For The Record: Quick News On 50 Cent, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, Pink, Diddy, Staind & More

50 Cent cell game on the way; Hill on why she hid away; Staind line up tour.

50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin' " will get the video game treatment next month — but owners of the various consoles won't be able to bring the G-Unit captain's character to life unless they pick up the phone. 50's inked a deal with mobile entertainment firms Fathammer and Zingy to give gamers the chance to step into his "Get Rich" characters' shoes, according to Interscope Records. The cell-phone game's plot will follow the film's story line of an aspiring rapper who works his way up from the streets to the top of the hip-hop game. The game will be available for download in mid-January. ...

The reason Lauryn Hill had to step away from the spotlight, she told Essence magazine for its new issue, was that it was a "very toxic situation" for her, because she wasn't able to be herself. "I discovered people could only acknowledge red and blue and I was somewhere between. I was purple," she told the magazine. "And when I can't be whole, I have a problem. I was like, 'I've got to get out of here.' " So she spent two or three years "away from all social interaction," with no music and no television. "It was a very introspective and complicated time because I had to really confront my fears," she said. During her downtime, Hill also wrote a lot — music as well as screenplays — and even dabbled in fashion design, endeavors that helped her become "older, wiser, and clearer." Still, she vetoed plans to do a clothing line, because it bothered her to see her look "exploited, appropriated, copied and reproduced" by others. "Fashion is something I breathe," Hill said. "I wasn't really trying to share my style, I was just trying to be me and exist." Now that's she back with the Fugees, Hill says her hope is that other artists don't get "trapped in images that don't really reflect who they are." ... Mary J. Blige isn't about to turn down an opportunity to do a clothing line, though. The R&B singer recently revealed to MTV Europe that she's hoping to do one in the vein of Catherine Malandrino, because the designer has a classic sensibility. "I can pull clothes of hers from five years ago, those are the kinds of things I want to make," Blige said. "I definitely want to do a clothing line, and not just because everyone else is doing one. I want a clothing line which is around forever." ...

Pink's happy about her time away from the spotlight as well, "if you forget about stalkerazzi," she joked to MTV Europe. Keeping a low profile helped her record her fourth album (I'm Not Dead, due in the spring) and film her first major film role (in the upcoming "Catacombs"). "I haven't had any time off," Pink said. "I just haven't done any reality TV shows." But now that she's back, the tabloids, which usually "kind of skip" her and her fiance, Carey Hart, have shown a new interest, even if that means bringing back a few old rumors. "I've been pregnant for three years," Pink laughed. "I've had the longest pregnancy in the history of mankind." Mostly, though, the tabloids "don't really target" them on a major scale, "which is good," and is probably aided by the couple's lack of clubbing. "We don't go out much, we're normal," she said. "We make it a Blockbuster night." Still, Pink's not about to tip off the press when the wedding will be. Instead, she'll just say that Hart said yes when she proposed "because he's smart" and the engagement has been "an emotional time." "But we're happy and really excited and I love him a lot," she said, before gushing, "I'm going to be a girl, and I'm going to wear a dress!" ... Snoop Dogg was among the hundreds of mourners who congregated at the Bethel AME Church in Los Angeles on Tuesday for Stanley "Tookie" Williams' funeral, according to The Associated Press. A recording of Williams' voice was played and the Reverend Jesse Jackson told the crowd the recently executed Crips co-founder was a "healer, not a predator." Snoop recited a poem that read, in part, "It's nine-fifteen on twelve-thirteen and another black king will be taken from the scene." ...

Michael Jackson is in dire financial peril — Tuesday (December 20) is the deadline for him to make good on a $270 million loan, which, if his creditors foreclose, could cost him his Neverland Ranch as well as his stake in the Beatles catalog. Fortress Investment Group bought and consolidated the singer's loans in April from Bank of America, loans that Jackson had secured with his 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV publishing, a song catalog estimated to be worth $1 billion (the other 50 percent is held by Sony Corporation, which has the option to be the first to buy back Jackson's share if he defaults on the loan). Sources close to the singer and to the situation, though, said that Jackson has painted himself into a corner, by refusing to participate in the talks and shutting out advisors, save for a sheik from Bahrain. "He's not talking to anybody" was the common refrain from those who used to be in Jackson's inner circle. They also described Jackson as being divorced from reality, paranoid and withdrawn, mostly because of his criminal trial earlier this year. "He's fed up with the U.S. and its court system," one associate said. "And he's upset about the personal stuff that came out, how much porn he collects, how much he drinks." Fortress and Sony had no comment. ...

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Elizabeth Hurley, Bryan Adams and Kid Rock were among the guests who attended Elton John's bachelor party Monday night inside a London nightclub, The Associated Press reports. John and his partner, David Furnish, will be united in a private civil ceremony on Wednesday. ... Madonna's latest album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, has inspired an entire line of limited-edition, collectible wines from California's Celebrity Cellars. For $29-$40, fans of the singer can own a bottle of either Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio sporting a label with Confessions' album art. There's also a non-alcoholic version of the vino available. The manufacturers promise a wine "as complex and sophisticated as the artist herself." ...

As announced last month, "American Idol" will not shift its finals weeks from a Tuesday-Wednesday to a Wednesday-Thursday schedule as was considered, but FOX will air the semifinals once again on a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday schedule. For three weeks beginning February 15, the male semifinalists will perform on Tuesdays, the females on Wednesdays and the results will be announced on Thursdays. ... Diddy's lending his voice for a commercial advertising Biggie ring tones, which are being culled from the master recordings in the Notorious B.I.G. catalog, including his posthumous Duets: The Final Chapter album, in stores Tuesday. The spot will be shown on BET. ...

Head Automatica, who're working on the follow-up to 2004's Decadence, will hit the road with Morningwood in tow on January 24. The 13-date trek kicks off in Seattle, with dates running through February 25 in Boston. ... Staind have mapped out a 14-date North American tour with openers Theory of a Deadman. The outing launches in Philadelphia on January 29 and wraps up in Maplewood, Minnesota, on February 19. ...

12.19.2005

Mary J. Blige will headline the Essence Music Festival, which is usually held in New Orleans but will take place at Reliant Park in Houston until the hurricane-ravaged city is rebuilt. Additional artists for the festival, happening July 1-3, remain to be announced. ...

You may have missed it if you're not a boxing fan, but R. Kelly's expanded his body of work to include a remix of the national anthem, which is now circulating on the Internet as a bootleg clip. Before the Bernard Hopkins-Jermain Taylor match at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay two weeks ago, the R&B singer put a little step into "The Star-Spangled Banner," adding dancers steppin' in the ring. Between phrases, Kelly urged the crowd to clap along — but boxing fans seemed offended and have taken to tearing Kelly apart on message boards. As ESPN's Scoop Jackson wonders in his column, "Did Kelly bastardize it, or beautify it?" ... Snoop Dogg's record as a Pee Wee Football coach just keeps improving. After his Rowland Heights, California, Rolling Raiders took their division's Super Bowl title, Snoop's team bested the Victorville, California, Hawks in the inaugural Friendship Bowl this past weekend. According to the Victorville Daily Press, Coach Snoop said of his team's 40-0 trouncing of the Hawks following the shutout, "That's just business as usual. I wouldn't expect nothing less. We took them behind the toolshed and whooped them." ...

Scott Storch is heated about being snubbed for a Producer of the Year Grammy nomination, but he did wipe the frown off his face to party in Miami on Friday night. Timbaland, Alex Rodriguez, Pharrell Williams and Hulk Hogan all came out to wish him a happy birthday. ... Michelle Branch posted a late-night tirade recently on her Wreckers band Web site, taking her fans to task for them "bitching" about her new music taking so long to come out, and complaining that her record label forced her to do "a lame ass tour" while she was pregnant and made her record with Santana when she didn't want to (the message board was then taken down). Now her partner in the Wreckers, Jessica Harp, and her manager Stuart Dill have responded to the rant, explaining that the singer is under a lot of pressure, and her response was understandable. Harp told the Tennessean newspaper, "Perhaps Michelle did overreact a little bit, but she's human. It was the middle of the night. ... Everyone gets angry sometimes. I completely support her." Meanwhile, Dill told the paper, "There are always pressure points and often huge hurdles in making a record and getting it out." The Wreckers album is due in May. ...

The soundtrack to the forthcoming film "Underworld: Evolution" will feature exclusive fresh and remixed material from My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, Alkaline Trio, Senses Fail, Slipknot, Atreyu, Trivium and others. In addition, the album will include the first solo recording from Linkin Park's Chester Bennington and a track from Puscifer, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's side project with former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Danny Lohner. ... Beck's Guero won Best Made-for-Surround Title last week at the 2005 Surround Music Awards. Ben Harper won Best Concert Video for "Live at the Apollo" at the ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. ... Boy George's Monday (December 19) court appearance on drug charges was adjourned by a Manhattan judge because the singer is in England. The singer, who was arrested October 7 after he called 911 to report a burglary and police found cocaine in his apartment, is due back in court February 1.

The Rolling Stones spent a good part of 2005 on the road, and will start off 2006 in much the same way. The group has booked 14 more North American gigs, and has lined up a host of openers for those dates. Sloan will warm up crowds in Boston on January 13 and 15, Metric will perform for the tour's New York stops on January 18 and 20, Antigone Rising will take the stage in Chicago on January 23 and 25 and in Baltimore on February 1, and Queens of the Stone Age will join the trek for the March 4 date in Las Vegas and the March 6 stop in Los Angeles. ... Toronto's No Warning have called it quits. But there's a new project on the way from some of the band's members, according to a statement posted on the group's MySpace page. The unnamed band is "very different ... musically with a fresh start, but we promise you will dig it." No Warning's last album, Suffer, Survive, was released in 2004 through Linkin Park's Machine Shop imprint. ...

After more than a decade of making ultra-literate, low-fi alt-country, the Silver Jews are finally gearing up to launch their first-ever tour. The band — a vehicle for the work of poet/musician David Berman that occasionally also features guitars and drums from former Pavement members Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich — will hit the road starting March 10 in Athens, Georgia, and wrap things up March 25 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Silver Jews released their fifth album, Tanglewood Numbers, in October. ... Travis have just finished their third session at London's Hospital studio with producer Nigel Godrich, who twiddled the knobs on the band's 1999 album, The Man Who, and the 2001 follow-up, The Invisible Band. The group has written around 20 songs for the still-untitled new album, which is tentatively due next year. ...