Hannah Montana Contest Winner Apologizes For Fake Essay; Plus ‘American Idol,’ C-Murder, R.E.M., Birdman & More, In For The Record

Daughtry song cut from 'National Treasure' sequel; 'Idol' alumni Ruben Studdard, Frenchie Davis join musical-theater tour.

The Hannah Montana tour is definitely one of the hottest tickets in town for tweens and their parents, but one woman admits she went a little overboard in trying to win tickets for her daughter. Texas mom Priscilla Ceballos apologized Friday (January 4) on NBC’s “Today” show for writing an essay falsely claiming the girl’s father had died in Iraq just so the girl could see Hannah (a.k.a. Miley Cyrus) in person. “I just wanted to help my daughter write a compelling story,” she said. The fabricated essay won the contest’s grand prize, which included airfare for four to Albany, New York, and four tickets to a sold-out Hannah Montana concert there, as well as a makeover that included a blond Hannah Montana wig. “Please accept my heartfelt apology and please do not punish my child for my mistake,” Ceballos urged on the show. …

What’s harder to find than a City of Gold? For “American Idol” rocker Chris Daughtry, it was one of his own songs. Daughtry was commissioned to write a song to play over the end credits of “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” but the single, “Feels Like Tonight,” was left on the cutting-room floor, reports Variety. “It’s a great song, and probably could have been a good marketing tool, but when we put it up with the movie, it just felt wrong,” Disney music chief Mitchell Leib told the Hollywood trade. …In other “Idol” alumni news, Season Two winner Ruben Studdard and semifinalist Frenchie Davis (who got the boot from the show after Fox discovered that she worked for an adult Web site before trying out) have signed on for the 30th anniversary national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical revue “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Richard Maltby Jr. co-wrote and directed the Broadway production, which showcases the music of “Fats” Waller, and he will re-create his original direction. Studdard was in need of some good news after being the first “Idol” winner to be dropped from his label, when J Records let him go in December. Since appearing on “Idol,” Davis was in the Broadway cast of “Rent.” The “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” tour will begin in November and run at least through May 2009. …

Literature probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of C-Murder, but the rapper — who is to be retried on a second-degree murder charge on February 11 — is taking part in a unique book club that connects readers with authors. On January 19, C-Murder will help christen the New Orleans “chapter” of the Conversations Book Club when he joins the group at the Comfort Inn & Suites downtown to discuss “Death Around the Corner,” his recent novel about the city. …

R.E.M., My Morning Jacket, Vampire Weekend, Daniel Lanois, Tech N9ne and My Brightest Diamond are among the initial slate of bands scheduled to perform at this year’s South by Southwest festival. Lou Reed will be the keynote speaker at the fest, which will take place in Austin, Texas, March 12-16. … Birdman is being sued for allegedly sampling other artists’ songs without paying for them. The lawsuit, which was filed in New Orleans, claims that the Cash Money Records co-founder (real name: Bryan Williams) owes several music publishers money for using copyrighted songs without permission. … Does Britney have some competition? Both Whitney Houston and her estranged husband, Bobby Brown, were no-shows Friday (January 4) at their scheduled court appearance, TMZ.com reports. According to the Web site, Whitney’s attorney, Stephen Kolodny, said the singer was sick. …

Bay Area producer/DJ Amplive won’t be putting out his remix of Radiohead’s In Rainbows after all. Just a month after announcing his remix album, Rainydayz Remixes, which was to feature a cameo from Too Short, Amp announced on his MySpace page that he had received a cease-and-desist letter from Radiohead’s publisher, Warner/Chappell, on December 18 that barred him from releasing the unapproved album, according to a story on Pitchfork linked to from Amp’s site. In a video on his MySpace page, a dejected-looking Amp, holding a sign that reads “free,” laments, “In Rainbows is one of the top Radiohead albums, and I’m a big Radiohead fan, and it was all done in celebration.” He says he wanted to show his appreciation for Radiohead’s pioneering pay-what-you-want scheme by doing a hip-hop remix album that would also have featured Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na. He says he wishes that Radiohead could hear the free remix album, which he knows they would like, and suspects the band is not to blame for the legal action. “Thom [Yorke], holla at me, man,” he pleads to the band’s frontman at the end of the message. …

Australia’s first couple of music, Silverchair singer Daniel Johns and singer/actress Natalie Imbruglia, have announced that they will separate after four years of marriage, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun. The pair announced their split in a joint statement released Friday (January 4) that read, “While we are very sad that our marriage has ended, we want to make it clear that our parting is amicable and we remain friends. … This mutual decision has not been taken lightly or quickly. However, our career demands and our lives in different parts of the world have brought us to the point where unfortunately this difficult decision was necessary for both of us. We have simply grown apart through not being able to spend enough time together.” … On March 25, long-running, genre-spanning party-poppers the B-52s will return with Funplex, their first album of new material since 1992’s Good Stuff (and their first to feature co-frontwoman Cindy Wilson since ’89’s Cosmic Thing). Guitarist Keith Strickland describes the album as “loud, sexy rock and roll for your pleasure zones, with the beat pumped up to hot pink,” just in case you were wondering. …

Josh Groban had a great Christmas, but the music industry? Not so much. For the eighth year in a row, album sales were down, with total album sales diving 15 percent in 2007 to 500.5 million units, according to year-end figures from Nielsen SoundScan. The Los Angeles Times reports that it was the lowest tally and steepest decline since Nielsen began publishing estimates based on in-stores sales data in 1993. There was a bright spot with digital-album sales rising 2.4 percent to 30.1 million units, but even that paled in comparison to the 19 percent uptick in 2006. The overall picture, including albums, singles and individual-song downloads, showed a rise of 14 percent to 1.4 billion units, which, again, was down from the 19 percent gain in 2006. …

Last year’s Live Earth concert and the Roskilde Festival in Denmark will be recognized with environmental honors at the upcoming Midem Green World Awards in Cannes, France, later this month, according to BBC News. The awards pay tribute to events that promote a greater awareness of environmental issues. Live Earth is being recognized for the strict green guidelines it set out in order to create a low-impact worldwide event, while Roskilde, one of the largest European festivals, is earning praise for serving all its drinks in recyclable plastic mugs. …

Not everyone is psyched about the huge music festival that is slated to touch down in Vineland, New Jersey, this summer courtesy of a hookup between Lollapalooza promoters C3 and the people behind England’s Glastonbury Festival. According to the Vineland Daily Journal, a group of citizens, including a former City Council president, have mobilized under the banner of Neighbors Against Rock Concert Site in an attempt to block the show. The first meeting of NARCS is slated to take place Thursday, with the goal of blocking the festival — currently scheduled for August 8-10 — from taking place on a local 570-acre farm. The event is expected to draw 35,000-40,000 people over three days, with mostly on-site camping, which neighbors worry will have a negative impact on the area due to potential increases in traffic, noise, crime and pollution. According to the Journal, NARCS isn’t opposed to the festival, just its location. The group is considering a lawsuit to stop the show, while suggesting that promoters move it to a more “appropriate” location, such as the local county fairgrounds. …

The once-in-a-lifetime New Year’s Eve gig at a small club in Surrey, England, that featured Who guitarist Pete Townshend, former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and guitar god Eric Clapton might not be a one-off after all. The secret show, which the trio performed under the name Totally Abandoned, benefited charity and included mostly “old classics,” according to London newspaper The Independent. A Thursday post on the Who’s site confirmed that the gig took place and teased that “a much larger gig” could happen in New York before March. …

Stephen Stills is recovering after having surgery for prostate cancer on Thursday. He is expected to be at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25 for the world premiere of “CSNY/ Déjà Vu,” a movie directed by Neil Young that revolves around his and Stills’ group, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

1.3.08

T.I. adjusted his calendar Thursday (January 3) after an Atlanta judge postponed until February 19 a suppression hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Grand Hustle rapper’s lawyers are seeking to have evidence thrown out because they claim it was obtained as a part of an illegal search when T.I. (real name: Clifford Harris Jr.) was arrested in October for allegedly attempting to purchase illegal machine guns. Lawyers for the rapper filed a motion in November stating his vehicle had been searched without a warrant, consent or probable cause. He has been under house arrest awaiting trial after posting a $3 million bond in late October. …

Chris Brown has hit a bump as he tours across the U.S. — the singer’s set designer is suing him for breach of contract, according to TMZ. John Troxtel claims in a federal lawsuit he filed Christmas Eve that while he was paid for some of his labor, “extra work was required and requested.” He says an oral agreement was made but that the touring company has refused to make good on its promise. Troxtel, who is seeking more than $1 million in damages, is also reportedly suing Brown for unjust enrichment. …

Former B2K groupmates Dreux “Lil Fizz” Frederic and Jarell “J-Boog” Houston have released a statement through their publicist regarding the claims of sexual molestation Raz-B made against manager Chris Stokes in recent online videos. “We had nothing to do with the [videos], their release and/or their claims, we are unaware of any inappropriate behavior,” the statement read. Raz-B later retracted and apologized for the accusations. Meanwhile, Raz-B’s business partner had no comment on a new, recently surfaced tape of Raz-B, his brother Ricky Romance and Stokes, and said he didn’t know when it was shot. …

Nate Dogg suffered a stroke on December 19, according to a coordinator for the hip-hop crooner’s recently formed gospel choir, Innate Praise. Reports had circulated that the longtime Snoop Dogg associate had been admitted to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in California after suffering a heart attack. Erica Beckwith, however, confirmed to MTV News that Nate Dogg was released on December 26 after being treated for a stroke and is currently in a medical-rehab facility to assist him in his recovery. …

The Jonas Brothers have inked a fat deal with Live Nation, and it’s being called the first of its kind for an up-and-coming group, according to Billboard. The multimillion-dollar agreement will see the band of brothers playing a jaw-dropping 140 shows at theaters and arenas over the next two years. Eight shows have been lined up so far for the Look Me in the Eyes Tour, in Tuscon, Arizona (January 31); Las Vegas (February 1); Los Angeles (February 2); Everett, Washington (February 5); Portland, Oregon (February 6); February 8 (Salt Lake City); El Paso, Texas (February 11); and San Antonio (February 12). … Radiohead have, according to the U.K.’s The Times, agreed to a deal with iTunes — which some fans may have noticed, given that the band’s In Rainbows album is now available through the online store. “In terms of digital income, we’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever,” Thom Yorke reportedly said about the release. …

Bono has teamed with Hard Rock for a new tee that is benefiting the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Conservation Cotton Initiative, which helps educate impoverished African farmers. The Bono Signature Series T-shirt, which will be available starting Monday at Hard Rock’s terrestrial and online shops, is being made available via Edun, a socially conscious clothing company that Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, launched in spring 2005. … Bright Eyes mainman Conor Oberst, who toured as part of the Vote for Change Tour in support of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, performed at a rally for another Democratic contender, Senator Barack Obama, in Iowa on Tuesday. According to The New York Observer, Oberst played for a crowd of approximately 1,000 Obama supporters and at one point told them, “I met the next president of the United States earlier today.” But that’s hardly the only star Obama has on his side. Scarlett Johansson was a special guest at a rally for him in Iowa on Wednesday night, according to The Nation. She reportedly spoke with a group of young supporters in Des Moines. …

The Facebook profile cited in many articles (including MTV News’ ) about Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the late Benazir Bhutto’s son, is a hoax, according to a statement from Farahnaz Ispahani of the Pakistan Peoples Party. “The statement that’s on [the Facebook profile] is not his statement,” he told The New York Times. “It seems genuine but according to Mr. Zardari, and we checked with him, the Facebook statement has not been written by Bilawal.” …

Foo Fighters are following in Justin Timberlake’s footsteps — the band is participating in this year’s “My Grammy Moment” segment for the February 10 awards ceremony. Unsigned instrumentalists — sorry, singers — are getting the chance to perform with Dave Grohl and the gang as part of an orchestra, with the winner being showcased as the featured instrumentalist. Interested? Record a performance video that is no longer than one minute and reflects your talent and submit it here. A Grammy Awards panel will choose 45 quarter-finalists, after which the public will narrow down the group to semifinalists who will perform with the five-time Grammy-nominated band. … Christina Aguilera and Katie Holmes, starring side by side in a new flick? Rumors are circulating online that the two have been tapped for an upcoming comedy called “Humboldt Park,” but Rene Rigal, who is executive producing the flick, told MTV News in regards to the castings, “We haven’t heard anything as of yet.” …

Mark this one with a “WTF?” on your calendar: Keytar-wielding indie-rockers and former You Hear It First artists Mute Math will open for Matchbox Twenty and Alanis Morissette on their Exile in America tour, which runs from January 25 in Hollywood, Florida, through March 18 in Las Vegas. … Hot Chip will pad their February 5 release, Made in the Dark, with a smattering of shows in April. The British electro-poppers will play nine gigs, from an April 10 one in Philadelphia through an April 24 show in San Francisco. … Meanwhile, Ween are barreling on with their longest tour in three years. The band will play six gigs in January — from January 23 in Washington, D.C., through January 31 in Orlando, Florida — and is slated to play February 1-2 in St. Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before jetting overseas. …

Sketch-comedy duo Tim and Eric have a few friends you may know. Maroon 5 bassist Mickey Madden, Phantom Planet frontman Alex Greenwald and the Like singer/guitarist Z have chalked up covers of songs by the pair’s fictional Casey and His Brothers group. Check ’em out on TimAndEric.com.Sean Penn will head the awards jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which is slated for May 14-25. According to AP, the “Into the Wild” director said “a new generation of filmmaking may have begun,” and that there seems to be “a rejuvenation of cinema building worldwide.” …

The Offspring are nearly finished with the follow-up to 2003’s Splinter. According to a post from frontman Dexter Holland on the punk-rockers’ Web site, they’re “taking a quick break from recording right now to be with our families. I’ve got two lyrics to do, a couple more to sing, and various musical tweaks and fixes to get done. Then, we’ll be ready to mix.” There’s no release date for the album yet, but the Offspring “want to thank all our fans who have been so patient, and we want you to know that we’ve been in the studio nearly every day now for quite awhile working hard to make a great record,” the post says. …

Former Kid ’N Play frontman Christopher “Play” Martin was reportedly hospitalized over the weekend when his car was struck by another vehicle whose driver was wounded by a bullet. According to North Carolina’s The News & Observer, the one-time rapper’s car was struck after a man — suspected of fleeing from where a home robbery took place — was allegedly fired upon by local police. The man, identified as Raul Riva Aldamo, reportedly died as a result of the gunfire. Martin and his companion, Michelle Gonzales, were released from doctor’s care on Wednesday, and according to a rep for Martin, he is at home recovering.