Usher’s Father Passes Away; Plus Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Foxy Brown, Amy Winehouse, Paramore & More, In For The Record

Spears spends two hours in deposition; Lohan gets rough justice; Winehouse shows up at courthouse after husband pleads innocent.

Usher‘s father, Usher Raymond III, passed away at an Atlanta hospital on Friday, a rep for the singer confirmed to MTV News. The cause of death was not immediately known; People.com reported that the funeral will take place this week at the Taylor Funeral Home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. …

Britney Spears spent more than two hours at the Los Angeles office of Kevin Federline‘s lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, on Monday (January 21) for an ongoing deposition in the former couple’s custody battle, according to People.com. Spears was videotaped driving up to the office, accompanied by friend Sam Lufti, at around 10:40 a.m. PT and left at around 1:20 p.m. The deposition is expected to continue on Tuesday.

1.18.07

Lindsay Lohan has gotten a harsh assignment as part of her community service for misdemeanor drunk driving. The Associated Press reported that the 21-year-old actress will be working two four-hour days at a morgue as part of her court-ordered program meant to show drivers the real-life consequences of drunk driving. Lohan — who must serve 10 days of community service as part of her plea deal — worked at an American Red Cross blood-services facility in a Los Angeles suburb in November. She has also been ordered to spend two days working in a hospital emergency room. …

A New York judge told Foxy Brown on Thursday that she’s going to have to provide medical proof for why she should be let out of jail to repair her defective cochlear implant, a surgically implanted hearing device. AP reports that acting Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson told the rapper (born Inga Marchand) that she needs more information before deciding if she can let Brown out of jail to fly to California for treatment and a repair of the implant. Brown, who was sentenced to a year in jail in September for probation violation, recently petitioned the court via a handwritten letter to allow her to travel for treatment, saying that her hearing condition is worsening in jail and that she faces serious, potentially permanent hearing loss if the issue isn’t resolved. Assistant District Attorney Cindy Chung had objected, saying Brown had not shown any proof that the procedure could not be done in New York and calling the request a “desperate and frivolous petition.” Before being led out of court, Brown reportedly told the judge she had done a lot of thinking in jail about how to control her emotions and make better decisions, saying, “I have too much talent to throw it away. … I know I will make you proud and my family proud.” The seemingly nonplussed judge replied, “I’m glad you’re learning some very hard lessons that needed to be learned.” …

Britney Spears, who has done little to promote her Blackout album aside from appearing in the tabloids on a daily basis, has landed a paying gig. Spears will host a party for the Scandinavian Style Mansion at a private residence in Beverly Hills, California, on February 16, party organizer Claus Hjelmbak confirmed. “She’s going to do the press line and be there for a few hours,” Hjelmbak told MTV News. She was a guest for a similar party for the Mansion featuring items from luxury brands on December 1. “Even though she wasn’t the host, she was so sweet to everybody and so generous with her time,” Hjelmbak said. “She made all these little kids and all my clients feel amazing.” …

Amy Winehouse‘s husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, was in court Friday (January 18) to enter a plea of innocent to charges of assault and conspiracy. According to The Associated Press, Winehouse was not in the London courtroom to hear Fielder-Civil confirm his name and enter the plea, but she did show up afterward in a silver BMW, surrounded by bodyguards who shielded her from the paparazzi. Despite rumors that the couple could be headed for divorce, Winehouse was seen whispering, “I love you handsome … gorgeous one,” to her husband as he was led away. Fielder-Civil, 25, who is accused of attacking a pub landlord, and then later conspiring along with several other men to convince the man to withdraw as a witness in the trial, has been in jail since November. Fielder-Civil is due back in court on February 29 to enter a plea on the charge of obstructing justice. AP reports that the landlord in the case, James King, denied the conspiracy charge during his appearance on Friday. …

Dreams come true: Paramore are set to co-headline a tour with their idols Jimmy Eat World. The trek will launch in March, with dates to be announced shortly. “If it all ends tomorrow, we will be happy knowing that we got a tour with the band that gave us a reason to play music,” Paramore singer Hayley Williams said in a statement. “We got to know them last December while playing festivals together. They put on a great show and we think it’s going to be an awesome bill,” added Jimmy Eat World singer Jim Adkins. … Every Time I Die, Chiodos, Motion City Soundtrack, Meg and Dia, Thrice and the Bled are featured on the audio portion of the Take Action! Volume 7 CD/DVD compilation, which is scheduled for a March 4 release. …

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. — the site of a recent bid by talk-show host Stephen Colbert to have his portrait enshrined alongside some of America’s legendary presidents — is about to unveil an exhibition honoring hip-hop. “Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture” will open February 8 and feature photographer David Scheinbaum’s portraits of famous rappers, paintings by Kehinde Wiley of LL Cool J and Ice-T based on famous European and American paintings from the 17th-19th centuries, and a poem by Nikki Giovanni that will be transcribed onto the walls of the exhibition by artist Shinique Smith. There will also be four portrait murals created by a pair of Washington graffiti artists that will be featured in the hallway between the galleries. …

Velvet Revolver‘s Slash recently told Illinois’ Northwest Herald that the band will begin working on its next LP in April. Slash is also planning to record a solo album sometime in the next year or two, he said. … Staind frontman Aaron Lewis‘ three-night solo acoustic run at the Mohegan Sun Arena and Cabaret in Uncasville, Connecticut, next month will be filmed for the rocker’s first-ever solo DVD. There’s no word yet on when the effort will be ready for mass consumption, but we’ll keep you posted. … Chevelle and Finger Eleven will hit the road together next month for a spate of live gigs. The first is set for February 19 in Flint, Michigan, and so far, shows are booked through March 18 in Providence, Rhode Island. More dates will be revealed in the coming weeks. …

Hard as it may be to believe, Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore has recorded the score to an adult film, according to Wired. “Extra Action (And Extra Hardcore),” which hits stores March 18 and was directed by Richard Kern, is an hourlong film that features “unpretentious, unadorned and definitely undressed” women, asked to “roll around and do something interesting for a few minutes.” …

Seal has signed on as the headliner of Musicians on Call’s fourth annual Benefit Concert & Auction, which will take place January 29 at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York’s Times Square. Among the items up for bid from the organization, which brings music to patients in health-care facilities, are two front-row concert tickets and a one-on-one piano lesson from Gavin DeGraw, a Fender bass signed by Sting, an acoustic guitar signed by Bon Jovi, and a meet-and-greet and two tickets for a Daughtry or Carrie Underwood/ Keith Urban show. … Against stiff odds, Tanya Andersen has beaten the Recording Industry Association of America again. The single mother, who became a folk hero among the thousands of targets of the association’s downloading lawsuits when the RIAA dropped its 2005 suit against her for lack of evidence, got word on Tuesday that a judge had ruled in her favor once more. Wired News reports that an Oregon judge ordered the RIAA to pay the 42-year-old Andersen’s legal-defense fees from the copyright-infringement case, upholding a September ruling that the organization had appealed.

1.17.08

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.