For The Record: Quick News On Ashanti, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Hilary Duff, Backstreet Boys & More

Ashanti pulls out of show after cousin is killed; Madonna puts tickets on the block for hurricane relief; Hilary Duff urges Internet safety.

Ashanti pulled out of a planned concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday after her cousin was killed by a drunk driver while running an errand for the singer before the show. According to the Cape Times Web site, 20-year-old Quinshae Snead was thrown into oncoming traffic from a car in which she was a passenger after it was struck by an unlicensed 17-year-old drunk driver who had stolen his mother’s car. The teen was arrested for drunk driving. Ashanti was on the bill for the Redd’s Divas Concert at the Coca-Cola Dome, which also featured Lauryn Hill, Regina Belle and a host of popular African singers. …

04.14.06

Madonna, Elton John, INXS, Staind, and Ozomatli are among the artists participating in Music Rising’s online ticket auctions, raising funds to replace musical instruments and equipment destroyed during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Sixty-five auctions are already under way, with the rest being added each weekend throughout the month at
www.ticketmaster.com. …

Jennifer Lopez was hit with a lawsuit on Tuesday. TV writer Jack Bunick filed a federal suit in New York against the singer, as well as CBS, UPN, and MTV’s parent company, Viacom, for copyright infringement. He claims that the UPN show that Lopez executive produces, “South Beach,” improperly used his script in a January 11 broadcast of the two-hour season premiere “Pilot/ I’m Not Your Baby.” (The script for that episode was credited to Matt Cirulnick, Greg Cirulnick, and co-executive producer Philip Levens). …

Hilary Duff, Mandy Moore and Paula Abdul are teaching kids how to be safe on the Internet via a series of PSAs that will begin airing this week. Other celebs featured in the spots include Celine Dion, Tony Danza, Donny Osmond, Kathy Ireland, and the cast of “7th Heaven.” The campaign is sponsored by the KlaasKidds Foundation and the Child Safety Network, who are providing fingerprint cards, child photo I.D. cards, DNA kits, and access to the national database of registered sex offenders. … Florida’s chapter of the Recording Academy will present their Honors award to the Backstreet Boys on Monday. Puerto Rican pop artist Ednita Nazario is also being honored. …

“Laguna Beach” star Alex Murrel is recording an album due June 20 on Eyecon/ Universal Records. She’s also hitting the road this spring on the Rock Your Prom Tour. … O.A.R. and Jack’s Mannequin are teaming for a summer tour kicking off June 8 in Phoenix. The trek will wrap August 13 in Wallingford, Connecticut. … The Strokes have added several more U.S. stops to their current North American tour. Before the New York rockers head to Canada May 6 for eight gigs, they’ll hit Tucson, Arizona, April 29 and then return to the States May 20 with a concert in Glen Allen, Virginia. The band will also play Memphis (May 22); Birmingham, Alabama (May 23); North Charleston, South Carolina (May 25); and June 11, they’ll be in Santa Barbara, California, for the tour’s final stop. … MySpace and Cingular have teamed to offer unsigned acts the ability to create and sell ring tones. The process is available MySpace.com/CingularStudio. …

Death Cab for Cutie, the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Secret Machines, Wolfmother, the Go! Team, the Hold Steady and She Wants Revenge will constitute the bill for this year’s Kuyahoga Festival, which is being sponsored by Cleveland rock station WXRK. The concert will be held August 3 at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with more bands being added in the coming weeks. … The Sword, former Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard, Blue Cheer, Rhymefest and Erase Errata have been added to the lineup for this year’s Intonation Music Festival, which is set for June 24 and June 25 at Chicago’s Union Park. The bill also features previously announced performers Lady Sovereign, Lupe Fiasco, the Constantines, High on Fire, Annie and headliners Bloc Party and the Streets. … Colin Meloy of the Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens are among the acts on The Sound the Hare Heard, the latest compilation from Kill Rock Stars. Death Vessel, Wooden Wand and Devin Davis are also included on the album, due in May. …

Queen Latifah‘s Flavor Unit film company inked a first-look deal with Focus Features and Rogue Pictures this week. Under the terms of the agreement, Latifah and her producing partner Shakim Compere will develop feature projects for both Focus and Rogue. So far, Flavor Unit’s productions include “Bringing Down the House,” “The Cookout” and “Beauty Shop.” Latifah is expected to star in some of the new projects, but the deal is structured to nurture new talent as well. … Ice Cube will continue his break from movies for the next month and a half to hit the road in support of his upcoming seventh solo album, Laugh Now, Cry Later (June 6). The 22-date swing is slated to kick off Thursday with a show at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California, according to Cube’s spokesperson, and it includes dates in San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Denver and Las Vegas. The tour is currently slated to wrap up with a June 3 date at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. …

Rob Thomas and Jewel are teaming up for a summer tour. The two will trek cross-country for seven weeks starting May 23 in Clearwater, Florida, and wrapping July 5 in San Diego. Jewel’s next album, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, is due May 2. … “Let’s Rock Again!,” the behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling the life and career of late Clash frontman Joe Strummer, is scheduled for release on DVD on June 27. The movie, directed by the punk icon’s longtime friend Dick Rude, has personal interviews and backstage footage shot in the 18 months leading up to Strummer’s death in 2002. The film traces Strummer’s beginnings from his days fronting the Clash to his tireless tours with late-period band the Mescaleros. That’s not to be confused with a second, in-the-works Strummer doc directed by close friend Julian Temple. …

Despite rumors to the contrary, Solange Knowles is not pregnant with a second child, she assured fans Thursday. “There is absolutely no validity to this rumor,” Beyoncé’s younger sister said in a statement. “The bloggers are circulating old photos of me from my baby shower over two years ago and misrepresenting them as current photos.” Solange also said that she’s been busy producing, recording, and negotiating future movie deals. … Babyface filed suit Thursday in Los Angeles against Anita Baker, claiming the singer failed to pay him for a song he produced for her. Babyface claims he’s owed $100,000 for co-writing “Like You Used to Do” during a Detroit session in May 2004. The song was used on Baker’s gold album My Everything. Babyface is also asking to be paid $150,000 for two shows that he agreed to do with Baker in July 2005 that she canceled (He was paid, however, for the concerts they did do together).

04.13.2006

Nearly two months after the deadline passed for Michael Jackson to make good on $270 million worth of loans from Fortress Investment Group, the singer has finally completed a refinancing deal, his Bahrain-based advisory team confirmed Thursday (April 13). While they wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal, Jackson’s team said the singer got some help from Sony — co-owners of Sony/ ATV Music Publishing, which contains the Beatles catalog — and that the transaction was structured by Citigroup, the investment arm of Citibank. Sources close to the singer say Sony has the option to buy half of Jackson’s stake in the Beatles catalog, while the singer has a new $300 million loan from Fortress, with reduced interest payments. …

When Paula Abdul‘s not judging “American Idol,” she spends her free time designing jewelry. Now she’s got a 26-piece collection of charms, pendants, earrings and bracelets in a mix of textures and metals, adorned with inspirational phrases “to give a piece of hopeful spirit back to the world,” Abdul said. She’ll debut the Paula Abdul Jewelry Collection April 21 in two one-hour shows airing at 1 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET on QVC. …

Lucky Kanye West fans in the U.K. will be able to get their hands on ‘Ye’s first-ever live album April 24. The CD/DVD release Late Orchestration captures his September performance for 300 lucky fans at the famed Abbey Road Studios. According to a spokesperson for West’s label, Def Jam, the CD features 13 tracks, while the DVD is loaded with live performances — including a duet with John Legend — plus music videos and a never-before-seen interview with the College Dropout himself. …

Wild child Bijou Phillips is now officially a rock chick in her own right, having learned to play bass for the Germs biopic “What We Do Is Secret.” Phillips — who plays Lorna Doom in the flick, due out later this year — told Stuff magazine that, when she was too sore to keep playing, she super-glued duct tape over the blisters on her fingers because “you want to chop off your hand at the end.” “We recorded all the songs by the Germs live and played to our own recordings in the movie,” she told the mag for its May cover. “It was guerrilla filmmaking, but I can’t imagine doing a movie about the Germs with a big budget. That would be so wrong.” …

Metallica‘s James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo will perform with Alice in ChainsJerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney May 12 at the second annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert, to be held at the Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will open the show, which will also feature a performance by Jason Mraz. During the event, Hetfield will be presented with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his dedication and support of the MusiCares MAP Fund and his devotion to helping other addicts with recovery process. …

In related news, Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan has joined Alice in Chains for a show airing next month, but will he join the band for its upcoming European summer tour? “It’s been rumored,” McKagan teased. “The amount of songs they wrote, I got a list of songs to learn, 33 songs. I look at this list, and I’m like, ‘OK, how many of these are filler songs? This is a huge song, this is a huge song. … I’ve going to have to learn them all.’ ” “If he comes to Europe,” Alice guitarist Jerry Cantrell interrupted. “If the rumors are true,” McKagan agreed. “I’m not saying they are, or did I?” “I don’t know, you might have,” Cantrell laughed. “So that put the rumors to rest, didn’t it?” McKagan laughed. “I could be showing up in Europe. That would be cool.” Alice in Chains’ performance on VH1 Classic’s “Decades Rock Live!” tribute to Heart airs May 5 at 8 p.m. …

Thursday have been forced to pull off the final three stops on the Taste of Chaos Tour. Frontman Geoff Rickly “has become very ill and is having some extreme issues with his throat,” according to a post left on the band’s Web site by its manager, Dave Ciancio. “We had to get him home and to his doctor ASAP. The band was really looking forward to these shows and [is] sad they can’t come play them.” Rickly will be examined by his doctor when he returns to New Jersey; there’s no word on what symptoms he’s been complaining about. The post adds that the band hopes to make the gigs up in the not-so-distant future. The remaining Taste of Chaos dates are Thursday night in Toronto, April 14 in Ottawa and April 15 in Montreal. …

Following the breakout collabo success of Danger Doom with their 2005 opus The Mouse and the Mask, indie hip-hop label Stones Throw Records will again partner with cable TV’s “Adult Swim” for a second venture: an album celebrating the West Coast label’s 10-year anniversary. The yet-untitled album is set for a September 19 release and will feature contributions from Stones Throw’s rich roster of talent — which includes MF Doom, Madlib and the late Jay Dee. The album will be executive produced by Peanut Butter Wolf. …

Joan Jett — who’ll perform this summer as part of the annual Warped Tour — will release Sinner, her forthcoming album with her infamous Blackhearts, June 6. The album features guest appearances by Bikini Kill/ Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna on “Watersign,” “Tube Talkin’ ” and “Five.” It’s Jett’s first effort since 1999′s Fetish. … Swedish singer/songwriter José González will hit the road June 16 in Los Angeles for a 15-date North American tour, with openers Juana Molina and Psapp. Dates run through July 3 in New York, with the trek making stops in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. …

Dark New Day drummer Will Hunt has been filling in for Mötley Crüe‘s Tommy Lee on the final few dates of the band’s North American tour, which ends Thursday in Regina, Saskatchewan. Lee has been receiving anti-inflammatory injections to help him manage tendonitis in his right wrist. Hunt, who had previously backed Lee as part of the rocker’s solo band, will not be leaving Dark New Day, according to the band’s guitarist Clint Lowery — he’s just doing the Crüe a favor. … The New York Dolls will issue the album One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This on July 25, according to the band’s label. The disc will include 13 tracks, including “Take a Good Look at My Good Looks,” “Maimed Happiness,” and the first single, “Dance Like a Monkey.” Look for the album, which was produced by Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick), to feature guest appearances by Iggy Pop, Bo Diddley, and R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe.

[This story was originally published at 2:47 pm ET on 04.14.2006]