For The Record: Quick News On Usher And Lil Jon, Ashlee Simpson, Ciara, Nine Inch Nails, Le Tigre & More

Lil Jon says no beef with Usher, Ashlee goes big for Orange Bowl, Ashanti decides on a kids' book.

Despite rumors that surfaced last week about Lil Jon‘s supposed animosity toward Usher because he didn’t get enough credit for the success of the collaborative track “Yeah!,” Lil Jon assures fans and haters alike that the two are still friends and have plans to “keep it crunk in the new year,” according to a statement released by his publicist on Monday (January 3). “Usher and I are good friends,” Jon said. “It’s just haters trying to stir some negative bullsh– up because we’ve had such a big year. We’ve made history together … #1 records, nonstop radio play and a bunch of awards. We’re looking forward to more hit records.” …

Ashlee Simpson is currently in Miami rehearsing for her halftime performance at the Orange Bowl, where she’s planning to do her biggest show ever. “It’s my first time using dancers,” she said. “My drummer’s drum set is lighting on fire. All these things are going on. I’ve never put on a show with a big production, so it’s something new for everybody to see and something new for me to do.” USC’s Trojans face off against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Orange Bowl, to be broadcast on ABC Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET. … Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony has announced his engagement to MTV VJ La La Vasquez. Anthony proposed to Vasquez on Christmas Day with a nine-carat engagement ring, and Vasquez reportedly accepted. No wedding date has been announced. …

Ciara, Yellowcard and Ryan Cabrera are among the acts scheduled to play Disney’s Grad Nite 2005, to be held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, on the weekends of April 22 and 29. For more information, check out DisneyGradNite.com. … Though she had been deciding between doing a children’s book and a behind-the-scenes peek at her life, Ashanti has decided to do something for the kids after all. The singer has signed with Hyperion Children’s Group for the project, which is in the early stages. …

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have just about finished writing their follow-up to 2002′s By the Way. They are slated to begin recording the as-yet-untitled album shortly, according to a band spokesperson. No release date has been set. … Nine Inch Nails have completed work on their upcoming album, With Teeth. No release date has been announced yet. According to the band’s Web site, NIN are also rehearsing for an upcoming tour. …

Princess Ai, Courtney Love‘s comic-book alter ego, will make another appearance this summer. The second volume of Princess Ai’s manga comic, to be called “Lumination,” hits shelves in June, and focuses on a love triangle that turns into a media scandal. … Activist femme punks Le Tigre are offering fans hard-to-get autographed vinyl, featuring their song “New Kicks,” as well as T-shirts and “TKO” singles via an online contest sponsored by PETA. The contest, which can be found at http://www.peta2.com/ot/o-leTigre.asp, ends on Valentine’s Day. …

Phish drummer Jon Fishman was known among fans for donning creative outfits while onstage, and now one of his more unique getups will be on display at a Brockton, Massachusetts, museum. Fishman’s “sonic rhythm dress,” created by New York artist Alyce Santoro, will be included in the Fuller Craft Museum’s upcoming “Trashformations East” exhibit, which will include works made entirely from recycled material. The dress, which is stitched together from recycled, prerecorded audio cassette tapes from artists including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Prince and Bob Marley, was worn at a Phish show in Las Vegas last year, according to a spokesperson for the museum. The exhibit will run from January 15-May 1. … The Dissociatives, a band featuring former Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns, have been bubbling up from Down Under for a few months, and soon their sound will stretch into the northern hemisphere. The band’s self-titled debut is scheduled to street on March 29. In the group’s native Australia, its “Somewhere Down the Barrel” is up for Video of the Year honors at the inaugural Australian MTV Awards, which will take place March 3 in Sydney. …

12.30.2004

It seems Jack White has fallen out of love with a girl. The White Stripes frontman, 29, and his actress girlfriend, Renée Zellweger, 35, have called it quits after more than a year and a half together. Zellweger’s publicist told People magazine that the couple broke up in September but “remain good friends. No scandal. No new relationships.” … Meanwhile, the White Stripes, known to have Luddite tendencies, are actually embracing the 21st century. The band has made The Blackpool Deluxe EP, a collection of live tracks from its performance at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, England, available for download at the iTunes Music Store. The three-song EP, featuring versions of “Jolene,” “Seven Nation Army” and “Hotel Yorba,” is available for just $2.97. …

Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff and Paris Hilton all made the top 10 of the Internet Movie Database’s 2004 STARmeter, which lists IMDb.com’s top 25 stars of the year, based on the search behavior of the site’s more than 20 million users. Johnny Depp took the #1 spot. … Earlier this month, New Found Glory announced the first batch of dates for their Back to Basics Tour of smaller venues throughout the country. Now, they’ve added more shows: They’ll hit Hartford, Connecticut, on April 1, then head up to Canada for a string of dates. The last date listed for the tour — which also features Reggie and the Full Effect and Eisley — is April 24 in Seattle. …

Following the passing on Tuesday evening of actor Jerry Orbach, NBC has announced that it will debut the new series Orbach was set to star in, as planned, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A spokesperson for “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” issued a statement on Wednesday confirming that the episodes already taped with Orbach will air in the midseason of 2005. Orbach had recently left the cast of “Law & Order” to star in the spinoff series. … Dick Clark, who has been as much of a New Year’s Eve fixture as the ball that drops at midnight in New York’s Times Square, will be forced to watch his “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” show from a hospital bed in California, where he is recovering from a mild stroke he suffered on December 6, according to The Associated Press. “Even though I won’t be in New York this year,” Clark said in a statement, “I will be watching ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ on TV.” Regis Philbin will take over hosting duties for the show. …

112 will play legendary Motown quartet the Four Tops on NBC’s “American Dreams.” The Atlanta group will sing the Tops’ classic “Reach Out I’ll Be There” on the show. Slated to air Sunday, the episode will also feature an appearance by “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, who will play the Four Tops’ manager. … Italian goth-rockers Lacuna Coil are slowly revealing information about their new album. Lead singer Cristina Scabbia told Coil fan site EmptySpiral.net that “we have a couple of songs that are 90 percent done … and they sound really, really good.” Scabbia goes on to explain that the new album will be “an evolution” from 2002′s Comalies album, and that the new songs feature “a lot of aggressive parts and a lot of melody at the same time.” …