Britney In A ‘Brighter State,’ Plus Beyonce, Diddy, 50 Cent, Madonna, Pharrell, Ashlee, Timbaland & More In For The Record

B, Diddy rack up BET Award noms; 50 slated to perform at the show; Madonna readies Pharrell-produced charity song.

Britney Spears has posted a new missive on her Web site. “The reason for this letter is to let everyone know that their prayers have truly helped me,” reads the post, which accompanies an image of the singer crossing her arms over her topless chest. “I am so blessed that you care enough about me to be concerned and will continue to live in this brighter state with all of you by my side during this trying time. We are all lights of the world and we all need to continuously inspire others and look to the higher power. You are all in my prayers. Godspeed. Love, Britney.” Spears is slated to perform under the guise of the M+Ms again on Saturday and Sunday in Florida. …

Beyoncé may need to make more room on her trophy shelf — the singer racked up a leading six BET Award nominations on Wednesday (May 16). She will face off against Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Jennifer Hudson and Corinne Bailey Rae in the Best Female R&B Artist category, and is also up for Video of the Year, Best Collaboration and Viewers’ Choice Award. Ne-Yo, Akon, John Legend, Gerald LeVert and Robin Thicke are up for Best Male R&B Artist; Gnarls Barkley, Three 6 Mafia, Pretty Ricky, Mary Mary and Outkast are vying for Best Group; Diddy, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Ludacris and T.I. are going head to head for Best Hip-Hop Artist honors; and Gnarls, Hudson, Bailey Rae, Mims and Lupe Fiasco will battle it out for Best New Artist. Diana Ross will be saluted with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Don Cheadle will be recognized with the Humanitarian Award for his efforts to help end the Sudan genocide. 50 Cent and T.I. are set to perform on the show, which will air June 26 at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT on BET, with a preshow starting at 6 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. CT. Comedienne Mo’Nique will host. …

Madonna‘s new album isn’t projected until around November, but a new song is on the way. “Hey You,” a Live Earth charity download track she worked on with Pharrell, finds her singing, “Open your heart/ It’s not so strange/ You’ve got to change this time … Poets and prophets will envy what you do/ This could be good/ Hey you.” The song is currently available as a free download on MSN’s Live Earth site. MSN will donate 25 cents to the Alliance for Climate Protection for each of the first 1 million downloads. When not trying to change the world, Madonna’s also working on the film “Filth and Wisdom,” which she’s directing herself. She’s hoping to show the short-form comedy at film festivals, her rep said. …

Ever since he showed up for her last “Chicago” performance in London’s West End, Ashlee Simpson has said she’s dying to work with Robert Smith of the Cure. But he’s not the only name on the list of collaborators for her third album — the singer has been hard at work writing songs with Timbaland, John Legend, Kenna and Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, a source close to the project told MTV News. If that list sounds unusual to you, it should — Ashlee is going for a more “soulful” sound on her new album, she told Cosmopolitan for the mag’s June cover story, and has been listening to a lot of India.Arie, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple for inspiration. “This record is not like, ‘I didn’t steal your boyfriend’ or anything like that,” she told Cosmo. “But who knows what’s going to happen in the next few months. I’ll probably have my heart broken and then end up with one of those kinds of songs on there.” Don’t count on it, though. “I’m in a stronger place now,” Simpson insisted. “I’m coming into my womanhood, and it’s changing my music.” …

Paris Hilton‘s mother, Kathy, says people should take a tip from her daughter’s misfortune. In a statement Barbara Walters read on “The View” on Wednesday, Kathy Hilton said, “We can only hope that something positive will come from all of this. Hopefully, young people who look up to people like Paris will learn from this,” according to The Associated Press.

Anna Nicole Smith wrote about an abusive boyfriend, celebrated plastic surgery and detailed her mother’s alleged jealousy in diaries she kept in the early ’90s, AP reports. In one of the excerpts released Wednesday, Smith wrote, “I’m a very sad person … my mom hates me so much. She is so jealous of me. … I love my mom but I can’t handle it anymore.” …

Phil Spector‘s chauffeur took the stand again Wednesday in the record producer’s murder trial, AP reports. Adriano de Souza testified that he fled after seeing the body of actress Lana Clarkson in Spector’s mansion, fearing he also might be shot. “I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I tried to escape from that place. … I was afraid [Spector] could shoot me.” De Souza said he drove away from the mansion, left a message for Spector’s secretary and then called 911. A tape of the phone call, in which he told a 911 operator, “I think my boss killed somebody,” was played in court. …

Fall Out Boy seem to have left Babyface hungry to work with more rock artists. The producer is twiddling the knobs for at least three songs primed to appear on the major-label debut by Los Angeles quartet the 88. In the meantime, listen for the band’s song “Coming Home” in the new Sears TV ad campaign. … Kid Rock is a few weeks away from completing his first studio album of new material since 2003′s self-titled CD of country-rock tunes. A spokesperson said Rock hasn’t revealed yet what the sound of the new self-produced record will be, but the set is tentatively scheduled for a September release. Though the Detroit MC has hinted that it might take him in a more rockin’ direction, the Kid still has his feet planted firmly in hip-hop. He has a guest spot alongside Ludacris on the track “Rock Star” from R. Kelly‘s upcoming double album as well as an open invitation from Beanie Siegel to appear on a track from his next album, called Rock Out With Your Co– Out. Rock has also been in talks with Run-DMC‘s Rev Run about recording a full album together. …

Former “American Idol” champ Carrie Underwood continued her winning ways Tuesday night at the 42nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards, grabbing three prizes — the biggest haul of the night. Underwood’s multiplatinum debut, Some Hearts, snagged her trophies for Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. Her “Before He Cheats” clip earned the Video of the Year prize. … Velvet Revolver will release an EP titled Melody and the Tyranny early next month as a precursor to the band’s forthcoming album, Libertad, which hits stores July 3. The EP will contain two tracks from Libertad as well as a cover of Talking Heads‘ “Psycho Killer” and a video documentary about the making of the album. …

Bo Diddley has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke on Sunday, according to his publicist. The 78-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist was admitted to an emergency room in Omaha, Nebraska, with elevated blood pressure and glucose levels. He is in intensive care. … Ike Turner is being held without bail at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles on an outstanding felony drug warrant, the Los Angeles Times reports. Police pulled Tina Turner‘s ex-husband over for speeding Tuesday night, at which point they discovered the 75-year-old had a no-bail narcotics warrant. …

MySpace responded Tuesday to a request from the attorneys general of eight states to turn over the names of known sex offenders who are using the site, but the answer was not what the AGs expected. The New York Times reported that MySpace said in a statement that it would work with state officials, that its cooperation would come only if it could comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which requires that a subpoena be issued for the names. The request was seen as a snub to the AG leading the group that is requesting the information, with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal telling the paper, “I do believe it is disingenuous and disappointing because much of the information that we have sought, specifically the numbers of convicted sex offenders on the site, require no subpoena or any other compulsory process. … We have a valid and viable need to know about convicted sexual offenders who may pose a threat to children.” He added that parole conditions for sex offenders usually say they cannot be in contact with children and that Connecticut and other states usually do not require a subpoena to enforce parole conditions, but that he would issue them if need be. MySpace’s chief security officer said MySpace has already taken down the profiles of thousands of sex offenders since the beginning of May.

05.15.2007

Kanye West has finally stopped teasing us and released the first record from his Graduation LP. It’s called “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and Hot 97′s DJ Enuff can brag about being the first spinner to play it. “Wait till I get my money right/ Then you can’t tell me nothing right,” Mr. West raps on the track. …

The trophies keep rolling in for Mary J. Blige. The singer will be presented with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ Voice of Music Award at the 20th Anniversary Rhythm & Soul Music Awards. The event will be held June 25 in Los Angeles. …

Phil Spector said, “I think I killed somebody,” and had a gun in his hand after the death of actress Lana Clarkson on February 3, 2003, Adriano Desouza testified in court Tuesday (May 15), according to The Associated Press. The chauffeur said he drove Spector and Clarkson to the music producer’s home around 3 a.m. and later heard a “pow.” According to Desouza, Spector walked out of his mansion at 5 a.m. with gun in hand and told the driver, “I think I killed somebody.” “What happened, sir?” Desouza replied, according to his testimony — Spector responded with a shrug, after which the driver “saw the legs of the lady,” he said. …

Bono‘s DATA — Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa — advocacy group has released a progress report that shows that G8 members have contributed less than half the amount needed to double African aid to $50 billion by 2010 as promised, AP reports. “The G8 are sleepwalking into a crisis of credibility,” Bono said in Germany, where a G8 summit will be hosted next month. “I know the DATA report will feel like a cold shower, but I hope it will wake us all up.” …

Lindsay Lohan is #1, Jessica Alba is #2 and Scarlett Johansson is #3 on Maxim‘s eighth annual “Hot 100″ list, but it’s MTV Movie Awards host Sarah Silverman (#29) who made the June issue’s cover. Christina Aguilera (#4), Rihanna (#8), Fergie (#10), Beyoncé (#13), Avril Lavigne (#15), Ashlee Simpson (#16), Nicole Scherzinger (#22), Hilary Duff (#23) and Nelly Furtado (#26) were among those who came in ahead of Silverman. …

Mike Jones has moved the release date of his second LP, The American Dream, from this month to July 10. The rapper, who has been asking fans to call him for years, also announced that he’s branching out into e-mail, via AskMikeJones@gmail.com. “There were many times where my friends (fans) couldn’t get through [on the phone],” Jones said in a statement. “With the e-mail address, it will be much easier for me to communicate with them.” Jones said his Blackberry “is always with me.” … Master P and Romeo have something to say about the recent flap over hip-hop lyrics — and they’ve started a new record label to prove it. Take a Stand Records will be a home “for hip-hop artists with street music without offensive lyrics,” according to the label’s Web site, which is littered with video clips pertaining to the rap-lyrics controversy. In addition to P and Romeo, the label also counts Forrest Lipton and Young V on its roster. …

Franz Ferdinand continue working on material for their next album. According to frontman Alex Kapranos, the Scottish band is still working in a practice space, fine-tuning new songs. He revealed a couple of song titles (“A New Thrill” and “English Goodbye”) via the band’s MySpace page but didn’t make any projections about when the guys would enter the studio to record the follow-up to 2005′s You Could Have It So Much Better.OK Go‘s Damian Kulash, My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James, the Indigo Girls and others are helping New Orleans rebound with a Future of Music Coalition benefit show to be held May 27 at Tipitina’s Uptown. Proceeds will go to Sweet Home New Orleans, a nonprofit group that provides rental help for displaced musicians. … Crowded House have lined up their first U.S. tour in more than 10 years. The reunited band will hit the pavement August 4 in Northampton, Massachusetts, and keep chugging along until September 12 in Atlanta. Pete Yorn, 16 Frames and Fountains of Wayne will trade off opening duties. …

Paris Hilton‘s psychiatrist describes the socialite as “emotionally distraught and traumatized” over her 45-day jail sentence — and currently unable to defend herself from a $10 million civil suit filed by heiress Zeta Graff, AP reports. A Los Angeles judge postponed the trial — which was set to begin this month — to August. The suit, filed in 2005, accuses Hilton of spreading “vicious lies” about Graff. … Bassist Ryan Sinn is out of Angels & Airwaves — and has been since April 19, according to a message he posted to the A&A fan club. Sinn said the reasons he was given for his dismissal were “severely hypocritical to the point of abhorrent disgust,” and explained that despite rumors to the contrary, he “would never leave a band because of a clash of ideas, or control. … What matters to me now is freedom — freedom to express myself and the freedom to be exactly who I am.” …

Scotland’s Aerogramme have thrown in the towel. The indie-rockers revealed they will call it quits after playing out their remaining tour dates — all of which are scheduled for the United Kingdom and Europe. The band’s last LP, My Heart Has a Wish That You Would Not Go, was released back in January. “[The] reasons are multiple and complex,” the band said in a statement. “It is, however, fair to say that the never-ending financial struggle coupled with an almost superhuman ability to dodge the zeitgeist have taken their toll, ensuring that we just don’t have any fight left in us.” … Sylvester Stallone‘s lawyers pleaded guilty on the “Rocky” actor’s behalf on Tuesday in a Sydney, Australia, court, answering charges that he smuggled 48 vials of the banned human-growth hormone Jintropin and several vials of male human testosterone into the country in February. In a statement, Stallone, 60, apologized for what he called a “terrible mistake,” saying he has taken the drugs for years for an unspecified medical condition and was unaware that they were banned in Australia, according to an AP report. The action star is expected to be sentenced on Monday and will likely face a fine of $10,000 or more. …

The attorneys general of eight states sent a letter to a lawyer for MySpace charging that the popular social-networking site has uncovered thousands of known sex offenders using the service, but had not done enough to block them from MySpace, according to The New York Times. “The fact that MySpace failed to come forward immediately with this information is really staggering,” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumental said. Officials obtained their information from unnamed but, “highly credible private groups” that got it directly from MySpace, according to the Times report. The letter asked MySpace officials to provide the names and addresses of sex offenders on MySpace along with a list of steps the company has taken to alert law-enforcement officials and other MySpace users. The chief security officer for MySpace responded in a letter that the company had recently begun using new software to “proactively identify and remove any known sex offenders from the site.” MySpace was given until May 29 to respond to the request.