Mary J. Blige, John Mayer Go ‘Unplugged’; Plus T-Pain, T.I., Fergie, Paula Abdul, Paris Hilton & More, In For The Record

T-Pain channels Chris Brown; T.I. previews LP with DJ Drama; Fergie gets a tasty Taco Bell offer.

“MTV Unplugged” is plugging back in. Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Kenny Chesney and the Police will be featured in upcoming installments of the intimate acoustic-performance series. An upcoming episode featuring Bon Jovi — who some say inspired the program with their acoustic set at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards — will be presented in three variations on different channels, with each tailored for a specific audience: June 22 (MTV); June 23 (VH1, VH1 Classic, Music High-Definition); and June 24 (CMT). Dates for the other programs have not been announced yet. …

T-Pain performed — sans vocal enhancer! — at S.O.B.’s in New York Thursday night, running through a number of hits, including “Sprung,” R. Kelly‘s “I’m a Flirt” remix and his latest hit, “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” for which Yung Joc surprised the crowd and joined in for his guest verse. “I’m too big for this sh–,” a winded T-Pain said after dancing around with Joc. “Y’all got me out here like I’m Chris Brown!” … T.I. hosted an album-listening session in New York at Manhattan nightspot Manor on Thursday night, previewing songs from his forthcoming T.I. vs T.I.P. The Atlanta MC was joined onstage by DJ Drama. The duo spun tracks including the Wyclef-assisted “You Know What It Is,” set to be the second T.I. vs. T.I.P. single. …

Fergie‘s Taco Bell obsession is starting to pay off, TMZ.com reports. According to a letter obtained by the site, Taco Bell President Greg Creed is offering Fergie and her fans free Fourthmeals at any local Taco Bell near a stop on her tour. All Fergie has to do is contact the restaurant a week in advance. … The Jackson family auction raked in a two-day total of $1.5-$2 million, Agence-France Presse reports. …

Paula Abdul told People she’s “just fine” following the online leak of a phone call in which a sobbing Abdul talked about her strained relationship with her ex-publicist, but that “it hurts.” “That was a private conversation. That was a violation of my privacy and totally illegal,” she added. In the call, the “American Idol” judge also discussed having Addison’s disease, a disorder that causes muscle weakness. But she told People: “I haven’t been diagnosed with it. I’m just exhausted. Sometimes I have really low blood-sugar levels. It’s all because I work very hard, that’s it.” … Paris Hilton isn’t heading behind bars until Tuesday, but she’s already starting to disappear from public view. A South Korea sportswear company has temporarily suspended TV and print ads featuring the heiress, Agence-France Presse reports. … In other Hilton news, the heiress will not be allowed to give TV interviews while in jail, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca said Friday (June 1), The Associated Press reports. Baca added that authorities are trying to prevent cameras from being smuggled into the Los Angeles County jail in Lynwood, and that deputies and jail employees have been told to treat Hilton like the other inmates. …

Is TomKat’s litter about to grow bigger? “Yes, definitely,” Katie Holmes responded in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” when asked if she is ready to have more children with Tom Cruise. “We’re having the best time, it’s so amazing.” The programs airs Monday. … Ben Affleck received a standing ovation Friday after giving a commencement speech at Falls Church High School in Falls Church, Virginia, AP reports. The actor praised Joe Kindregan, a disabled student he met in 1998; since then, the two have partnered to raise money to find a cure for ataxia-telengiectasia, the rare genetic disease Kindregan suffers from. … Hugh Grant will not be prosecuted for allegedly kicking and tossing baked beans at a photographer, AP reports. The actor was arrested following the incident, which occurred on April 24. …

Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson? Singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright isn’t known for his pop-star duets, but Jane magazine asked him which of the bubbly blondes he’d rather collaborate with, and he didn’t have to think twice. “Britney, by far,” he said in an interview published in the magazine’s June/July issue. “I love her. I think she’s the emblem of our times.” … Courtney Love will be taking the stage Friday night at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, California, a source close to the singer confirmed. Love will be the special guest at Linda Perry‘s concert and will play some new material in a four-to-five-song set. …

The All-American Rejects will release a DVD, “Tournado,” July 10. The offering revolves around a live performance shot while the band was touring in support of 2005′s Move Along, and will feature behind-the-scenes footage. … Iggy Pop supplies the voice of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in an upcoming Comedy Central cartoon. The rocker will portray Lil’ Rummy, a child who is the bully figure in the channel’s “Lil’ Bush” series, which debuts June 13. The show portrays the Oval Office’s main players as tykes ready to rule the world. Dave Grohl, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Black and Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy will lend their voices to guest roles. …

Ja Rule will join Salt-N-Pepa, “The Wire” actors Idris Elba and Hassan Johnson, radio host Ed Lover and others Saturday afternoon in Queens, New York, for the “Repping for Life” town-hall meeting to discuss gang intervention and prevention campaigns. The event is open to the public and begins at York College at 3 p.m. … Chrisette Michelle joined the Roots onstage Thursday night at the Highline Ballroom in New York. The Def Jam singer and Philadelphia collective performed a string of songs at a Tanqueray- and Giant-magazine-sponsored event. …

Godsmack plan to release a box set later this year, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the release of the band’s debut album, 1997′s All Wound Up. The set will compile the group’s four studio albums, the acoustic EP The Other Side, and a DVD featuring short documentaries about the making of each album. … Between the Buried and Me, the Red Chord, Cephalic Carnage and the End will hit the road this summer for a 15-date North American tour. The run kicks off July 27 in Pittsburgh, and dates are booked through August 11 in Wilmington, North Carolina. …

Two days after iTunes started selling thousands of EMI artists’ songs without copyright protection comes word that EMI, Google and YouTube have signed a licensing deal that will give YouTube users access to the record label’s audio and video catalog, according to Billboard. The label’s roster includes Gorillaz, Coldplay and Lily Allen. … Bands playing in Nevada must call themselves “tribute” acts if they don’t have at least one founding member, thanks to a new law. If bands don’t do so, it will be considered deceptive trading practice. … NBC Universal networks will air “Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis” in various incarnations on July 7. For the climate-change awareness concerts — which will feature Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, Madonna and many more — NBC will present a three-hour special hosted by Ann Curry and Carson Daly; Bravo will air 18 hours of live concert coverage and highlight clips; Sundance and Universal HD will broadcast concerts live all day; Telemundo and Mun2 will air specials featuring Latin performers; CNBC will air seven hours of coverage; and MSNBC will feature exclusive coverage throughout the day.

05.31.2007

With summer wide open for rappers now that 50 Cent has pushed his album back to September, Kanye West is looking to capitalize. Def Jam confirmed that the release date for West’s forthcoming Graduation has been pushed up to a late August release from its original September date. No specific date has been announced yet, but in true Kanye fashion, the rapper broke the news of the switch himself, on his latest mixtape Can’t Tell Me Nothing — which shares its title with Graduation‘s first single, co-produced by West and DJ Toomp. …

50 Cent will preview tracks from Curtis at a one-off show at London’s Hammersmith Palais on July 2, MTV UK reported Thursday (May 31). Tickets for the concert, presented by MTV Base, go on sale Friday. …

Jessica Alba, Alicia Keys, Liv Tyler, Elton John and others have signed a petition urging G8 leaders to keep their word to impoverished countries. Many poverty experts say promises that were made in 2005, including increasing aid levels, supporting the Global Fund and addressing the shortage of health-care workers in Africa and elsewhere, have not been met. The petition, which can be found here, is open for signature until Tuesday — the day before President Bush and other world leaders descend on Germany for a G8 summit. …

Nicole Richie is “nervous” she might be punished with jail time, like her friend Paris Hilton, she told Ryan Seacrest on his “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” radio show Wednesday morning. Richie, who was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in February, said she knows she has to “take responsibility” and “deal with whatever consequences” come her way. She also said she’s been out of the limelight lately because she’s been touring with boyfriend Joel Madden of Good Charlotte — and that she hasn’t been in rehab recently, as some have speculated. … Lindsay Lohan‘s lawyer has told “Best Week Ever” that the singer/actress’ 21st birthday party is still on track for July 2 at Las Vegas’ Pure nightclub. … A Los Angeles County judge has issued a bench warrant for Tom Sizemore, TMZ.com reports. Last week, the actor pleaded not guilty to five felony drug counts, including transportation and possession of crystal crystal methamphetamine. … The Jackson family memorabilia auction being held Thursday and Friday in Las Vegas drew roughly $500,000 its first day, The Associated Press reports. A set of gold and platinum albums presented to the family for sales of “We Are the World” sold for $20,000, while a military-style shirt worn by Michael Jackson went for $24,000. …

The “Shrek” series will conclude in 2012 with a final fifth volume, to follow a fourth, origin-story installment in 2010, DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg told Australia’s The Age newspaper. “It’s a finite story, has been from the beginning, and I think that’s part of its integrity, part of its strength, that we’re not thinking this up as we go,” he said. “Ultimately, we will come back to understand how Shrek arrived in that swamp. We will reveal his story.” … Hogwarts will soon have a campus in Orlando, Florida. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a theme park within a theme park, is expected to open in late 2009 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure at the Universal Orlando Resort. The park will feature rides and other interactive experiences as well as shops and restaurants, and will be “faithful to the visual landscapes of the films,” including re-creations of Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forest. “The plans I’ve seen look incredibly exciting, and I don’t think fans of the books or films will be disappointed,” J.K. Rowling said in a statement. (See sketches of the park, including Hosgmeade Square and Hogwarts , right here.) …

Dr. Louis Pena, the coroner who testified Tuesday that actress Lana Clarkson‘s death was a homicide, acknowledged Thursday that crime-lab mistakes were made while collecting evidence at Phil Spector‘s mansion, AP reports. Pena said Clarkson’s body was mistakenly moved, compromising at least one item from the crime scene in the process, and also said the medical findings could not establish who held the gun that fired the bullet that killed Clarkson. Pena said the actress had gunshot residue on her hands but that it doesn’t necessarily mean she fired the gun. In a hearing the jury did not witness, lawyers argued over whether jurors should hear about a diary Clarkson kept. After Pena testified that he had not considered doing a “psychological autopsy” on Clarkson, since he had determined her death was not a suicide but a homicide, a Spector defense attorney asked him if he considered documents found in her computer. That includes “The Story of My Life,” a composition in which she discussed having drug problems and talked about a seeing visions of a dead actress who committed suicide. The prosecution said the writings had not been authenticated and therefore could not be relied upon. “If you have the words of a deceased … how do you keep that away from the jury and away from an expert who could have considered it,” Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said. …

Master P and Romeo‘s father-son collaboration Hip-Hop History is due September 4 — the same day that 50 Cent‘s Curtis is scheduled to hit stores. “The date was not chosen to compete with Curtis Jackson’s delayed release, but rather to create balance in the marketplace and give kids a freedom of choice,” according to a statement posted on P’s MySpace page, which also states that proceeds from the album will fund scholarship programs. Master P and 50 have recently clashed over P’s announcement that he would not use profanity in his lyrics. … “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks will join finalists Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle for a performance on NBC’s “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular,” airing July 4 at 9 p.m. They will join their seven fellow finalists to kick off the Idols Live tour July 6 in Sunrise, Florida. … The stars have been shining bright lately for Bright Eyes. The band, which is amid a seven-week residency at New York’s Town Hall, has been joined in recent nights by Norah Jones, Lou Reed, Ben Kweller, Death Cab for Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard, Rilo Kiley‘s Jenny Lewis, ex-Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and Gillian Welch. …

Jermaine Dupri has signed Harlem sensation Jason Fox — responsible for the street hit “Aunt Jackie,” a tune that complements the flamboyant New York City dance of the same name — to Island Urban Music. The dance has been an online smash, with kids appropriating the moves in homemade video clips. “I think we’re seeing the life of hip-hop coming back with songs like ‘Aunt Jackie,’ ” Dupri said in a statement. “It’s the kids acting like kids used to act when I was growing up, and I love it because, to me, hip-hop has been too-cool-for-school lately. It’s time for a change.” … Shop Boyz popped into Canal Room in Manhattan, New York, Wednesday night for a surprise performance of their hit “Party Like a Rockstar” during the MixtapeKings.com relaunch party; Disturbing Tha Peace rapper Serius Jones also performed and Kool DJ Herc manned the boards. … Bo Bice has pulled the plug on the end of his acoustic tour and is returning to the studio in order to get his second album in stores by mid-September. Bice’s shows scheduled for Tucson, Arizona (June 3); Odessa, Texas (June 7); and Dallas (June 9) have been canceled.

05.30.2007

Fat Joe is wanted for questioning by police in Miami Beach, Florida, as a witness to a double murder that occurred outside a restaurant in South Beach over the Memorial Day weekend. The police report states that the Terror Squad leader allegedly was in the company of Lessli Paz of New York and Joey Navarro of Florida in a Cadillac Escalade truck when Jermaine “Wufgang” Chamberline approached the vehicle and fired a weapon on the two men, killing them both. However, Jeffrey Lichtman, Fat Joe’s attorney, told MTV News: “The cops never contacted Joe directly. I called the cops, I told them he is out of the country on music business, but if they want to speak to him, we will. The police then told me they already apprehended the [alleged perpetrator,] but they may take us up on the offer. And we have not heard back from them since.” …

Harry Potter fans have two fewer days to scratch off on their calendars. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will be hitting theaters Wednesday, July 11, instead of on July 13, Warner Bros. confirmed to MTV News on Wednesday (May 30). …

Busta Rhymes, Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Eve, Rick Ross and Rich Boy are on the lineup for Boost Mobile’s RockCorps concert in Atlanta, scheduled for June 9. Volunteers have until the day of the show to fulfill the commitment required to get into the event, which serves as a thank you to young people making a difference in their communities. Taking Back Sunday will be headlining upcoming events in Portland, Oregon; Houston; Philadelphia; and Chicago. Check out the RockCorps site for volunteer opportunities. …

Would you share your dreams with Jeezy? What if he could make them come true? The rapper is inviting fans to e-mail their wish (100 words or less) to dreams@corportatethugzent.com. Young Jeezy will review each dream and choose one to fulfill. “If it wasn’t for certain people supporting me, I don’t think I’d be able to accomplish what I have,” Jeezy said in a statement announcing the contest. “That’s why I’m doing this for my fans. … I wanted to show them how thankful I am that they’re helping me realize my dreams. For me, this whole contest, and even my career, will make me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot if I can help someone else realize their dreams too.” Submissions will be accepted until June 21, and the winner will be announced July 23. …

Paula Abdul found her purpose in life on “American Idol,” she said in an interview featured in the new issue of OK! magazine. “Being a judge on ‘American Idol’ overshadows being a Grammy Award winner and selling millions of records,” she said. “My purpose is bringing out everybody’s best and being that cheerleader to other people’s success.” Abdul also responded to claims about her sometimes strange behavior on TV, saying, “I’m sick of it. I’ve never been drunk. I don’t do recreational drugs. It’s defamation of character.” …

Harry Potter isn’t getting expelled from school — school libraries in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that is. The Associated Press reports that a judge on Tuesday upheld a previous decision against Laura Mallory, who had argued that the fiction series is trying to indoctrinate kids into witchcraft. The mother of four, who was not represented by an attorney at the hearing, said she still wants the volumes removed and might take the case to federal court. …

Rihanna has been added to the Live Earth concert lineup in Tokyo, which will also feature Linkin Park, as previously reported. … The fallout from Brandy‘s deadly December 30 car crash continues. In papers filed last Wednesday, the 28-year-old singer sued Mallory Ham — who was cited in a previous suit for alleged reckless and careless driving — contending that Ham caused the accident that resulted in the death of a woman. According to AP, Brandy’s suit denies allegations made against her in a previous lawsuit, requests a jury trial and asserts her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Ham filed a countersuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday claiming that Brandy “recklessly, wantonly, unlawfully and maliciously” operated her car. Ham seeks compensation for unspecified medical bills, pain and suffering, legal costs and punitive damages.

Ozzy Osbourne will own #3 on the next Billboard albums chart with his Black Rain — and tells Details that he knows he’s fortunate to be around to enjoy the success. “I’ve been terribly lucky,” Osbourne said in the June/July issue. “When I had my ATV accident, I was going not more than three or four miles an hour, and I ended up in a coma for eight days. My heart stopped twice. I don’t remember any of it. I went back to the hospital after the accident and the doctors were telling me, ‘Your left lung was completely full of blood. You broke your rib, your collarbone, your neck — you’re lucky to be alive’ ” — and for more than just the most obvious reason, the singer explained. “If I had been going 120 miles an hour it would have been a cool way to go — but four miles an hour? Ozzy Osbourne?!’ ” …

Pixies frontman Frank Black — or, should we say, Black Francis — will return September 11 with a new album, Bluefinger. The record, which Black will release under his decades-old Francis moniker, features 11 tracks and was recorded when the singer was, as he puts it, “gripped” by the spirit of late Dutch musician and painter Herman Brood. “Thank you Herman. You were at the distant edge of my vision for years when suddenly I was under your influence like a cloud of opium, like the scent of the house of the rising son,” Black said in a statement. “Herman Brood did turn me back into Black Francis. Funny how things work out. You just never know.” You totally don’t, dude. … iTunes started selling thousands of songs without copyright protection on Wednesday, including tracks by EMI artists Coldplay, Pink Floyd and Norah Jones, AP reports. The iTunes Plus songs do not feature digital-rights management, have a higher sound quality and are priced 30 cents more than typical 99-cent songs. The unrestricted content will allow some iTunes tracks to work on Microsoft’s Zune and other portable players. …

Sorta crunchy/ sorta Christian Philly rockers Mewithoutyou would like to have dinner with you — and 200-300 of your closest friends. On their current headlining tour, which runs until June 29, Mewithoutyou are inviting fans to join them in pre-show potluck dinners — where “two hours before doors [open] fans are invited to the venue to eat and drink and talk and sing and get to know each other.” In addition to the food, MWY are encouraging fans to bring “a board game, horseshoes, piñata, song, dance, prayer, juggling pins, unicycle, etc.” to the festivities, and want you to know that “they are open to presentation and lesson ideas as well.” But the good vibes don’t end with the pre-show potlucks: any and all fans “skilled at non-guitar instruments” are invited to join the band onstage during their live set. For more information, check out the band’s MySpace page.