Simon Cowell Advises Britney, Says Melinda’s ‘The Best’; Plus More ‘Idol’ News, Amy Winehouse, Madonna, Bono & More, In For The Record

'Idol' finale numbers fall short; Winehouse, Madge nab songwriting honors; Bono gets Liberty Medal.

Melinda Doolittle should have won “American Idol” — and Britney Spears needs to ditch her “stupid friends” if she wants to save her career, Simon Cowell told “Good Morning America” on Thursday (May 24). The “Idol” judge summed up Wednesday night’s results (“the singer won over the entertainer”), called Jordin Sparks the season’s “most improved” contestant and said Melinda “tried the hardest, was consistently the best, and had the best voice.” And as for Britney, Simon says he could have put her on the right path back in 2006. “My advice to her six months ago was to go home to your family, lock the door, don’t go out with your stupid friends, have some home-cooked food. Get a sense of reality. … And then say to yourself, ‘There’s more good in my life than bad. I’m still a rich, talented girl and now I want to get my career back on track.’ End of story.” …

Jordin Sparks is no doubt celebrating her “American Idol” victory, but the show’s organizers might not be so happy with the finale results. Reuters reports that 7 million fewer people tuned into the last episode of the show compared with last year. … Paul McCartney is fed up with hearing rumors that he backed out of appearing on the Wednesday night show, which his ex Heather Mills attended. In a statement released to TMZ.com, a representative for McCartney said the former Beatle was never scheduled to appear on the show in the first place. …

Write on: Amy Winehouse, Madonna and the Arctic Monkeys scooped up Ivor Novello songwriting awards on Thursday. Winehouse won Best Contemporary Song honors for “Rehab.” … Talk about scary: Marilyn Manson has recorded an acoustic cover of Justin Timberlake‘s “What Goes Around …” on the BBC, according to Stereogum.com. … The karmic returns keep coming in for Bono. The U2 singer will be hailed with this year’s Liberty Medal for helping to bring attention to Africa’s medical and economic problems, The Associated Press reports. He and his Debts, AIDS, Trade, Africa organization will accept the award September 27, with a $100,000 donation going to DATA. …

Get ready to strap on your axes: The songs that will be featured in “Guitar Hero III” have been revealed, according to GameSpot.com. The game will include a handful of original recordings, including Weezer‘s “My Name Is Jonas,” Smashing Pumpkins‘ “Cherub Rock,” Beastie Boys‘ “Sabotage,” Tenacious D‘s “The Metal,” Rolling Stones‘ “Paint It Black,” Living Colour‘s “Cult of Personality” and Muse‘s “Knights of Cydonia.” Covers of songs by Heart, Kiss, Alice Cooper and others will also appear in the game, which is due later this year. …

Scott Stapp has issued a public apology following his domestic violence arrest over the weekend. “I am truly sorry and seek forgiveness from my wife, as she has done the same seeking forgiveness from me,” the former Creed frontman said. “We both know we were wrong in how we handled the argument and in some of the allegations that were made. Now we are trying to move forward as a family.” Stapp said in the statement that some things said to police in the heat of the moment weren’t true. “As in most cases like this, the next day everyone is sorry and wishes they didn’t get the police involved and said what they did about their partner. … We would also like to apologize to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department for calling them to our home and taking them away from the very serious and dangerous job of protecting our community.” …

Lady Sovereign offered an apology of her own to fans who waited until 3:30 a.m for her to take the stage at a show in Brooklyn, New York, last week — only to have the rapper walk off two songs later. “I know how stupid I must have looked on Friday,” Sov said in a statement. “I was tired and not in the mood, having a bad day.” How bad? According to her rep, the rapper’s tour bus broke down on her way to New York from New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center, where she opened for Gwen Stefani, making her late for the four-song set she had scheduled at Brooklyn’s Studio B. “But that’s no excuse for letting fans down,” the statement continued. “I”m sorry to those that were at Studio B to see me.” …

Aly & AJ have wrapped up their new LP Insomniac, which is due July 10. The video for the first single, “Potential Breakup Song,” was shot by Chris Applebaum (Britney Spears, Hilary Duff). Also keep an eye out for boxes of Honeycomb cereal, which the girls will also be appearing on. … Snoop Dogg and Chris Cornell have been added to the lineup of the Live Earth concerts set for July 7. Both will take the stage in Germany for Live Earth Hamburg, one of nine worldwide events to raise awareness of climate change. …

AirWair Ltd., the company behind Dr. Martens footwear, has fired its advertising agency in the wake of controversy surrounding a British ad campaign that includes a photo of Kurt Cobain. In a press release obtained by TheDailySwarm.com, AirWair Ltd. CEO David Suddens said the poster campaign crafted by Saatchi & Saatchi wasn’t supposed to go public. “Dr. Martens did not commission the work as it runs counter to our current marketing activities,” Suddens said in a statement. Saatchi & Saatchi, in the meantime, is standing by the ad campaign. A representative for Courtney Love previously told People magazine she didn’t give permission for Dr. Martens to use a photo of her late husband in the campaign. “She thinks it’s outrageous that a company is allowed to commercially gain from such a despicable use of her husband’s picture,” her spokesperson said. “It does appear that in the U.K. what Dr. Martens has done is allowed. Courtney did not, and would not, approve of such a use of Kurt’s name and likeness.” …

Jack Bruce, bassist for Cream, told AP Thursday that the iconic blues-rock power trio will get back together for a series of shows later this year, even though he recently told British newspaper The Scotsman that there was no way the group would re-form. His former bandmates Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker have not confirmed the reunion. … Liars are saying goodbye to their conceptual material with a more accessible self-titled LP due August 28. The traditionally structured songs include such paradoxical titles as “The Dumb in the Rain,” “Clear Island” and “Leather Prowler.” … Dave Navarro said his band, the Panic Channel, plan on recording and releasing their next album without the help of a record label; the band recently parted ways with Capitol Records. In a post on his 6767.com blog, the former Jane’s Addiction guitarist said he’s eager to break free from record company “slavery.” “Our plan is to write, record, mix and make the music available online, DIY-style,” he wrote. There’s no word yet on when the album might surface.

05.23.2007

A Philadelphia author has filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z, Damon Dash and Lionsgate Films, claiming his book, “The Family: A Philadelphia Mob Story,” was used without rights as the inspiration for the 2002 Roc-A-Fella film “State Property” starring Beanie Sigel. In the suit, filed May 8 in Manhattan, New York, Antonne Jones claims he pitched Jay-Z and Dash his script years earlier but didn’t hear back from them after later rejecting a $50,000 offer for the rights to the plot. Representatives for Jay-Z and Dash did not respond to inquiries made by MTV News as of press time. …

Jay-Z may be in even more hot water, as a former waitress at his 40/40 sports bar in New York filed a lawsuit against the mogul and his business partners, according to TMZ.com. Celeste Williams claims she was paid below minimum wage and shares of her tips and overtime pay were withheld. A spokesperson for the bar told TMZ that Williams was only employed at the establishment for four days and was paid accordingly. In the compliant, Williams’ lawyers allege that more than 100 other employees will also join the lawsuit. …

Lindsay Lohan says it’s a little strange being #1 on Maxim‘s “Hot 100.” “It’s really flattering,” she told MTV News last week, “but it does get kind of awkward.” Lohan also revealed that she plans to begin work on a new album soon. “We’ll start in probably June or July and take four months,” she explained. Lohan said she’s collaborating with Maverick Records CEO Guy Oseary on the disc, which will have an “urban pop” sound. …

Want to read the first pages of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” right at midnight on its release date … in London … with J.K. Rowling? Seven U.S. fans of the Potter series will win a trip to the midnight launch event at London’s Natural History Museum on July 21, when they can meet the author, have their book signed and take part in a special Rowling reading. To enter the contest, visit Scholastic.com. … In other literary news, Borat has become an author too — Sacha Baron Cohen‘s fictional Kazakh “journalist” is penning two books: “Borat: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A.” and “Borat: Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” AP reports. They’re due in the fall. …

The White StripesIcky Thump tour has just gotten a little ickier. The band, which will be on the road in the U.S. for much of July, will kick off another leg of the trek with September 4-5 shows at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. The 15-date tour will also hit cities including Fargo, North Dakota (September 7); Salt Lake City (September 12); Berkeley, California (September 21); and Anchorage, Alaska (September 24), as well as two performances at the Austin City Limits Festival (September 15-16). The tour wraps up with September 26-27 shows in Seattle. … Rihanna debuted “Shut Up and Drive,” the second single from her forthcoming album Good Girl Gone Bad on her Web site Tuesday. The LP, which also includes the single “Umbrella” (featuring Jay-Z), is due June 5. …

But where are the Canucks? Justin Timberlake, Hilary Duff, My Chemical Romance, Gwen Stefani, Akon, Fergie and Fall Out Boy will compete for MuchMusic Video Awards, it was announced Wednesday (May 23). Nickelback and K-os, who landed five and four nods respectively, will represent the music channel’s Canada homeland; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Evanescence, Killers, AFI, Feist and Nelly Furtado are also up for awards. The ceremony will be held June 17 in Toronto. … Miri Ben-Ari was involved in a car accident Wednesday afternoon in Jersey City, New Jersey, her manager told MTV News. According to her manager, the hip-hop violinist was stopped at a red light in her Mercedes-Benz when a UPS truck rammed her from behind. Ben-Ari, who has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Twista to Scarface, hit her head on the steering wheel and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was treated and released soon thereafter. Although her injuries are said not to be serious, she will be laid up at home for a couple of days, following doctor’s orders to rest. …

Sanjaya Malakar is already getting his acting career started. In a crudely edited one-minute online short released this week, the hair-raising “American Idol” sensation stars as a 25-year-old student at the Rhode Island School of Design named Bill Vendall, who claims to have invented Sanjaya as an “elaborate art project” that was part of his thesis program. “To the fans of Sanjaya, maybe you are actually fans of Bill Vendall, the artist. … I am art. I am sure many of you subconsciously knew what I was doing,” a snooty, black-clad, white-shades-wearing Vendall/Malakar says in the clip. Over a lazy blues instrumental and blurry camera close-ups, the “artist” points to a montage of Sanjaya “Idol” highlights and mockingly says, “How could you look at this, this, this and not see it as a symbol for the self-referencing nature of progressive evolution?” …

Phil Spector wasn’t the only one in the hot seat in the music producer’s murder trial on Wednesday, according to AP. Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said Dr. Henry Lee removed an object from the scene where actress Lana Clarkson was killed and that he must “produce it forthwith.” Attorney Sara Caplan testified that she saw the renowned forensic expert place a white object into a vial during the defense’s search of Spector’s mansion, and the prosecution claims it was a piece of Clarkson’s fingernail. Prosecutors also contend that the fingernail has a trace of the passing bullet and will show that the actress resisted having a gun placed in her mouth. Lee has denied taking the object from the crime scene and, despite Fidler’s request, will not be held in contempt because of conflicting accounts regarding the object. The judge said jurors will have to determine for themselves whether Lee is a credible witness. “Dr. Lee has a lot to lose here,” Fidler said in a hearing, although the jury was not present. …

More details have emerged about the alleged domestic dispute at the Florida home of former Creed frontman Scott Stapp over the weekend. In a 911 transcript released Tuesday, Stapp’s wife, former Miss New York Jaclyn Nesheiwat, called authorities on Sunday pleading with them to come to the couple’s home. She told a dispatcher, “He just threw a glass bottle at me. … He just came home, he’s wasted … he’s been out partying all night,” according to AP. Nesheiwat told the dispatcher that Stapp — who went to rehab in 2004 — was “on drugs and pot. There’s a lot of pot in the house,” adding that there were also “a lot” of guns in the home. Before police arrived, Nesheiwat called 911 again to report that Stapp was “hiding all the drugs.” Nesheiwat was not injured in the incident, in which Stapp was arrested and initially charged with aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, although the count was later reduced to a misdemeanor. Stapp was released from custody on Monday and will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. …

Brother Ali, Cage, Sage Francis, Mr. Lif and Felt (featuring Murs, Slug and Ant) are opening up their pockets again for another Paid Dues tour. The third installment of the underground-hip-hop trek sets sail July 25 in Chicago and docks August 12 in San Diego. … Former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri has inked a deal with Suburban Noize for the release of the new album from his current group, Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator. The LP, Dead Planet: SonicSlowMotionTrails, lands in stores July 17 — just in time for the band’s appearance on this summer’s Ozzfest. … After years of relative silence, Portishead have been tapped to curate and perform at the All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Nightmare Before Christmas Festival, to be held December 7-9 at Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead, England. The band will unveil fresh material during the gig, but there are no plans yet for the group to release an LP — which would be its first studio outing since 1997′s self-titled effort.

05.23.2007

A Philadelphia author has filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z, Damon Dash and Lionsgate Films, claiming his book, “The Family: A Philadelphia Mob Story,” was used without rights as the inspiration for the 2002 Roc-A-Fella film “State Property” starring Beanie Sigel. In the suit, filed May 8 in Manhattan, New York, Antonne Jones claims he pitched Jay-Z and Dash his script years earlier but didn’t hear back from them after later rejecting a $50,000 offer for the rights to the plot. Representatives for Jay-Z and Dash did not respond to inquiries made by MTV News as of press time. …

Jay-Z may be in even more hot water, as a former waitress at his 40/40 sports bar in New York filed a lawsuit against the mogul and his business partners, according to TMZ.com. Celeste Williams claims she was paid below minimum wage and shares of her tips and overtime pay were withheld. A spokesperson for the bar told TMZ that Williams was only employed at the establishment for four days and was paid accordingly. In the compliant, Williams’ lawyers allege that more than 100 other employees will also join the lawsuit. …

Lindsay Lohan says it’s a little strange being #1 on Maxim‘s “Hot 100.” “It’s really flattering,” she told MTV News last week, “but it does get kind of awkward.” Lohan also revealed that she plans to begin work on a new album soon. “We’ll start in probably June or July and take four months,” she explained. Lohan said she’s collaborating with Maverick Records CEO Guy Oseary on the disc, which will have an “urban pop” sound. …

Want to read the first pages of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” right at midnight on its release date … in London … with J.K. Rowling? Seven U.S. fans of the Potter series will win a trip to the midnight launch event at London’s Natural History Museum on July 21, when they can meet the author, have their book signed and take part in a special Rowling reading. To enter the contest, visit Scholastic.com. … In other literary news, Borat has become an author too — Sacha Baron Cohen‘s fictional Kazakh “journalist” is penning two books: “Borat: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A.” and “Borat: Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” AP reports. They’re due in the fall. …

The White StripesIcky Thump tour has just gotten a little ickier. The band, which will be on the road in the U.S. for much of July, will kick off another leg of the trek with September 4-5 shows at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. The 15-date tour will also hit cities including Fargo, North Dakota (September 7); Salt Lake City (September 12); Berkeley, California (September 21); and Anchorage, Alaska (September 24), as well as two performances at the Austin City Limits Festival (September 15-16). The tour wraps up with September 26-27 shows in Seattle. … Rihanna debuted “Shut Up and Drive,” the second single from her forthcoming album Good Girl Gone Bad on her Web site Tuesday. The LP, which also includes the single “Umbrella” (featuring Jay-Z), is due June 5. …

But where are the Canucks? Justin Timberlake, Hilary Duff, My Chemical Romance, Gwen Stefani, Akon, Fergie and Fall Out Boy will compete for MuchMusic Video Awards, it was announced Wednesday (May 23). Nickelback and K-os, who landed five and four nods respectively, will represent the music channel’s Canada homeland; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Evanescence, Killers, AFI, Feist and Nelly Furtado are also up for awards. The ceremony will be held June 17 in Toronto. … Miri Ben-Ari was involved in a car accident Wednesday afternoon in Jersey City, New Jersey, her manager told MTV News. According to her manager, the hip-hop violinist was stopped at a red light in her Mercedes-Benz when a UPS truck rammed her from behind. Ben-Ari, who has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Twista to Scarface, hit her head on the steering wheel and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was treated and released soon thereafter. Although her injuries are said not to be serious, she will be laid up at home for a couple of days, following doctor’s orders to rest. …

Sanjaya Malakar is already getting his acting career started. In a crudely edited one-minute online short released this week, the hair-raising “American Idol” sensation stars as a 25-year-old student at the Rhode Island School of Design named Bill Vendall, who claims to have invented Sanjaya as an “elaborate art project” that was part of his thesis program. “To the fans of Sanjaya, maybe you are actually fans of Bill Vendall, the artist. … I am art. I am sure many of you subconsciously knew what I was doing,” a snooty, black-clad, white-shades-wearing Vendall/Malakar says in the clip. Over a lazy blues instrumental and blurry camera close-ups, the “artist” points to a montage of Sanjaya “Idol” highlights and mockingly says, “How could you look at this, this, this and not see it as a symbol for the self-referencing nature of progressive evolution?” …

Phil Spector wasn’t the only one in the hot seat in the music producer’s murder trial on Wednesday, according to AP. Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said Dr. Henry Lee removed an object from the scene where actress Lana Clarkson was killed and that he must “produce it forthwith.” Attorney Sara Caplan testified that she saw the renowned forensic expert place a white object into a vial during the defense’s search of Spector’s mansion, and the prosecution claims it was a piece of Clarkson’s fingernail. Prosecutors also contend that the fingernail has a trace of the passing bullet and will show that the actress resisted having a gun placed in her mouth. Lee has denied taking the object from the crime scene and, despite Fidler’s request, will not be held in contempt because of conflicting accounts regarding the object. The judge said jurors will have to determine for themselves whether Lee is a credible witness. “Dr. Lee has a lot to lose here,” Fidler said in a hearing, although the jury was not present. …

More details have emerged about the alleged domestic dispute at the Florida home of former Creed frontman Scott Stapp over the weekend. In a 911 transcript released Tuesday, Stapp’s wife, former Miss New York Jaclyn Nesheiwat, called authorities on Sunday pleading with them to come to the couple’s home. She told a dispatcher, “He just threw a glass bottle at me. … He just came home, he’s wasted … he’s been out partying all night,” according to AP. Nesheiwat told the dispatcher that Stapp — who went to rehab in 2004 — was “on drugs and pot. There’s a lot of pot in the house,” adding that there were also “a lot” of guns in the home. Before police arrived, Nesheiwat called 911 again to report that Stapp was “hiding all the drugs.” Nesheiwat was not injured in the incident, in which Stapp was arrested and initially charged with aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, although the count was later reduced to a misdemeanor. Stapp was released from custody on Monday and will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. …

Brother Ali, Cage, Sage Francis, Mr. Lif and Felt (featuring Murs, Slug and Ant) are opening up their pockets again for another Paid Dues tour. The third installment of the underground-hip-hop trek sets sail July 25 in Chicago and docks August 12 in San Diego. … Former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri has inked a deal with Suburban Noize for the release of the new album from his current group, Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator. The LP, Dead Planet: SonicSlowMotionTrails, lands in stores July 17 — just in time for the band’s appearance on this summer’s Ozzfest. … After years of relative silence, Portishead have been tapped to curate and perform at the All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Nightmare Before Christmas Festival, to be held December 7-9 at Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead, England. The band will unveil fresh material during the gig, but there are no plans yet for the group to release an LP — which would be its first studio outing since 1997′s self-titled effort.