies to 50's 4.834 million.

Mimi, which spawned a nomination for Album of the Year along with seven other Grammy nods (see "Mariah Carey, Kanye West, John Legend Lead Grammy Nominees "), was released in April. Given the recent travails in Carey's career — including the flop film/soundtrack "Glitter" and a $30 million buy-out of her previous record contract — the singer's latest LP was not tipped to be one of the year's top sellers. Assuming she holds the lead through the end of the year, Carey would become the first female solo artist to top the year-end sales figures since Alanis Morissette did it in 1996 with Jagged Little Pill. Former "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson was on pace to finish in third place for 2005 with Breakaway, which sold 3.4 million copies.

In addition to the hit "We Belong Together," which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for 14 weeks, The Emancipation of Mimi also spawned Carey's 17th #1 single, "Don't Forget About Us," which helped push the singer into second place behind the Beatles' all-time record of 20 #1 hits.

While Carey and 50 were living large, though, the rest of the music business took a sales dip. Overall sales of CDs and digital album downloads were down about 7 percent, according to a Reuters report. Album sales from January through the week ending December 25 were 602.2 million, down from 650.8 million during the same period last year.

SoundScan did have some good news for the music industry, reporting that digital singles sales exploded to more than 332 million, a nearly 150 percent jump over the same period last year.
Will Paris Hilton Be Pop's New Britney Spears?
Victoria Newton of The Sun is out with her predictions for 2006, and London's gossip maven is touting Paris Hilton as the new Britney Spears. "Warners have put millions behind Paris and are making her an international priority act for the spring," Newton writes. "Paris has drafted in the incredible writing powers of Cathy Dennis, who penned chart-toppers 'Toxic' for Britney and 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' for Kylie Minogue. If Cathy can't provide her with a hit, no one can. Paris will appeal to the same teenie girls, camp pop lovers and closet dad admirers as Britney."
Ashlee Gets Booed and Doesn't Mind
Ashlee Simpson had wanted to start 2005 with a clean slate, but as her first appearance of the new year demonstrated, not everyone is as eager to put her "SNL" snafu behind her as she is. You'd think being booed in such a public forum as the Orange Bowl would be traumatic, but the singer/actress insists she's unfazed.

"There was some booing that went on after the halftime show was finished," she said. "If they didn't like the performance, and that's what it was about, then sorry to them."

Some have said Simpson was booed at Miami's Pro Player Stadium because the rowdy crowd of 72,000 wasn't the same age bracket as Simpson's teen audience. Others have said it was payback for "SNL," for her being a bad sport, walking off the stage and later blaming her band for a miscue (see "Ashlee Simpson's 'SNL' Excuse Bolstered By Rehearsal Tape"). Still others have complained that she just sounded bad. But Simpson has a few theories herself about why boos were heard following the closing line of her song "La La," "I want to hear you scream!"

"Maybe they were booing at me, maybe they were booing at the halftime show 'cause the whole thing sucked," she said. "I was facing [the Oklahoma Sooners], and I was rooting for USC, and they played a clip of it, so maybe it was that those people didn't like me. You never know. But I can't make everybody happy."

Simpson also pointed out that for this performance, the circumstances were less than ideal.

"There were no ear monitors when we went onstage," she said. "No floor monitors. And trying to sing in a stadium where you can't hear yourself is kinda hard. My sister [Jessica] was like, 'I don't know how you just did that! I performed in stadiums, and if I didn't have my ears, I would have freaked.' "

Still, Simpson said she's learned a lot from both the "SNL" and Orange Bowl experiences (see "Ashlee Identifying With 'Wannabe' Character, Says She's Over 'SNL' Episode"), with the biggest lesson being that she has to "keep pushing forward and being really strong, and no matter what you go through, fight through it." After all, she said 2004 wasn't all bad — her reality show was a hit, as was her debut album, Autobiography, which ended up being one of the top 10 best-selling albums of the year (see "Usher's 'Yeah!' Was Most Played Song Of 2004").

"I go from having a #1 album and things going great and all of a sudden something like 'SNL' happens and boom! You're faced with how mean people can be and criticizing you and stuff," she said. "But I've learned a lot about myself through all of this. It's like, I'm not perfect and I'm not going to be perfect. I'm still 20, and a new artist, and I will only grow. And I look forward to continuing to not listen to what one person says and making good music."
Jacket Jackson donated to Tsunami Relief
'The Insider' correspondent Marc Malkin reports that Janet Jackson has donated an undisclosed sum to the American Red Cross for tsunami relief.

"She is specifically donating money for water sanitation to help prevent disease," Jackson's rep tells said. "She is not looking for PR for herself, but just wants to use her resources to help save some lives if she can."
Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt Separate
Hollywood power couple Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt have decided to separate, PEOPLE magazine reports exclusively.

"We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate. For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration," Pitt and Aniston said
Aaliyah's Label Can't Sue Video Producer Who Booked Ill-Fated Flight
A New York court has ruled that Aaliyah's record company cannot sue the video producer who booked the private jet that crashed in the Bahamas in 2001, killing the singer.

The Manhattan appeals court reversed its June 2004 decision, which had allowed the company to file suit, saying on Thursday that only Aaliyah's parents had a right to sue for wrongful death (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"), which they had already done in 2003 and received compensation for, according to The Associated Press.

The June ruling allowed Blackground Records to file suit because Aaliyah was considered the prime "asset" of the company and not just an employee.

According to the AP, Frank Penski, Blackground's appellate lawyer, said as of Thursday he had not seen the decision and did not know if his client would further pursue a lawsuit against the producer.
Mariah Carey Soars with 'It's Like That'
Mariah Carey's never been one to cede the spotlight to fellow singers and she refused to be overshadowed again this week when the singer's team leaked her latest single, "It's Like That", to radio one day after Jennifer Lopez' "Get Right" hit the airwaves.

The release of Carey's single, from her forthcoming album, The Emancipation of Mimi, came as a surprise since most expected the singer to release "Say Something" to radio on January 25. Both "Say Something" and "Tonight" (featuring Pharrell) had been leaked via the Internet in early December.
Carey's new album will hit store shelves March 22. The album includes production from The Neptunes, Kanye West, R. Kelly, and Jermaine Dupri. "For the first time in my life, I feel free and unashamed to be who I really am," Carey said. "I am celebrating that I've grown into a person and artist who no longer feels imprisoned by my insecurities. I can now honestly say, 'This is me, the real me, take it or leave it.' "

"It's Like That" aired first on Hot 97 in New York City. Since the leak, over 40 stations have begun playing the track which is getting a great response. The singer is planning to shoot the video with director Paul Hunter. "I'm actually in LA, getting ready to meet with Paul Hunter, who you know, did Honey with me a long time ago and did the Drop It Like It's Hot video," she told DJ Angie Martinez.
Carey is also launching the fashion line Kiss Kiss next year, planning to pen a series of children's books and plans to take on Broadway. The Emancipation of Mimi, will be her first album since the release of Charmbracelet in 2002.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------'s Top 5 Headlines of 2004
5. Britney Marriage #2  ("Hm, is this for real?")
4. Ashley Lip-Synching Mishap on SNL ("Can you believe it!?")
3. Britney Marriage #1  ("That 48 hour one")
2. Michael Jackson Molestation Charges ("..he just gets more wierd every year")
1. Janet Jackson Superbowl Malfunction ("Damn! Damnnnnnnn")
J. Lo Sued By First Ex-Husband Over Firing
Jennifer Lopez's first ex-husband has sued the singer/actress for alleged breach of contract over his sacking as the manager of her Madres restaurant in Pasadena, California.

Ojani Noa, who was married to Lopez from 1997 to 1998, claimed in a suit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court that he was fired as the restaurant's manager despite assurances from his ex that he would not be let go without "good cause or reason," according to reports.

Noa quit his job managing Los Angeles' Conga Room to take the $1,000-per-week job at Madres in April of 2002, and said he was fired six months later without notice.

In the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, Noa claims he has attempted to speak with Lopez numerous times about the firing but that she has not returned his calls. A Lopez spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time.
Geri Halliwell Looks To Emulate Dido
The Daily Star reports that former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is looking to ditch her pop image to be a more serious performer like Dido. "Geri's had enough of doing the same old videos and shows where she's flaunting her curves and acting like a teenager," an insider revealed. "She's told her people she wants her career to take a new, more adult direction. As far as she's concerned, that means a total image overhaul to kick it off. She's using Dido as an example of what she's going for. She's 32 and wants to appeal to a different audienc
Mariah Carey's Dreaming Of A Disney — And Broadway — Christmas
Jessica Simpson might be the holiday pinup of 2004, thanks to her recent album and TV show, but Mariah Carey is a close second, even though her Christmas album was released 10 years ago. Thanks to the online resurgence of Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Carey's dreaming of a Disney — and a Broadway — Christmas.

Carey's signed on to perform at the 21st annual Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, where she'll sing "Joy to the World" as well as "All I Want for Christmas," which currently ranks as a top-10 seller — and was recently the best-selling holiday song — on iTunes. The two-hour parade, which will be hosted by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, will be broadcast at 1 p.m. ET on December 25 on ABC, and will also feature performances from Ashanti, "American Idol" favorites Kelly Clarkson and Diana DeGarmo, and country stars Wynonna Judd and Shedaisy.

But that's not all — Carey's also planning ahead for next year, when she would like to make her Broadway debut. It's too early for many details on the project, but the singer hopes to create, produce and star in an annual Christmas musical, according to her label publicist.

For now, she's content to star on her upcoming album, The Emancipation of Mimi (due out March 22), for which she's enlisted a slew of collaborators (see "With Help From Kanye, R. Kelly, Snoop, Mariah Readies New LP"). Most of her current guest stars are from the hip-hop world, and past collaborator Jay-Z said that's because the singer, whom he describes as "really a regular person," is a hip-hop fanatic. "She has a wealth of information about hip-hop," he said. "She listens to a ton of hip-hop."

At the same time, Carey's current collaborators are trying to help her get back to her roots, a key reason why she feels the album is an "emancipation" (see "Janet Has Damita Jo, Madonna Has Esther — Now, Mariah Has 'Mimi' ").

"I brought Mariah back to Mariah Carey," said producer Jermaine Dupri, who worked with her on four songs. "Her singing is something kids could follow. All those kids like Christina Aguilera, they looked up to Mariah when they first came out. That was the person they liked voicewise. In the studio, I'm telling Mariah, 'This is what you gotta do, you gotta get yourself back to what kids is following.' "

"I always looked up to Mariah," said collaborator Pharrell Williams, who worked with her on two songs. "She broke a lot of records — literally. And our records, they feel wonderful. For me, it was a pleasure."

News Archive: January 2006