Mary J. Blige ‘Lives’ Again On TV Soap; Plus Remy Ma, Lil Wayne, Nelly, Amy Winehouse, Scarlett Johansson, Zac Efron & More, In For The Record

Remy Ma case postponed again; Weezy, Nelly LP release dates firmed up; Winehouse reportedly working on holiday album.

Mary J. Blige “lives” again: The R&B singer belted out two songs — “Just Fine” and “Hurt Again” — along with her band and taped appearances for upcoming episodes of “One Life to Live.” In the eps, slated to air February 15 and 18, Blige acts as a surprise guest at a birthday party for one of the show’s characters. “It’s absolutely amazing to be integrated into a soap opera I’ve watched since I was a little girl,” she said in a statement. Blige previously performed songs on the soap in summer 2006. …

Remy Ma‘s case was adjourned again on Thursday (January 17), because her lawyer is ill. The hearing for the rapper, who is facing charges of charges of gang assault and witness tampering, had originally been scheduled for January 10. …

Universal Motown has fine-tuned its new-releases schedule, and some of the year’s most anticipated albums are right around the corner. Coming down the pipe are Lil Wayne‘s Tha Carter III (March 18), David Banner‘s The Greatest Story Ever Told (March 25), Q-Tip‘s The Renaissance (March 11), Ashanti‘s The Declaration (March 25), Erykah Badu‘s New Amerykah (February 26) and, finally, Nelly‘s Brass Knuckles (June 24). …

Christmas trees have been tossed out and menorahs packed away for next year, but Amy Winehouse and super-producer Mark Ronson — who teamed for Winehouse’s lauded Back to Black album — are sketching out plans for a holiday album, according to Rolling Stone. “We’re talking about making a holiday record, with Christmas songs on one side and Hanukkah songs on the other,” Ronson told the mag. “She’s got songs called ‘Kosher Kisses’ and ‘Alone Under the Mistletoe.’ ” Winehouse and Ronson both have Jewish roots. “She’s writing songs, and we talked about getting a studio,” he added. “I have to finish a few other things first, but I imagine we’ll go into the studio this year.” One of those “things” is apparently Daniel Merriweather‘s yet-untitled new album, according to a separate Ronson interview with BBC News. … BBC News. … The pressure is on. The Directors Guild of America reached an agreement with the major studios on Thursday, turning up the heat on the Writers Guild of America to settle their walkout, which began in November, according to the Los Angeles Times. The three-year directors’ contract was an improvement over what the studios had originally offered writers, and now that it is complete, there is pressure for the WGA to use the agreement as the basis for its own new contract. …

Scarlett Johansson is the latest celeb to pay a visit to troops overseas. The “Nanny Diaries” actress will hang with soldiers in the Persian Gulf for five days, signing autographs and visiting military installations along the way, as part of a United Service Organizations/ Army Morale Welfare Recreation entertainment tour. “I’ve wanted to go over and visit for some time, and now my moment has arrived,” Johansson said in a statement. “It’s one thing to reply to a letter or extend your thanks to service members in a speech, but it’s another thing to visit them and spend time with those that do so much for us back home.” … Zac Efron, Denzel Washington, Emile Hirsch, Forest Whitaker and father-to-be Matthew McConaughey will present trophies at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 27. The show, which has a waiver from the striking Writers Guild of America, will air January 27 on TNT and TBS. …

John Legend sure is busy. In addition to performing at a MusiCares event on February 8 and at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in March, the singer/pianist will also play an acoustic set mid-flight onboard Delta Air Lines’ new Grammy plane. The Recording Academy, Delta and CBS — the network that is due to air the Grammys on February 10 — have put together a contest that starts Thursday, with winners flying from New York to Los Angeles for the ceremony, and also catching rehearsals beforehand. To enter the sweepstakes, which ends January 29, check out the Web site of your local CBS TV affiliate and see if it is one of the 16-plus participating stations. … The new season of “American Idol” is under way, of course — but don’t forget about last year’s winner, Jordin Sparks. The 18-year-old singer is continuing to promote her self-titled debut, which was released in late November, with a chat and performance of “Tattoo” on Fox’s “Talkshow With Spike Feresten” on Saturday night. Jordin Sparks has had a poor outing, barely cracking the Billboard albums chart’s top 10 in its first week of release. …

These are the worst of times for EMI. Shortly after news broke that up to 2,000 staffers at the beleaguered major label might be laid off soon, Reuters reported that one of the label’s biggest veteran acts, the Rolling Stones, have inked a deal to release a film soundtrack on a different label. The one-off pact with rival Universal Music Group for the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese‘s upcoming documentary on the band — “Shine a Light,” which is due in March — has prompted speculation that the Stones may be the latest act to jump ship from EMI. … Your time-wasting days may be over. Hasbro, the company behind the game Scrabble, has asked Facebook to remove its popular version of the word game Scrabulous, claiming that it infringes on Hasbro’s copyright. … Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will donate the proceeds from their Tuesday concert at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom to Planned Parenthood of New York City, according to Pitchfork. …

Ginuwine still has beef with King Music Group Inc. The R&B star — who sued the record label in early October, claiming he was tricked into signing a contract with a label that didn’t even exist — has filed a breach-of-contract and fraud complaint against the company and its purported founder, Michael Bourné. Ginuwine had previously reached a settlement with King Music Group, according to the complaint, but now he says the terms of that agreement have also been breached, in addition to his original contract. “King Music Group and Bourné’s latest breaches have resulted in significant damages and numerous lost professional opportunities for Ginuwine, as well as his inability to record new material,” the complaint states. According to Ginuwine, per the terms of his original contract, he was to receive $1.75 million, including a $500,000 advance, to record his first album for King Music. But he claims he didn’t receive any payment from the label, and that there was no corporate record for King Music Group Inc. anywhere in New York, California, Florida or Tennessee. …

While Britney Spears is “happily dating” one paparazzo, Adnan Ghalib, some others aren’t so lucky. Four photographers were arrested for reckless driving after chasing the pop singer’s car in Southern California on Wednesday night, according to The Associated Press. Los Angeles police offers also pulled over Spears and interviewed her, but let her go after her license checked out OK. Authorities said the four paps were following too closely behind Spears’ Mercedes, were driving at unsafe speeds and made multiple dangerous lane changes, according to AP.Kiefer Sutherland, who started serving a 48-day jail sentence for DUI and probation violation December 5, will be released Monday, according to “Entertainment Tonight.” The “24″ actor celebrated his 41st birthday, on December 21, behind bars. …

Live Nation has been slapped with a lawsuit by a man who alleges he was beat up by a member of Mötley Crüe and security during the band’s concert with Aerosmith in Tampa, Florida, on November 22, 2006, according to The Tampa Tribune. Gerald Schneeman of Rockford, Illinois, reportedly claims that while standing in front of the Ford Amphitheatre stage, he was hit in the head with a guitar by a Mötley Crüe bandmember — who was not named in the suit — after which the musician leapt off the stage and took down Schneeman. The suit goes on to say that once Schneeman was on the ground, security assaulted him and dragged him from the venue. Schneeman alleges he suffered bodily injury, scarring and disfigurement, although details of his injuries were not listed in the suit, according to the Tribune.. …

Michael Derderian, the co-owner of the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, where 100 people were killed in a 2003 fire during a Great White show, was granted early release from prison by a state parole board on Wednesday, according to an AP report. Derderian, 46, who went to prison in September 2006, is set to be freed in October 2009, after serving more than three years of a four-year sentence. Families of some of the victims had asked the parole board to force Derderian — who has been disciplined several times for breaking rules at his work-release job and in prison — to serve his entire sentence because he ran a dangerous business and allegedly did not show enough remorse for his role in the deadly fire.

1.16.08

Jessica Simpson and John Mayer are no longer an item, obviously, but that’s not stopping the smooth guitarist from coming to the actress’ defense after her current boyfriend, quarterback Tony Romo, and his Dallas Cowboys suffered a big playoff upset to the New York Giants on Sunday. Over the course of the season, some Cowboys fans had blamed Simpson for Romo’s poor performances, suggesting she had been distracting him. In a Tuesday post on his blog, Mayer wrote, “Dear Dallas and surrounding areas, this isn’t a sports blog, and it isn’t a publicity stunt. (But have at me if it feels right.) This is about doing what I think is right as a person, in this case speaking my mind. I have never known anyone to have more pride in their home state and their upbringing in it than Jessica Simpson has in Texas. I don’t really follow sports, but I have played some of my biggest and best concerts in your state, and having witnessed how dynamic the spirit there is, I’m betting emotions are running high right about now. All witty barbs, blogs and fashion-policing aside, that girl loves Texas more than you know. It’s one of her most defining traits as a person. So please don’t try and take that away from her. (You probably wouldn’t be able to, but it’s less work for all involved.) I just thought it would mean something coming from the guy who has the absolute least to gain from this. And if I’m out of line in having written it, too bad. I can spare a Wednesday’s worth of bad press if it means sticking up for a good soul.” …

In other Mayer news, Cosmopolitan has named him the Fun Fearless Male of the Year for its February issue, in which Mayer is featured on the inside cover. In an accompanying letter addressed “Dear Ladies,” he wrote, “I’d like you all to know how much I respect your mind and how much I admire your personal values. I’m so sorry to hear about your past romantic fallouts, and I want you to know that I am nothing like that guy (whose name shall go unmentioned) who treated you like garbage for far too long. Let’s get a drink soon.” …

Calling all Beyoncé fans: On Wednesday (January 16), Starwave Mobile launched a new cell phone game devoted to the pop superstar. “Beyoncé Fashion Diva” has an online social-networking component that incorporates items from the Deréon clothing line created by B and her mom, Tina Knowles. “I love fashion and used to spend hours playing ‘dress up’ when I was a young girl,” the singer said in a statement. “As an adult, I still enjoy getting dressed up for my appearances. I believe our customers truly enjoy fashion as well and this mobile game is so much fun to play. It allows everyone to be a Fashion Diva.” …

Prognosticators had anticipated a strong showing for the seventh season of “American Idol,” thanks to the dearth of fresh TV content in light of the writers’ strike and some retooling on the part of the show. But even with additional help from a Borat impersonator and solid Grace Slick impressions, the new season’s premiere fell short of expectations, with its viewership dropping 11 percent from last year (33.2 million watched Tuesday’s show, compared with 37.4 million in ’07). That news dovetails with a newly released Entertainment Weekly strike survey showing that almost half of Americans have been watching less TV since the strike began. …

Radiohead‘s latest webcast is drawing a little too much attention. The band planned to play a short set of In Rainbows songs at a store in London on Wednesday and film the performance for webcast on Radiohead.tv. But due to high demand, the performance was moved to 93 Feet East, a proper live-music venue. “On the advice of the police and the local council, it was decided to change the venue to the larger one in the interests of public safety and due to the size of the crowd that turned up for the event,” the band said on the Dead Air Space portion of its Web site. “Rough Trade and the band apologise for any inconvenience caused.” …

Travis Barker thinks you’ve been seeing a little too much of him lately. The (+44) drummer is suing Rockstar energy drink for unauthorized use of his name and likeness on its Web site, according to TMZ.com. The suit reportedly claims Barker did not give Rockstar permission or authorization to post an image of him on its site, and that he is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. … Rick Ross will usher boxer Roy Jones Jr. into the ring on Saturday at New York’s Madison Square Garden as the former champ gets ready to square off against Felix “Tito” Trinidad. Jones will be joined by a fellow Florida native in Ross, while in previous bouts, Method Man and Redman entered with Jones during fight night. …

Well, that was quick. Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds, who ceremoniously wedded in French Polynesia just over two weeks ago, have split up. In order to make their marriage legal in the States, the couple still needed to have a ceremony on U.S. soil. “After much consideration and discussion, we have jointly decided that we will forego having a legal ceremony as it is not necessary to define our relationship further,” the couple said in a joint statement, according to People. “While the recent symbolic union in Bora Bora was representative of our deep love, friendship and respect that we have for one another on a spiritual level, we have decided to remain friends.” … The 3-year-old daughter of Britney Spears and Roots producer BT was located on Tuesday night, according to TMZ.com. Kaia’s mother, Ashley Duffy, is reportedly in jail without bail after being taken into custody. Authorities had been looking for the child since December, and earlier this month, a warrant was issued for Duffy for out-of-state child abduction and detention from the lawful custodian, TMZ says. …

Scott Storch owes the mother of his son Jalen outstanding child support, Dalene Jennifer Daniel claims in documents recently filed in Miami-Dade County court, according to The Miami Herald. The super-producer is allegedly supposed to pay $7,500 a month for Jalen, but he has been in arrears since December and is “habitually late,” Daniel’s attorney argued in a motion that seeks to hold Storch in contempt. Storch was also supposed to enroll his son in the Florida Prepaid College Plan, but the payment bounced, according to another motion. It also claims the producer hasn’t, per the settlement, provided proof that he got a $1 million life-insurance policy that names Jalen as the beneficiary. …

You better start saving up some bucks now, because the U.S. summer-festival season apparently just got even more crowded. Less than a month after the minds behind Lollapalooza (C3) and England’s Reading Festival (Festival Republic) announced that they would be hosting a camping fest in Vineland, New Jersey, from August 8-10, the companies that put on the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, are reportedly set to announce their own three-day camping event in Jersey, at Liberty State Park. According to The New York Times, the AEG Live and Goldenvoice event is tentatively scheduled for — you guessed it — August 8-10 and no bands have been announced yet. A spokesperson for AEG Live would not comment on any plans at press time. …

“American Gangster,” the Denzel Washington flick that made a big critical splash last year, is now making headlines of a different variety. Three ex-Drug Enforcement Agency agents have filed a $55 million defamation suit against the owner of Universal Studios, the studio behind the flick, claiming it ruined the reputations of hundreds of agents, according to Reuters. Louis Diaz, Gregory Korniloff and Jack Toal argue NBC Universal misrepresented the events involving Frank Lucas (Washington) and the other “American Gangster” main character, Detective Richard Roberts (Russell Crowe), and falsely claimed the film was based on a true story. More specifically, the suit, which is seeking class-action status, reportedly claims that the movie erroneously says Lucas and Roberts’ collaboration “led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City’s Drug Enforcement Agency” agents between 1973-85. “With this utterly false and defamatory statement, the defendant has ruined and impugned the reputations of these honest and courageous public servants in the eyes of millions of people,” the suit reportedly claims. Denying the allegations, NBC Universal said in a statement that the movie “does not defame these, or any, federal agents.” according to Reuters. “We believe the lawsuit is entirely without merit,” the statement continued. …

First Celine Dion tried to up her hip factor by enlisting ex-Evanescence members Ben Moody and David Hodges for her November LP, Taking Chances. Now your mom’s favorite singer has hooked up with none other than Will.I.Am for a duet on her upcoming TV special, “Celine Dion: That’s Just the Woman in Me.” The show, which will also feature Dion singing with Josh Groban, airs February 15 at 9 p.m. on CBS. … Paramore and 30 Seconds to Mars will co-headline the 2008 installment of the Give It a Name festival. Set to take place in May in London, the fest covers two days. More acts will be added to the bill in the coming weeks. …

The songwriters who accused Avril Lavigne of ripping off one of their tunes are now saying the Canadian punk princess did nothing wrong. Last summer, Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer alleged Lavigne’s song “Girlfriend” sounded suspiciously like the Rubinoos‘ 1979 single, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” On Tuesday, Dunbar and Gangwer said in a statement, “We are satisfied that any similarities between the two songs resulted from Avril and Luke’s use of certain common and widely-used lyrics.” … Geffen Records is planning a retrospective set chronicling the career of New Found Glory. Called Hits, the collection arrives in stores March 4. …

According to Marilyn Manson, before bringing his old bandmate Twiggy Ramirez back, he first had to ditch collaborator Tim Skold, because there was too much tension between Skold and Ramirez. “Those two couldn’t be onstage with each other, so out of respect for both of them, I decided to split with Tim for this tour,” Manson told Florida’s The Orlando Sentinel. “It doesn’t mean that it’s forever, but Twiggy’s back forever. Of course, ‘forever’ is a very loose term when you talk about Marilyn Manson.” … The Deftones have set Eros as the title of their forthcoming sixth studio LP, the band revealed in a post on its MySpace page. The set, which the group has been working on the last few months, will hit stores later this year and follows 2006′s Saturday Night Wrist.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O has tossed together some new songs for former flame Spike Jonze‘s upcoming movie “Where the Wild Things Are.” Carter Burwell, who has worked extensively with Jonze in the past, says on his Web site, “Karen O has already written songs and other pieces of music for the film, and I’m helping with the score.” … On April 17, much-praised sister act Tegan and Sara will launch their Out of Hibernation tour, in continued support of last year’s The Con. The tour kicks off at the Historic Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon, then heads east, wrapping in New York on May 12. For more information — and to get your hands on pre-sale tickets — check out TeganandSara.com. …

The “Love Shack” is opening up for business once again — the B-52′s have lined up their first album of new studio material since 1992′s Good Stuff. The new wave heroes constructed their Funplex with producer Steve Osbourne (KT Tunstall, New Order) and are putting it out March 25 on electronic-music label Astralwerks. … Martin Scorsese‘s Rolling Stones documentary, “Shine a Light” — which has appearances by Christina Aguilera and Jack White — will open the Berlin Film Festival on February 7, according to BBC News. … Sevendust will release their seventh studio full-length, Hope and Sorrow, April 1. The disc will feature a dozen tracks, including “Abuse Me.” … Idiot Pilot will join Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine and Bless the Fall on this year’s Taste of Chaos tour.