Britney Spears Suffers Setback In Hearing; Plus Dave Grohl, Kanye West, ‘High School Musical’ & More, In For The Record

Grohl opens up about Kurt Cobain; West mocks himself at Emmys; 'HSM' stars still in negotiations for third flick.

Britney Spears suffered a setback in her child-custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline during a hearing on Monday (September 17). An anticipated “secret witness” — who turned out to be one of the singer’s ex-bodyguards — came forward to file a declaration to the court and make himself available to testify on “issues of nudity by Ms. Spears, drug use and safety issues involving the children post-rehab,” according to his attorney Gloria Allred. Spears’ attorney chose not to cross-examine Tony Barretto, so the ex-bodyguard did not take the stand, which “shocked” Allred, she said. “Since neither the court nor Ms. Spears’ attorney chose to examine our client from the witness stand regarding the particulars of his highly explosive and relevant declaration, it stands unrefuted and unchallenged,” Allred told reporters outside the courthouse. However, contents of that declaration were not made public Monday, nor were the court’s minutes from the closed hearing, so there’s no word on how the declaration was received. Federline’s attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan told reporters he didn’t see a quick end to the custody dispute, since the next hearing isn’t set until November 26, with another court date to follow in December. “I don’t see it being resolved before that time,” he said. To make matters worse for Spears, she lost two members of her team on Monday. Attorney Laura Wasser is no longer providing her with legal representation in the custody battle, Wasser confirmed to MTV News — the singer has new representation in Marci Levine, according to Levine’s office. Shortly after Wasser threw in the towel, Spears’ management company, the Firm, quit as well, according to People. “It saddens us to confirm media reports that we have terminated our professional relationship with Britney Spears,” read the statement. “We believe Britney is enormously talented and has made a terrific record, but current circumstances have prevented us from properly doing our job. We wish Britney the best.” …

Meanwhile, the level of absurdity surrounding the Spears/Federline saga has reached a new height. As the former spouses’ custody battle continued in Los Angeles Superior Court, another story started to unravel outside the courthouse: that of an alleged contract hit on Federline’s life. According to the FBI’s Los Angeles office, a “non-specific,” “low-credibility” and “uncorroborated” threat on Federline’s life was received. “Since there was no federal jurisdiction, we shared the information with the local authorities,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told MTV News. “We take every threat seriously. But there was no specificity, no corroboration, and it could not be substantiated.” The LAPD, who seemed to take the threat a little less seriously, laughed when asked about it, telling MTV News, “We do not have a current investigation.” Federline’s rep had no official comment, but his lawyer told reporters outside the courthouse on Monday, “Until I see what the alleged threat was, I can’t speak to that.” …

Dave Grohl has opened up to U.K. newspaper The Guardian about the death of his former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain. “Kurt dying shocked me into running away from music for a while,” he divulged. “I started Foo Fighters because I didn’t want to retreat. I couldn’t imagine joining another band and sitting behind the drum set, because I would always think about Krist [Novoselic] and Kurt.” Grohl also revealed that while one of the Foos’ earliest songs, “I’ll Stick Around,” was not directed at Cobain’s ex-wife, Courtney Love, he wouldn’t be surprised if similar comparisons are made over “Let It Die.” The song, featured on the Foos’ new album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, features the lyric “A simple man and his blushing bride/ Intravenous, intertwined.” The tune was “written about feeling helpless to someone else’s demise,” Grohl said. “I’ve seen people lose it all to drugs and heartbreak and death. It’s happened more than once in my life, but the one that’s most noted is Kurt. And there are a lot of people that I’ve been angry with in my life, but the one that’s most noted is Courtney. So it’s pretty obvious to me that those correlations are gonna pop up every now and again. I still remain a little secretive about it all.” …

Even at Sunday night’s Emmys, where he wasn’t nominated for anything, Kanye West couldn’t win. The rapper notorious for loudly expressing his award-show-freeze-out frustrations playfully lampooned his sore-loser reputation during a skit in which actor Rainn Wilson (“The Office”) beat Kanye at a game of “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” based on ‘Ye’s song “Stronger,” with the loser doomed to retiring from show business. After West slipped up and sang “that’s how long I’ve been on you,” comedian Wayne Brady joked that Mr. West picked “the wrong time to speak properly,” pointing out that the lyric ends with the words “on ya.” A smiling West exclaimed, “I never win!” The consolation? West had a front-row seat for the Los Angeles ceremony, right next to multiple winner Tony Bennett. Later on in the evening, he popped over to Justin Timberlake‘s concert at the Staples Center for a rendition of West’s “Stronger,” according to TMZ.com. …

The stars of “High School Musical” are still in negotiations for a third flick, Corbin Bleu told People magazine. “Truthfully as long as it’s a good script and as long as everybody is being paid fairly, I would be more than happy to go and have one last hurrah,” he said. The 18-year-old actor also revealed that he’s never actually been to an “HSM” premiere due to various scheduling conflicts. … Comic book fan Ghostface Killah is partnering with Adult Swim for a free tour set to hit college campuses next month. The trek, which will feature Witchdoctor as the opening act, will begin October 1 at the State University of New York in Albany and run through an October 19 gig at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Indie-rockers … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Dethlok — the once-fictional animated band featured on the Adult Swim program “Metalocalypse” — are joining forces for a separate free trek, but shows have not been announced beyond the October 29 start date. …

Will Ferrell isn’t your typical actor, so it makes sense he wouldn’t be your typical charity donor either — he’s raising money for a friend’s cancer foundation by auctioning a cameo spot in his new flick, The Associated Press reports. Online bidding for an appearance in “Step Brothers” began Monday and ends September 26, and the opening bid was $5,000. The winner will be announced September 27; get to meet with Ferrell at the Cancer for College golf tournament dinner at Temecula Creek Inn in Temecula, California; and shoot a scene with the actor in October. The proceeds will go to Craig Pollard’s Cancer for College foundation — Pollard and Ferrell were fraternity brothers at the University of Southern California. …

Apparently Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor plans to disband the group’s current lineup following the final gig on its current tour, which is set for Tuesday in Honolulu. Reznor told Honolulu’s Star-Bulletin that he wants “to switch things around a bit.” Nine Inch Nails, he said, “as a rock band configuration [has] done it and we’ve done it again. I see other ways I can present the material in concert, more challenging, something new. I don’t want it to go stale.” The band has been touring together for more than two years and currently includes drummer Josh Freese, guitarist Aaron North, bassist Jeordie White and keyboardist Alessandro Cortini. … Marilyn Manson is teaming up with a French family-run distillery, Matter-Luginbuehl, to produce thousands of bottles of his own brand of absinthe, called “Mansinthe.” Production on the line started last month, and so far, 6,000 bottles have been made. No word on when “Mansinthe” will be commercially available, or for that matter, where. … Former Evanescence members Ben Moody and David Hodges have collaborated with Celine Dion for a track slated to appear on the singer’s forthcoming Taking Chances LP, due November 13. The duo wrote and produced one track for Dion, called “This Time.” …

Live Nation, which runs the House of Blues chain, has either canceled or moved to alternate venues five heavy-metal concerts previously scheduled at House of Blues clubs located on Walt Disney Co. property in Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Anaheim, a gig that had been booked two months earlier and was set to feature Machine Head, Arch Enemy, Throwdown and Sanctity on September 7 was moved to a different venue; a show that was supposed to feature Cannibal Corpse, the Black Dahlia Murder, the Red Chord and the Absence on September 13 was also shifted to a different club; and Obituary‘s planned September 26 concert has been canceled. Two other shows, scheduled for the House of Blues in Orlando, have been moved as well. John Vlautin, vice president of communications for Live Nation, said in a statement that “House of Blues offers a range of entertainment to match the audience at our venues. It was determined that the mix of entertainment at our two Disney locations should be different from our other venues.” …

After months of delays, the free-download site SpiralFrog finally launched on Monday, offering users the chance to choose from more than 700,000 songs and 3,500 videos from a number of independent labels and Universal Music Group acts like Amy Winehouse, Timbaland, Rihanna and Fall Out Boy. The ad-supported site requires users to wait 90 seconds while downloading tracks and sign in every month to answer some questions about their buying habits. Unfortunately for iPod users, the site doesn’t work with the biggest-selling MP3 player, and users can’t burn the songs onto CDs.

09.14.07

Kanye West‘s Graduation is proving to be quite the bear. The album leads with 781,000 copies sold over the 603,000 moved by 50 Cent‘s Curtis according to projections, Billboard reports. “It’s just a few days out,” Fiddy told the news outlet, qualifying the numbers. He said the music industry “would consider me to be a hip-hop favorite because of my sales history, and people like to root for the underdog.” He also took some time Thursday to sound off about Sunday’s VMAs on New York’s Hot 97, saying he was shorted compared to ‘Ye — even though West has also been complaining he didn’t get enough airtime during the show. Fif also managed to take a swipe at his record label, Interscope, during the VMA rant: “As far as the VMAs were concerned, Kanye received the upper hand. I ain’t going to front. He had four looks — his song ‘Stronger,’ his new record ‘Good Life,’ he had a performance with Soulja Boy, ‘Crank [That],’ and then he came out with me. So I feel like Def Jam is doing a better job of promoting the CD than Interscope. Interscope is just relying on my base and the actual music. I was on the VMAs for one minute and 20 seconds. I should’ve just stayed home.” …

Last weekend, Britney Spears had the VMAs to worry about — this weekend, it’s her kids. On Friday (September 14), a Los Angeles Superior Court judge postponed making a ruling on whether court documents relating to the singer’s divorce and custody case with ex-husband Kevin Federline should be sealed or open to the public. “Access Hollywood” and People magazine were among the media outlets representing the public’s interests. Outside the courtroom, Spears’ divorce attorney Laura Wasser spoke to reporters, telling them this is a frustrating time for the singer. “I think she just wants to be a mom,” Wasser told reporters, “and both of her kids’ birthdays are this week, and I think she would’ve liked to celebrate with them without having to worry about the entire nation — the entire world — being concerned about what’s going on with her personally and her custody battle with Mr. Federline.” On Monday, the judge will hear Federline’s order to show cause for primary physical custody of the couple’s two children: Sean Preston, who turned 2 on Friday; and Jayden James, who turned 1 on Wednesday. …

Earlier this week, the “American Idol” judges had at Britney Spears’ VMA performance — now “Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba is following suit. “When I watched it, I think they gave her a great place to make a comeback,” she told Newsweek. “It was more mature than we’ve seen in the past. The thing that was unfortunate is that the center of the performance was Britney, and she was only giving about 30 percent. That’s why it fell short. The backup dancers focused all the energy right to Britney, and she was the weakest link. … I think fear got the best of her.” … Jamie Foxx got a place on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on Friday, and when he chatted with reporters at the induction ceremony, he inevitably gave his two cents on Spears’ performance. “I think Britney’s gonna be fine,” he said. “I think that she was courageous to get up there and do her thing. I wish her well for that.” …

Common and Q-Tip will co-headline this year’s 2K Sports Bounce Tour, which will kick off September 22 in Milwaukee and conclude October 14 in Los Angeles, according to Filter magazine. Q-Tip is featured in “NBA 2K8″ as a playable character and is on the video game’s soundtrack as well. … Mark Ronson — who manned the ones and twos inside the Palms’ Pearl Theatre during last weekend’s Vegas VMAs — has slapped two U.S. tour dates onto his itinerary: October 3 (Los Angeles) and October 5 (New York). …

A fire broke out at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Friday afternoon, injuring four people, according to Austin360.com. The flames erupted inside a trailer located behind the beverage-vendor tents between two of the festival stages, and Pete Yorn‘s set was stopped as the fire was extinguished. All four people were transported to Brackenridge Hospital, and two are in critical condition. …

Madonna, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher attended a Kabbalah conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday to celebrate the Jewish New Year, according to The Associated Press. She reportedly didn’t speak with the media, and the conference was closed to TV cameras. … Master P visited Monroe Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday and spoke to roughly 800 students about the importance of education, good financial management and a vision for success, AP reports. The rapper was approached by math teacher Bonnie Mwanda, who reportedly heard he would be in town and thought his success might be an inspiration for her students, many of whom come from similar backgrounds as the hip-hop mogul. “If the principal tells me y’all have a good year, I’m going to bring Romeo back to do a concert,” he told the students, according to AP.

Fred Durst has been keeping a relatively low profile these days, but the Limp Bizkit frontman was given a 120-day suspended jail sentence after pleading no contest to seven misdemeanors way back on August 16, AP reports. He was also ordered to perform 20 hours of community service and fined $1,500 for assault, battery and reckless driving, for deliberately hitting two people with his car in Los Angeles in October 2006. Moreover, Durst was hit with a restraining order, is not allowed within 100 yards of the two victims — whose names have not been revealed — and cannot possess a firearm. …

Elton John made a surprise appearance onstage during a Prince concert at London’s O2 arena Thursday night. BBC News reports that John joined Prince for a cover of the Beatles‘ “The Long and Winding Road.” After the two-hour-plus show, Prince ducked into the O2′s smaller theater and played another two-hour gig, which included covers of Led Zeppelin‘s “Whole Lotta Love” and another Beatles song, “Come Together.” … Led Zeppelin fans are getting more time for a chance at tickets to see the band perform a one-off reunion gig November 26 at London’s O2 arena. Organizers behind the concert — a tribute to late music icon Ahmet Ertegun — are extending the lottery-application process to Wednesday, Billboard reports. The Web site set up to handle registrations received 89.5 million attempts in a 12-hour period on Thursday, according to the news outlet. …

Members of underground-rock heroes Shudder to Think will reconvene for a one-off gig at New York’s Mercury Lounge on Monday, Pitchfork reports. Frontman Craig Wedren and guitarist Nathan Larson — whose conflicts were part of the reason the band broke up in the late ’90s — will get together with drummer Kevin March for the gig, although bassist Stuart Hill will not be accompanying them. … Glassjaw have booked three California dates for next month. The reunited band will play October 28 in Hollywood; October 29 in San Diego; and October 30 in Pomona, California. … Iconic punk band Operation Ivy‘s 1991 self-titled compilation LP will be reissued on November 6 on Hellcat. The classic release has been remastered and will also be available for download for the first time. … PJ Harvey‘s White Chalk album has shifted from a September 25 release date to October 2. …

AT&T’s Blue Room, the site where political comments made by Pearl Jam during Lollapalooza were censored a month ago, has announced a new policy to avoid repeating that controversial practice during its webcast of this weekend’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. According to AT&T spokesperson Steven Schwadron, “AT&T has developed an AT&T Blue Room policy to maintain integrity of the live performances featured on the site. AT&T will not edit any audio during the live webcast, of performances. We may edit visual content — either through camera angle changes or video blackouts — if there is strong sexual content. Also, we are going to have a clear viewer-discretion messaging both before and during the webcasts. The terms and conditions of the site, which users accept when they choose to view the webcast, requires users to be at least 13 years of age.” …

It’s been 42 years since Johnny Cash‘s arrest in Starkville, Mississippi, for picking flowers from a resident’s garden. But a judge who is reviewing the matter could potentially pardon the late musician, according to BBC News, and the city plans to instead honor him with the Johnny Cash Pickin’ Festival from November 2-4. Cash wrote the track “Starkville City Jail” — which he performed at his legendary live At San Quentin prison LP — after spending a night in the city’s prison.