For The Record: Quick News On Brandy, Beyonce, Killers, Game, Nelly, Joel And Benji Madden & More

Brandy slapped with $50 million lawsuit; Knowles says she found 'incredible women' for tour; Killers roll out tour dates.

The family of the woman killed in a freeway crash involving Brandy on December 30 filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the singer Tuesday (January 30), according to Reuters. The suit claims 38-year-old Awatef Aboudihaj’s death was caused by “reckless driving” on the part of Brandy, whose Land Rover initially hit Aboudihaj. The vehicle driven by Aboudihaj then slammed into a third car and was hit broadside by a fourth vehicle. On Monday, the California Highway Patrol suggested to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office that Brandy, who was traveling alone, be charged with a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter. That charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Investigators have ruled out alcohol, drugs and cell phone use as factors. …

Beyoncé told MTV Europe that holding open calls for musicians and dancers for her upcoming tour wasn’t easy — but it was worth the effort. “I found the most incredible women,” she said of the worldwide auditions. “I sat there one day and looked at thousands of women, and it was just so great to see that it was a lot of people’s first auditions and they had the opportunity to learn.” Beyoncé said the all-female band and eight dancers she discovered at open calls will support her on the European tour, which will include Destiny’s Child selections as well as her solo songs. “I do a little bit of everything,” she said. …

The Killers will kick off their “Read My Mind” tour April 6 in Santa Barbara, California. The 17-date trek is scheduled to wrap April 29 in Boston. Tickets are already on sale through the band’s fan club and at various Target stores (no, we’re not kidding), and will be available to the rest of us non-fan-club-joining, non-Target-shopping schlubs February 3. …

The Game, Nelly, and Joel and Benji Madden will act as celebrity judges in Music Nation’s online music-video competition, which will result in three rock, pop and urban artists getting signed to Epic. Producers J.R. Rotem (Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child) and Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects); Jive Urban Music President Mark Pitts; and Epic President Charlie Walk are also on the panel. Voting, which the public can also participate in, is now open for the 15-week competition at MusicNation.com. …

U.K. starlet Lily Allen will pad the release of her debut, Alright, Still — which just dropped Stateside — with a performance on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. The singer’s club tour will follow: MTV Discover & Download Presents Lily Allen opens Monday in Los Angeles and ends February 18 in Boston. She’ll also appear on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” February 13. … Avril in April: Lavigne has set April 17 as the release date for her third studio LP, The Best Damn Thing. Expect the singer’s album — the follow-up to 2004′s Under My Skin — to include “Keep Holding On,” which appeared on the “Eragon” soundtrack; “Girlfriend,” which is the LP’s first single; plus “I Can Do Better,” “The Best Damn Thing,” “When You’re Gone” and “Innocence.” Husband/ Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley, Butch Walker (Under My Skin) and Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) produce. …

Paris Hilton filed a federal lawsuit against the operators of ParisExposed.com, seeking to shut down the subscription-based site — which features personal photos, videos, diaries and other Hilton belongings once housed at a storage facility — The Associated Press reports. The site launched last week, and its creators claim they obtained Paris’ personal effects through an auction initiated after Hilton neglected to pay her storage fees. According to the suit, Hilton was “shocked and surprised” to learn her belongings — including a passport, medical records, financial statements and other legal documents displayed on the site — were sold at a public auction, maintaining that the moving company she hired two years ago was supposed to pay the storage fees. Hilton’s publicist Elliot Mintz told AP that his client would like the site closed and “all of these items returned to her.” …

Jennifer Lopez has had enough of JLo — her fashion line, not her nickname. Lopez’s new juniors brand Justsweet will debut in time for a fall back-to-school launch, replacing the street-inspired JLo line in department stores and featuring apparel more in tune with her higher-end Sweetface brand. Lopez will show her new line — which will include dresses, fragrance, eyewear, outerwear and jewelry as well as jeans and sportswear — at New York’s Fashion Week in September. … Toni Braxton pulled her lawsuit against her ex-manager Barry Hankerson and his Blackground Records LLC on Monday after a federal court directed her to justify the basis of the suit. The singer had claimed Hankerson owed her $10 million after convincing her to leave longtime label Arista and sign to Blackground. …

Beck has announce the track list for the three-disc deluxe edition of The Information, due February 27. Highlights include three previously unreleased tracks (“Inside Out,” “This Girl That I Know” and “O Menina”); remixes by Bumblebeez and Jamie Lidell; and Michel Gondry‘s video for “Cellphone’s Dead.” … Jurassic 5‘s Chali 2na, Blackalicious rapper Gift of Gab and Digable PlanetsLadybug are among the guests contributing to New Orleans funk band Galactic‘s hip-hop-style album, due in the summer. Mr. Lif, Lyrics Born, the Coup‘s Boots Riley and Lateef the Truthspeaker will also be featured. …

My Chemical Romance, the Killers, Muse, Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian lead the field for the Shockwave NME Awards with four nominations each. All five bands go head-to-head in the Best Album category, while MCR and the Killers face off for Best International Band — against the Strokes, CSS and We Are Scientists — and Muse, Kasabian and the Monkeys do battle with Oasis and Babyshambles for the Best British Band honor. The prizes, which are voted on by NME readers, will be handed out March 1 at London’s Hammersmith Palais. … The Good, the Bad & the Queen — the collective featuring Blur‘s Damon Albarn, former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong and drummer Tony Allen — will begin a North American tour March 11 in Toronto. Just five dates have been announced thus far, including a gig in New York on March 12; one in Washington, D.C., on March 14; and a stop in New Orleans on March 18. The band’s eponymous debut was released last week. …

Pretty Girls Make Graves have revealed their plans to disband once their upcoming tour wraps in May. Drummer Nick DeWitt has left the band, and there’s no word yet whether he will continue to play with the group through the end of the still-unscheduled tour. With DeWitt gone, “the rest of us feel like it wouldn’t be right to continue on without him,” the band said in a statement. “The five of us feel very lucky to have met and worked with some truly amazing people over the years.” … Scarlet have also decided to call it quits, following the recent departure of their latest frontman, Brandon Roundtree. “We feel it would be unfair to fans, and to ourselves, to try and continue with yet another singer,” the band said in a statement.

01.29.2007

The California Highway Patrol has recommended that Brandy (real name: Brandy Norwood) be charged in the fatal multi-car crash she was involved in late last year, The Associated Press reported Monday (January 29). The CHP, which referred the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said the singer/actress should be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. The maximum sentence for that charge is one year in county jail, and it also carries a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors reviewing the matter told AP they didn’t know when they would make a decision about whether to charge Brandy. …

Jessica Simpson has some exceptionally cheesy plans for Super Bowl Sunday: She’ll return to her role as Pizza Hut pitch person in a commercial set to air during the big game. … In other Super Bowl news, Billy Joel will sing the national anthem at the event. The piano-playing singer/songwriter, who performed at Super Bowl XXIII in 1989, will be the first artist to take on the anthem twice. And Lil Jon and a group of Bedtime Bunnies are joining forces to host Playboy‘s Super Bowl pre-party at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Johnny Knoxville, Terrence Howard and Backstreet BoysNick Carter and A.J. McLean are on the Saturday night bash’s guest list. …

Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige and Toni Braxton are heading to Las Vegas with the cream of the pro-basketball crop next month. Aguilera will headline the NBA All-Star Game’s halftime show February 18, with Braxton also performing at the event. And Blige will sing at slam-dunk contests the night before as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night skills competition. Both events will air live on TNT beginning at 8 p.m. ET. …

Jay-Z has been tapped by Coca-Cola to spruce up the company’s Cherry Coke brand. The rap icon will serve as an unofficial brand strategist helping to craft commercials for Cherry Coke and lending his input into the new can. Jay’s involvement with the beverage line will culminate in a February 7 appearance at a Cherry Coke relaunch event during New York’s Fashion Week. … The Church of England will hold its first “U2-charist” communion service in Lincoln, England, in May, Reuters reports. A live band performing songs by the Irish group will replace traditional hymns during the service, which will also feature lyrics on a giant screen so that even non-fans can join in song. The “U2-charist” event will promote the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, an eight-part initiative to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and alleviate world poverty. …

Young Buck got tripped up by an old charge on Friday in Nashville when police arrested the G-Unit rapper for failure to be booked on a 2006 misdemeanor citation. According to WTVF in Nashville, police spotted Buck (born David Darnell Brown), 25, weaving on a downtown Nashville street, and arrested him when they realized he had not been booked for the July charge of driving with a suspended license. His bond was set at $1,000. … It’s still unclear who will actually take the stage, but the reunited Smashing Pumpkins have announced their first comeback live dates: a pair of headlining gigs at the Rock Am Ring (June 2) and Rock Im Park (June 3) festivals in Germany. …

After giving it away for free, YouTube posters might start getting paid for their dancing-cat videos. Site co-founder Chad Hurley announced Saturday that there are plans to spread some of the wealth to the site’s millions of users. There’s no details yet on how it will work, but according to an AP report, Hurley said, “We are getting an audience large enough where we have an opportunity to support creativity, to foster creativity through sharing revenue with our users. … So in the coming months we are going to be opening that up.” … “Little Miss Sunshine” beat out “Dreamgirls,” “Babel,” “Bobby” and “The Departed” to take the ensemble film acting prize at Sunday’s 13th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Helen Mirren (“The Queen”) and Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) won the top individual film acting prizes, while “Dreamgirls” stars Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson were each honored for their supporting performances. Top TV awards went to the casts of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Office.” …

B.B. King was “back to his old self” after being discharged from a Galveston, Texas, hospital on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for his management agency. AP reports that the 81-year-old bluesman was admitted to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston on Thursday and received treatment for a fever. King, who missed three scheduled shows in Texas while hospitalized, will make up the performances in June. He plans to play a Fort Worth show on Tuesday as scheduled. … Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Bon Jovi‘s Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, David Schwimmer, Howard Stern, Kenneth Cole, Deborah Gibson and Russell Simmons came together late last week in New York to raise money for the nonprofit organization Homes, Jobs, and Services for America’s Homeless. Jon Bon Jovi and Cole co-hosted the benefit party. …

London’s legendary Hammersmith Palais, which was immortalized in song by the Clash‘s 1978 tune “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais,” is scheduled to be demolished to make way for an office building. BBC News reports that fans lost a fight to keep the World War I-era venue open after police said neighbors had complained about criminal behavior by patrons and asked for its license to be revoked last year. Among the groups that have played the venue in the past are U2, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones and My Chemical Romance. …

Joey Ramone‘s mother, Charlotte Lesher, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack in her home in Queens, New York, according to the late punk icon’s Web site, JoeyRamone.com. Lesher was 80. “Mama Ramone,” as Joey called her, is survived by her son Mickey Leigh. Donations to the Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research will be accepted in lieu of cards or flowers. … Angelina Jolie also lost her mother on Saturday. Actress Marcheline Bertrand died of cancer, Jolie announced in a statement on Sunday. The family is planning a private funeral and asked that, instead of flowers, donations be made to the Cedars-Sinai’s Women’s Cancer Research Institute.