Missy Elliott composed a letter to the mayor of her hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, expressing her views on the importance of spaying and neutering all animals before they're adopted in order to prevent new generations of stray animals. The hip-hop diva was moved to pen the missive after learning that more than 2,300 cats and dogs were killed in shelters in Portsmouth last year, and that 4 to 5 million are killed annually in shelters nationwide. ... Meanwhile, Elliott will headline Motorola's fourth annual holiday party to benefit Toys for Tots at the Lot in West Hollywood on Thursday. Nelly, Nikka Costa, Macy Gray, Luke Wilson, Tobey Maguire and others are expected to attend the event, where guests are asked to bring a toy to be donated to Toys for Tots. ...

Whitney Houston will be giving a free preview of her new album, Just Whitney…, two days before its December 10 release date. The singer will perform three songs from the LP in front of New York's Lincoln Center as part of a taping for "Good Morning America." Houston's segment on "GMA" will air on the day her album drops. ... The Lyricist Lounge Tour, which had recently been canceled, is back on: The outing will kick off in Washington, D.C., on December 6, and will run until December 31 in Providence, Rhode Island. On the bill are Erick Sermon, Poverty, Blestenation, Killah Priest and Grafh, as well as Scarface, who will jump off the tour after the December 23 show. ...

Marc Anthony, Dionne Warwick, J Records founder Clive Davis, opera singer Beverly Sills and the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David have been selected by the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy to receive 2002 New York Heroes Awards. Atlantic Records founder and chairman Ahmet Ertegun is among the presenters of the awards, which honor those integral to the vitality of the music community and whose talents and accomplishments cross musical boundaries. Proceeds from the ceremonial dinner held December 11 at the Roosevelt Hotel will benefit the Academy's education and community-outreach programs. ...

Following a fallout with former label Interscope, Southern California rockers Unwritten Law have found a new home on Lava Records, joining Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker and Simple Plan on the label's roster. The 11-track Music in High Places, a stripped-down, best-of LP recorded at Yellowstone National Park, is the first of the band's multi-album commitment to the label, and will drop January 21. ...

Twisted Sister — vocalist Dee Snider, guitarists Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda, bassist Mark Mendoza and drummer A.J. Pero — will reunite in full costume next year for a couple of European shows. The band will headline the Sweden Rock Festival in Solvesborg on June 8 and the Bang Your Head Festival in Balingen, Germany, on June 27 and 28. A more extensive world reunion tour is expected to follow. ... Comic creator Todd McFarlane, who's previously directed videos for Korn and Pearl Jam, will helm his first non-animated clip December 18 in Vancouver. The "Spawn" mastermind takes a seat in the director's chair for Swollen Members' "Breath," the Canadian hip-hop crew's second single from their latest LP, Monsters in the Closet. Nelly Furtado sings on the track and is expected to appear in the video. ...

Chrome-domed singer Peter Garrett has left Midnight Oil after 25 years in the politically charged Australian quintet. A letter on the band's Web site said that Garrett quit to pursue other interests and that the band — huge Down Under and best known Stateside for "Beds Are Burning" from 1987's Diesel and Dust LP — will persevere. ... The 21st century Doors, with the Cult's Ian Astbury filling the void left by the late frontman Jim Morrison, will show themselves later than previously expected to allow drummer Stewart Copeland, of the Police fame, to recover from a bike accident that left him with a fractured arm over the Thanksgiving weekend. The first show with the new lineup will take place January 19 in Las Vegas, nearly a month after the previously planned debut on Sunday. A full-fledged tour is expected in spring and summer, with an album to follow in the fall. ...

Redd Kross' influential 1987 album Neurotica will be reissued on February 4. Not so coincidentally, bandmember Steven McDonald will release the debut EP by the Steve McDonald Group two weeks earlier. No recording plans yet, though, for McDonald's other project Ze Malibu Kids, which features Red Kross bandmate and brother Jeffrey McDonald and That Dog's Anna Waronker. ... With nearly two years of hipster cachet at their backs, electroclash duo Fischerspooner will release their debut album, #1, February 25. The album, packaged with a DVD that includes the performance artists' film work and music videos, as well as live footage and a documentary, features Elvis remixer Junkie XL's reworking of Fischerspooner's breakthrough single, "Emerge." ...

Latin singing group Soluna are creating a sitcom based on their lives, which will also feature musical performances, for the UPN network. Next up for the ladies, whose debut album, For All Time, was released in May, is a charity performance for the Heart of Los Angeles Youth on December 4 in Beverly Hills. ...

12.02.2002

A high-kicking Jennifer Lopez reportedly battles a robotic Matt Damon to rescue her beau, Ben Affleck, in the new video game "Jen Saves Ben." According to the New York Post, director Kevin Smith commissioned Powerhouse Animation Studios to create the game to thank the couple for appearing in his film "Jersey Girl." The only way to play the game is to get cozy with J. Lo herself, as the game is not available commercially. ...

Britpop stars Oasis have been forced to postpone two shows in Germany due to Liam Gallagher's involvement in a pub brawl that cost him his two front teeth and also resulted in the singer's arrest. The fracas, during which Gallagher allegedly kicked an arresting officer in the ribs, pitted the volatile frontman and two of the band's security guards against "a group of youths" who initiated an "unprovoked attack" in a Munich club, according to the band's Web site. ... On a related note, London's High Court dismissed an attempted lawsuit by former Oasis drummer Tony McCarroll over his firing from the group. The judge ruled that McCarroll, who parted with Oasis in 1995, had failed to bring his claim to court within the legal limit of six years. ...

3 Down, a hip-hop group featuring sons of Big Punisher, Benzino and songwriter James Capra (New Edition), has called it quits. The trio, which met on the set for Benzino's video "Shine Like My Son," signed to Interscope, but had yet to finish an album. ... Nappy Roots, Neneh Cherry, Sunshine Anderson and Richie Havens contributed to Groove Armada's latest album, Lovebox, due January 21. The first single, "Purple Haze," was released in late November. ...

Peter Griesar, a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band who left the group in 1993, will release an album on February 11 on the Virginia indie label Offset Records. Dave Matthews Band saxophone player LeRoi Moore and longtime Matthews collaborator guitarist Tim Reynolds will appear on the album, titled Superfastgo. ... Avid custom car collector and Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony took "Best of Show" honors at the SEMA car show in Las Vegas last month with his tricked-out 2002 Ford Thunderbird. Anthony says the carmaker liked his silver sports coupe — which was designed by Bonspeed and powered by Steve Saleen — so much that it will produce a limited number of them in 2004. ...

Following a European trek, the Used will embark on a handful of dates with Finch, beginning February 4 in Washington, D.C. My Chemical Romance and the Movielife will serve as openers for the tour, confirmed dates for which conclude February 16 in Chicago. ... Lefty drummer Kenny Livingston is filling in for Sugarcult's Ben Davis, who has temporarily left the group for a 30-day rehab stint in California. Meanwhile, singer Tim Pagnotta succumbed to laryngitis last week, but rather than cancel a show in Virginia Beach, Sugarcult enlisted fans, members of their road crew and opening bands to sing their songs. In case the crowd wasn't satisfied, the group tossed out hundreds of dollars to the audience. ...