Seacrest Blames Cowell For Lower ‘Idol’ Ratings; Plus LaKisha Jones, Rock The Bells, Nas, Timbaland & More, In For The Record

Jones performs at Michigan state Capitol; dates for hip-hop tour featuring Nas confirmed; Timbaland leaves German jail.

Ryan Seacrest is blaming Simon Cowell for this year’s slight “American Idol” ratings decrease, according to a Seacrest interview in Canada’s Globe and Mail. “Well, the knee-jerk reaction would be Simon,” he said when asked why the ratings slipped. “Clearly there’s an oversaturation of his character.” He added: “It’s still 30 million-plus [U.S.] viewers … which we’re very happy with.” Seacrest dismissed as rumor the notion that some “Idol” judges would be replaced. …

Hundreds of fans — and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to boot — turned up to greet “American Idol” finalist LaKisha Jones and watch her perform two songs at the state Capitol on Monday (June 11), The Associated Press reports. Jones is on a homecoming trip through the state before starting to prep for the American Idols Live Tour. The singer, who performed “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and “God Bless the Child,” told reporters, “My life is at a complete 360. God has really blessed me tremendously.” …

Ready to Rock? Dates for the Rock the Bells tour — featuring Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, David Banner and more — have been finalized. In addition to four previously announced shows featuring Rage Against the Machine, there will be additional gigs without them in Mansfield, Massachusetts (July 26); Atlanta (August 2); Charlotte, North Carolina (August 3); Miami (August 4); Dallas (August 7); Houston (August 8); San Diego (August 12); Salt Lake City (August 21); Denver (August 22); Minneapolis (August 25); Chicago (August 26); Detroit (August 29); and Toronto (August 30). Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Immortal Technique and Jedi Mind Tricks are also on the bill, while Cypress Hill and UGK will appear on select dates. …

Timbaland was temporarily held in custody and spent an hour in a jail in Cologne, Germany, early Monday morning after putting an unidentified Croatian man in the hospital, according to The San Francisco Chronicle‘s “Daily Dish.” The brawl, which took place Sunday night at the Intercontinental Hotel bar, reportedly began when Timbaland allegedly flirted with the girlfriend of the man, who then spouted a racial slur. The producer’s entourage also joined in the fight, which left the man with rib injuries and multiple bruises. Timbaland was released after being held in custody and questioned. …

Daddy Yankee was released from a Miami hospital Monday afternoon after suffering from a viral infection and dehydration, according to Dr. Javier Perez-Fernandez, who had been treating him. The reggaetón superstar — who has been promoting his recently released album, El Cartel: The Big Boss — checked into the hospital Friday with complaints of fatigue and missed his weekend appearances at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade and El Spring Bling Blineo festival due to his hospitalization. Daddy Yankee has also canceled all his scheduled activities for the coming week, according to his publicist. “This is a sign from the boss [in reference to God],” Yankee said in a statement upon his release from the hospital. “The boss is telling me to take my time and set my priorities straight. Now I’m going home to rest for a bit.” …

A week after Marilyn Manson revealed that “Mutilation Is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery,” one of the tracks on his latest LP, Eat Me, Drink Me, was directed at My Chemical Romance — Manson believes the band has ripped him off — MCR frontman Gerard Way responded to Manson’s comments in the British magazine Rock Sound. “We still haven’t found someone that has knocked us down that we need to take seriously. If Elvis Costello said we sucked, we would think about it a bit, but usually it is comments from someone with a new record to promote, so the remarks ring hollow.” Manson had said in an interview with The London Paper that he was “embarrassed to be me because these people are doing a really sad, pitiful, shallow version of what I’ve done.” …

Common filmed a clip for “The People” in New York over the weekend with video director Neon. The Kanye West-produced track — which features crooner Dwele — is set to be the official lead single from Common’s Finding Forever, due July 31. The street track “The Game” is currently receiving buzz play on both radio and TV. … Big Tiggerheld his sixth Annual Celebrity Classic over the weekend in Atlanta. Ludacris, Lyfe Jennings, Lil’ Mo, DJ Clue and more joined the syndicated radio host to take part in a variety of charity events, which included a basketball game, auction and all-white party. …

Paris Hilton spoke to Barbara Walters from jail on Sunday and said in the telephone interview that she will no longer “act dumb,” explaining that the “act is no longer cute,” according to Walters’ ABC News report. Hilton, who told the veteran reporter that she decided not to appeal her sentence because she “didn’t want to cause any more problems,” said spending time in jail has really changed her. “Now, I would like to make a difference,” Hilton said. “God has given me this new chance.” …

Linkin Park, Smashing Pumpkins, Disturbed and H.I.M. will be among the artists featured on the July 3 soundtrack to the upcoming “Transformers” film. The disc will also include the “Transformers” theme recorded by Mute Math, as well as tracks from the Used, Taking Back Sunday and Idiot Pilot. … Snoop Dogg collaborator and Gap Band frontman Charlie Wilson filed suit against EMI Music and Heineken Inc. alleging that the song “Beautiful” — a track from Snoop’s 2002 album, Paid Tha Cost to Be Tha Boss, featuring Wilson and Pharrell — is used in a beer commercial without his permission, Reuters reports. In the suit, filed Friday in New York, Wilson also claims that EMI owes him hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits gained from “Beautiful” and another Paid Tha Cost track, “You Got What I Want,” featuring Wilson and Ludacris. …

Former Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro has responded to recent claims by ex-bandmate Perry Farrell that the group’s most recent breakup was sparked by Navarro’s decision to be a judge on the CBS reality series “Rock Star.” According to a post on Navarro’s 6767.com blog, “the timeline just doesn’t make sense. I didn’t even get a call about the idea of ‘Rock Star’ until [Navarro's new band] the Panic Channel was recording demos. It was four years ago, so I think it’s about time to let it go.” … Al Gore says he met backstage with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Grammy Awards in February and convinced them to play Live Earth, according to AP. “I was pushing and pushing them that no matter how difficult it was, that it was important,” said Gore, who was seen onstage whispering with the Chili Peppers when they accepted their prize for Best Rock Album. …

The Bled, who are part of this summer’s Projekt Revolution Tour with Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and more, have finished recording their next LP, The Silent Treatment, produced by Brian McTernan (Hot Water Music, Snapcase). The album is due this fall. … In related news, another Projekt Revolution act, H.I.M., have set September 18 as the release date for their next album, Venus Doom. Look for the LP to feature “Dead Lovers Lane,” “The Kiss of Dawn,” “Love in Cold Blood” and “Passion’s Killing Floor.” …

Michael Moore‘s attorney claims discrimination was behind the launch of a federal investigation into the director’s trip to Cuba for his “Sicko” documentary, which hits theaters June 29, AP reports. David Boies stated in a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that Moore’s criticism of the Bush administration may have spurred the probe. The reply was made in response to a letter OFAC Chief of General Investigations and Field Operations Dale Thompson sent to Moore last month, notifying him that he was under investigation for possibly violating the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba. In his reply, Boies also requests information regarding “the person or persons who participated in making the decision to send Mr. Thompson’s letter,” as well as additional information.

06.08.2007

Kanye West celebrated his 30th birthday in style Thursday night with a huge bash at the Louis Vuitton store in New York that brought out a bevy of big-time guests including Jay-Z, Diddy and Mariah Carey — who all holed up by the first floor entrance with the birthday boy — as well as Common, Rihanna, Fall Out Boy, Ashlee Simpson, Travis Barker, Fabolous, Ashanti and Jermaine Dupri (after his early morning car accident). Pharrell Williams, the Clipse, John Legend and West all took the stage to perform throughout the night, while Q-Tip served as DJ. (Check out pictures from the party here.) Kanye’s birthday cake featured his signature College Dropout bear, and dancers dressed in Vuitton bathing suits and sandals performed in the store’s display cases. The night wrapped up at nightclub Tenjune where attendees including Usher and Gabrielle Union enjoyed an afterparty. …

Andre 3000 is expected to play Sammy Davis Jr. in a new flick to be helmed by video director Earle Sebastian (Mary J. Blige, Madonna), according to The New York Times. “Sammy and Kim” will retell Davis’ romance with blond actress Kim Novak, which was such a scandal that then-Columbia Pictures President Harry Cohn ordered an end to the relationship. …

The deluxe-edition artwork for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” has been released by Scholastic, and the wraparound cover features a Mary GranPré illustration of Harry, Hermione and Ron hanging on to a flying dragon above a village at sunset. (Click here to see the “Deathly Hallows” artwork .) The deluxe edition, limited to 100,000 copies and priced at $65, will also include full-color frontispiece art on special paper, an “Illustration Showcase” insert with reproductions of GrandPré’s chapter openers and a bonus black-and-white illustration. … “Shrek” producer Jeffrey Katzenberg said at a press conference in Berlin on Friday (June 8) that a half-hour animated holiday TV special called “Shrek the Halls” is in the works. …

U2 have been hard at work on new material, according to a post on the band’s Web site. Producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois have been collaborating with the band on the songwriting effort. “We have no plans for the music yet,” Bono said in a post on U2.com. “We’re just going to make it until we can’t not put it out.” … Bono also spoke out Friday in response to the G8′s pledge of $60 billion to fight AIDS. “I am exasperated,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “We are looking for accountable language and numbers. … They say they will keep their pledges on Africa but it is remarkable. In a 25-page document we can’t see any evidence of how they are going to get to those. It is a maze.” …

Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine admits that he’s the band’s spotlight hog — but he says the rest of the guys just aren’t interested in the post. “Every band has to have a strong center, a personality, an attention whore,” he told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published in its current issue. “I’m in the foreground, but I also have to do things [that are] extra. It’s fine with me. I don’t mind the work.” But Levine doesn’t want you to mistake his willingness to stand center stage with a desire to be a solo star. “We want people to remember that we’re a band, and I’m not a celebrity, Levine told EW. “That’s gotten skewed over the past couple of years, so we want to correct things.” …

British newspaper The Independent interviewed Blur drummer David Rowntree about the band’s plans to get back to work. “We will spend one week recording and see what happens,” Rowntree told the paper. “We’re dipping our toes in the water. We have not made any decision but we’ll see how we feel and if the spark is there.” Though Blur’s last album, Think Tank, was released in 2003 and guitarist Graham Coxon left the fold in 2002, Rowntree stressed that the band had “never split up.” … The heads will soon be banging on the Sounds of the Underground Tour, but before the mayhem begins, Hot Topic will issue an exclusive package hyping the ferocious fest. Toxic tracks by Shadows Fall, Every Time I Die, Gwar and Poison the Well will contaminate the set, which contains two CDs and a DVD, is made available June 19 and will be limited to 10,000 copies. … Looks like “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” bad boy Jason Wahler won’t be following in Paris Hilton‘s footsteps. Prosecutors claimed Wahler’s arrest earlier this year for criminal trespassing and assault in Seattle violated his probation from a September battery arrest, but a judge didn’t send the reality-TV star to jail during a Friday probation hearing, according to TMZ.com. Instead, the 20-year-old must attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and anger-management classes, and he’ll continue with intensive rehab counseling at least four days a week. …

Joss Stone has joined the lineup for NBC’s “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.” “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks and finalists Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle will also perform on the show. … Bon Jovi will open Newark’s Prudential Center in their home state of New Jersey with a series of shows beginning October 25. In an album-release first, a code that unlocks a digital download of the band’s new LP Lost Highway will be packaged with each ticket purchased by American Express cardholders through an exclusive online presale Ticketmaster will launch Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. Fans who have already preordered the album will get a code allowing them to buy a presale ticket independent of their previous order. General-public tickets for the October 25 show go on sale June 23 at 10 a.m. … George Michael must serve 100 hours of community service and is barred from driving for two years after pleading guilty to driving while unfit. Michael was sentenced in a London court Friday for the October 1 offense. “I have been sentenced today on the basis of unfit driving through tiredness and prescription medicines which I fully accept responsibility for,” the singer told the press outside court. “I am glad to put this behind me and I am now off to do the biggest show of my life,” he said. Michael has Saturday and Sunday shows scheduled at London’s rebuilt Wembley Stadium.