For The Record: Quick News On James Brown, Spike Lee, Eminem, Ludacris, Jessica, Justin, JoJo & More

Brown lying in repose at Apollo; Spike Lee directing Brown biopic; Eminem's ex in custody battle.

Three days after his death at age 73, soul legend James Brown's body will return to the place where the singer made his stage debut, New York's Apollo Theater. According to The Associated Press, the public will be allowed to view Brown's body on Thursday at the legendary Harlem venue, followed by a private burial Friday in Brown's hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Another public ceremony will follow a day later at Augusta's James Brown Arena. Variety reports that Spike Lee has signed on to direct a biopic about Brown that is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2008. Brown played an active role in the project's development and gave producers access to his music rights. ...

The twin sister of Eminem's ex-wife, Kim Mathers, is in police custody after allegedly attempting to kidnap her son, AP reports. Kim Mathers, who is the legal guardian of her sister's 7-year-old, filed a parental-kidnapping complaint on Tuesday. Mathers' sister — whose name was not released by police — was arrested after she fled a local gas station. The boy has been returned to Mathers' custody. ... A former Sprint Nextel employee has filed a lawsuit claiming that she was fired unjustly for hiring Ludacris to perform at a company event — even though her boss was aware of her activities. According to the Kansas City Star, Elizabeth Henry said she was given permission to secure talent for a Las Vegas party. Henry said her boss green-lit two entertainers, Luda and LL Cool J. After booking 'Cris, however, Henry alleges that she was interrogated for five hours, despite assuring management that Luda would perform according to "PG-13 standards," and was fired later that same day. "Her boss approved it and didn't think anything of it until somebody said, 'Hey, have you ever listened to their music?' " Henry's lawyer, Brendan J. Donelon, told the newspaper. Sprint officials had not released a comment as of publish time. ...

Willie Nelson and Jessica Simpson are re-forming an onscreen family bond for "Blonde Ambition," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Nelson, who co-starred as Uncle Jesse to Simpson's Daisy Duke in 2005's "The Dukes of Hazzard," will play her grandfather in the "Working Girl" update. ... Look out, Cameron DiazJoJo's got an eye on your man. In the spring issue of Seventeen Prom, the singer encourages girls to get out there and ask someone to the prom ("This is 2006, babe ... I'm all for being the one to initiate") and admits her own dream date. "Well, I knew it was unattainable, but I always thought Justin Timberlake was so cute, especially when he was in 'NSYNC and had that blond Afro. He gets finer with age!" ...

Jessica Alba and Johnny Depp top a poll of fantasy New Year's Eve dates, with Scarlett Johansson and George Clooney also ranking high in the Blockbuster Inc. survey. And while they want beautiful stars holding their arm when 2007 arrives, respondents said they were more interested in hanging out than hooking up. Seventy percent of those polled said their pick was someone who would be fun to spend time with, and only 15 percent admitted to choosing someone they'd want to kiss at midnight. ...

Before heading on a two-week trek through Australia in late March, Dave Matthews Band will headline a two-night stand at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on March 23 and 24. The Fray will open the Vegas shows. ... TV on the Radio have mapped out a 28-city tour that will kick off March 1 in Providence, Rhode Island. Opening acts have not been confirmed, but are expected to be named in the coming weeks. The tour will run through an April 21 stop in Poughkeepsie, New York. ... Brand New will hit the road this spring for a U.S. headlining run that launches March 15 in Buffalo, New York, and wraps up April 25 with a show in Philadelphia. ...

Two new untitled demo tracks from Evanescence drummer William "Rocky" Gray's Soul Embraced side project have been posted to the band's MySpace page. Gray plays guitar for the Little Rock, Arkansas, outfit, which is fronted by his brother-in-law Chad Moore and features Living Sacrifice's Lance Garvin on drums. The band — which released its The Fleshless EP in 1999, followed by the LPs For The Incomplete (2000), This Is My Blood (2002) and Immune (2003) — is compiling material for its next studio effort. ...

An album cover signed by all four members of the Beatles — as a gift for George Harrison's sister Louise — sold Friday at an auction in New York for more than $115,000, AP reports. The winning bidder was not identified, but the sale set a record for a signed Beatles album purchased at a public sale. On the cover of the copy of Meet the Beatles, the Fab Four's first U.S. release, Harrison had written above his signature, "To Lou with love from 'Brother'!!" while John Lennon wrote, "To Lou many love from John Lennon X." ...

Want to pre-order Norah Jones' forthcoming Not Too Late? Well, you've got many options. iTunes is sweetening the deal with five tracks from her iTunes Live Session; Amazon if offering an exclusive live video performance of "Rosie's Lullaby," one of the tracks featured on the artist's third release; and getting the set through Walmart.com will grant you instant access to the first single, "Thinking About You." ... Winger fans unite! The founding members of the hair-metal band will take flight for their first tour in more than 10 years on Sunday in Pittsburgh. Winger, which recently issued Winger IV, will end the six-week U.S. jaunt on March 9 in Houston.

12.26.2006

As 2006 draws to a close, the R&B charts have crowned their queen. Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough was #1 on Billboard magazine's year-end R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and she's at the top of 2006's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart thanks to her single, "Be Without You." Blige was followed on the R&B albums chart by Jamie Foxx's Unpredictable, while newcomer Chris Brown also made some noise, landing at #5 on the R&B albums chart and topping the pop lists for Top Artists, Top Male Artists and Top New Artists. In the latter category, he was followed by Ne-Yo, the Fray, James Blunt and Carrie Underwood. Ne-Yo also fared well on the R&B albums chart, where In My Own Words, landed at #4. T.I.'s King finished at #1 on the Top Rap Albums count, and Underwood makes history by becoming the first "American Idol" winner to have the #1 entry on the year-end Billboard albums chart. Her country album, Some Hearts, has never left the Billboard 200 since its debut, holding off the year's surprise smash seller, the #2-selling soundtrack to "High School Musical." ...

You won't have to call him "Sir Bono," but U2's frontman was awarded an honorary British Knighthood over the Christmas weekend for his work in music and humanitarian efforts, according to a posting on the band's Web site. A statement on the site said the 46-year-old singer was, in his typically straightforward manner, "very flattered to be honored, particularly if the honor ... opens doors for his long standing campaigning work against extreme poverty in Africa." Because the Irish rocker is a not a British national, the honorary award does not entitle him to use the title of "Sir." ...

Turns out the faux-fur detail on two jackets from Diddy's Sean John line isn't so faux after all. The Associated Press reports that an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States found that nine out of 10 jackets tested were made from a species of undomesticated dog known as "raccoon dog." The garments were removed from Macy's stores, with a company spokesperson noting that the retailer has a policy against selling dog or cat fur. "I was completely unaware of the nature of this material," Diddy said in a statement. "I have instructed our outerwear licensee to cease the production of any garments using this material immediately." ...

More bands have being added to the lineup for this year's Bamboozle festival, which will be held May 5 and 6 at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with My Chemical Romance closing out the fest's first night, and Linkin Park tapped to wrap up the second. The newest additions to the bill include Muse; Thrice; Whole Wheat Bread featuring Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock; Saves the Day; the Early November; Hot Rod Circuit; Men, Women & Children; Haste the Day; Lordi, It Dies Today and the Devil Wears Prada. ...

Michael Jackson has filed a lawsuit against his former accountants, charging they made unauthorized business deals for which they later charged the pop star millions. According to the Associated Press, Jackson claims that Bernstein, Fox, Whitman, Goldman & Sloan withdrew $2.5 million a year from his bank accounts and failed to keep him apprised of his financial affairs. The suit, which alleges negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, also claims the firm failed to pay his bills properly. Jackson is seeking unspecified damages and a full accounting of all money the firm received for services. The singer hired the Los Angeles-based accounting firm in 2003 for bookkeeping, opening bank accounts and filing personal, corporate and real estate taxes. ...

The dates for Killswitch Engage's upcoming tour with Dragonforce, Chimaira and He Is Legend have been revealed. The 35-city jaunt kicks off in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 21. Stops in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle and Detroit follow, with the tour winding down April 8 in Chicago. ... Senses Fail and Alexisonfire will be hitting the road together next month, on a 21-stop tour that will launch January 10 in Hartford, Connecticut. Dates are booked through February 3 in Cordova, Tennessee. ... The Number Twelve Looks Like You, From a Second Story Window, Cancer Bats, Speakerfire and Send the Dawn will be teaming up next month for a brief, 12-gig road trip that gets underway January 24 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and runs through February 6 in Seattle. ...

Carl Blaze, a DJ for New York hip-hop station Power 105, died Saturday of gunshot wounds sustained earlier this month, The New York Times reports. He was 30. The DJ, born Carlos Rivera, was shot 13 times outside an apartment building in Upper Manhattan on December 7 and had been in critical condition at Harlem Hospital Center since he was wounded. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.