Usher's Manager/Mom Denies 'Dream' Role Opposite Beyonce
If you were hoping to see chart-topper Usher and R&B diva Beyoncé Knowles sharing the big screen in the forthcoming film "Dreamgirls," you'd better keep your fingers crossed.
Contrary to a report in Thursday's Variety, spokespeople for the Grammy-winning singer say he has not signed on for the project — an adaptation of the Broadway musical believed to be loosely based on the Diana Ross-led act the Supremes. The Hollywood trade magazine claimed the film will also feature Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx.
"Usher has not confirmed his participation in the film 'Dreamgirls,' and a deal with DreamWorks has not been set or finalized," reads a statement issued Friday (May 13) afternoon by Usher's manager (and mother), Jonnetta Patton.
The Variety piece claimed Usher had been secured for the role of choreographer C.C. White. Knowles has signed on to play Deena Jones, the leader of a trio of female soul singers called the Dreams, who cross over to the pop charts during the early 1960s (see "Beyoncé In Talks For Potential 'Dream' Film Role"). The film will be directed by Bill Condon ("Kinsey," "Gods and Monsters"), who also wrote the film's screenplay. Condon was the scribe who brought the stage musical "Chicago" to the big screen.
Variety also reported that Foxx — who won this year's Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the late Ray Charles — will once again get to display his singing voice, as he's been cast to play Curtis Taylor Jr., the Dreams' controlling manager.
DreamWorks is said to be considering actor Eddie Murphy for the role of singer James "Thunder" Early, a love-'em-and-leave-'em R&B star who gives the Dreams their first big break. The filmmakers will launch a nationwide search to find their Effie, the Dreams' rotund, vocal powerhouse — a role made famous by Broadway actress Jennifer Holliday. The producers have said they'd prefer an unknown for Effie.
"Dreamgirls" is slated to begin production in January.
Knowles will be seen this summer alongside Steve Martin in the film "The Pink Panther" (see "Beyoncé To Star Opposite Steve Martin In 'Pink Panther' "). Production on Usher's latest film, "Dying for Dolly," recently wrapped up; Usher will star as a man who saves the life of a mob boss and is rewarded for the deed with a gig protecting the mobster's beautiful daughter (see "Usher Breaks Form In 'Dying For Dolly' By Not Dancing"). Foxx will soon start work on the big-screen adaptation of the popular 1980s glitzy cop drama "Miami Vice," in which he'll play Detective Ricardo Tubbs.
Reality-TV Britney Asks Fans: Can You Handle The Truth?
Britney Spears wants to know: Can you handle her truth? That's the question she asks on "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic," her upcoming reality show with hubby Kevin Federline, which premieres Tuesday (see "Britney Spears' Reality Show Is 'A Documentation Of Love' ")
But that's not the only question raised. When you tune in, you're going to ask yourself, "Can Britney actually sing? How much makeup does that girl require? And does she ever live a moment that's not on camera?"
The answer to the last question is yes — when she's behind it.
"It was really interesting for me because I'm kind of directing everything," Spears said of the show, which consists of personal video footage shot by her and Federline. "It was cool for me to see me in that kind of light, instead of the focus being on me all the time."
Whether she's in front of or behind the lens, the focus nevertheless remains on Spears and her budding relationship with Federline, the dancer she married in September (see "Britney Spears Marries Kevin Federline"). Much of the video revolves around the European leg of her Onyx Hotel Tour last spring, during which she was joined by Federline; the couple says the use of the camera actually contributed to their relationship.
"We kind of used the camera to get to know each other a little better," Federline said. "It was kind of like we [were] hiding behind the camera, asking these questions that we wouldn't normally ask."
Federline's no Warren Beatty to his girl's Madonna, instead encouraging her to shoot him and ask away. He did, however, help film and edit some of the footage with Spears in a hotel room in Amsterdam one night, telling Spears that this could be "our own little project."
The candid series, which addresses many lingering questions, is sure to appeal to fans. What's Britney's ideal guy? "Somebody that's cool and not really fazed by that much stuff and hasn't really seen that much, because I have, and I'd like to see through him all over again. [Someone who is] kind of sweet and nice and that loves me a lot. I don't care what they look like, I just want them to be ... well, I do care a little bit what they look like."
Kevin also spends time in the spotlight. What does he think about marriage and commitment? "Love is love," he said.
"I didn't know him that well, and when I got the camera out, it made me feel better," Spears said. "It's really weird because it was like all this tension at first. We were so nervous being together. I'm really shy, and when I had the camera in my hand, it made me feel more outspoken. I think it helped at first." Turning to Federline, she said, "So you didn't get to see the real me at first, baby."
The premiere episode, "Can You Handle My Truth," shows Spears' excitement about the then-new man in her life as she documents their first romantic moments together. It premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on UPN.
'Sony to do up to "Spider-Man 6"?
Despite telling Cinema Confidential last July that anything beyond "Spider-Man 3" would be likely on his part, director Sam Raimi told Sci-Fi.com (http://www.scifi.com) that Sony is planning on doing up to six "Spider-Man" movies and that he would do as many as his energy will allow him to.
"I've heard Amy Pascal [chairman of Sony's motion picture group] say she wants to make six Spider-Man pictures," Raimi said in an interview at the Saturn Awards in Los Angeles. "So I think she's a woman of her word. And if she says there'll be six, there'll be six. ... If they were to ask me, and if I felt as passionate as I feel now about the character and had this great hunger and desire to tell the story, which I really do now, you couldn't keep me away from it."
Simple Plan Team Up With MADD For Anti-Drunk Driving Campaign
Simple Plan's somber video for their song "Untitled" — which shows the far-reaching effects of drinking and driving — has been embraced by fans and program directors alike, having captured the #1 spot on Thursday's edition of "TRL."
The band has entered into a partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and will attach a message from the organization to the end of the "Untitled" video (see "Simple Plan Shoot Sober Video With Drunk-Driving Plot"), according to a spokesperson for SP's label, Lava Records.
"Traffic crashes are the #1 killer of teens, and nearly one-third of teen traffic deaths are alcohol-related," the message reads. "For more information [call] 1-800-GET-MADD."
In concurrence with the MADD partnership, Simple Plan wrote a letter to fans, asking them to watch the video and consider the impact of their actions if they choose to drive drunk.
"When an accident happens, there are more victims than people think, and many lives are changed forever. Parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters ... everybody feels the impact," the letter reads. "One of the students at our high school crashed his car driving back from a weekend trip and killed his best friend. It was a very sad time that none of us will ever forget."
When MTV News caught up with SP frontman Pierre Bouvier last month, he expressed interested in taking the partnership even further, including allowing MADD to use Simple Plan music and the video for "Untitled" in their school-outreach programs (see "Simple Plan Target The Media Along With Drunk Drivers"), which, according to MADD, will debut in schools in September.
"We're going to be using their music and the video for 'Untitled' in our new multimedia show, which deals with a real-life drunk-driving story," said Steve Emerich, the manager of MADD's school-outreach program. "In the past, we've used music from Hilary Duff, John Mayer and the Black Eyed Peas, but Simple Plan contacted us, because of how personal the song was to them. And I think it's great how committed they are to the cause."
Corey Clark Says Paula Abdul 'Told Me She Loved Me'
Any mention of "American Idol" this past week has inevitably been followed by some discussion of Paula Abdul's alleged sexual relationship with one of the series' season-two castaways, aspiring R&B vocalist Corey Clark.
The cornrowed Californian sat down with ABC's "Primetime Time" to bare his soul before millions of couch-coddling Americans for a special edition titled "Fallen Idol" that aired Wednesday night (see "Corey Clark Advertises Paula Abdul Affair, LP On 'Primetime' "). He opened up about his love affair with the "Idol" judge and described the vital role she'd played in his survival on the show.
On Friday morning (May 6), Clark spoke with MTV News even further about his "Idol" experience and defended his decision to spill the beans on Paula, not only on television, but in a tell-all book, "They Told Me to Tell the Truth, So ... (The Sex, Lies and Paulatics of One of America's Idols)." He said the reason he didn't own up to the May-December relationship two years ago — after he got the hook for failing to disclose an arrest record that included charges of resisting arrest and assault — was because he didn't want to have to rely on his Abdul association to further his music career.
But of course, he's changed his tune.
"Two years ago, I wasn't talking about it because, you know, this isn't the route I wanted to pursue," he said. "This is basically the last resort. I've been painted into a corner, and now I've sort of got to lay it all out in order for things to be straightened up. I've tried to move on with my life and my career for the last two years and do my own thing, and 'American Idol' and FOX, they've just been making it really tough for me to do that. So in order for me to get through all the red tape and just allow people to just get at my talent, I've got to set the record straight. And you can't set half the record straight; when you tell it, you've got to tell it all."
Clark claims "Idol" producers conspired against him to ruin his career. He says they've been blackballing him and spreading falsehoods about him throughout the music industry, ever since his dismissal from the televised talent contest. He blames those very same producers for the total collapse of a record deal he claims he was close to signing with Jive two months ago, before inking a contract with Bungalo, which is distributed by Universal.
"People aren't giving me a fair shot because of what ['Idol' producers have] been saying for the past two years about me," Clark explained. "I mean, they got contestants this year who're straight felons. And they're like, 'It's all good because they told us.' They had to, because they did something. But then they compare those criminals to me when something comes up. They're like, 'Well, unlike Corey Clark, who's a sister-beater, cop-beater [and a] liar, these guys are at least honest, and they can stay with us.' So it's like, that's what I'm fighting against everywhere I go. I'm fighting that image and portrait."
It wasn't Clark's criminal past, but the fact that he started making waves behind the scenes that sent him packing, he said. But he claims he was just following Abdul's orders. "They were trying to bully us, and they came in after we made the final 12 and were like, 'You have two days to sign this contract or you're off the show. On top of that you have to pick from these two attorneys we're going to send in, and we'll pay for them.' It was a conflict of interest. So in talking with Paula, she said, 'Look, if you can get six of your fellow contestants to stand up with you and say, "We want our own attorney, we're not rolling with this stuff you want us to do," they won't kick off the rest of the cast.' "
Clark said 10 of the other contestants got behind him to stand up to the imposing "Idol" makers. The pack then brought in a lawyer Abdul recommended to Clark — her own lawyer. Two weeks later, the producers started asking him questions about his arrest record, he said. Then they "cut the head off the snake."
"They're making it hard for me to get stuff done," he said; if he did not disclose his sexual liaisons with Abdul, the rest of his story wouldn't have been believable. "I did this to get them to leave me the hell alone and get off my back and let me go about my business. And [Paula's] the key to that, because what they're telling people I was doing while I was there was stuff she had me doing. I was doing everything she told me to do and not to do. I was a consenting adult with her. I was happy. It was wrong, and that's why we were keeping it a secret in the first place. But it was something I wanted to do."
For two years after his exile, Clark said he had no contact whatsoever with Abdul. Then she called him on April 8. She'd heard he was shopping his story around to media outlets and asked him not to let the cat out of the bag. Clark, however, agreed to speak to "Primetime." He also wrote "They Told Me to Tell the Truth," which he's selling through his Web site. But the book's not an "Idol" exposé. He said it's mostly "about my life in music," and in many ways "a tool for up-and-coming artists to basically see what I've learned in 10 years, and maybe they can pick it up in two hours and not make the same mistakes I did. It's my memoirs."
Despite the propitious timing of his revelation, Clark denies that airing the Abdul affair is part of a marketing ploy to hawk books or CDs. His self-titled debut, including the tracks "Wiggle and Shake," "Chance to Dance," "Paulatics" and "Follow That Back," which features a cameo from Kid of Kid 'N Play, hits stores June 21.
"If I wanted publicity, I could have done it two years ago when they were first trying to defame my name," Clark said.
When asked if he ever loved Abdul, Clark says he did. "There was love there. It was a relationship for like three, four months. She told me she loved me. I told her I love her. Do I still love her? No. I've moved on. Do I love her as a person? Yes. Do I care about her? Yes."
As for whether it bothers him that for the rest of his career he'll be known as that dude who allegedly slept with Paula Abdul, he seems puzzled by the notion that it would.
"What's wrong with that?" he asked. "What would you have done if she hit on you? If you were my age and Paula 'fine-ass' Abdul was hitting on you? What would you do?"
New 'Batman Begins' Trailer Shows Superhero's Human Side
Summer's approaching, and you know what that means: leisurely picnics, lazy air-conditioned nights — and at least one incredibly dark, psychologically challenging and explosion-filled summer blockbuster.
"Batman Begins" is the fifth (or the sixth, if we count last year's execrable "Catwoman") installment in the big-screen franchise, and all indications are that this entry will be as much a journey into Bruce Wayne/Batman's psyche and his tortured past as it will be a high-budget, blow-'em-up thriller. In fact, the most recent full-length trailer suggests that the film will explore Bruce Wayne's tragedy-filled past (the murder of his parents) and will also delve into his more amorous inclinations, particularly those having to do with old flame Rachel Dodson played by Katie Holmes.
Most significantly, though, the film will chronicle how Wayne became Batman in the first place, traveling the globe in search of the means to fight evildoers and protect the weak and innocent.
With a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine and a host of other heavy hitters, chances are fair that the weighty subject matter will be handled with aplomb. But don't despair: Judging by the look of the new Hummerified Batmobile, for instance, there will be plenty of high-octane mayhem to keep the thespians and the audience on their collective toes
Jackson's Ex-Wife Proves A Better Witness For The Defense
Maybe Michael Jackson should send Debbie Rowe flowers. His ex-wife turned out to be a better witness for the defense than the prosecution, causing both sides to try to limit her testimony.
After Rowe admitted Wednesday that she lied in the video Jackson made as a rebuttal to the "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary (see "Jackson's Ex-Wife Ends Day Of Testimony With Cliffhanger"), the defense moved first thing Thursday to strike her testimony, which the judge denied, saying he wanted to hear more of what she had to say before making a determination. Jackson's attorney Thomas Mesereau later withdrew the motion.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Ron Zonen, visibly exasperated, told the judge at one point that his questions were for "impeachment purposes" — that he was trying to prove his own witness was lying.
The prosecution had expected Rowe to say her participation in the video was brokered in exchange for visitation time with the two children she had with Jackson and that what she said in the video was scripted. This would bolster their case that Jackson conspired to coerce the participation of the accuser and his family in the same rebuttal video. However, Rowe testified that her part was not scripted and she was not forced, although she hoped to see her children afterward.
On Thursday, Rowe said she did the rebuttal interview to "protect the children and keep the media away" and because "I would get to see my children and possibly renew my relationship" with Jackson. After she did the interview, she called one of Jackson's associates for nine months, asking to see her children, to no avail. Following that, she went to court and got her parental rights reinstated. Rowe is currently suing Jackson for custody of the children (see "Jackson's Restrictions On Ex-Wife Revealed In Court Papers").
Rowe seemed sad about the state of her relationship with Jackson, saying that she still considered him her friend "if he'd talk to me." "There's different Michaels. There's like my Michael and the Michael everyone else sees," she said.
Rowe also blasted Jackson's then-managers Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer and producer Marc Schaffel, with whom she dealt with during the rebuttal-video shoot and afterward, calling them "opportunistic vultures." Rowe said they manipulated and took advantage of Jackson, and called Schaffel "full of sh--" because, among other things, he had bragged that he had made millions from her rebuttal interview.
As for her own mistruths, Rowe said she lied in the rebuttal video, shot in 2003, when she described herself as part of Jackson's family, since she had not seen him or the children since 1999, and therefore was unaware of his parenting skills at the time. She wasn't specific about what else she had lied about in the video. "My personal life was my personal life and no one's business," she said.
Rowe's attorney, Iris Finsilver, also testified, saying she was present for the taping of Rowe's interview for the rebuttal video, during which Schaffel occasionally interjected to say, "Michael will be very, very pleased about this."
Mariah Carey Frees 50 Cent From Billboard's #1 Spot
Before The Emancipation of Mimi hit record stores last week, it had been three full years since Mariah Carey released new studio material. So it wasn't unfair when several critics dubbed the vivacious pop diva's latest a "comeback" album, one that — depending on its retail performance — could set the tone for the rest of Mariah's career.
Well, how's this for a comeback? First-week sales of almost 404,000 scored Carey not only the biggest debut of her 15-year career, but the coveted top spot on Billboard's albums chart — unseating rapper 50 Cent as the top seller following The Massacre's impressive six-week reign as retail champ.
According to SoundScan results, The Emancipation of Mimi shattered the star's previous first-week sales record of 323,000 units, set back in 1999 with the debut of Rainbow. The album outperformed her most recent #1 showing, 1997's Butterfly, by close to 170,000 scans. Charmbracelet, released in 2002, opened at #3 with sales of more than 241,000.
But, as it turns out, Mariah wasn't 50 Cent's only problem this week. What's more, Carey wasn't the sole artist on the chart to achieve a career landmark.
Finishing a distant second, with first-week sales of an astonishing 151,000 plus, is metal quartet Mudvayne's newest, Lost and Found — an album that topped 50's sophomore opus, The Massacre, by just over 10,000 scans. Like The Emancipation of Mimi, Lost and Found represents the hard-rockin' band's best opening-week sales showing; 2002's The End of All Things to Come debuted at #17 with sales of 78,980.
Although 50 Cent was forced to relinquish his Billboard throne, settling for the chart's #3 slot, week seven wasn't all that bad for The Massacre. A 15 percent sales dip notwithstanding, the rapper's LP did manage to transcend the 3-million-sold milestone. Besides, third place isn't all that bad, is it, Fif?
Placing fourth, with sales of just under 75,000, is the fourth LP from Garbage. With Bleed Like Me, the band earned its first top-10 album. Still, the album failed to destroy Garbage's first-week sales record, set back in 1998 with Version 2.0, which finished at #13 with 88,000 plus scans. Beautiful Garbage — released in 2001 — opened at #11 with sales of 73,000 and change.
The prior chart's second-place finisher, Faith Evans, fell to #5, thanks to a 60 percent sales slip for her latest effort, The First Lady; that album recorded just over 63,000 scans during its second week of release. Right behind Evans, at #6, is the 18th installment of the beloved Now That's What I Call Music! franchise, a compilation album featuring contributions from Chevelle, Omarion, Frankie J, Ashanti and Snoop Dogg and Pharrell. Just over 61,000 copies of Now 18 soared from store shelves during that album's fifth week at retail. Beck's Guero clings to the top 10, taking the #7 slot with third-week sales of close to 58,000, falling off 28 percent from the previous week
'Idol' Singer Constantine Maroulis' Band Inks Label Deal
Constantine Maroulis was first introduced to "American Idol" buffs in this season's opener, during a six-minute segment in which the New Yorker with long locks and powerful pipes broke it to his hard-rockin' band, Pray for the Soul of Betty, that he'd be competing for the show's title.
Drummer Hamboussi — yes, just Hamboussi — didn't appear to take the news too well, throwing his drumsticks down in anger and storming away from the band's practice space.
But appearances can be deceiving. Hamboussi said he realized at the time that Maroulis' decision to make the pop-star switch could be one of the best things to ever happen to Pray for the Soul of Betty. And he was right.
The band's self-titled record — recorded in 2003 and 2004, long before Maroulis auditioned for Simon, Paula and Randy — will hit retail shelves on May 10, thanks to a deal the band inked this week with Koch Records. So then what was up with that hissy fit, Hamboussi?
"It was basically editing on the show's part," he explained. "Basically, right after a gig, the band usually does a little trashing of the stage. Like, I trashed my drums and there was no reason for me not to do that at the end of us playing. We played the song, I trashed my drums and I left the stage. They took that piece and put it at the end of my interview and made it sound and look like I was upset and left the room. But in reality, I knew exactly what was going on, what the show would do for the band. I mean, I gave them what they wanted. It's television."
Hamboussi described the 2-year-old band's DYI disc as sounding like a cross between Audioslave and Incubus. The disc's 10 tracks feature "Idol" wannabe Maroulis on vocals, as well as the guitar work of Joao Joya and the bass-slappin' of Taylor, C.R. Though Hamboussi said the album is definitely heavy, it "has hits on it too — there's a ballad." More importantly, the record will provide fans of Maroulis with what they hope they'll be getting a lot more of after the series' May 24 and 25 finales: Constantine's voice, on demand.
Hamboussi said he's not worried about the future of Pray for the Soul of Betty — even if Maroulis wins the competition and becomes America's next big pop sensation.
"I'm sure he'll make time for the band," he said. "Usually, when you get to a position like [the one he's in now], you have a little push and pull. So even if they have him tied up for several months, I'm sure we'll play and record on his downtime. If they don't make him happy, he can say, 'I'm done with you guys — f--- you.' As long as he wants to be in our band, he can do whatever he wants."
When it comes to how Hamboussi thinks Maroulis will do on "American Idol," he's pretty confident his friend "has the skills to do it," but "if it's true what they say about 'American Idol,' that America really votes, then it's really up to the country."
However, when asked if he's voted for his band's frontman himself, Hamboussi replied, "No."
Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton Comment On Britney's Pregnancy
'Extra' was at Us Weekly's Hot Young Hollywood Awards and asked the celebs in attendance for their thoughts on Britney Spears' announcement that she and Kevin Federline are expecting their first child later this year. "I think it's amazing," Jessica Simpson said. "My mom had me at a very young age, and I loved growing up with a young mother." Paris Hilton added, "She's always wanted kids. She's been talking for a long time about it. I think they'll have beautiful children, they'll be really happy."