For The Record: Quick News On Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Fantasia, Foxy Brown, Tom Cruise & More

Pregnant Spears photo censored; Hilton video banned in India; Barrino gets big numbers.

Britney Spears‘ nude shot on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar hit newsstands last month, but promotional posters for the magazine’s October Japanese edition — featuring the same image of the pregnant pop star — have been deemed “too stimulating” for posting by the Tokyo Metro, Reuters reports. The publishing company and the transit authority have come to a compromise: They’ll display the advertising poster partially censored, obscuring Britney from the elbow down. The poster will also include a message that reads, “We apologize for hiding part of a beautiful image of a mother-to-be.” …

Britney’s not the only hottie feeling the heat from censors. Though the rest of the world is getting an eyeful, viewers in India won’t be seeing the sultry video for Paris Hilton‘s “Stars Are Blind.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the country’s Central Board of Film Certification gave the clip an “adult” certification, which means it can’t be broadcast on any TV channel, despite the submission of an edited clip from Hilton’s record company. … Fantasia, on the other hand, has something to celebrate. Saturday’s premiere of “The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale” attracted 6.6 million viewers, becoming the second-most-watched Lifetime movie in the network’s 22-year history. The movie is also the highest-rated cable movie of 2006 among women. …

Foxy Brown‘s lawyer was in a Jersey City, New Jersey, courtroom Wednesday (August 23), requesting a probable-cause hearing in harassment charges filed against her by a former business advisor. Brian J. Neary told reporters he plans to ask for the charges to be dismissed when the hearing happens on September 26. Brown was not at Wednesday’s hearing, but Judge Cynthia D. Jackson requested her presence next month. … “Superman Returns” star Brandon Routh is engaged to actress Courtney Ford, The Associated Press reports. The couple — who will co-star in the forthcoming short film “Denial” — plan to marry next year. …

A judge set bond for 25-year-old Michael Scott Axley at $40,000 on Tuesday and bound him over to Fulton County Superior Court on felony murder and aggravated-assault charges in the death of 30-year-old Andy Richardson during a fatal fight at the July 30 Family Values Tour show in Atlanta. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Axley was also given a dusk curfew and ordered not to drink alcohol while free on bond. An Atlanta police homicide detective testified at the hearing that Richardson was knocked to the ground by a punch from Axley during the show, fatally hit his head on the concrete floor and was punched twice more as he lay unconscious. …

Was he fired, or did he jump? We may never know for sure, but what’s clear is that Tom Cruise‘s 14-year partnership with Paramount Pictures is over. Citing the actor’s erratic behavior over the past year — which included the famed Oprah couch-jumping incident and a tense on-air confrontation with “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer over psychiatric drugs — Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount parent company Viacom (which is also MTV’s parent company), severed ties with Cruise’s production company. “As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal,” Redstone told The Wall Street Journal. “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.” Cruise’s representatives countered that they had not been booted, but had quit and already secured $100 million in financing from two unnamed hedge funds to produce movies on their own. The New York Times reported that Cruise’s production partner, Paula Wagner, took issue with Redstone’s rebuke of the actor, and suggested that the move was his attempt to “save face” after learning that Cruise was looking for other funding sources. …

Despite Rivers Cuomo‘s suggestions that he would consider going solo and that Make Believe may be Weezer‘s last album, a “public service announcement” posted on the group’s Web site states otherwise. Featuring a photo of the band — minus drummer Pat Wilson, who was apparently on a family vacation — the post reads: “This PSA has been brought to you by the fine guacamole dip at Scott Shriner‘s house, co-sponsored by a ring of fine cheese, and a dish of fresh figs from the backyard. Now please, take those ‘Weezer split?’ headlines and place them firmly into the ‘Don’t believe the hype’ bin. And have yourself a fine afternoon now.” … Once the “Rock Star: Supernova” televised talent contest ends and the band has found itself a singer, Supernova — featuring Tommy Lee, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke — will embark on a North American tour that kicks off December 31 in Las Vegas. More than 20 dates are booked through a February 27 stop in Long Beach, California. The band’s self-titled debut album is due November 21. …

Ne-Yo, Teddy Geiger and Cheyenne Kimball will help jump-start this year’s U.S. Open on Saturday with performances at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. The artists will join pros including Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and James Blake for a day of tennis and music at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. … New York-area Common fans with an interest in T-shirt design can rub elbows with the rapper from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, when he’ll help launch the three-day T-Shirt Shop event at the Gap’s 59th Street and Lexington Avenue location. A limited-edition design created by Common is one of the graphics customers can have silk-screened to customize shirts at the event. … Modest Mouse will release their sixth album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, on December 19. The album was recorded at the same Sweet Tea studios in Oxford, Mississippi, where they tracked their 2004 breakthrough album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and features contributions from the band’s newest member, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. …

Sister Hazel, Collective Soul and Better Than Ezra are headlining the Rock Boat VII cruise, which departs from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on January 11. Lynyrd Skynyrd are also hosting their first big boat trip, the Gimmie Three Days cruise, which departs from Miami on January 5. … After 12 hours of deliberations, a jury has recommended a death sentence for Ricky Jovan Gray, convicted last week of capital murder in the January killings of House of Freaks guitarist Bryan Harvey, Harvey’s wife and their two daughters. The jurors, who delivered the decision on Tuesday, recommended the death penalty for the murders of Harvey’s daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4, and life in prison for killing Harvey and wife Kathryn. Formal sentencing is scheduled for October 23.

08.22.06

Hilary Duff is hoping to give New Orleans a boost as the city observes the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week. The singer/actress will spend August 29 visiting schools, a disaster-recovery center and other locations with USA Harvest founder Stan Curtis. Duff has donated 2.5 million meals for Katrina relief through the nonprofit organization and will deliver food, backpacks and more materials over the course of the day. She’ll also make the morning announcements and meet with kids at Nelson Charter School; serve lunch at Alice M. Harte Elementary School; speak at Edna Karr High School; and dish up dinner at Camp Hope in St. Bernard Parish. …

Busta Rhymes, who was arrested Saturday and charged with misdemeanor assault among other offenses, is staying mum about his bodyguard’s death, according to The New York Times. Police say Rhymes’ reluctance to speak about the February 5 shooting of Israel Ramirez is another setback to the investigation, which has included interviews with 100 potential witnesses to date but has rendered no leads. A police commissioner told the paper that officials believe that if Rhymes were to come forward to talk, others might do so as well. A New York Police Department spokesperson declined to comment or confirm that Rhymes was questioned about Ramirez on Saturday, citing an ongoing investigation. …

Compton, California, faced off with the Bronx, New York, in Harlem on Monday night when the Game‘s Black Wall Street team played against Fat Joe‘s Terror Squad in the championship game of the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at historic Rucker Park. The Game didn’t make the trip to NYC for the final, but Coach Joe was on hand with his secret weapon: Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest. Joe’s Terror Squad won the title by a 10-point margin. … Simon Cowell will lead the tribute to Dick Clark at the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which NBC will air live on Sunday. Newly announced presenters for the ceremony honoring TV’s best include Martin and Charlie Sheen, Ray Liotta, John Lithgow, Candice Bergen, Jeffrey Tambor and Bob Newhart. …

Cassie lands on newsstands Tuesday (August 22) for her first stint as a cover girl. Cassie and Nick Cannon are each featured on alternate covers for Rap-Up magazine’s summer 2006 issue. Inside, the singer explains that she’s learned a lot from Diddy, including an unflinching passion for music. “I would hold back a lot ’cause I didn’t want to look or feel weird around people, but he taught me to let go,” she said. Cassie listed Will.I.Am, Scott Storch and Gwen Stefani among her dream collaborators, and revealed that Jamie Foxx is the most famous name in her cell phone. “I didn’t even ask for his number. He gave it to me.” …

Every Time I Die bassist Chris Byrnes announced his departure from the metalcore band onstage at Saturday’s 10th annual Dirt Fest in Birch Run, Michigan. Byrnes is the fifth bassist to come and go in the band’s eight-year history. Frontman Keith Buckley told MTV News that Byrnes quit the group to take a “salary job with another band, doing sound.” Buckley said Every Time I Die hope to have a replacement by September 5, when they start their Canadian tour with Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats and Attack in Black. The band will also be touring with Atreyu and From First to Last starting October 6 in San Diego. …

Just a day after the singer of the Darkness was admitted to a rehab facility for exhaustion, another British rock frontman has gone down. After postponing dates last week due to what they said was singer Tom Chaplin‘s exhaustion, Keane canceled three concerts and postponed their North American tour Monday after Chaplin, 27, admitted to alcohol and drug issues. “I’ve been having to deal with an increasing problem with drink and drugs, and the time has come to get the professional help I need to sort myself out,” the leader of the piano-rocking trio said in a message posted Tuesday on the band’s Web site. “I feel desperately disappointed to be letting down our fans, but I want to get myself right now so that I can be back on the road for the rest of the year.” The band is expected to reschedule the U.S. dates soon. …

Women rocked the house Saturday night at the sold-out Wiltern LG in Los Angeles with all-girl group the Like opening up for the female-fronted Sounds. The Like experienced a few equipment problems early on in the set, prompting frontwoman Z. Berg to ask, “Anyone know any good jokes?” Powering through the technical difficulties, the band moved its hometown crowd until the Sounds took the stage. Singer Maja Ivarsson, who led the Sounds through a set that comprised much of their catalog — while sporting a short skirt that she hiked up even higher during the sexually charged “Tony the Beat” — announced that the band’s next single will be “Painted by Numbers.” … Ben Kweller — whose new, self-titled album is due September 19 — will be on the road from September 13 in Houston to October 22 in Boston. Hymns are opening for the second half of the outing. …

Seminal Scottish post-punks Josef K have never had a record officially released in the U.S. — until now. Domino Records U.S. is righting that wrong with the 22-track compilation Entomology. The third installment in Domino’s “The Sound of Young Scotland” series — which includes Orange Juice and the Fire Engines — is due November 7 and will contain John Peel radio sessions, 7-inch singles and six tracks from the aborted album Sorry for Laughing.Culture lead singer Joseph Hill died in Berlin on Saturday, The New York Times reports. He was 57. The Jamaican vocalist, songwriter and founding member of the long-running reggae group was on a European tour with the band when he became ill. Hill’s daughter Andrea told the Times that she did not know the cause of death.