Juvenile, 3 Doors Down Among Those Affected By Disaster
Among the millions in Louisiana and Mississippi who lost family members and homes to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are some prominent musicians who reside on the Gulf Coast, from Juvenile to 3 Doors Down.
Now, with relief efforts heavily underway, those artists are balancing their grief by using their platforms to raise money, awareness and even some hope for their hometowns.
"Many of our folks in New Orleans didn't have much to begin with, and now they have lost everything," said Juvenile, whose home on Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish was destroyed along with all of his possessions. "Everyone has to pull together."
Juvenile was not in the area when the hurricane hit, but only about half of his 200 relatives evacuated in time and many are still missing. The rapper is performing at BET's "S.O.S. (Saving OurSelves): The BET Relief Telethon" on Friday and has been urging fans to donate to the Red Cross.
Another one of New Orleans' top rappers, Master P, lost his home and has taken action, forming Team Rescue (TeamRescueOne.com) to bring supplies to those left in New Orleans. He's also donated millions and will perform at the BET benefit.
Chopper, the "Making the Band" star whose debut album is due later this year on Diddy's Bad Boy Records, lost his house as well as friends from his childhood neighborhood, which was destroyed by flooding.
"Two of my high school friends drowned and a couple of my homies got shot out by the police," he said. "I ain't gonna lie, it's a hurtin' feelin'. It's hard for me to cry, but I shed a tear with this one."
Chopper donated $150,000 ("Out of my personal account, forget the business account," he noted) and has traveled to Houston and surrounding areas to aid in relief efforts. He's also written a song about watching his city crumble; "Crescent City Crisis" will appear on his forthcoming album.
In Miami for the MTV Video Music Awards, Chopper watched in terror as the hurricane aftermath unfolded on TV. "Hurricanes always miss us," he said. "I didn't take it that seriously. My family, though, always leave the city two or three days prior to any hurricane. Luckily they thought like that. My grandma got caught in the storm, though, and I just got in touch with her yesterday."
Chopper understands how the looting broke out — "Desperate times call for desperate measures," he said — and believes there is a misconception that his New Orleans neighbors are lazy people who rely on the government for support.
"I came from the slums where we were on welfare because we had to be," he said. "It's hard for a black man to get a job. I'm 19, but I've never had a job in my life. I applied for them when I was 16, but no one wants to hire you. So you gotta do what you can 'cause bills won't wait. It's hard for black people there. Louisiana is ranked the #2 worst-educated state. Mississippi is #1. You come on the battlefield and see how it really is."
Although he believes the situation in New Orleans will get worse before it improves, Chopper is confident the city will be restored.
"I got to be strong for my family, because I'm the only strong one," he said. "It's a pretty empty feeling losing your house, but materials are sooo, so much less than your life. Your life means more than anything. We can bounce back from that. That's a no-brainer."
In Biloxi, Mississippi, where 3 Doors Down got their start, Katrina did severe damage to several of the bandmembers' homes.
"Chris [Henderson], our guitar player, has eight feet of water in his house," singer Brad Arnold said. "He built a studio for us to write in and it's not thoroughly destroyed, but just because it's not leveled, doesn't mean it's fixable. There's also a few people in Chris' family that they don't know about. And Todd [Harrell, bassist] just bought a plantation house in the country and the roof got ripped off of it."
Arnold's house on the Mississippi River miraculously survived — "The very thing that makes it vulnerable is what saved it, and it's that it's on stilts," he said — but the singer went several days before finding out his father was still alive.
Since the hurricane hit, 3 Doors Down have been hosting food drives at each of their concerts and will donate all of their proceeds from Saturday's show in Atlanta, a portion of which will air as part of MTV's "ReAct Now: Music & Relief" special (see "Kelly, Stones, Kanye Added To Massive Disaster-Relief Special").
"After the show in Virginia, they laid all the food out and it covered the entire floor," Arnold said. "That makes you proud right there."
Arnold, a Bush supporter during the election last fall, was disappointed in the pace of the government's relief efforts, but believes the nation's time is better spent focusing on supporting victims rather than complaining.
"I think we should focus on salvaging the city and worry about pointing fingers later," he said. "We just need to get them out of there. It's a really difficult situation. I don't think people realize how many bridges are in the South and how many bridges go into all those cities. Biloxi, New Orleans, all of the bridges [going in] are gone. It's hard to maneuver in New Orleans anyway. It's just an old-designed city."
Other artists whose homes were destroyed include members of Better Than Ezra, jam band Galactic, the ReBirth Brass Band, Supagroup and Cowboy Mouth. Big Star's Alex Chilton and Fats Domino also lost homes, and the latter artist needed to be rescued by helicopter (see "New Orleans Evacuates As Mayor Issues 'Desperate SOS' ").
The Cash Money crew were not available for interviews, but are taking part in both BET and MTV's benefit events.
Jay-Z, Diddy, Others Reach Out To Disaster Victims; Kanye West Attacks Bush During Telethon
Recalling the response to December's devastating Asian tsunami, celebrities across the country have pledged to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, from fundraising concerts and charity downloads to expressions of sympathy.
In addition to a September 10 benefit concert featuring Usher, Green Day and Alicia Keys to be broadcast by MTV, VH1 and CMT (see "Kanye, Kelly, Stones Added To Massive Disaster-Relief Special"), NBC broadcast A Concert for Hurricane Relief on Friday.
The hour-long, live benefit aired on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC and featured a roster of artists with ties to the affected areas, including Louisiana natives Tim McGraw, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. Kanye West also appeared on the program, where he went off script and criticized President Bush for his response time to the tragedy. West first told a long story about calling his business manager to ask how much he could afford to donate and then when the cameras returned to the rapper, he proclaimed, "George Bush doesn't care about black people" (co-presenter Mike Myers appeared stunned).
Earlier Friday, West issued a statement directed toward looters in New Orleans, the U.S. government and his music peers.
"My plea is this, and I hope you will hear it: Please stop the chaos," he said. "Stop hurting each other. Do only what will be helpful. To our government officials, please do whatever it takes to bring aid and relief to our suffering people, and do it immediately. To my fellow artists and entertainers, please give your time and use your voice to help spread a message of unity. Please, let's come together in this time of crisis to help our people and our communities and our country. Let's volunteer, donate our time and money, or help in whatever ways we can."
Also working on a telethon is BET, whose event will take place September 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET and will feature Russell Simmons, Master P and Marsalis. ABC, CBS and FOX are putting together their own televised event for early next week, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
New Orleans rappers the Cash Money Millionaires (including Baby, Lil' Wayne and Manny Fresh), Master P, Silkk the Shocker and Lil' Romeo are also teaming up for a benefit tour. Details are still being worked out, but the trek is scheduled to begin October 7 and hit at least 10 major cities on Friday and Saturday nights through November.
Diddy and Jay-Z reached directly into their pockets to help the victims. On Thursday afternoon, the duo announced they are combining checkbooks to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross.
"These are our people," Diddy said. "We can't stand around waiting for these people to be taken care of — we have to take care of them ourselves. I urge all our fellow artists and Americans to answer the call. These are communities that I know, communities that have always supported me. Now it's my turn to support them."
"This event has devastated hundreds of thousands of people," Jay-Z said. "We, as African-American men and leaders of our community, felt it was a necessity to join forces and help. Diddy and I are committed to supporting our people in whichever way we can."
Hilary Duff was also among the stars to pitch in early, contributing $250,000 to the relief effort, with $200,000 going to the Red Cross and $50,000 earmarked for USA Harvest.
Master P, along with son Romeo and wife Sonya, has formed a charity called Team Rescue to help gather food, clothing and funds.
"My family has set out to save and rebuild our neighborhoods and help our inner-city brothers and sisters who have lost everything in this disaster," P was quoted as saying in USA Today. The rapper's spokesperson told the paper that his parents and a number of relatives had lost their homes in the hurricane.
The Dave Matthews Band has announced plans to add a benefit show (taking place on September 12) to its three-night stand at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver. Tickets for the benefit will go on sale next week.
Bowling for Soup played a special benefit concert at Bossier City's Rockin' Rodeo dance club near Shreveport, Louisiana, on Monday as the first hints of the extent of the hurricane's damage were being revealed. Hundreds of fans got in free with a donation to hurricane-relief efforts, bringing everything from bottled water to canned foods, pet food and deodorant, according to a group spokesperson.
"The most important thing about tonight is the donations," bassist Erik Chandler said in a statement. "We just want to do everything we can to help the victims of the hurricane, and getting all these people together, donating things that these people need, it just makes you feel good."
On the show "Rock Star: INXS" Wednesday night, bandleader Tim Farriss praised New Orleans and said INXS had made an undisclosed donation to the Red Cross to help victims of the disaster.
Download site Napster also weighed in, with a "Download to Donate" program in which it pledged 100 percent of the profits from a custom compilation of songs to the American Red Cross. Among the songs on the compilation are tracks by Elton John ("Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"), Sade ("By Your Side"), Louis Armstrong ("When the Saints Go Marching In"), Bill Withers ("Lean On Me"), Harry Connick Jr. ("Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans"), Aretha Franklin ("Bridge Over Troubled Water") and Fats Domino ("Walking to New Orleans").
Actor Morgan Freeman announced an auction to benefit the victims, which will begin Friday and run through September 16 on the Charity Folks Web site (charityfolks.com). It includes VIP tickets to the Fashion Rocks show (which features performances by David Bowie, Destiny's Child, Duran Duran, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys) and a chance to attend the premiere of Freeman's upcoming movie, "An Unfinished Life," which stars Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford. Other items up for auction include vacation packages and tickets to tapings of "That '70s Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
The annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association will add celebrity appeals for help for the disaster survivors this year, in addition to a $1 million donation from MDA to help the victims. Musicians, comedians and actors will appear during the first four and last four hours of the 21-and-a-half-hour broadcast, which begins Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.
"While the needs of 'my kids' are with us all year round, Hurricane Katrina is a national disaster on a scale that's difficult to comprehend," Lewis said in a statement. "We simply couldn't ignore the need to help. We already have the infrastructure in place."
The organizers of the annual Voodoo Music Experience, scheduled for October 29 and 30 in New Orleans, offered their thoughts and prayers to the people of New Orleans, which has hosted the show for the past six years. They are awaiting word from city and state officials before announcing the fate of the concert, which is slated to feature the Foo Fighters, Flaming Lips, Queens of the Stone Age, Billy Idol, My Chemical Romance, Louis XIV, Cake and Joss Stone.
Britney Spears, a native of Kentwood, Louisiana, posted a message on her Web site, offering her thoughts and prayers to those affected by the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. "All of my family members there are safe, and thank you to all my fans for your concern," the singer wrote.
Members of the video game community are also mustering relief.
Bungie, the makers of "Halo," announced on Friday that the company is selling a special-edition "Halo" T-shirt on BungieStore.com, with all profits going to the Red Cross. The shirt reads, "Fight the Flood," a reference both to the evil Flood aliens of the "Halo" series and the tragic hurricane aftermath in the South.
"Halo" fans posted messages on Bungie's Web forums pledging donations. Several said they were giving the money they had saved up for an Xbox 360. "I was about to buy a game and put a down payment down for the 360 when the news of the hurricane came out," wrote one gamer. "I walked into the store today and couldn't bring myself to pay $100 for gaming when there are people in the disaster zone that would pay twice that for running water or food. So I went home and donated the $100 to the Red Cross, and I am hoping many other gamers will do the same."
Sony Computer, makers of PlayStation, is matching all employee donations. Electronic Arts is matching employee donations at 2:1.
"It's hard to fathom," Kanye said. "This tragedy has got to be the worst nightmare imaginable for the families and friends of all those affected. My thoughts and prayers are with them. At this very sad time in our history, I feel we must all be family and friends and do what is necessary to get this situation under control."
Scarlett Johansson Crashes Car While Fleeing Paparazzi
As she made her way down a California highway on Monday, Scarlett Johansson noticed a group of sport utility vehicles following her. Trying to elude what she believed were paparazzi, the actress left the highway and pulled into the parking lot of Disneyland — crashing into a car carrying a family in the process, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The latest case of a Hollywood star clashing with paparazzi didn't end in any injuries, but was yet another incident in the increasingly tense battle between the two factions. According to the paper, four paparazzi had followed the 20-year-old star of "The Island" from her Hollywood home. When she noticed four SUVs following her Mercedes down Interstate 5, she pulled off and paid a $10 fee to enter the Disneyland parking lot.
When Johansson saw that she was still being followed, she accidentally clipped another car carrying a woman and her two young children, according to her publicist, who said at least one photographer jumped out of his car and started snapping pictures of the accident (see "Paparazzi Profits Could Dip If Lawmakers Get Their Way ").
The co-owner of the JFX Direct photo agency, Arnold Cousart, confirmed that two of his photographers had been following the actress for four days and had tracked her to Disneyland along with at least one rival photographer. He denied his photographers had anything to do with the collision and said they were at least 40 yards behind the actress' car.
Johansson has been hounded by photographers since her August 13 return from London, where she was working on the next Woody Allen film, according to publicist Marcel Pariseau. "At least two or three of them had been camping outside of her house for five days," Pariseau told the Times.
The Johansson crash comes two months after a paparazzo was arrested on suspicion of ramming into Lindsay Lohan's car in Los Angeles. That incident took place in the midst of an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office into whether paparazzi photographers are conspiring with one another to trap stars in dangerous situations in order to get shots of them in distress (see "Star-Chasing Paparazzi Could Face Felony Conspiracy Charges").
Anaheim police were aware of the Johansson crash but were not investigating it because no police report was filed.
"She's frustrated; she's left Los Angeles," Pariseau said. "She can't deal with it anymore. ... She would hope that some legislation would get passed in the future to avoid these situations."
Timberlake Wants To Rock Your Body With A New Clothing Line
Want to look like Justin Timberlake? How about just dress like him? The singer/actor is going to make it easy for you by debuting his own clothing line this fall.
Timberlake's calling the line William Rast, a name patched together from the first name of his grandfather and the last name of the grandfather of his best friend and business partner Trace Ayala (their other partner is Danny Guez, who worked on Eve's Fetish and Bow Wow's Shago apparel lines).
Stylewise, the clothing is described as a little bit country and a little bit Hollywood, combining down-home Tennessee touches with upscale prices. While the line is actually designed by Juan Cervantes, Timberlake had a lot of input, drawing inspiration from his faves Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford of Gucci. The singer also acted as the fit model for the men's clothes, Timberlake's fashion rep said.
So far, William Rast is a 60-piece line that focuses on jeans, T-shirts, polo shirts, cashmere sweaters, corduroy blazers and outerwear. The women's jeans come in three fits, the men's in four, with two fabrications and three washes. The women's jeans have metal-trimmed wooden buttons, the men's have leather buttons, and both have drop pockets with a "W" logo on the back pockets. Other touches include yarn-embroidered logos and wide-contrast stitching.
Timberlake and team are rolling out the gear to buyers next week, so that they can stock it in Bloomingdale's and high-end boutiques such as Fred Segal, Kitson and Atrium starting November 3 (they've already snagged the coveted window spot in Bloomie's for the launch). If all goes well, they hope to expand the line, adding headwear, intimate apparel and men's suits in the next year or so. And if things go really well, they'd like to open their own stores, starting in Memphis and Millington, Tennessee, where Timberlake grew up.
Bo Bice Has Emergency Surgery, Misses 'Idol' Tour Dates
Bo Bice had emergency surgery on Friday and has missed three nights of the American Idols Live Tour.
The "American Idol" runner-up's diagnosis has not been officially announced, but a family friend said on Bo's message board that he had a kink in his intestines and that a specialist was flown to Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas to perform the surgery.
Bo's spokesperson, who could not comment, said a statement is expected from the tour's promoters later Monday (August 22).
Nancy Downes, Bo's mother, told her local Alabama newspaper, The Decatur Daily, she is not allowed to discuss specifics but that Bo was recovering and "wants the fans to know he's thankful for their prayers."
Bo's grandmother, "Granny Madge" Schofield of Somerville, told the same newspaper that Bo "has had ulcers most of his life."
Bo was rushed to the hospital Thursday just before an American Idols Live Tour show in Las Vegas (see "American Idols Live Tour Dates Announced").
During the show at the Thomas & Mack Arena, Anthony Fedorov told the crowd that Bice needed everyone's prayers. After the show appeared to be over, the audience erupted with a "We want Bo" chant, prompting season-four winner Carrie Underwood to return to the stage with news that Bo had "bad luck" and was hospitalized, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. There was no official announcement, and Bo has since missed two California shows, in San Jose and Sacramento.
The American Idols Live Tour has proven a difficult outing for Bo. Last month he broke his foot onstage and had been performing in a cast (see "Bo Bice Breaks Foot Onstage, Finishes Concert"). And last week in Los Angeles, his brother, John Cohran, and his pregnant wife were hospitalized after their vehicle slid underneath an 18-wheeler on the drive home from an Idols Live show. They have since been released, according to The Decatur Daily.
The tour continues, presumably without Bo, on Tuesday in Everett, Washington, wrapping up September 10 in Syracuse, New York.
Limp Bizkit Sued By Insurance Company Over Concert Death
Limp Bizkit's insurance broker has filed a lawsuit against the band, alleging that legal fees the group incurred while fighting wrongful-death claims aren't covered by its policy.
According to Reuters, United National Insurance Co. filed a suit in Los Angeles against Limp Bizkit on Thursday, seeking a judicial declaration that the firm does not have to cover legal expenses the band racked up while defending itself against the claims filed by the parents of a 16-year-old concergoer who died at a show. Australian concertgoer Jessica Michalik suffered a heart attack in a mosh put during the Big Day Out festival in January of 2001 (see "Teen Who Had Heart Attack In Limp Bizkit Pit Dies").
In the lawsuit, the insurer accuses Fred Durst of encouraging the concert's audience to rush the stage, and claims that the festival was not covered by a liability binder issued for the band a year before. Michalik "was either crushed or trampled to death as the crowd, allegedly incited by Fred Durst's comments, surged toward the stage where Limp Bizkit was performing," the lawsuit reads.
Ed McPherson, the band's attorney, reiterated to Reuters that a coroner's examination and an Australian court found that Limp Bizkit was not to blame for the teen's death (see "Fred Durst Tells Aussie Court He Warned Fest Promoter"). Her parents filed two separate wrongful death claims: one naming the concert's promoters and security staff, and one against the band. Limp Bizkit, and all related parties, were cleared of any wrongdoing in 2002.
Limp Bizkit was left with "substantial legal fees," McPherson told Reuters; he would not reveal the exact figure. The attorney added that United National Insurance assured the band that the policy did apply to the Sydney event.
Harry Chamberlain, United National's attorney, wants the court to rule on whether the concert was "a scheduled event" and whether Durst's alleged actions rendered the band's insurance coverage void, according to Reuters. The suit seeks a court order removing the burden of underwriting the band from the insurer, which would require Limp Bizkit to pay all damages associated with the wrongful-death claims
'Idol' Probe Finds No Proof Of Paula Abdul/ Corey Clark Affair
FOX and the producers of "American Idol" announced Friday (August 12) that an independent counsel has cleared judge Paula Abdul of allegations of coaching and having an affair with former contestant Clark.
"I'm grateful this ordeal is over, and I'm so looking forward to getting back to the job I love," Abdul said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
According to FOX, former federal prosecutor Marcell McRae and attorney Ivy Kagan Bierman spent three and a half months reviewing materials provided by Clark and Abdul and interviewing 43 people (see "Corey Clark Meeting With 'Idol' Producers Over Paula Flap" and "FOX, 'Idol' Launch Formal Probe Of Paula Abdul Sex Scandal").
Clark's claims, which he made in a highly publicized edition of ABC News' "Primetime Live" (see "Corey Clark Advertises Paula Abdul Affair, LP On 'Primetime' "), "have not been substantiated by any corroborating evidence or witnesses, including those provided by Mr. Clark," the statement from FOX read, according to AP. "Ms. Abdul acknowledges that she had telephone conversations with Mr. Clark while he was a contestant. Their accounts of those conversations, however, differ greatly, and no evidence was uncovered to resolve the conflicts in their accounts."
In addition to clearing Abdul, who will return as a judge for the show's fifth season in January, the statement released Friday said "Idol" producers will enhance the non-fraternization policy in their rules in order to prevent further controversies between contestants and those affiliated with the show.
Clark, a contestant on season two, was booted from the show because he failed to reveal a prior arrest. He has said he never intended to get Abdul kicked off.
Hilary Says She Doesn't Totally Disagree With Lip-Synching
Britney's done it. Lindsay's done it. Heck, even Ashlee's done it — and on late-night television, to boot. But that doesn't mean Hilary Duff is going to ... lip-synch, that is. Not that there's anything wrong with it, she said.
"I don't think that I 100 percent disagree with lip-synching," Duff said. "When you're Britney Spears and you're dancing a perfect choreographed show and you're changing outfits nine times, then it becomes not so much about the music. Her music is so fun, you know what I mean? You dance and it's club music and it's high energy, and she's out of breath and dancing and running around. But it's about a performance, and that's fine. That's a choice you make."
Duff's current Still Most Wanted Tour isn't as highly choreographed, though she does run around a bit and get out of breath. "I try as best I can to sing," she said. "It's about the music."
Plus, she loves the risk factor — the possibility that she might flub a line or two. That's what makes a live show special, that it's not going to be just like it was in the studio, that there aren't producers on standby to correct your pitch or feed you the lyrics.
"If you miss a couple of notes, who cares?" Duff said. "A normal person, if you write a paper, you're not going to spell all the words right. You're not going to hit all the notes. I think it's cool to mess up or be out of breath or not finish your whole verse. It's real."
Duff's Still Most Wanted Tour continues Friday (August 12) in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and runs until September 25 in Puyallup, Washington. Her Most Wanted album hits stores Tuesday.
Ashlee Says New Single Isn't Directed At Lindsay Lohan
UNIVERSAL CITY, California — Ashlee Simpson's new single includes the chorus "I didn't steal your boyfriend," but she claims it's not directed at Lindsay Lohan, as tabloid readers might assume.
"It's not about one person in particular, it's just something every girl can relate to," Simpson said of "Boyfriend" at Sunday's 2005 Teen Choice Awards (see " 'Napoleon Dynamite,' Kelly Clarkson Win Big At Teen Choice Awards"). "It's a song about [how] every girl out there sometimes thinks you stole her boyfriend. It's just making fun of that."
Ashlee was originally planning to release the girl anthem "L.O.V.E." as the first single, but recently changed her mind, just as she did with the title of the album, due October 18. Instead of In Another Life, it's now called I Am Me, a more accurate reflection of the personal lyrics on the album.
"I've been through a lot this year, and with my records I always think it's really important to just put your whole self out there and I feel like it definitely has that element," Simpson said.
As her father/manager, Joe Simpson, recently revealed (see "Ashlee Remembers 'SNL' Incident But Forgets Boys On New LP"), the lyrics even deal with Ashlee's experience lip-synching disaster on "Saturday Night Live."
"I learned a lot [from that]," Simpson said. "There was a moment where I felt really broken and didn't know what to do with myself, and I wrote a song about picking yourself back up and it's OK because we all fall on our face. And I'm really happy with the song. It's called 'Beautifully Broken.' "
Ashlee is currently discussing video ideas for "Boyfriend" with director Marc Webb, whose dozen videos this year alone include My Chemical Romance's "Helena" and Hilary Duff's "Wake Up" and Hot Hot Heat's "Middle of Nowhere." She's also planning a fall tour to promote I Am Me.
"Me and my band have been rehearsing so I'm really excited," she said.
Ashlee Remembers 'SNL' Incident But Forgets Boys On New LP
Ashlee Simpson isn't shying away from what some say was the biggest mistake — and the biggest moment — of her career. The "SNL" incident looms large on her forthcoming LP, In Another Life, which has not one but two songs on the subject.
Perhaps she just couldn't avoid it, if she wanted to tackle more meaningful subject matter this time around (see "Ashlee Simpson Going '80s, Getting Personal On Next Album"). Whereas the singer's debut, Autobiography, was mostly about her love life, In Another Life, due October 18, goes deeper, according to her manager and father Joe Simpson. "You know, the beautiful thing about Ashlee is that she's really willing to bare her soul," he said. "This record is about discovering herself as a 20-year-old woman."
That 20-year-old isn't above having fun — her first single, "L.O.V.E.," which will be out at the end of August, is a girl-power song about going dancing with your friends. "It's all about the boyfriend didn't call, so she decides to go out with her girls, because they're always faithful," he said. " 'Forget the boys, it's just us girls,' so it's great." That's not the only party track — "Nasty Girls" is also about dancing, "which she obviously loves to do," Joe Simpson said.
But Simpson turns inward on "Beautifully Broken" and "Who Will Help Me When I Fall," the two songs that address the "SNL" incident (see "Ashlee Blames Gastric Distress For 'SNL' Lip-Synch Snafu"). "There's no way to get away from mistakes," he said. "There's no way to run away from failure because in everyone's life, you're going to meet it. So we try to teach our girls the way to do it is head on. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go at it."
"That's the greatest lesson Ashlee's learned," he continued. "You know she was riding really high for a minute and indestructible. In one second, her world came apart, and you know there were moments when we didn't know if she was going to be able to pull it out. But she got up, and she went out, she toured, and she's a real star."
Even if her songs have grown up a bit, fans shouldn't worry that Ashlee's ventured too deep into singer/songwriter territory.
"They're going to love this record because it's more of the same," he promised, noting that she's working with the same team again, including producer John Shanks and songwriter Kara DioGuardi. "They are all three writing, and I would say we are 98 percent done. There will be some tweaks that we got to do to get the vocals just right, but we're basically done. She's got some great rock songs."
Other songs include "Goodbye" and "Didn't Steal Your Boyfriend."
For Ashlee's part, she's "so excited" about being nearly done. "It's all so near, and I have a bunch of songs I really love," she said.
Jessica Simpson Mixes Country Flavor With Club Tracks On Upcoming LP
"The Dukes of Hazzard" has done more than launch Jessica Simpson's movie career — it's also given her a sense of direction for her upcoming album, which she promises will have a country-fried flavor.
"Living in the South for three months again felt really good," Simpson said of shooting the film in Louisiana. "It brought a lot of my personality back that I was missing. I retreated back to Patsy Cline, and tried to go back there a little bit."
Simpson had threatened to go country as early as this past December, when she also contemplated adding some jazz overtones to the album (see "Jessica Simpson Planning Workout Video, Listening To Bjork For Inspiration"). But Simpson's redirection mostly comes thanks to her collaboration with Willie Nelson on the "Dukes" soundtrack single "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," which she said was so much fun that she hopes to work with Willie again (see "Jessica Simpson To Record Duet With Willie Nelson"). "We've been talking about it, Willie and I," Simpson said. "We have some songs put away for each other, but I don't know what we're going to end up doing. We'll see."
What she does know is that her LP, titled And the Band Played On, is due out in November. "I have two more songs to record," she revealed, adding that the album marks her first as executive producer. She compares the LP's sound with "Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Stevie Nicks — it's all over the place. But then there's songs for us girls to dance to in the club," she explained. Simpson has worked with knob-twiddlers Corey Rooney, Scott Storch and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on the disc, with the latter pair of producers collaborating on "about six songs" total.
One of Storch's tracks, the dance-club burner "Fire It Up" — he calls it Jessica's "Dirtty" — is a contender to be the LP's first single. Simpson also recorded another club track, "Mr. Operator," with Storch during their session together three weeks ago.
"You'll hear [the country], but you'll also hear the fun club songs. Club songs and country songs; it's all of it, mixed into one," Simpson said. "Just really good music."
Mariah Carey Shakes Off Costume After Costume In New Video
Mariah Carey shakes it off in her next video — so much so that she's practically nude, twice.
Not that we get to see much, of course, but Carey keeps viewers guessing during the Jake Nava-directed "Shake It Off" as she costume-changes her way through a breakup that starts with her in the bath and ends when she drops her robe.
Carey reaches the realization she has to "shake you off" while lying in a bathtub overflowing with water and rose petals: "Just like the Calgon commercial/ I really gotta get up out of here." So she leaves a message for her lover while sitting on top of the dining room table, decked out in bright blue makeup and high heels: "By the time you get this message/ It's gonna be too late/ So don't bother paging me/ 'Cause I'll be on my way," she sings into the phone.
Still, her mind must not be that made up, because she manages to change yet again, before grabbing her bag and heading out the door as she sings, "So I packed up my Louis Vuitton/ Jumped in your ride and took off."
It takes her a bit to jump in that ride, because first she has to stroll down "Emancipation Street," where shops are called "So So Fetch" and "Pink Yet Lavender," and schoolgirls do a sort of shake dance at the pay phones. Jermaine Dupri, who produced the sparse, thumping, mid-tempo track, also pops up on a television screen and on street corners to give a little guidance, with suggestions like "Check this out" and "Bounce."
When Carey does get in the car, with a possible new love in tow, it's time to leave another message to remind her ex that she's found out about his cheating ways "with this one and that one/ By the pool, on the beach, in the streets." Her phone breaks up as she drives past the "Hollyhood" sign, so she tells him, "Hold on," singing, "Save this recording, because I'm never coming back home."
After performing the chorus in two more settings — the bleachers of a football game and a stage with her name in lights ("Mimi," that is) — Carey finally shakes off the song itself, lip-synching the second track where she does more of her vocal gymnastics, instead of the main melody.
She then slips out of her robe and walks into the sunset, with the glare obscuring whether she's wearing anything at this point. If this is her emancipation proclamation, perhaps it's something she should have done before the wedding in "We Belong Together."
Madonna Single News
Madonna's official website Madonna.com is happy to announce the name of the first single off of the new album is called 'Hung Up' (produced by Stuart Price). The album, 'Confessions on a Dancefloor', will be released this fall."
Hilary Duff's Intimacy Issue: Stage Fright In Reverse
Hilary Duff claims to suffer from a kind of reverse stage fright: She has no problem performing in front of thousands of people, yet she can't deal with one-on-one situations, especially those that involve songwriting.
"It's so funny. I have friends, and even a sister, who can write a song and then go, 'Mom, I wrote a song,' or 'Hilary, listen to this,' " she said. "I don't know how they can do that. I could never write a full song and let people hear it."
Duff's intimacy issue extends to her stage shows. She prefers large, anonymous crowds — the bigger, the better. "It's easier to play a big show than something more intimate," she said. "There's something more comforting about seeing a whole sea of people with glow sticks going crazy than being able to identify people I know out of a crowd of 200" (see "Hilary Duff Launches Tour Amid Sea Of Glow Sticks, In (Gasp!) Only One Outfit").
Duff said she has no problem talking to people she knows, and she's become accustomed to dealing with fans. "But put me in a situation with people my age who I don't know ..." She stopped, as though the prospect were too horrifying to contemplate. She insists she's fine around friends, however. "I am friendly," she said. "I love to talk and tell stories and be loud and goof off." She just doesn't let everyone see that side of her immediately, which makes it hard for her to open up as a songwriter.
"People criticize you so much, and writing about your feelings, what's going on with you, is such a personal thing," she said. "But it's much easier to write it down than to sit and talk about it."
Strangely, Duff's less shy when it comes to writing a song with someone she doesn't know. Even though she just recorded three new songs with boyfriend Joel Madden from Good Charlotte for Most Wanted, her best-of album due out August 16, she worries that "just going into the studio and recording with people you're close to and who care about you" could "mess up" the process. "For the first single, I would only let [Joel's twin brother] Benji be in the room," she said. "He's a really funny guy. He's so nice and makes you feel comfortable. He makes me laugh," she said, describing how he would mock her fear of criticism by shouting, "That sucked. Do it again!" (see "Cheaper By The Duo? Hilary Duff Teams Up With Madden Brothers For New LP").
While she's a long way away from conquering her shyness, Duff considers herself a more confident performer today than when she started, and she gives her fans credit for boosting her self-esteem. "To play to 12,000 people every single night — and all these people came for you?" she asked rhetorically. "They wait in the freezing cold just to wave goodbye to the tour bus. So why not go out there and give them the best of you?"
'Idol' Auditions Kicking Into High Gear With 50 More Cities
Fremantle Media, one of the production companies behind the show, is developing an earlier, optional round to the current auditioning format that will widen the scope to 50 cities and give some 20,000 more singers a shot.
The Idol Auditions Tour, as it will be known, will have judges auditioning the first 500 people (who meet the requirements, of course) to arrive at malls and other locations in cites around the world. The best of those potential contestants will then perform in front of an audience in that city for the opportunity to be fast-tracked through the normal stadium auditions, which see hundreds of thousands of singers in only six to eight cities.
"We came up with the idea for this tour when we learned that one contestant sold her wedding ring to make the trip to audition for 'American Idol,' " Ken Seiff, who is co-producing the tour with his Glowcast Ventures, said in a statement. "We realized that there were probably other contestants who couldn't afford to travel or take time off from work in order to try out for the show. The newest 'American Idol,' Carrie Underwood, had to travel over seven hours to make the trip. We're excited to bring the auditions to the local level because it ensures that the best 'Idol' is found."
Cities and dates for the Idol Auditions Tour have yet to be announced, but it will launch next August, in time for season six of "American Idol."
As for the fifth season, dates have not been announced, but auditions will be held later this summer in Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Diego.
"Idol" insiders are expecting a wider range of potential contestants after country and Southern-rock singers (Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice, for those living under a rock) went to the finals last season.
"I think you'll have a lot more people who wouldn't have necessarily entered this competition saying, 'I think I'll give it a go,' " Simon Cowell said. "I think Fantasia started it."
Second season finalist Kimberly Caldwell, who covers the show for the TV Guide Channel, also thinks the tweaks to the show will draw more diverse singers to audition.
"They're allowing new things, songs they couldn't sing a few years ago, [and] contestants can be more interactive," she said. "Doors are opening, but they have to at this point. It gets too routine, and they have to keep their audience excited."
Michael Jackson Hit With $48 Million Suit By Financial Firm
Less than a month after his exoneration by California jurors on multiple child-molestation charges, it seems there's more legal wrangling in store for Neverland's monarch.
On Monday, Prescient Acquisition Group, Inc., a New Jersey-based financial advisory firm, slapped Michael Jackson with a breach-of-contract lawsuit, claiming the pop star owes the company millions for various financial services it has provided since November. According to New York Newsday, the suit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court, demands immediate payment of $48 million — for the costs associated with securing Jackson a much-needed loan.
Prescient's suit claims it lined up several investors to help him pay off his $272.5 million debt to Bank of America. In addition, the suit asserts Prescient helped the singer acquire complete control of Jackson's MJ Publishing Trust, which owns and manages copyrights to thousands of songs, including 251 compositions penned by the Beatles, Newsday reports.
Prescient lawyer Steven Altman told the daily that in April, Jackson's stake in MJ Publishing Trust was threatened when Bank of America found the singer in default on portions of his loans with them. Jackson' publishing company, along with his half of the Beatles catalog (the other half is owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing), was offered as collateral on some of his loans.
The suit further alleges that Prescient helped secure another $256 million for Jackson, which he had hoped to use in a bid to acquire Sony/ATV Music's piece of the Beatles pie.
"The reality is we have helped Michael Jackson acquire a magnificent asset and he'll be able to fund his exotic lifestyle for the rest of his life," Altman told Newsday. "He was in desperate straits before [investors] came in and paid off Bank of America. We just want to get paid."
Jackson's attorney could not be reached for comment on the suit.
Bush's Approval Rating Down, Concern Over Iraq Rising, Poll Shows
More Americans are doubting the president's word, and Iraq has replaced the U.S. economy as their top priority, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Wednesday.
The poll showed that the number of Americans who see President Bush as "honest and straightforward" dipped to 41 percent — an all-time low for his presidency — down 9 points from 50 percent in January. As for those who "doubt his veracity," that number climbed from 36 percent to 45 percent, NBC News reports.
Another new development showed that Iraq has surpassed jobs as the most important issue among Americans, topping the list at 40 percent, while 34 percent ranked the job market as their prime concern. In January, respondents ranked job creation at 46 percent, versus 39 percent for Iraq.
Also, 57 percent of those polled agree with the president in keeping U.S. troops and economic commitment in Iraq until the country can govern itself, and 61 percent agree with Bush's assertion that the war in Iraq is part of the larger war against terror (see "Bush Insists Iraq War Is 'Worth It' In Sober Speech").
In light of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stepping down from the bench (see "Sandra Day O'Connor, First Woman Supreme Court Justice, Announces Retirement"), the majority said it would be a positive move for Bush to appoint another female to the court (60 percent), and someone who supports references to God in public life (63 percent). However, 50 percent believe the president would be making a misstep if he chose someone who would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in 1973.
Overall, President Bush suffered a decline in his approval rating, sliding one point from May to 45 percent, despite his involvement at the G8 Summit earlier this month where the leaders pledged $50 billion toward African aid (see "G8 Leaders Double African Aid To $50 Billion"). His disapproval rating went up by two points, hitting nearly half, at 49 percent. Most Americans surveyed also said they disapprove of how he is handling the economy, foreign policy and Iraq.
The poll also indicated that 45 percent of its respondents would like to see Republicans lose control of Congress in the 2006 elections.
Eve Dresses Up As Showgirl For Ad, Bumps LP To Early 2006
Even before a video clip of Eve and her ex-boyfriend having sexual relations mysteriously popped up on the Internet a couple of weeks ago, the multimedia heroine has had to deal with plenty of pressure. The Philly native's been questioned for years about when her next LP is coming, she has to make sure her self-titled TV show improves every year, and she's been bombarded with endorsement and acting offers.
So how does she keep from running off and sticking her head in the sand?
"You have to believe in yourself," Eve said last month in L.A. "Even on your worst days, even on those days when nobody is feeling you, you have to believe in yourself. For me, I just walk the path. I believe everybody has their path. You feel it. Pray. Pray a lot. God is always on your side ... it will all work out."
Eve was in L.A. working on the second hip-hop heavy commercial by Boost Mobile. In the new TV campaign, which will also feature Fat Joe, Eve had to dress up as a ballet dancer as well as a '20s showgirl.
"When I was asked to do this commercial, I was excited because of the first commercial," Eve said. "The pressure is on because you have to top the first one or at least be a good as the first one. I think it will because this is also original. I get offered a lot of different things. I don't want to do anything for money. I don't want to do anything that's not gonna push me or challenge me."
Eve also said she loved having the chance to be put in the spotlight with an old friend.
"One thing I can say about Joe is that I've known him for a while since I been in the game," she said. "He's a cool person, he's a sweetheart. His wife, his whole team ... Everybody I ever met that's down with him is real cool. He supported me on my first video, 'What Y'all Want,' he came down on the strength on Ruff Ryders. That's something I'll never forget."
Lately Eve has been getting support from Dr. Dre. Her debut on Dre's Aftermath label is still being recorded with the likes of the Doc, Scott Storch and Swizz Beatz and is slated for February of next year (see "With Tracks From Eve, Nas, Mary J. On Tap, Swizz Beatz Is Hotter Than Ever"). Her sitcom, "Eve," is slated to return to TV this fall, and the Boost Mobile commercial begins airing August 2.
'Did He Just Call My Name?' — Carrie On Her Big Win
Carrie Underwood, who once famously confused Hollywood stars with stars in the sky, became a star herself Wednesday, winning the fourth season of "American Idol." The 22-year-old farm girl from Checotah, Oklahoma, relied on her powerful voice and (in Simon Cowell's words) "likeability" to edge out rocker Bo Bice, becoming the first country singer to take the crown.(see "Carrie Underwood Wins 'American Idol' ").
The following are excerpts from the press room after Wednesday's finale.
Q: What were your first thoughts after Ryan Seacrest called your name?
Carrie Underwood: "Did he just call my name?" It took me a while to realize he actually did just call my name. Then I was like, "Oh, I have to sing now." There's so many emotions going through me. I was nervous, I was excited. I was scared. It's going to take a couple of weeks. It hasn't hit me at all.
(Click for photos from Wednesday's "American Idol" results show.)
Q: What did you and Bo say to each other on stage?
Underwood: Bo said, "Congratulations kid, you deserve it". And I said I love you. He's like my big brother. We've become so close and I can't think of a better person to be standing up there with me. I'm sure it was close.
Q: How does it feel to hear that 500 million votes were cast throughout the season?
Underwood: This season has been incredibly magical. There's been so many wonderful people. The top 12 was so different, there was something for everybody. That fact that many people voted makes me realize how many people are behind me.
Q: How did you choose your wardrobe tonight?
Underwood: I actually told [the stylists] I wanted to be Cinderella. "Whatever you do, I want to feel like a princess."
Q: Will you ever return to college?
Underwood: I really want to get my degree. I worked three-and-a-half years to get it. But I think I can finish with online classes.
Q: Do you plan to stick around Los Angeles?
Underwood: Oklahoma is where I want to end up. I didn't realize how much I loved it until I wasn't there anymore. The people are what make it. And it's right in the middle of the Bible Belt and church is really important to everyone's upbringing.
Q: What can we expect from your album?
Underwood: I'm definitely going to stick to country, maybe some crossover, like Shania and Faith Hill. That's where my heart is.
Nine Inch Nails Drop Out Of MTV Movie Awards Over Bush Dispute
Nine Inch Nails have dropped out of the 2005 MTV Movie Awards following a dispute over their plan to incorporate an image of George W. Bush into their performance of the song "The Hand That Feeds." Stepping in to fill the void are the Foo Fighters.
The announcement was made Thursday via a statement posted by Nails frontman Trent Reznor on NIN.com.
"Nine Inch Nails will not be performing at the MTV Movie Awards as previously announced. We were set to perform 'The Hand That Feeds' with an unmolested, straightforward image of George W. Bush as the backdrop," Reznor wrote. "Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me. See you on tour this fall when we return to play in America."
MTV announced that the Foo Fighters would be taking NIN's spot on the show late Friday afternoon (May 27). Earlier in the day, in a brief statement, the channel expressed disappointment in Nine Inch Nails' decision to drop out of the broadcast.
"While we respect Nine Inch Nails' point of view, we were uncomfortable with their performance being built around a partisan political statement. When we discussed our discomfort with the band, their choice was to unfortunately pull out of the Movie Awards."
Nine Inch Nails' label, Interscope Records, had no comment on the matter.
Sith' Smashes Opening-Day Box-Office Records
Fans gather outside a Hollywood theater for the opening night of "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith"
"Judge me by my size, do you?" Jedi master Yoda once famously asked. "Size matters not."
The tiny green Dagobah dweller may want to rethink that statement after hearing about the enormous opening day that his final "Star Wars" adventure,
"Revenge of the Sith," enjoyed on Thursday. Sizing things up, studio 20th Century Fox has estimated that the film grossed $50 million domestically in its first 24 hours, easily passing the records for best opening day and best single day.
It is also estimated that the first shows after midnight took in $16.5 million by themselves, with some 2,900 screenings sold out. Theaters across the country hung "sold out" signs in their windows Thursday as fans vied to get into midnight screenings. Those gargantuan grosses put "Sith" into hyperspace, and it quickly blew past the single-day box-office record of $44.8 million, set a year ago by the second day of the "Shrek 2"opening weekend.
The film also got its revenge on "The Matrix Reloaded," which had held an opening-day record of $42.5 million set when it opened on a Thursday in 2003.
"This is a huge number," Exhibitor Relations President Paul Dergarabedian told Reuters. "I think the sky's the limit right now."
After a pair of logy prequels that had many fans and critics grumbling, the final episode in George Lucas' second trilogy of movies has gotten mostly positive reviews for its thrilling action sequences and elegant handling of the Darth Vader creation myth. And though advance ticket orders are still reportedly coming in at a torrid pace and costumed fans continue to line up across the country, some simply couldn't wait. News broke Thursday that a DVD-quality print of the movie had already been posted online hours before the midnight opening (see "Many 'Star Wars' Fans Skipping Lines, Downloading 'Sith' ").
But even with the pirated version floating in cyberspace, "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," which had more than 2,900 midnight shows, doubled the midnight take of 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which grossed around $8 million from 2,100 screenings.
The eventual first-day take for "The Return of the King" was $34.5 million, and it grossed $124 million in its opening weekend. The previous "Star Wars" sequel, "Attack of the Clones," grossed $30.1 million in its first day, with $6.2 million coming from midnight screenings.
With the "Attack of the Clones" box office in the past and solid reviews giving "Episode III" the strength of a thousand Wookies, George Lucas' final "Star Wars" film will aim to mow down the next batch of records as if they were unsuspecting Jedi. Coming up is the "Reloaded" record for the biggest four-day domestic opening, which currently stands at $134.3 million. Will the Force be with "Star Wars" once again? At this point, not even Jabba the Hutt would bet against it.
'American Idol' Recap: It Will Take A Miracle To Beat Bo Bice
It seems everyone has something to say about "American Idol," and MTVNews.com is no different. Here's the latest edition of our weekly performance-night roundup:
Surprise performance: Someone needed to step up with this season's answer to Fantasia's show-stopping "Summertime," and Bo did just that — but topped it tenfold with his goosebumps-inducing a capella rendition of Badlands' "In a Dream."
Fashion hits and misses: Mirroring the music, it was a night of hits, with each exemplifying their image. Vonzell was fun. Bo was cool. And Carrie was cute.
Judging the judges: Simon delivered one of his best lines of the season after "In a Dream": "You may have just put 34 musicians out of work." Does Randy know that Arsenio Hall actually started the Dawg Pound? Paula seemed back to normal. Clive Davis reminded us how boring guest judges are, but at least he criticized Vonzell — even if it was for the wrong song. The judges were unanimous about Bo making it to the finale, an easy pick, but seemed partial to Carrie.
Best audience sign: "Bo Is Pure Southern Comfort."
Who will go: Carrie failed to step it up, but she's been a favorite for so long, she'll edge out Vonzell.
Who needs to step it up: Carrie would be lucky to be in the finale. To beat Bo, she's going to need a miracle.
Who is the one to beat: Bo not only gave the performance of the season, he gave arguably the second and third best, and all of the songs were completely different. He's got versatility, personality and on top of that, he seems genuinely humble
Topher Grace Joins Cast Of 'Spider-Man 3' ... But As Who?
Marvel Studios Chairman/ CEO Avi Arad announced Thursday (May 19) that Topher Grace is joining the cast of the upcoming blockbuster "Spider-Man 3." Scheduled for release on May 4, 2007, the third movie in the "Spider-Man" saga will unite the "In Good Company" star with previously announced participants Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and Thomas Haden Church.
"First we had Tom, [now] we have a very interesting guy joining the cast," said a smiling Arad at MTV's West Coast headquarters. "His name is Topher."
Arad said the presence of Grace — whose role is not yet known — will continue a Marvel movie tradition of casting actors who might not immediately come to mind to portray comic book characters. "That's the fun in this universe. We have a good rule about this: There is no against type. You find someone who brings the role of the individual, not the costumed individual, to life. Before we put Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, if you had said Peter Parker ... if you just did a [survey], I don't think you would have heard too many Tobey Maguires coming to mind."
While Arad and Marvel continue to refuse comment on which characters Grace and Church will play, the 57-year-old Arad did hint that Grace had been cast contrary to the typical nice-guy roles that have made him a household name. "That's a good question," is all he'd say when asked for the identity of Grace's alter ego. "Just before I came here, we were all on the phone with [other Marvel executives] and I said to them, 'Are you nuts? We can't tell anybody who he is. This is all the fun. The fun is figuring out.'
"That's how you have to look at it," Arad said about keeping the fans waiting. "Topher, we believe, is joining the ranks of the incredible actors."
With Church, Arad remains similarly tight-lipped, side-stepping fan rumors that the Oscar-nominated "Sideways" star will take on the villainous role of Sandman. "I don't know," he smiled. "[Church is] all confused, you know, these Texans. Yes, of course he [knows who he's playing]. You know what? The movie is 2007; to be straight about it, it's taking all the fun away. I just love the fact that there are such guessing games going on."
In a statement from Marvel, series director Sam Raimi expressed similar enthusiasm for the casting news. "I couldn't be more excited about the direction we are taking the continuing adventures of Peter Parker. Topher Grace is an extraordinarily talented actor and will be perfect for the complexities of the role we are developing."
While discussing the film, Arad also dismissed rumors that the next two "Spider-Man" movies will be filmed simultaneously, following the cost-cutting formulas of the "Matrix" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels. "Not true," he insisted. "No, it doesn't make sense ... I don't believe it. I don't believe you really save money. What you do, in essence, is you ensure that you book your stars for long enough."
Still, he said excitedly, Peter Parker's next adventure will be the most ambitious one yet. " 'Spider-Man 3' has to be bigger than '1' and '2,' " Arad said, "So storywise it's already bigger, the characters in it are already bigger ... it will already be a handful to [complete it by] May 2007."
More than $1.5 billion worldwide has been taken in by the "Spider-Man" film franchise with its first two installments. "Spider-Man 3," which will be working off a script penned by second-installment writer Alvin Sargent, begins filming early next year.
Justin Timberlake Signs On For 'Will & Grace' Role
Neil Sean of Sky News reports that Justin Timberlake has signed on to star in three episodes of 'Will & Grace' as the gay boyfriend of Sean Hayes' character Jack. A source said, "He loved the fact he was playing against type and still proved a big hit. He was thrilled to be asked back." Sean added that the *NSYNC star's next solo album will be released in November