For The Record: Quick News On Beyonce, Mary J., T.I., Justin, Jay-Z, Smashing Pumpkins, Coup, Britney & More

Knowles explains Deena transformation; Blige leads Billboard winners; Tip talks Timberlake collaboration.

Sure, Beyoncé is a veteran of an R&B trio and went on to launch a solo career, but the filmmakers behind “Dreamgirls” wanted more than just a résumé match when they cast the role of Deena. “My usual performance style — the energy and the dancing and my growling — is the complete opposite of Deena,” Beyoncé told Vanity Fair for the “Dreamgirls” cover story in the magazine’s January issue. “They didn’t know if I could be understated and if I could play the part, basically.” The singer, who scored the role after doing her homework to pull off a ’60s look and vocal style during her audition, explained how she was able to override her natural delivery to become Deena. “I treated all of the singing like acting. I acted out the words with my coach, and treated them like scenes, not like performances. … Vocally, I had to completely hold back. I had to whisper things — I couldn’t sing anything in my full voice — and the simpler I sang it, the happier [director Bill Condon] was.” …

Mary J. Blige dominated Monday night’s Billboard Music Awards, winning nine statues, including female R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year for The Breakthrough and R&B/Hip-Hop Song of the Year (“Be Without You”). Former “American Idol” champ Carrie Underwood and Atlanta rapper T.I. were not far behind with five trophies each, with Tip’s King sweeping the rap awards and Underwood’s Some Hearts snagging Album of the Year honors. Chris Brown took home a trio of prizes, including Best New Artist. Nickelback also scored three, among them Rock Album of the Year for All the Right Reasons. The Fray won all three digital awards, with nods for Digital Album of the Year and Digital Songs Artist of the Year. Other winners included Rihanna (Female Artist of the Year, Female Hot 100 Artist of the Year and Pop 100 Artist of the Year), Nelly Furtado (Pop 100 Single of the Year for “Promiscuous”) and “High School Musical” (Soundtrack Album of the Year). …

T.I. says a follow-up to “My Love,” his hit with Justin Timberlake, could surface within the next few months. “It’s quite possible you’ll hear JT on the T.I. vs. T.I.P. album,” the rapper said of his next LP. Tip has 30 songs in the can from the T.I. vs. T.I.P. recording sessions and expects to release it in the spring. But you don’t have to wait that long for new material from Tip. His Grand Hustle imprint will release In Da Streetz, Vol. 4 December 19. The first single from the disc, a remix of “Top Back,” features Young Dro, B.G., Big Kuntry and Young Jeezy. “It’s about having yourself a nice little car that happens to be a convertible,” he said. “You turn your music up high and let your top back. You cruise through the city taking in the sights, and you do your thing till the sun comes up. You ain’t gotta be from the South to know that.” … Performances from Jay-Z‘s Hangar Tour will be available to Cingular customers this month in the form of ringtones, answer tones and mobile video. For a rundown of the content, which includes exclusive backstage video, visit CingularSource.com/HangarTour. …

Four supposed Smashing Pumpkins demo tracks have been making the rounds on numerous file-sharing Web sites — but the authenticity of the tunes remains to be seen. The songs — “Collapsing Cities,” “The Restless Word,” “Siam Mais” and “In the Eyes Beholding” — were leaked as The Baker Demos. The reunited band has been working with producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Cars) on their forthcoming comeback LP. But some fans doubt the songs are true Pumpkins cuts, as the vocals allegedly sound nothing like those of frontman Billy Corgan. A spokesperson for the band’s management could not be reached for comment. … Politically charged rappers the Coup are expected to cancel their current tour after being involved in a devastating bus accident over the weekend. The vehicle flipped and subsequently caught fire while the group was driving through Imperial, California. Injuries were suffered all around, including broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken leg and deep lacerations. Three shows have already been canceled, include the Coup’s Tuesday (December 5) gig in Boulder, Colorado, and the remainder of the tour will most likely be scrapped as well, according to the group’s label. …

Britney Spears leads the year’s searches on Yahoo! — and she had the title in the bag even before all-too-revealing photos of her exiting vehicles hit the Web. According to The Hollywood Reporter, searches for Spears rank ahead of WWE (#2) and Shakira (#3). Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, “American Idol,” Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Pamela Anderson and Lindsay Lohan round out the top 10. The most-searched news stories of the year were the deaths of “Crocodile Hunter” host Steve Irwin and Anna Nicole Smith‘s son. News on the Iraq war placed third. … Though she’s tops with Yahoo! searchers, Spears wasn’t a big draw at a music-memorabilia auction held Monday night at Christie’s auction house in New York. While Paul McCartney‘s working lyrics to the Beatles‘ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” fetched $192,000 and a notebook of Bob Marley‘s sold for $72,000, Britney’s handwritten homework — a report on Sophocles’ “Antigone” — took in $250, well below the $500-700 estimate. …

Logan Whitehurst, who played drums for indie-pop act the Velvet Teen, died at his home in Los Banos, California, on Sunday following a long bout with brain cancer. He was 29. Remaining members of the band issued a statement about his passing, calling Whitehurst “an incredibly special and endlessly gifted person” and “possibly the most grounded and mature person” they’d ever met. “Logan will be missed terribly. This is just tremendously sad.” … Longtime music publicist Ronnie Lippin — who represented such stars as Prince, Eric Clapton, Olivia-Newton John and former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler — died Monday at age 59 after a long battle with a rare form of breast cancer. Lippin, who also managed Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson at one time, began her career in the music business as the head publicist for MCA Records and also worked at Elton John‘s Rocket Records imprint before moving to RSO Records, the label that was home to the hit “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever” soundtracks.

12.04.2006

Snoop can breathe a little easier — for now. On Monday (December 4), a superior-court judge in Santa Ana, California, postponed the rapper’s felony weapon-possession arraignment until January. The charges — not to be confused with the ones surrounding Snoop’s arrest for gun and drug possession last week — stem from a September incident at John Wayne Airport, where he was caught carrying a collapsible baton in his luggage. Snoop showed up to court Monday with three guards and his defense attorney, but he signed a waiver that will free him up from having to appear at most of the “non-substantive” hearings. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted. …

A teary-eyed Jessica Simpson quickly left the stage Sunday night at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., after singing Dolly Parton‘s “9 to 5,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Simpson’s performance — which the reportedly silent audience did not applaud — was part of a tribute event honoring the country legend, Steven Spielberg, Smokey Robinson and others. Simpson ended the song abruptly by saying, “So nervous,” and appeared to still be crying when she returned to the stage with other singers later in the show, according to the paper. The tribute will be broadcast December 26 on CBS. …

Madonna‘s Confessions road trip is heading to a new venue — fans’ homes. A to-be-named tour DVD will hit U.S. stores January 23. … Lance Bass and Reichen Lehmkuhl have broken up, according to People magazine. Bass revealed his relationship with the “Amazing Race” winner when the ‘NSYNC singer announced to the magazine in July that he’s gay. …

Police shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old who had been accused of robbing a student of two PlayStation 3s the day the console was released, AP reports. Peyton Strickland was shot Friday in New Haven County, North Carolina, after police had been sent to arrest him at a house the student shared with three roommates. One of the roommates said Strickland was unarmed but may have been holding a video game controller when police bashed in the door to the house. Authorities said Monday that the shooting will be investigated. …

Paris Hilton has backed out of an appearance at the Billboard Music Awards on Monday because she’s not into cracking on her pals. Hilton’s spokesperson, Elliot Mintz, told AP that his client wasn’t happy with some of the jokes that had been written for her. “Some satirical references ridiculed some of her peers,” he told the wire service. “Paris did not want to say anything that could appear hurtful or embarrassing about people she knows.” The awards show, which airs Monday on Fox, will not have a host, according to a network representative. …

During a pretrial hearing last week, Jennifer Lopez‘s first husband, Ojani Noa, revealed plans to fight the singer’s efforts to thwart his tell-all memoir. AP reports that Noa told the court he regrets agreeing to a preliminary injunction that bars him from “criticizing, denigrating, casting in a negative light or otherwise disparaging or causing disparagement” to his ex. “I want to fight this thing to the end,” he declared. Lopez filed the suit against Noa in April and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting him from publishing details about the couple’s most intimate moments. Noa said the book would concentrate on his experiences, and said Lopez “was only a part of my life, but I was going to talk about my other girlfriends as well.” Lopez and Noa married in 1997 and divorced 11 months later. …

Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson has responded to claims made last week by Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes regarding the band’s departure from GN’R’s current tour. Hughes had said that Stinson tossed his bass down in disgust during a November 24 gig in Cleveland, when frontman Axl Rose called the Eagles the “Pigeons of Sh– Metal.” Hughes also said Rose then picked up the instrument and hurled it at Stinson. “Eagles of Death Metal were a suggestion of mine a while ago,” the GN’R bassist wrote. “Turns out they were the wrong band for our crowd. They were booed and did not play for as long as they were scheduled to. As for all of the inaccuracies that have been said since, I would like to say that’s all they are — inaccuracies. In the past, I have thrown my bass. I have never thrown it at Axl or anyone else in the band, nor has anyone thrown my bass back at me … yet. Axl has been a dear friend to me for nine years. We have no problem communicating and wish that people would stay the f— out of sh– they don’t know anything about.” …

In related news, organizers of a guns-for-Guns N’ Roses ticket exchange program in Oakland, California, said the event was a success, with more than three dozen guns being turned over in exchange for goods worth an average of $100, including tickets to the band’s December 15 gig. The handguns and rifles collected during Saturday’s event will be transferred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to be melted down and converted into manhole covers. … All-female metal band Kittie have been forced to change the name of their record label to X of Infamy, following the arrival of a cease-and-desist letter issued by attorneys representing Kiss. The Canadian band’s label was originally dubbed Kiss of Infamy, which, according to Kiss’ lawyers, is “confusingly similar” to their client’s moniker. Kittie will release their new LP, Funeral for Yesterday, February 20. …

If you had told somebody 40 years ago that a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico would have ever fetched $110,000 … well, let’s just say you never would have. But that’s what a rare vinyl item by the band is going for on eBay — dwarfing ever so slightly the 75 cents it was purchased for at a New York street sale in 2002. The acetate is being considered the only surviving copy of the first “finished” version of the debut album Andy Warhol brought to Columbia Records. The auction ends Friday. … Devendra Banhart popped up at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre late last week to join his bandmate Noah Georgeson onstage. Georgeson opened for Joanna Newsom and performed in support of his own Find Shelter.

Despite plenty of bloggerati rumors to the contrary, Los Angeles duo Giant Drag haven’t broken up — but things are going to be a whole lot different from now on. According to a spokesperson for Interscope Records, drummer/synth player Micah Calabrese has left the band, but guitarist Annie Hardy will soldier on as “the writer and face of Giant Drag.” The band’s most recent album was 2005′s critically lauded Hearts and Unicorns. … A West Virginia concert promoter has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Slipknot, claiming the Iowa metal act bailed on a 2001 concert he organized. The suit claims Slipknot was scheduled to perform November 27, 2001, at the Huntington Civic Center, but canceled the appearance when a family member of one of the rockers fell ill. The complaint — which names all nine members of Slipknot as defendants — alleges that the band was aware that promoter Don Maynard “expended a significant amount of time, energy and money promoting the show based on the contract and that he would suffer damages as a result of the defendants breaching the concert contract.” Maynard is seeking $72,000 in damages.