Madonna Reportedly Snags Kanye West, Pharrell For LP; Plus Jessica Sierra, Gym Class Heroes, Radiohead, Ne-Yo & More, In For The Record

Sierra pleads not guilty to charges; Heroes tapped for Warped Tour; Radiohead to end downloads soon.

Time to pucker up for Madonna‘s next album — Billboard.com reports that the singer has settled on the title for it: Licorice. The effort, which will reportedly feature “Candy Shop” and “The Beat Goes On” (featuring Pharrell), is due in late April and will be Madge’s last effort for longtime label Warner Bros. Kanye West is said to be a guest on “The Beat Goes On,” according to the site, which also reports that Madonna’s vintage track “The Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” will get an update on the new disc. …

Jessica Sierra pleaded not guilty on Thursday (December 6) to charges of disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest and violating conditions of her parole on earlier felony battery and possession charges, according to The Associated Press. The former “American Idol” finalist was arrested early Sunday morning outside a bar in Ybor City, near Tampa, Florida, after causing an unspecified disturbance while working inside the establishment. Sierra’s lawyer reportedly said he is consulting with doctors to map out a comprehensive drug and alcohol plan for the ex-”Idol” contestant, who is currently being held without bail. Sierra is to remain in jail at least until her next hearing on December 20. …

Gym Class Heroes, the Academy Is … and Relient K will help anchor next year’s Warped Tour, according to Alternative Press. Every Time I Die, From First to Last and the Bronx are also among the first 18 bands named for the summer trek, with the dates yet to be announced. … Speaking of summer fests, Bonnaroo will take place June 12-15 in Manchester, Tennessee, Billboard.com reports. The lineup will be revealed in late January or early February. … Your chance to download Radiohead‘s In Rainbows is about to end. The band has announced that the InRainbows.com Web site will close Saturday. But you can still plunk down $80 for the box set at Radiohead’s online w.a.s.t.e. store, while supplies last. …

Ne-Yo and Macy Gray are joining Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and others as they pitch in for presidential aspirant Senator Barack Obama. Ne-Yo and the Goo Goo Dolls will play at an Obama fundraiser in Universal City, California, on Monday, while Gray, Tweedy and others will perform at the senator’s Friday event in Obama’s hometown of Chicago. On a related note, Wilco will set out for a two-week U.S. tour in February. … Paris, you’ve got nothing on Britney — Spears outdid Hilton on eBay in terms of related items sold this year. AP reports that 34,345 Brit-related items were sold, compared with 27,377 for Paris. A mere 8,099 items related to Lindsay Lohan were auctioned, while on the movies front, “Transformers” beat out Harry Potter with 442,342 and 344,825 related items sold, respectively. …

Indie-rockers, state attorneys general and anti-smoking activists are finding themselves on the same side, oddly enough — some of them are reportedly peeved about an ad for Camel cigarettes that appeared alongside a cartoon-heavy indie-rock feature in the magazine’s November 15 issue, Pitchfork reports. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has stopped promotions for its “The Farm” marketing campaign after nine attorneys general sued the company over the ads, according to North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal. More states are reportedly expected to also sue R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which could face a fine of more than $100 million for violating a 1998 agreement between 46 states and tobacco manufacturers. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement banned the use of cartoons to sell market cigarettes in 1997, effectively killing off Joe Camel. Also being debated, according to Pitchfork, are Camel-sponsored concerts that have featured the Flaming Lips, Band of Horses and the Faint. …

Alicia Keys will ring in the new year with a performance on the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center as part of Carson Daly‘s shindig on NBC, People.com reports. The show, which will air December 31 at 11:35 p.m. ET, will also feature Lenny Kravitz performing in Times Square. Keys will sing two songs from her latest album, As I Am.LL Cool J, Rev Run, Petra Nemcova, Brett Ratner and other celebs have ponied up items for an ongoing online charity auction staged by Russell Simmons‘ Diamond Empowerment Fund. “Diamonds Give” features 15 lots of donated diamond pieces and runs through December 16 on eBay.

It sounds like U2 might be going back to the future on their upcoming album. The band, which flirted with dance beats and techno on such albums as 1991′s Achtung Baby, is incorporating trance, metal and Moroccan influences on its new disc, according to an interview with Bono in The Independent. The singer said fans will “feel the difference. … Normally when you play a U2 tune, it clears the dance floor. And that may not be true of this. There’s some trance influences.” He also said the yet-untitled and unscheduled album has some “very hardcore guitar” and “real molten metal” from guitarist the Edge that doesn’t sound “like anything we’ve ever done before, and we don’t think it sounds like anything anyone else has done either.” Though he wouldn’t categorize the album as “world” music, Bono said its sound was inspired in part by a religious music festival the guys attended in Fez, Morocco, where they were exposed to Sufi music. “It was a real humbling thing for a punk-rock shouter, listening to these people who just close their eyes for 40 minutes and sing the most sophisticated melodies.” So far, U2 have recorded enough material for two records, he added. …

Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson recently hung with locals, bathed in an irrigation ditch in their boxers and visited an orphanage in Peru this week, according to AP. An image that surfaced shows the two, who reportedly stayed at a cheap hotel room that cost less than $50 per night, smiling and waving in Cuzco. Cameron Diaz, Bill Gates and others visited the area earlier this year. … Courtney Love has a new video on her hands … kind of. A clip featuring manga character Princess Ai — whose universe of properties was co-created by Love — will premiere at the New York Anime Festival on Saturday. “Princess Ai: Broken Leash,” which includes live action, animation and music, will appear as part of a CD/DVD anthology due in fall 2008. … It’s hard to keep old punks down. After their recent reunion tour of England this year, punk grandfathers the Sex Pistols will hit the road again next summer, according to Reuters. Guitarist Steve Jones did not give any specifics about the 2008 tour on his Los Angeles radio show on Wednesday, other than to say that the group might play an upcoming charity show at London’s Royal Albert Hall organized by Who singer Roger Daltrey. …

And the battle over James Brown‘s estate goes on. According to AP, two former trustees for the late singer’s estate say the judge who is handling the disputes made them resign in late November. In recently filed court documents, Buddy Dallas and Alford Bradley reportedly said they want to retract their resignations and that South Carolina Circuit Judge Jack Early used “improper judicial influence.” They are also seeking for the appointment of their successors to be overturned.

12.5.07

Unlike Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie, Kiefer Sutherland is not getting off easy with his DUI — the “24″ actor has been sentenced to 48 days in a Los Angeles County jail for his September 24 arrest and violating his probation. The actor must start serving his sentence at the Glendale City Jail prior to March 30, UsMagazine.com reports. He has also been sentenced to five years of probation, must finish a year-and-a-half-long alcohol-education program and go to weekly therapy sessions for a half-year. Sutherland, who had a previous DUI before his fall arrest, had been pulled over by police after making an illegal U-turn and reportedly blew twice the legal blood-alcohol level during a breathalyzer test. He issued a statement after entering a no-contest plea in early October, saying, “I’m very disappointed in myself for the poor judgment I exhibited recently, and I’m deeply sorry for the disappointment and distress this has caused my family, friends and co-workers on ’24′ and at 20th Century Fox.” … Contrasting with Sutherland’s devastating news, Richie caught a break on Wednesday when her court-mandated anti-drinking program granted the socialite a leave of absence, according to People. Coordinators at the program were reportedly worried for Richie’s safety, with her rep saying such leaves of absence are granted to people with medical conditions and that she did not get special treatment. Richie is eight months pregnant and has to complete the 18-month program as part of her DUI plea deal …

Bad news for Vanessa Hudgens: A Los Angeles judge ruled Wednesday (December 5) that a breach-of-contract suit by her former lawyer can go forward, according to CBS News. Brian L. Schall is suing the “The High School Musical” star for breach of contract, although Hudgens has argued that she was a minor at the time she signed the agreement and therefore isn’t bound to it. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tricia Ann Bigelow said the matter of Hudgens disaffirming her contractual obligations within a reasonable time period is a “factual issue,” and that Hudgens’ decision to wait until she was 18 years and 9 months old to reject the contract is an issue for either a jury decision or a motion for summary judgment. The next hearing in the case is slated for January 15. … Lindsay Lohan might be facing another setback too: Raymundo Ortega, the busboy who is seeking $200,000 in damages stemming from Lohan’s collision with his van in October 2005, says he has proof the starlet was drinking before the crash, according to The Associated Press. He reportedly filed papers Tuesday. …

An interview with T.I. that was conducted prior to his October arrest on gun charges appears in the December/January issue of Rap-Up magazine, which features him and Nicole Scherzinger on alternate covers. The rapper said he has a new urban-clothing line on the way — called “A King of Oneself” — and also revealed his interest in a different type of endeavor: commercial construction. “I want to build a Home Depot or a Wal-Mart, shopping centers,” he told the mag. Tip cited Tupac as the rapper who had the most influence on him growing up — and called out some other big names for keeping him out of trouble. “Sometimes I be wildin’ out, then [Suge Knight says,] ‘Man, you got too much going on, you can’t do that. It ain’t like the old days,’ ” said the rapper, who is currently under house arrest. “[Jay-Z] will tell me the same thing, [Diddy] tell me the same thing, Kevin Liles — everybody trying. Wyclef is another one. People, I guess, just care.” …

For her part, Nicole Scherzinger named Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson as the singers she admires the most. She also talked about someone else you may have heard of — Kanye West — and why the tracks he produced for her solo debut didn’t make the cut. “I wasn’t able to really finish them in time,” said the singer, whose Her Name Is Nicole LP is due January 29. “When I have the right time and the right album, I wanna finish those songs. There was talks of putting Common on one of them.” Scherzinger also talked about shooting her “Whatever U Like” video with the other Rap-Up cover artist, T.I. “When we did the video it was crazy ’cause we were all up in each other’s grills, like [director] Paul Hunter really made us go there, but it was great. He’s a professional. Paul was making us tug on each other; we were hard-core for a hot second.” …

Jay-Z celebrated his 38th birthday with Beyoncé in Paris on Tuesday, according to People.com. The couple reportedly holed up in a hotel suite, took a drive around the city, ate at L’Avenue restaurant and caught a cabaret show. … Pete Wentz, Chris Brown, the Jonas Brothers and Corbin Bleu all made Teen magazine’s list of the 50 Hottest Guys in Hollywood — but Zac Efron takes the cake by topping the bunch. … Keira Knightley stripped down for the revealing cover of the latest issue of Interview magazine. “How does that always happen?” the “Atonement” actress asked herself, in the interview, of taking off her clothes. “Because I say yes, I suppose.” …

Styles P, Hurricane Chris and Fabolous will bring some yuletide cheer to Russell Simmons and Rev Run‘s eighth annual Youth Holiday Party in New York on Tuesday, with MTV News’ own Sway acting as one of the emcees. For the festivities, the Simmons brothers and their Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation will turn the Fillmore at Irving Plaza into a winter wonderland, raffling off prizes like an Xbox 360 and tickets to a taping of “106 & Park.” Kids will also get Target gift cards. …

Journey are counting a new singer among their ranks: Arnel Pineda. The Filipino crooner, who previously covered the band’s songs with his group the Zoo, is the third Journey singer in two years — he follows Jeff Scott Soto, who left the fold earlier this year after filling in for Steve Augeri, who split with the band in 2006 due to medical reasons. “I know they’ll expect me to sound exactly like ‘the voice,’ ” Pineda said in a statement, referring to yet another former Journey singer: Steve Perry. “But that will never happen. I know there’s only one Steve Perry in this world.” “Arnel doesn’t sound synthetic and he’s not emulating anyone,” added guitarist Neal Schon, who discovered the singer’s Zoo clips online. “I tried to get a hold of him through YouTube and I finally heard from him … but it took some convincing to get him to believe that it really was me and not an imposter.” …

Deerhunter, Black Dice, Fischerspooner and others have chipped in unreleased new songs for Living Bridge, a two-CD collection of songs by bands who have previously recorded at Brooklyn, New York’s Rare Book Room Studio. The 25-song package will hit stores February 26 and christen Rare Book Room Records, a new label. … The Breeders will be back in ’08 with a new disc hitting stores April 8. Mountain Battles will arrive six years after the band’s previous effort, Title TK, which the band took nine years to put out following its most successful album, 1993′s Last Splash. The Pixies-affiliated group is also due to tour throughout the year, hitting up South by Southwest and Coachella along the way. … Peaches will sweeten up New Year’s Eve this year by counting down the clock in downtown Los Angeles as part of Hard NYE’s bash. She will also perform, as will Justice. …

Paula Abdul was a “disaster” on “Saturday Night Live” when she hosted the show two years ago — so says Tina Fey in the January issue of Playboy. “I was pregnant at the time and probably a little moody, but I remember thinking, ‘She’s a disaster!’ ” Fey said. … Vivica A. Fox booked herself on Wednesday on charges of driving under the influence, TMZ.com reports. A judge ordered on Monday that the actress be booked or face a bench warrant. … Charges were dropped against Jonathan Rhys-Meyers after he apologized for creating a drunken fracas at an airport in Ireland earlier this year. The actor, who faced two charges of public drunkenness and breach of peace, said through his lawyer that he intends to make a donation to an unspecified charity. …

The one guy who seemed kind of charmed by Borat‘s antics in last year’s “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” has joined the parade of people suing the fake Kazakh reporter. According to Reuters, driving instructor Michael Psenicska’s suit against the film’s makers and star Sacha Baron Cohen claims that he was tricked into participating in a film that he was led to believe was a “documentary about the integration of foreign people into the American way of life.” Psenicska said he was paid $500 in cash to give Borat a driving lesson and described the experience as “surreal,” saying Cohen drove erratically down residential streets, drank alcohol and yelled to a female pedestrian that he would pay her $10 for “sexy time.” Psenicska is seeking $100,000 in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages for being misled, and for the emotional harm he allegedly continues to suffer. Psenicska said if he had known the true nature of the film, he never would have participated. The studio behind the flick said the suit had no merit and that Psenicska was a willing participant in the film. …

Eddie Vedder is making his first video appearance since his spot in Pearl Jam‘s “Jeremy” clip 15 years ago. Mr. Ed is supporting his soundtrack to “Into the Wild” with a video for “Guaranteed.” … Saosin can’t get enough of the road — the band, which toured for most of 2007, has rolled out a new 2008 itinerary. The California rockers will take Armor for Sleep and the Bled along for their jaunt, which starts January 21 in Tucson, Arizona, and ends February 14 in Chico, California. … The sounds made by the creepy creatures in Will Smith‘s new movie “I Am Legend” might seem familiar to Faith No More fans — Mike Patton is the one behind them. The always-busy musician, who previously lent his voice to video games like “The Darkness” and “The Portal,” is also delving into the film world with “A Perfect Place,” a noirish short film for which he composed the music. …

The family of Justin Barker, the white student who was allegedly beaten by six black classmates last year in Jena, Louisiana, has filed a civil lawsuit against the teens, their parents, the local school board and a seventh student who was not charged in the case, USA Today reports. The lawsuit claims that the attack on Barker was of “such extreme nature so as to require emergency medical care and treatment for the harm inflicted by the attack, and resulting in extensive and permanently disabling injuries.” The suit, filed Thursday, also alleges that employees of the LaSalle Parish School Board were not adequately supervising students or maintaining discipline. …

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will flex his rock muscle on Friday at a fundraising show featuring Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performing solo alongside buzz band the Cool Kids, Third Eye Blind singer Stephan Jenkins, Jill Sobule and local indie bands the Changes and Canasta. The “Change Rocks” show will take place at the Riviera Theatre in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, with tickets ranging from $50 to $500 apiece. … Hillary Clinton‘s campaign has had a change of heart. Less than a month before the Iowa caucuses, Clinton has dropped her controversial campaign theme song, “You and I” by Celine Dion, and replaced it with “Blue Sky” by Colorado 1990s college faves Big Head Todd and the Monsters, according to ABC News. …

We can see now why comedian Dave Chappelle might have walked away from that $50 million Comedy Central deal: He’d rather be doing stand-up. Chappelle broke his own endurance record on Sunday with a set at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, California, that lasted six hours and 12 minutes, besting his previous mark, set in April, by a good five minutes. Club owner Jamie Masada told AP that Chappelle was on a mission. “Dave was determined to keep his record because he recently heard that Dane Cook was planning on trying to break [his] record,” Masada said. … R&B singer Avant has signed to Capitol Records to release his next album, due in the summer. The multiplatinum crooner was previously signed to MCA, before the label folded into Geffen Records, through which he released four albums and a string of hit singles, including his breakout “Separated.” Avant’s yet-untitled next album is expected to include production from Rodney Jerkins and Mr. Collipark, among others.