News Archive: June 2006

Playful Christina Channels Marilyn Monroe For Back To Basics Cover Shoot
When Christina Aguilera started working on her bluesy, soulful follow-up to Stripped in February 2005, the singer was inspired not only by the sounds of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, but the look of those eras as well.

So when it came time to shoot the artwork for Back to Basics a year later, Aguilera knew exactly what she wanted.

"The glamour from those eras was so amazing as well [as the music], so I'm referencing Marlene Dietrich ... Marilyn [Monroe] ... Carole Lombard ... Greta Garbo, Veronica Lake, there's so many," Aguilera said during a break from shooting, citing the most popular actresses of the era. "Whenever you collect all your tear sheets and your references and all that, to see everything come to life it's just really, really amazing and fun."

For the pictures, Aguilera handpicked German photographer Ellen von Unwerth, who has captured Janet Jackson and Penelope Cruz, among others, with her erotic feminist style. Aguilera also chose the album's producers, including Linda Perry and DJ Premier (see "Christina Makes Her Comeback Twice As Nice By Expanding Basics Into Double LP").

"Ellen's my favorite photographer, 'cause she's just so playful and so fun and she can really go there visually," Aguilera said. "And she's such an artist in her own right. She just doesn't take a picture. She really gets into the whole mood and vibe and the playfulness of the whole spirit of the whole thing. So I knew she would be perfect."

Aguilera and von Unwerth spent three days taking potential pictures for Back to Basics, beginning at a historic hotel called the Hollywood Dell.

"With the first setup, we just wanted to [give the photographs] warm lighting, very inviting, just kind of relaxed, an old-Hollywood feel where you're kind of in the bed but also being really inviting, [because] I'm kind of smiling," Aguilera explained. "For the Stripped record it was a very real and honest place for me, but it was also a darker place. So I feel really lifted, things are lighter for me. I'm happier now than I've ever really been."

Aguilera spent most of the first day in a bed, peering through the iron bars of a headboard, a shot inspired by a famous Marilyn Monroe picture. The Back to Basics cover shot, a sensual image that features her dressed in white and lounging on a bed, was taken during the same session.

After all that lying around, by the second day, the singer was ready to get up.

"We got to play a little bit more of dress-up," Aguilera said. "A huge element also of this record is it's really fun and playful, with a 1920s circus theme."

For the third day, Aguilera and von Unwerth moved to Forty Deuce, a Hollywood hotspot that puts a modern twist on a 1920s burlesque club.

"We set up the vibe to create that old jazzy blues club," Aguilera said, noting that's where she also shot a series of pictures with four Navy sailors. "The whole vibe of that time period, it's just so special to me."

Killers, Fall Out Boy Heat Up The Beef Again; Wentz Calls Flowers 'Arch-Nemesis'
It's a good thing the dinner date Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz proposed to the Killers' Brandon Flowers never materialized, because there might've been some punches thrown — or at least some well-placed slaps. That's right: The feud has flared up again.

The long-running war of words started last year when Flowers complained about sharing his band's record-label executive with FOB (see "Killers Get More Beef — This Time With Fall Out Boy"), then escalated when Wentz mockingly invited Flowers out to a sushi dinner (see "Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz Asks Killers Singer On Dinner Date"). Now the beef is back, thanks to an interview with Flowers that appeared this week in the British music magazine NME.

In said interview, Flowers — who's in London putting the finishing touches on the Killers' second album (see "Killers' Next LP Will Show Strong Influence Of ... Bruce Springsteen!?") — ripped into FOB and and other groups he deems emo, saying he wants to "beat all those bands to death," and basically insisting that emo bands' sensitive music is poisoning the minds of America's youth.

"You don't realize what you could be getting yourselves into with Fall Out Boy," Flowers said, addressing British music fans, "and what kind of impact it could have in a way that you don't really want. Culturally, if it gets as big as it is in America, it could change an entire generation of people growing up here. Emo, pop-punk — whatever you want to call it — is dangerous. We don't wanna dislike anyone, and we've still never met Fall Out Boy, but there's a creature inside me that wants to beat all those bands to death. They just all go into the happy-emo funnel and everyone loves 'em without thinking."

When MTV News informed Wentz of Flowers' comments, he was more than willing to keep the feud running. Seems that even though he's in Los Angeles beginning work on Fall Out Boy's follow-up to From Under the Cork Tree, he's always got the time for a rebuttal — and to make a handful of pop-culture references.

"Honestly, I like Brandon a lot from what I've read in interviews. He's sharp. I don't think people would take as much notice [of his comments] if he wasn't. I respect that," Wentz said. "I kinda like how he called Fall Out Boy 'dangerous.' It felt like how Ice called Maverick 'dangerous' in 'Top Gun.' The whole thing kind of feels like one of those D.A.R.E. commercials. I kind of think of it this way: How could you feel like a superhero if you didn't have an arch-nemesis?"

Just about the only thing Wentz says he takes issue with is Flowers' assertion that the two bands have never met. He claims that they have, though the guys in the Killers may not have realized just who they were being introduced to when it happened.

"We met a couple of times," Wentz said. "I think they maybe tried to order drinks from us at the [MTV] Video Music Awards, because they thought we were waiters. The drummer [Ronnie Vannucci] was really nice though."

But even if Flowers isn't familiar with the guys in FOB, Wentz said other members of his extended family are.

"Besides, we get Brandon's family and friends into Fall Out Boy shows when we play his hometown. It must be very 'dangerous,' " he laughed. "I believe they came to the show in Salt Lake City, but I did not meet them. They were on the list, though."

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest Soundtrack
The soundtrack for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest features the original score by Hans Zimmer as well as a bonus track remix by DJ Tiesto. Check out clips from the score by clicking here. The soundtrack comes out on July 4th.

Also available on July 4th via iTunes are nine remixes from the score. Remixes by DJ Tiesto, Pete n’ Red, Jason Fernandez and Chris Joss can be checked out via the Pirates Player here!

Beyonce Asks Women To Battle Over Her For Backing-Band Roles
NEW YORK — How far would you go to be part of Beyoncé's posse? Travel across the world? Battle with others trying to fill the same spot? Show your true star quality no matter what?

That's what hundreds of females had to prove over the past several days as they vied to be in Beyoncé's new all-female band, which will back her up when she hits the road. The audition finals were held at Sony Studios Saturday, where Beyoncé and her father, Mathew Knowles, were among the judges picking the crème de la crème.

"I wanted to get together a group of fierce, talented, hungry, beautiful women and form an all-girl band," she said after the band was picked. She already has a name chosen but doesn't want to reveal it yet.

"I'm all about female empowerment," she continued. "I'm all about pushing the envelope. I know it's my responsibility to do something different. I said, 'I want a band, I want something different.' I had worldwide auditions; people flew in from Atlanta, Houston, Israel, all over the world.

"It was extremely difficult," she added about choosing the winners. "[There are] so many talented women. I wanted only a nine-piece band, but the girls were so amazing, I couldn't decide. I think I'm going to wind up having 12 people so I have two [people playing] certain instruments, because [some of the contenders] were just brilliant. It's a thing called star quality, it's a thing you can't put your finger on, can't describe. When they were playing, I said, 'I want to see y'all battle.' I brought in two of every instrument and that's how I chose. You see the one that really wants it. It was so entertaining, the energy, seeing the girls battle ... God, it was the best. It was magical."

The audition process took B back to when she was 9 years old and just starting out in Destiny's Child, when the group would compete in talent shows. Beyoncé says she's also looking forward to jamming with her ladies on the road and learning from them as she hopes they will learn from her.

The band will back up Beyoncé on her upcoming tour, for which no dates have yet been announced. Without a doubt, the band will have to get used to playing Beyoncé's new Rodney Jerkins-produced single, "Deja Vu," which features Jay-Z. It's destined to be a big summer hit.

"When I recorded 'Deja Vu' ... I knew that even before I started working on my album, I wanted to add live instruments to all of my songs," she explained. "It's such a balance [of music on the song], it has live congas, live horns, live bass. It's still young, still new and fresh, but it has the old soul groove. The energy is incredible. It's the summer anthem, I pray. I feel it. It's already broken records. Rodney Jerkins is incredible, Jay of course is on it, he blessed the song, I'm happy with it."

"Deja Vu" is the first single from Beyoncé's B'Day LP, which drops September 5, the day after her 25th birthday (see "Beyonce's Triple Threat: New Album, Film, Fashion Line Before Year's End"). Her b-day wish? A successful album that inspires people.

"The album feels like a party," she said. "It feels like a celebration, a woman that knows who she is, that has found her power and has found her voice. I thought the title was perfect."

Sandler Comedy Clicks With $40M Debut
Adam Sandler took charge of the remote control at the weekend box office. His comic fantasy "Click," about a man whose new universal remote takes control of his life and leaves it in chaos, debuted as the No. 1 movie with $40 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Sony's "Click" bumped off the Disney-Pixar animated comedy "Cars," which slipped to second place with $22.5 million, raising its domestic total to $155.9 million.

The weekend's other new wide release Focus Features' "Waist Deep," starring Tyrese Gibson as an ex-con forced into a robbery spree to collect ransom for his kidnapped son opened strongly with $9.5 million to finish at No. 4.

"Waist Deep" played in 1,004 theaters and averaged $9,414 per cinema, compared to a $10,670 average for "Click" in 3,749 theaters.

"Click" finished in the ballpark of the opening weekends for Sandler's other recent comedies, "Mr. Deeds," "Anger Management," "50 First Dates" and "The Longest Yard," whose debuts ranged from $37 million to $47 million.

Sandler plays a harried architect and family man who receives a magical remote that can fast-forward and freeze-frame his life. The movie co-stars Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken and David Hasselhoff.

"Sandler's one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "Adam Sandler has this timeless appeal to audiences. He's like a big kid, and people love that about him."

Sony's "The Da Vinci Code," starring Tom Hanks in the adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling thriller, followed 20th Century Fox's "X-Men: The Last Stand" as the year's second movie to top $200 million domestically.

"Da Vinci" took in $4 million to raise its total to $205.5 million, while the "X-Men" sequel grossed $4.4 million to lift its take to $224.1 million.

The overall box office rose for the sixth straight weekend. The top 12 movies grossed $125.9 million, up 7 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Batman Begins" was the No. 1 movie with $27.6 million.

Hollywood revenues are at $4.35 billion for the year, up 4.5 percent from the box office in 2005, when the movie industry was in a prolonged slump. Factoring in higher ticket prices, though, movie attendance this year is up just 1.35 percent, according to Exhibitor Relations.

The box office is expected to get a boost over the Fourth of July weekend with Wednesday's premiere of the Warner Bros. tale "Superman Returns," one of the year's most-anticipated films.

Backstreet Boys say goodbye to Richardson
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Backstreet Boys are saying goodbye to the oldest member of their band, according to a statement posted on the group's Web site Saturday.

"It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life," Richardson said in the statement.

The Orlando-based pop band ushered in a new teen-music craze in the late 90's, buoyed by their soulful harmonies, synchronized dance steps, clean-cut good looks and charm. Their three albums sold a total of more than 35 million copies.

The group took a hiatus in 2001 after  A.J. McLean's highly publicized entry into rehab forced the band to postpone their "Black & Blue" tour. They reunited to release the album "Never Gone" in 2005.

The remaining members, McLean, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, and Brian Littrell, said they had no plans to replace Richardson.

"The door will always be open for him to return to the Backstreet Boys. We wish him the all the best in his future endeavors," they said on the band's Web site.

The group plans to return to the studio this weekend to begin work on their next album, which is due later this year.

Hip-Hop Bling King Jacob The Jeweler Arrested
Hip-hop's favorite iceman has found himself wearing the kind of bracelets that nobody likes: handcuffs.

Jacob Arabove, known to the music industry as Jacob the Jeweler, was arrested by DEA task force officers at his 57th Street store in New York on Thursday (June 15). According to an affidavit from the U.S. attorney's office in New York, an arrest warrant had been issued in Michigan's Eastern District Court last month on money-laundering charges.

Arabove is one of 41 people named in a federal indictment released last month in Detroit that includes a litany of charges, such as drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy. Several members of the Black Mafia Family — including Demetrius "Meech" Flenory — were also named. That indictment accused Flenory and company of building a drug empire in Detroit and expanding it to other cites. BMF is known to hip-hop fans mostly for its independent record label, which has been putting out music, mostly in Atlanta, for the past few years.

Jacob has risen over the past decade to become the most recognized name in music when it comes to jewelry, chiefly because of his clients in the hip-hop community — Nas, Lil' Kim, Bow Wow, Jay-Z, Diddy, Busta Rhymes, R. Kelly, B2K and others — shouting him out on their records. He has also done work for the likes of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and a host of Hollywood celebrities.

Arabove's attorney was unable to be reached for comment.

During a hearing on Thursday, Arabove agreed to turn himself in to authorities in Detroit on July 12.

Eminem Reloading His Movie Career With Bounty-Hunter Rol
After a long break following his treatment for addiction to sleeping medication and the death of his best friend Proof, Eminem is relaunching his career ... on the big screen. The rapper is attached to star in a movie remake of the 1950s TV drama 

The follow-up to his movie debut in 2002's semi-autobiographical "8 Mile" will find Em shedding the music angle and going straight for drama in a contemporary retelling of the story of Paladin, a literate, rugged professional gunfighter for hire. In the original series, which ran on CBS from 1957-1963, Richard Boone played Paladin as a tough guy who hung around a San Francisco hotel waiting for people to respond to the offer on his business card, which read "Have Gun, Will Travel ... wire Paladin, San Francisco."

Variety reports that the show's concept will be updated to contemporary times and feature Eminem playing a bounty hunter, possibly based out of the rapper's hometown of Detroit. The movie is being produced by Interscope/ Shady/ Aftermath Films, with producer credits going to Interscope boss Jimmy Iovine and Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg.

Rosenberg told Daily Variety that the movie will be a revamp of the original series, with some characters based loosely on ones from the series and a few references to storylines from the original. While the movie will be an action-based drama, Em will likely be involved in either scoring the film or performing on the soundtrack.

There's no definite timetable for the movie, but Variety reports that producers and Paramount Pictures are trying to get it on the fast track. Paramount has been looking for a good "8 Mile" follow-up, and Em and his camp reportedly had a hard time finding something they were happy with. "When this property essentially became available we discussed it and brought it to Marshall and he was very intrigued and excited about the concept," Rosenberg said.

Gwen Stefani Delivers Baby Boy         
The No Doubt singer delivered her baby at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon (May 26), according to her label representative. Stefani's rep issued a brief statement that read, "Both mother and child are doing well."

Stefani and her husband, rocker Gavin Rossdale, named the child Kingston James McGregor Rossdale; he weighed in at 7.5 pounds.

A rumor circulated earlier this week that Stefani had given birth in London, despite paparazzi shots released Wednesday that captured a still-pregnant Stefani in Los Angeles.

Stefani confirmed her pregnancy onstage during the final stop of her solo tour in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in mid-December (see "Gwen Stefani Confirms Pregnancy While Onstage In Florida").

"I want you to sing so loud that the baby hears it," the 36-year-old singer told the crowd, later patting her famous-but-expanding midsection.

"I'm really horrible with secrets," she told The Los Angeles Times later that week. "It's amazing that we kept it as quiet as long as we did, I suppose."

Stefani had previously called off plans for a second solo album, saying she needed time off to rest (see "Gwen Stefani Holding Off On That Second Solo LP — For Now, Anyway"). No Doubt members Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young have since started work on the early stages of the band's next album while waiting for Stefani to be able to join them in the studio (see "No Doubt — Minus Gwen — In Early Stages Of New Album").

"[She's] resting up to give birth very soon," Dumont posted on the band's forum Monday. "We're writing and recording music to be collaborated on with Gwen at a later date, after she's had plenty of time to settle into being a new mom."

Stefani has often made reference to wanting a baby in songs such as "What You Waiting For" — which features a ticking clock — and more explicitly in No Doubt's "A Simple Kind of Life," in which she wishes for a "mistake" with her birth control: "I always thought I'd be a mom/ ... You seem like you'd be a good dad."

She reiterated those feelings in a November interview with MTV News, saying, "Babies are totally on my mind right now. When I first got my period the first time, I was thinking, 'Gosh, I want to have a baby.' How many years ago was that?"

Stefani and Rossdale married in September 2002 in two ceremonies, one held in London and another held in Los Angeles. The birth marks Stefani's first child and Rossdale's second — his 16-year-old daughter Daisy Lowe is from a previous relationship.

Mop-Topped Hicks Crowned 'American Idol'
Taylor Hicks, the mop-topped manic dancer who wooed TV audiences with his raw singing style and boisterous personality, was named the new "American Idol" Wednesday in a pop star-filled finale that included Prince and Mary J. Blige.

Hicks, 29, of Birmingham, Ala., became the latest in a string of Southern and Midwestern contestants to win the Fox talent contest after collecting more viewer votes than runner-up Katharine McPhee, 22, of Los Angeles.

Hicks leaned over, overcome by host Ryan Seacrest's announcement.

"Soul Patrol!" he shouted, acknowledging his avid fans by their nickname. "I'm living the American dream," he added as he closed out the show with a performance of "Do I Make You Proud."

It was Katharine vs. Taylor, McPheever vs. the Soul Patrol, with a recording contract and the fifth Idol title up for grabs.

More than 63 million votes were cast, "more than any president in the history of our country has received," Seacrest said.

Fans picked the raw sound and footloose moves of Hicks, who made his mark on Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" on Tuesday's show. The sultry McPhee's well-trained voice was shown to perfection on the standard "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Last season's victor, Carrie Underwood of Checotah, Okla., opened the finale, joining Hicks and McPhee on "I Made it Through the Rain" and later soloing on "Don't Forget to Remember Me."

On Tuesday, Underwood won two trophies at the Academy of Country Music Awards, underscoring how much an Idol victory can mean. She was named top new female artist and won best single for "Jesus Take the Wheel."

Other pairings of contestants and stars included Paris Bennett and Al Jarreau; McPhee and Meat Loaf; Chris Daughtry and Live; Elliott Yamin and Blige; Hicks and Toni Braxton; and the dozen finalists with Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick.

Prince was a surprise final performer, taking the stage for two songs, including "Satisfied"--and without an Idol contestant alongside.

Asked backstage if he had any advice for contestants, Meat Loaf replied: "If you want to do this, you're gonna go up and down, and up and down, and people are going to love you and hate you...Just stick with it," he said.

With two hours to fill the show also tossed in some comedy. Contestant Kellie Pickler was seen trying gourmet dining and dumping her escargot--snail--under her chair, while "Golden Idols" were awarded to also-rans who flopped in their auditions.

Second-season runner-up Clay Aiken, with a slick new look, performed a "duet" on "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" with his alter ego, a wannabe American Idol contestant who evoked the originally geeky Aiken.

Hicks and McPhee weren't as odd a finals pairing as second-second finalists Ruben Studdard and Aiken, but close.

McPhee was the first Los Angeles native to make it big on American Idol. With a singer-vocal coach mom behind her and a starlet's beauty, McPhee looked and sounded groomed for success.

Hicks, whose thatch of prematurely gray hair helped him stand out from the pack, had barely survived the first audition at which judge Simon Cowell warned he didn't have a chance of advancing in the contest.

McPhee attended the prestigious Boston Conservatory for a semester; Hicks has been a fixture on honky-tonk stages. McPhee skillfully played to the cameras, all calculated seduction; Hicks stomped across the set, with Cowell once comparing him to a drunken dad at a wedding.

The finale closed out a relatively tame contest compared to seasons past, when jammed phone lines, technical glitches, and annoyingly untalented singers drew complaints from fans. Last year, judge Paula Abdul denied an ex-competitor's claims of an affair in 2003.

This season's biggest jolt came when rocker Chris Daughtry of McLeansville, N.C., was voted out before the finale. Many observers had predicted he would win the contest after routinely drawing praise from the judges and online support.

Despite the lack of offstage drama, or because of it, this edition of American Idol was the most-watched yet. Compared to last year, the show was up 14 percent in total viewers with an average weekly audience of 30.3 million--impressive growth for an established program.

The Tuesday and Wednesday episodes routinely ranked as the top-rated TV shows, drawing 28 million or more viewers. The series also is seen via delayed broadcast or satellite delivery in more than 150 other countries.

Debaroti Dasgupta, 26, accompanied by her mother, flew in from Malaysia for the show after winning a radio competition in which she impersonated finalist Elliott Yamin.

"So my heart broke when he was out in the semifinals," she said before the show Wednesday at the Kodak Theatre. "But I'm here supporting Taylor and I hope he wins tonight."

Mariah Carey Plots Mimi's Touring Adventure
Now that Mimi's been emancipated for a while, she's ready to have a little adventure — so Mariah Carey's taking her on one, launching her first full-scale North American arena tour, which she's calling the Adventures of Mimi: The Voice, the Hits, the Tour.

"My summer tour is what I'm gearing up for next," Carey said. "I'm really excited about it."

Carey has played U.S. arenas before, but she usually peppers her tours with smaller theater dates as well. Not this time. Carey has also allotted a break between each date to recover on her first tour since 2003. "As a singer, I need a certain amount of vocal rest, where I just don't talk before I do a show," Carey explained. "On tour it's like really hard-core singing moments and then resting."

Some of those hard-core singing moments on this tour will be within songs from her six-times-platinum The Emancipation of Mimi album, but Carey is also planning to revisit hits and deep album cuts from her 15-year catalog, including "Vision of Love," "My All" and "Close My Eyes." She's also considering including one of the 25 ring tones she recently wrote and produced for Pepsi, so that she can show off her "creative tangents."

"A friend of mine was over and we were going through different concepts for the tour, and he said, 'You should do one of the ring tones!' " she laughed. "So I'm actually thinking about doing the one we're doing the commercial for," called "Time of Your Life."

Opening the two-month trek for the first half will be Sean Paul, while other surprise guests remain to be announced. The tour launches August 5 in Miami and wraps October 10 in Phoenix. Tickets go on sale June 2, and despite Carey's reputation as a diva, the prices are comparatively affordable, in the $20-$155 range.

"People ask me, 'Why don't you just go on tour and charge huge amounts of money? Do these small venues, but charge thousands and thousands of dollars to go in,' " Carey previously explained. "Because I have fans of all different ages and different money ranges, and they can't afford to go out and spend that kind of money. Not everybody has a budget to go out and go really high-end" (see "Mariah Wants All Fans To See Her — And Even Smell Like Her").

Before Carey kicks off her tour, she will end her concert hiatus with a Pepsi Smash Concert featuring Chris Brown scheduled for July 29 at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

Coldplay's Chris Martin Sold For $10,000
An exclusive one-off performance by Chris Martin has been auctioned for £5,000 (approximately $10,000).

The Coldplay frontman has confirmed he will play an exclusive one-song gig in the living room of a child at the Canonbury Primary School in North London.

The undisclosed parent stumped up £5,000 for the concert after bidding began at £400, quickly rising into the thousands.

The charity auction was presided over by Conservative MP and Islington, London resident Boris Johnson, with funds going to a new resource and IT center.

Martin agreed to the play the show because Coldplay's business manager, Paul Makin, is apparently a parent at the school.