Saturday, January 19, 2008

Britney Spears Denies Pregnancy Rumors As Concerns For Her Survival Intensify

Inappropriate photographs of the singer surface; news organizations confirm they are preparing obituaries.

Britney Spears is not pregnant, as photos that just surfaced online demonstrate.

The singer had been photographed at a Rite Aid in Los Angeles on Monday browsing home-pregnancy tests with her paparazzo boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib. She sparked speculation about her state of fertility with the photo stunt, a sort of is-she-or-isn't-she game, as her associate Sam Lufti told "Access Hollywood." "It's all bullsh--," he said. "They're just toying with the paparazzi."

Spears dispelled the rumors herself when asked if she had tested positive, telling photographers and videographers, "I never had a pregnancy test. It was for my friend." (We assume she meant Ghalib, whose photo agency, FinalPixx, had the exclusive on the shopping shot.) Whether intentional or not, the singer later provided further evidence that would seem to confirm that statement, via a series of highly inappropriate photos taken by paparazzi as she left a Kitson clothing store late Wednesday night.

The singer's disheveled appearance and erratic behavior as of late — which resulted in her being hospitalized against her will earlier this month — has caused concern from her family, fans and peers, not to mention mental-health experts. Accordingly, The Associated Press acknowledged Thursday (January 17) that the news service had begun prepping Spears' obituary, as is standard operating procedure at most news organizations once public figures appear to be at risk. (It's a practice we at MTV News follow as well.)

"We are not wishing it, but if Britney passed away, it's easily one of the biggest stories in a long time," AP entertainment editor Jesse Washington told Us Weekly. "I think one would agree that Britney seems at risk right now. Of course, we would never wish any type of misfortune on anybody and hope that we would never have to use it until 50 years from now ... but if something were to happen, we would have to be prepared."

According to a recent E-Poll/Reuters survey of 1,941 American adults, the majority of people believe that alcohol or drugs is to blame for Spears' recent troubles (62 percent), while a few voiced the opinion that she is suffering from a mental illness.

Chris Brown, Bow Wow Joined By 50 Cent, Diddy, More At Madison Square Garden Show

Lil Mama, Soulja Boy opened the show, which featured a jet plane, holograms, dance-offs, cartoons, Omarion and G-Unit.

NEW YORK — If you're gonna close a show, close a show. After Lil Mama, Soulja Boy and Bow Wow successfully made the throngs of youngsters at Madison Square Garden scream and dance Thursday night, Chris Brown topped them all by bringing out about half a dozen guests onstage with him.

Most of them didn't even have to physically be there to make an impact (more on that later). But three stars — who happen to be as perennially loved in New York as the Giants (at least when Eli Manning isn't turning over the ball) — did show up live and in living color: Diddy came out for "All About the Benjamins" and "Last Night," while Juelz "Stunting Hard in My White Mink Coat" Santana made a surprise cameo on "Run It."

Probably the biggest surprise entrance of the night was that of the G-Unit's Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and, of course, 50 Cent, who once again shook the building with "I Get Money."

The last time 50 hit the Garden, as you may remember, he was onstage with Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I., Diddy, Swizz Beatz and Ciara in a very impromptu but magical historic hip-hop moment last August.

After Diddy had the crowd singing, there was a momentary break, and the DJ announced that he would be playing a record and wanted everyone to sing along if they knew it. Only he didn't mention that the person whose song it was would be there too. The stage went black, and the "I get money/ I get, I get ... " began. The spotlight came on, and out pounced the G-Unit. Chris Brown scampered out shortly after to dance with 50 and the gang.

After the G-Unit left, a classroom setup was put on the stage. The DJ played the theme for the famous '80s TV show "Saved by the Bell" before quickly transitioning to "Run It" as Santana came out.

Chris and his dancers, who were all dressed like schoolkids (a couple even wore beanies), battled it out with old-school dances such as the "Cabbage Patch" and the "Running Man."

Throughout the show, a small screen was periodically lowered to the stage and Chris was joined by some virtual guest-stars, such as T-Pain, who sang his part in the show's finale, "Kiss, Kiss." Some of the projections were obvious void-fillers for schedule-conflicted friends: Lil Wayne on "Gimme That" and Rihanna on the "Umbrella" remix. Then there was the random but welcomed holographic performance by LL Cool J for "Radio," a record that hit before C. Breezy was even born. ("Krush Groove" reference now: "Box!")

One of the holograms was Chris himself. The prepackaged "Pretty Boy" was dressed in a vest with no shirt, while the live C.B. wore a throwback red Adidas jumpsuit. They challenged each other to a breakdance face-off.

Brown started his set with an animated short, in which sword-wielding foot soldiers sent by a winged alien playa hata interrupted Chris on a hot date. The animated Brown apparently has degrees in butt kicking, hover-cycle driving and jet-pack flying. It all culminated in the cartoon Brown's crash-landing, which set up the real Brown's impressive entrance via the high way — not the highway, but the high way, as in lowered from the ceiling on ropes.

Earlier in the show, Bow Wow made his own fly entrance. He emerged from a mini-jet that was lowered down to an elevated platform on the stage, and came running down the steps to set things off.

After a couple of well-received records, Bow, obviously the most seasoned of the night's performers, got surprisingly serious.

"That dude backstage is like my brother," he said referring to the blog talk that he had spit on Chris Brown last week after throwing a fit backstage. Earlier this week Bow told MTV News the rumor was 100 percent false.

"Rumors are rumors, facts are facts," he said onstage. "It's a fact that that dude backstage is like my brother."

He went on to admonish the Internet bloggers who spread lies. "You know what I tell 'em? Y'all ni--as ain't fresh as I'm is," Bow said, leading into "Fresh Az I'm Iz." That was followed by the "I Think They Like Men" remix, where the crowd rapped along to his catchy one-liners like "I'm under 21 with a black card."

Despite being on the cusp of turning legal drinking age (Bow's b-day is March 9), the young rapper clearly has not lost appeal with the kids, who made up most of the audience.

Medleys of "Let Me Hold You," "Like You" and "Outta My System" followed. The Ohio native then left the stage and gave way to an unannounced mini set by his Face Off partner Omarion. The self-proclaimed "King of Dance" came out to "Entourage" and transitioned into "Touch."

After a dance breakdown, Bow yelled, "Face Off time!" from offstage. The duo went into "Girlfriend" and took off their shirts for "Hey Baby."

Lil Mama started the show, bringing out enough kids to fill half a schoolyard during her short set. She closed with "Lip Gloss" and sent love to her mother, who passed away in December.

"Rest in peace to my mother. I love you," she said.

Soulja Boy was next, and although he did a handful of cuts, the Garden was clearly anticipating his hit "Crank That," as the crowd of 20,000-plus was yelling "You'llllll" and doing the world famous "Superman" dance.

Nate Dogg Paralyzed After Stroke; Manager Slams Coverage Of 911 Call

Rep says singer's chances for full recovery are good.

Former Death Row recording artist and noted collaborator Nate Dogg is paralyzed on the left side of his body after suffering a mild stroke over the holidays, according to his manager. As MTV News previously reported, Dogg (real name: Nathaniel Hale) is currently in an occupational rehab facility.

The prognosis for a full recovery, however, is good, Nate's rep, Rod McGrew, told MTV News on Thursday night; the singer did not suffer any brain damage nor has his voice been affected, he said.

"Time will tell everything, obviously. The doctor can only guess what the outcome will be," McGrew said. "But based on situations with similar people his age, and based on his health, the prognosis is good right now."

McGrew explained the singer has "neural-muscular issues that have to be jump-started." Those issues extend to his sense of touch and the ability to walk correctly, McGrew said.

Initially, there were conflicting reports surrounding the status of Nate Dogg's health. There was word he'd had a heart attack, before it was correctly noted he suffered from a stroke instead. Also, conflicting reports arose regarding his release from the hospital and whether or not the singer was recovering at his home.

The media interest continued earlier this week when TMZ released an audio clip that McGrew confirmed was Nate Dogg's girlfriend phoning 911 after the singer collapsed.

The reaction to clip — bloggers joked about the caller's monotonous tone during such a crisis — drew McGrew's ire. He said he was dismayed over the interest in such a thing and intends to pursue legal action, although he did not specify what his plans are.

"I'm not sure what people are trying to glean from that tape," he said. "The diagnosis is what it is, and the prognosis is what it is: He had a stroke. The media wants to create something, but I'm not sure what the point is. If you had an emergency and someone was in your presence, they would call 911.

"I'm not in a situation to see who is doing what, but rather tending to [Nate] and making sure he gets back on track," he added.

McGrew requested his client be given as much privacy as possible so his recovery can continue. He has made progress so far, McGrew said, and noted that the singer welcomes all the support he's received since word of his stroke surfaced.

"On behalf of Nate, he would like to thank all of the well wishers, both friends and fans," McGrew said. "He appreciates it deeply, and he plans on fully recuperating and getting back in the studio."

Lindsay Lohan Gets Rough Justice; Plus Foxy Brown, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Paramore, Jimmy Eat World & More, In For The Record

Spears hosting private party next month; Winehouse shows up at courthouse after husband pleads innocent; Paramore, Jimmy Eat World to co-headline trek.


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.


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.

Vincent Margera Sentenced For Violating Probation By Using Cocaine

Bam's uncle, formerly known as 'Don Vito,' was sentenced Friday.

The troubles aren't over for Vincent Margera, formerly known as "Don Vito." The uncle of Bam Margera, who was sentenced to 10 months probation in December after being found guilty, two months prior, of sexual assault on a child, pleaded guilty on Friday (January 18) in Colorado to violating his bond conditions by possessing cocaine, according to the Rocky Mountain News. He was sentenced to a two-year probation stint that will run concurrent with his sex-offender probation.

Margera had reportedly been charged with 12 counts of violating his bond conditions stemming from his cocaine use. But the charges were dismissed as part of his guilty plea, sparing him a mandatory prison sentence.

The Rocky Mountain News also reports that Margera — who was also ordered in December to give up his "Don Vito" character for 10 years — might have his probation supervision transferred to Pennsylvania, the state in which he lives, due to the new two-year probation sentence. He was also reportedly warned by Jefferson County District Judge M.J. Melendez to closely adhere to the conditions of his probation — if he doesn't, he would be sent back to Colorado and go to prison.

The judge reportedly said he believed Margera got in trouble because of his now-retired character, and that cocaine was also responsible for his criminal behavior at the Colorado mall in August 2006. Margera inappropriately fondled or groped 12- and 14-year-old girls during separate incidents at a signing event at the Colorado Mills mall in Lakewood, Colorado. When Margera was sentenced by Menendez in December, he was also forced to register as a sex offender as part of the Intensive Supervision Probation program for a minimum of 10 years and up to life, as well as work on his substance-abuse problems and receive a mental-health evaluation.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, a defense lawyer for Margera said he had entered drug treatment in December 2006 and hadn't relapsed since then. She said, "He's doing well."

Melendez said additional punishment or more probation were not necessary in the case, as "The felonies is plenty enough."

In December, Menendez told Margera he would be allowed to travel home to Pennsylvania for seven days to celebrate the holidays and ordered that his ISP supervision be transferred to Pennsylvania if the Jefferson County probation department finds that the state has comparable programs. But Margera was told to remain in Colorado during the proceedings involving his violation of the conditions in his bond.

'Hannah Montana' Star Miley Cyrus Is Doubly Excited At 'Best Of Both Worlds' Premiere

'To have all the celebrities here — they're all here for you!' actress/singer says of star-filled red carpet.

HOLLYWOOD — The Highland Avenue block of Hollywood Boulevard is surrounded on both sides by tattoo parlors and stores selling steamy lingerie. But on Thursday evening, it suddenly became the place to be for every Los Angeles teen, pre-teen and little girl at heart for the premiere of "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" at Disney's El Capitan Theater.

"It's great being here," Miley's father, Billy Ray Cyrus, beamed to MTV News while standing next to his daughter. "It's about the music, the fans, the passion for Hannah Montana and, you know, the passion for Miley."

That passion was evident to anyone within earshot. The all-screaming, all-jumping chorus of fans stretched hundreds of feet beyond the red carpet, their combined squeals reaching a volume comparable to a jet plane. So loud was the ovation when Miley began her walk down the carpet that local residents unaware of what the celebration was for might have been forgiven had they thought the Beatles were back in town.

"Yeah, but I don't think they've ever had their own premiere," screamed Cyrus (who apparently needs to rent a copy of "A Hard Day's Night").

The movie, a 3-D concert film compiled during two Hannah Montana concerts in Salt Lake City, takes great pains to show the two sides of the 15-year-old pop sensation: the precocious rockabilly of Hannah against the more delicate and soulful Cyrus. But there was no delineation for the real-life Cyrus as she strolled down the carpet, surrounded by a slew of celebrity fans, including Vanessa Williams, Ashley Tisdale and the Jonas Brothers. A wide smile across her face, the teenage Cyrus couldn't help but act like, well, a teen.

"I mean, it's awesome!" she enthused. "To have all the celebrities here — they're all here for you! I'm so excited."

It's because "you're awesome," Miley, celebrity fans said as they walked down the carpet.

"She's such an amazing singer and dancer and actor, but she's also so sweet and down to earth," fellow Disney Channel star Madison Pettis said. "She's an amazing friend."

"She's fearless and confident," "Bratz" actress Chelsea Staub exclaimed.

"Well, I know from Miley — she loves what she's doing, she loves making music, she loves acting," a smiling Billy Ray said, pausing to look once more at his daughter and then the crowd of fans behind her. "And it's very evident."

Check out everything we've got on "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert."

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Lily Allen Suffers Miscarriage

The U.K. starlet had been expecting her first child with her boyfriend Ed Simons of the Chemical Brothers.

Sad news surfaced late Thursday as it was revealed that Lily Allen, who had been pregnant with her first child, suffered a miscarriage. The expecting father was boyfriend Ed Simons, who is one-half of the Chemical Brothers.

"We can confirm that Lily Allen has suffered a miscarriage," Murray Chalmers, a U.K. representative for the singer, said in a statement to MTV News. "She and her partner Ed Simons will be making no further comment, and we ask that their privacy be respected during this difficult time."

British tabloid The Sun and blogger Perez Hilton initially reported the news on Thursday. The Sun report said the 22-year-old singer and her boyfriend of four months were in a "state of shock." By early Friday (January 18), fans had flooded Allen's MySpace page with consolatory notes.

In mid-December, a representative for the singer told BBC News that Allen had been dating Simons since September and that they were "obviously both thrilled by the news" about the pregnancy, but that they would not comment any further. "As the pregnancy is at a very, very early stage, the couple ask that you respect their privacy, as the health of Lily and their child is their paramount concern," said the spokesperson, who was not named.

Prior to that announcement, however, Allen — whose Alright, Still LP is up for a Best Alternative Music Album Grammy — had, over the course of 2007, shot down many rumors that she was pregnant.

In a March interview with MTV News, she denied such rumors, saying, "At first I used to read things about me, and I'd get really angry and go on my blog and write a whole reply to it. But now, since there's so much of it, [I'm not] bothered to reply to it all. But some of it is true. [However] I am not a lesbian, I am not pregnant. But yeah. It's really annoying."

Zac Efron Will Get Lessons From A Legend In 'Me And Orson Welles'

'High School Musical' star set to headline story of a teen who worked with the legendary 'Citizen Kane' director in 1937.

Zac Efron will be heading back to school soon enough for "High School Musical 3," but before he takes his last walk through the halls of East High, the 20-year-old star has signed up for a little summer tutoring. OK, make that opportunity-of-a-lifetime summer tutoring from a genius.

Efron will headline "Me and Orson Welles," the fictional story of Richard Samuels, a teen in 1937 who worked with the legendary director of "Citizen Kane" and "War of the Worlds" at New York's Mercury Theater in 1937, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After an impromptu sidewalk audition, Samuels is given a bit part in Welles' production of "Julius Caesar." From there, he learns about life, love and theater from the enigmatic-but-brilliant Welles, culminating in a showdown between the 17-year-old high school student and the then-22-year-old director.

The flick, an adaptation of the coming-of-age novel from Robert Kaplow, will be directed by "Dazed and Confused" and "Before Sunrise" helmer Richard Linklater. A graduate of New Jersey's Rutgers University, Kaplow told National Public Radio that he got the idea for the book from the real-life story of Welles apprentice Arthur Anderson.

"Specifically, I remember sitting in the basement of the Rutgers University Library, looking through a copy of Theatre Arts Monthly from 1937, and there was a photograph from Welles' production of 'Julius Caesar,' which featured Welles in a dark coat and black gloves, sitting at the edge of the stage. Next to him was a young man [Anderson] playing a ukulele tricked up to look like a lute," he told NPR. "My first thought was: The real story here is the kid. What does this moment feel like from the kid's point of view — to bear witness to a celebrity creating himself right in front of your eyes?"

Efron himself is a celebrity being created right in front of our eyes. The heartthrob is currently filming "Seventeen," the story of a 35-year-old man (Matthew Perry) who suddenly becomes young again. After "Me and Orson Welles," Efron is slated to reprise his role as Troy Bolton in the hugely popular "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." Filming for that movie is slated to begin in mid-April.

Check out everything we've got on Zac Efron.

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Grammys Up In The Air: How Would A Downsized (Or Canceled) Show Affect The Music Industry?

'If the Grammys don't happen in their traditional form, these artists are going to miss their minute,' one insider says; some artists promise show will go on.

When you work in the music industry, you quickly learn that there is no such thing as a sure bet. Sometimes, highly anticipated records don't generate the kind of eye-popping sales labels expect. The week after the Grammys provide a much-needed sales bump in the traditionally slow early months of the year.

The recording industry has come to rely on the Grammy Awards each year to provide a much-needed boon following what is almost always a slow January. Once the holidays have come and gone, album sales nationwide tend to plummet. One minute the industry is up, and the next, it's back on life support.

But with less than a month to go before the February 10 awards show is supposed to take place, it is struggling to stay on track in the wake of the ongoing writers' strike. According to the Los Angeles Times, the American Federation of Musicians, the largest union for professional musicians, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents 70,000 entertainers, have issued a statement supporting the producers of the Grammys and their bid for a waiver from the Writers Guild of America.

"AFM and AFTRA strongly urge all of our members to support the important work of the Recording Academy by participating in the Grammy events," the statement read. While it might not sway the WGA, which has already said it is "unlikely" to grant a waiver to the Grammys, a decision on the matter is expected by next week.

On Thursday, in response to widespread speculation that the strike would quash the awards, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Grammy telecast, issued a press release rife with declarations of support from industry professionals and artists alike.

"The work of the Recording Academy is vital to the music industry, and we have every intention of being with the entire music community to celebrate the Grammys' 50th birthday in February," said Mathew Knowles, who manages his daughter Beyoncé's career and said B will attend next month's awards. "We have an incredible Beyoncé performance that will be announced soon."

"We're looking forward to attending this year's Grammy Awards, as we do every year," said John Silva, a talent manager who counts the Foo Fighters and the Beastie Boys as clients. "We are hopeful that we will see a resolution to the current situation affecting our entire industry, as [the] Foo Fighters have always had nothing short of amazing experiences with the writers, producers, fellow artists and audiences at the Grammys and every television show the band has ever played. There's no question that the Grammys are a highlight of every year for the industry and audiences alike, and we're thrilled that the Foo Fighters will be performing on the show."

So what if the Grammys end up going the way of the Golden Globes and "music's biggest night" is reduced to what is essentially a glorified press conference? What will the show be like with no red carpet and no big-name performers or presenters, all of whom may bail on the awards out of sympathy for the writers?

Well, no one knows for sure, but most agree that it won't be good. The strike has already had an impact on the industry, hurting many artists' chances to promote their work on the late-night talk circuit. In fact, it will probably render yet another devastating blow to an already-ailing industry.

One person keeping his fingers crossed is Geoff Mayfield, director of charts and senior analyst at Billboard magazine. "For the music industry, which has seen album declines in six of the last seven years, it would be really good to have a catalyst like the Grammy Awards come off without hitch," he said. "Especially this year, when it's a few days before Valentine's Day and it could generate some interesting volume."

The effects will be far-reaching, impacting artists, their managers, the record labels and even record retailers nationwide, who have long suffered eroding sales while the industry has been fighting a losing battle against online piracy. The Grammys provide an annual showcase for an industry that's already on shaky ground, spotlighting the best music has to offer — at least in the eyes of Grammy organizers.

A Grammy win or nomination — heck, just performing at the awards, even if you're not a nominated artist — is free publicity and often brings with it a deluge in retail interest for an album. It also introduces artists to thousands of prospective new fans, some of whom may even be familiar with a musician's songs but anonymously so. Take one of this year's contenders for Best New Artist, Feist. Her song "1, 2, 3, 4" was featured in an iTunes commercial for much of the fall — but many weren't familiar with the infectious tune's composer. Feist's appearance at the awards could inform thousands of clueless "fans" of her album, The Reminder, and end up generating scores of scans.

The proof is in the pudding. At last year's Grammys, the Dixie Chicks were the night's biggest winners, taking home five statuettes, including one for Record of the Year. The week after the show's broadcast, sales of the Chicks' Taking the Long Way rose a whopping 714 percent, to 107,800, elevating its Billboard albums chart position from #72 to #8. During the previous week, the disc sold just 48,000 copies. It was the biggest post-Grammy jump in the history of the chart.

"In the long run, this will be a blip," said Paul Geary, a talent manager for artists including the Smashing Pumpkins. "But I certainly think it's a terrible misfortune for those artists who are having their shining moment in 2007. ... If the Grammys don't happen in their traditional form, these artists are going to miss their minute."

If the show doesn't go on, or is scaled back, the impact could be threefold for the nominees, according to manager Jim Guerinot (No Doubt/ Gwen Stefani, Nine Inch Nails). "Number one, you miss a television-performance opportunity," he said. "Number two, you miss the worldwide notoriety if you're a winner. And lastly, there's a real personal part of it for an artist. It's the music industry's highest honor, and if you're nominated, you'd be really sad if it wasn't acknowledged in the traditional fashion."

Even if the show goes on as a press conference, Guerinot said that "asterisk Grammy" would not carry as much weight as if the artist were able to pick it up onstage in the traditional manner. "No question: As a manager of an artist going through that, I would feel there was something diminished in that," said Guerinot, who added that Stefani is up for a nontelevised category at this year's awards. "As I'm sure my client would be. The fact is, any bad news for the music industry right now is not welcomed."

A manager of a number of major artists who requested anonymity said the loss of the Grammys would be sad but not devastating. "Frankly, the influence of the Grammys has diminished over the years and it's not as impactful as it once was," the manager said. "I don't care if it's the [VMAs] or the Grammys or even 'American Idol': The numbers are down and television-viewing habits as they relate to music are in as much flux as the entire music industry."

Just as those in the struggling music industry understand and appreciate the plight of the striking writers who need a break, Mayfield said musicians need a break too, given how much harder it is to make a living in 2008 than it was even just a few years ago.

He pointed to an artist like Amy Winehouse, who has had solid success in the United States but whose throwback-style music could reach a vastly wider audience if she were to perform and/or win even just a few of the six Grammys she's nominated for. Mayfield said a huge opportunity hangs in the balance for Winehouse and other newer artists, such as Paramore, Plain White T's and the Shins, whose names could be on the lips of millions with a win. "Were [Winehouse] to win five trophies, there would certainly be some uptick that happens, and it would be unfortunate if she weren't there to collect."

At press time, it was unknown if Winehouse would be able to attend the show because of some reported visa issues, though the Entertainment Weekly Web site reported on Thursday that her visa issues have been worked out, but it's still unclear if she's going to perform. A spokesperson for Winehouse did not return calls for comment at press time.

"Two things [for Winehouse] mean a lot: if she's able to perform, but even if not, if she gets a chance to make an engaging acceptance speech," he said. "The Grammys mean more now in terms of winning. It used to be if you won and the musician was not there to accept, there was not a big [sales] spike. ... But if you're there and you win in several key categories, it can be a catalyst for sales to happen."

Sex, class and exposing the heart of Jane Austen

NEW YORK (AP) -- Andrew Davies is talking about sex. He is also talking about Jane Austen, beloved chronicler of early 19th century English manners.

Pride and Prejudice

Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice" is considered an excellent match of actor and role.

Her work, Davies argues, "is not just social comedy. It's about money, struggle for individualism, sex -- all the kinds of things that interest us now. People sometimes misinterpret that. Jane Austen is regarded as such a prim writer. Well, she's not, really. The engine of her plot is often sexual desire."

Davies is in a position to know.

At 71, he reigns as the King of Adapters. His long list of Emmy- and Peabody-winning projects includes adaptations of modern fiction such as the splendid British miniseries "House of Cards" (and two sequels) as well as the Pierce Brosnan-starring thriller "The Tailor of Panama" and the two "Bridget Jones" films.

But what has clinched his reputation are robust TV retellings of literary classics by Dickens ("Bleak House"), Thackeray ("Vanity Fair"), Defoe ("Moll Flanders"), George Eliot ("Middlemarch") ... and Jane Austen.

He is well represented in the current festival of six Austen adaptations airing on PBS' "Masterpiece" (the renamed "Masterpiece Theatre"). Four are from his hand. Encores from the mid-1990s are "Emma" and "Pride and Prejudice," the latter being memorable (among other reasons) for Colin Firth's body-clinging, sopping-wet shirt as Mr. Darcy.

Davies' other contributions to "The Complete Jane Austen" are new productions of "Sense and Sensibility," with David Morrissey. And, airing 9 p.m. EST Sunday, a charming parody of gothic fiction, "Northanger Abbey," whose virginal teen heroine, Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) displays a penchant for romantic, even erotic fantasies.

"Characters can't have sex until after they're married in this kind of story," says Davies. "But one can remind the audience in various subtle, and less subtle, ways that sex is in the air." And he beckons the audience to take a deep breath.

The Welsh-born former academic, who didn't turn to full-time writing until he was 50, has also authored children's books, novels and original screenplays. But during a recent interview, he presents himself as a snowy-haired, pink-faced fireplug of erudition and good cheer. He makes no secret he's delighted to find himself in high demand. "I have quite a little queue of things waiting to do next," he says.

"Sometimes it makes me feel a little guilty that I don't seem to be doing any original work these days," he adds with no sign of guilt. "All my creativity seems to go into freshening up those great works."

"Freshening" is one word for it. But Davies has become noted for literary accomplishment in his own right. He commands a level of respect and even star value that translate into drawing power for the programs he's associated with -- and can even jolt sales of the books that serve as his source material.

His writing breakthrough, he says, was "Pride and Prejudice," where viewers recognized "we were clearly taking an attitude, and they started thinking, 'Yes, he's not just copying it out. He's taking a view on a book and making a statement.' "

Davies relishes driving home the idea that a long-ago author's message is relevant to the modern audience, while also taking a contrary tack from the traditional interpretation of the book.

This calls for a certain measure of invention on his part.

"Quite often I'll find that I'm writing scenes that aren't exactly in the book," he says. "All these novelists choose the scenes that they're going to write, and imply the scenes that they don't write -- and quite often I think the scenes they DON'T write are the scenes I want to see."

In "Sense and Sensibility," he points out, "There's a reference to a duel, but it's very much offstage in the novel. I thought, 'Bloody hell! If there's a duel, let's SEE it!' So we do."

And then there's the carnal component.

"My mother was a difficult and unfathomable woman," declares Davies, "and I started trying to understand women at an early age."

And while he has been married to Diana, an artist, for a half-century, he seems to look to many others of her gender -- both present and past -- for inspiration as well.

Hear him lovingly survey the young women in a typical Austen novel: "Their bodies are quite a substantial part of what they bring to the whole sexual equation. Their hair and their shoulders and their necks and their breasts" -- ripe in decolletage -- "are all on show, part of the whole deal.

"And the men, too," he goes on. "I have men on horseback riding very fast, working up a sweat, in boots and tight breeches, all that kind of thing.

"I try to find ways in which -- without outraging the conventions of the time -- one can emphasize the physicality of the characters. I'm just trying to bring out the sexual motive, which is so strong in those stories."

But does this sort of treasure hunt gratify him as much as creating characters and stories from scratch?

"Perhaps not quite, perhaps not quite," he replies with a chuckle. "On the other hand, these shows are often rather better than the original work I've done: You start off with a masterpiece!" And laughing again, Davies leaves no doubt that whatever he does, he is an original.

Review: 'Cloverfield' something to see

(CNN) -- Not many trailers have had the impact of the teaser for "Cloverfield," which debuted last summer attached to Michael Bay's "Transformers" bearing not so much as a title and the solitary credit "Produced by J.J. Abrams." (For some of us, it was the high point of the evening.)


New Yorkers make a run for it in "Cloverfield."

That teaser consisted of handicam video footage shot at a of party featuring beer, self-conscious testimonials and a pretty girl in the corner. Then, a tremendous explosion sent everyone up to the roof for an eyewitness view of the fireworks -- pandemonium breaking out across New York City.

That was all it took. For a significant proportion of the moviegoing public, this intense DIY disaster movie became a must-see picture right there. Not bad for a flick with no stars and no name.

Whether Paramount has sustained that pitch of excitement and curiosity over the last few months or allowed the hype to get out of hand will become apparent over this weekend. But at least I can report that, sometimes, there is truth in advertising.

"Cloverfield" (the title is essentially meaningless -- they might as well have called it "Cabbage Soup") turns out to be exactly what is looked like it could be: "Godzilla" shot in the style of "The Blair Witch Project."

Don't Miss

* Review: 'Cloverfield' the 'Blair Witch Reject'

* J.J. Abrams on 'Cloverfield'

It's a simple idea, but effective. A tired, old formula becomes fresh and contemporary. We've seen this story before many times, but it never looked quite like this before.

For 20 minutes, there's nothing going on. Really. A couple fools around with the camera. He points the lens in her face, then she returns the favor. Neither of them has much to say. They're just happy to be together.

The timecode jumps forward a month. Lily (Jessica Lucas) is throwing a going-away party for Rob (Michael Stahl-David), her boyfriend's brother, and Rob's friend, Hud (T.J. Miller), is coerced into documenting the event on Rob's camera. For the next few hours, he's stuck with it, even as this modest memento rapidly evolves into a slice of first-person reportage and horror vérité.

There's a similar viewpoint in George A. Romero's latest doomsday chronicle, "Diary of the Dead." Hollywood spectacle traditionally gives us the best seat in the house, reframed every few seconds for maximum advantage. That's not the case in these films. We're stuck with one point of view as the drama unfolds around us, and as in life, the camera is often pointing the wrong way when something dramatic happens, then gets swept along in the chaos and confusion of the moment.

When it works, this silly symphony of jerk pans and jump cuts can be both authentically experiential and conceptually playful, as in a breathtaking rescue from an apartment building listing like the Tower of Pisa. When it doesn't, you wonder how long it will be before someone sues a studio for whiplash.

Some viewers will find the style a mixed blessing at best -- it's not the smooth ride we're used to, certainly, but then maybe this genre could use a good jolt. It's easy to grow blase when computer graphics do all the work for you. Here we spend Act II straining to see whatever it is that's laying waste to the city, and Act III recoiling from glimpses of something unspeakable.

Scenes of New Yorkers running from a swirling cloud of dust and debris cynically evoke the nightmare of 9/11; later sequences suggest the kind of urban firefights we read of in Iraq. These hot buttons are pressed almost at random. But underneath the stylistic brio, what we get is a lean video game scenario and a dash of prime Hollywood hokum, engaging enough for what it is.

A good deal of the energy in "Cloverfield" derives from the ingenuity with which Team Abrams (director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard are both old associates) tackle the limitations they've set for themselves -- maximizing the micro point of view. That includes bringing the thing in at less than 90 minutes. It's long enough -- the gimmick has been exhausted, the novelty is wearing off. At least it's been something to see.

"Cloverfield" runs 90 minutes and is rated PG-13. For Entertainment Weekly's take, click here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brad Renfro Dead At 25

Onetime child star had been plagued by drug abuse and run-ins with the law; autopsy will be performed Wednesday or Thursday.

Brad Renfro, 25, was found dead in his Los Angeles home Tuesday morning (January 15). Although the circumstances of his death were not immediately known, the former child actor had been plagued for nearly a decade by drug abuse and run-ins with the law.

As of Tuesday evening, the Los Angeles Times was reporting that while the cause of Renfro's death had yet to be determined, there was no suspicion of foul play. According to the newspaper, Los Angeles Police Lieutenant David Evans would not comment on rumors of a drug overdose. The Hollywood Reporter reports that an autopsy will be conducted Wednesday or Thursday, however a toxicology test determining whether drugs played a role in Renfro's death won't be made available for six to eight weeks.

Craig Harvey, a chief investigator for the Los Angeles County coroner's office, reportedly said Renfro had been drinking with friends on Monday night. Paramedics were called to the actor's home in Los Angeles at 9 a.m. after he was found unresponsive, and he was pronounced dead at noon. The Associated Press reports that Renfro's lawyer, Richard Kaplan, claimed he didn't know if the actor's death was connected to drugs or alcohol. "He was working hard on his sobriety," Kaplan reportedly said. "He was doing well. He was a nice person."

"Brad was a really gifted young man," Renfro's former attorney Blair Berk said, according to the Times. "It is a tragedy all the way around."

Renfro was best known for a skyrocketing career that began with a central role in the 1994 John Grisham legal thriller "The Client," a part he landed when he was 10 years old. In the years that followed, the Tennessee-born teen would continue to choose gritty, adult-oriented work in films like the Kevin Bacon drama "Telling Lies in America," the critically acclaimed AIDS tale "The Cure," and the high-wattage "Sleepers" (in which he played a young Brad Pitt).

In 1995, he won the Hollywood Reporter's YoungStar award, was nominated as one of People magazine's "Top 30 Under 30," and won a Young Artist award for his role in "The Cure."

Although the only straightforward family flick Renfro made during his adolescent years was the modest Disney success "Tom and Huck," the actor found himself struggling with teen typecasting as the new millennium dawned. For all intents and purposes, his last mainstream starring role was in "Apt Pupil," director Bryan Singer's underperforming Nazi tale best remembered for a lawsuit involving child extras and a shower scene.

Renfro's troubles became public in 1998, when he was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana but avoided jail time. In a bizarre incident just a few years later, he was charged with attempting to steal a yacht in Florida. Renfro's reported drug habit led to his getting picked up in a December 2005 sting operation on Los Angeles' skid row as the actor attempted to buy heroin from an undercover officer. After his arrest, he entered rehab. Just one month prior, Renfro had been charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

In May 2006, Renfro served 10 days in jail in connection with the 2005 charges.

Career-wise, Renfro would never fully recover from his post-"Pupil" substance-abuse troubles. The actor spent the rest of his Hollywood days in forgotten films like "Deuces Wild" and "American Girl," or occasional supporting work in the Scarlett Johansson cult classic "Ghost World" and the Adrien Brody military flick "The Jacket." He took another dark turn with a lead role in "Kids" director Larry Clark's 2001 flick, "Bully." In the flick, which was based on a true story, Renfro's character and his girlfriend plot a revenge murder.

One of Renfro's final acting appearances was in a recent episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." He had recently been filming "The Informers," co-starring Winona Ryder and based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name; how that film will address Renfro's passing is currently uncertain.

"All of us at Senator Entertainment, the cast and crew of 'The Informers,' and director Gregor Jordan are profoundly saddened by the news we received today," Senator Entertainment President and "Informers" producer Marco Weber said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Brad was an exceptionally talented young actor, and our time spent with him was thoroughly enjoyable, and he became a true friend to us all. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and to all who knew him closely as the giving, warmhearted young man he was."

Further details are expected to be revealed about Renfro's untimely death. Sadly, what is certain is his inclusion on a list of young Hollywood deaths.

Atonement tops Bafta nominations

Romantic drama Atonement is leading the field at this year's Bafta film awards, after receiving 14 nominations.

Its stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy are both nominated for best actress and actor and Joe Wright was named in the best director category.

Thriller No Country for Old Men and Texan drama There Will Be Blood each received nine nominations.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, on 10 February.

Several movies picked up more than five nominations each, with Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose scoring seven, thriller The Bourne Ultimatum with six, and American Gangster, The Lives of Others and Michael Clayton all receiving five nominations.


Javier Bardem

Atonement - 14

No Country for Old Men - 9

There Will Be Blood - 9

La Vie en Rose - 7

The Bourne Ultimatum - 6

American Gangster - 5

The Lives of Others - 5

Michael Clayton - 5

Atonement, based on Ian McEwan's novel set in World War II, is up for best film along with Sir Ridley Scott's crime drama American Gangster, German Cold War movie The Lives of Others, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

It is also nominated for best British film and adapted screenplay.

The movie won best film at the Golden Globes earlier this week.

Acting battles

Keira Knightley is up against Julie Christie, who won a Golden Globe for her role in Away From Her, in the best actress category.

The pair are joined by Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose and Ellen Page for Juno.

James McAvoy is nominated for best actor alongside Daniel Day Lewis, who also won a Golden Globe for There Will Be Blood, George Clooney for Michael Clayton, Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises and the late Ulrich Muehe for The Lives of Others.

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis plays a petroleum baron in There Will Be Blood

There was also a best supporting actress nomination for 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan for her role as Knightley's younger sister in the romantic drama.

Atonement producer Tim Bevan praised director Joe Wright for making a truly British film.

"Most importantly, we have this amazing young director who cast it and crewed it from British people and he got them all to raise their bar and it's fantastic to get this level of recognition," he told BBC News.

'No surprises'

Film critic Mark Kermode also said there were "no real surprises" except for a "slightly poor showing for Sweeney Todd".

"It's only there for make-up, hair and costume design and not for any major awards. It's doing very well in America but largely overlooked here."

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is now in its 61st year, after handing out its first prize for achievement in film in 1947.

The awards have grown in prominence since 2001, when the ceremony was rescheduled to take place before the Oscars. But with the Golden Globes cancelled and the future of this year's Oscars hanging in the balance due to the Hollywood writers' strike, the British ceremony may assume a greater significance.

Last year, drama The Last King of Scotland and fantasy Pan's Labyrinth both took home the most Bafta awards, with three each.

Zac Efron Has Appendix Removed; Plus Heidi Montag, Joel Madden, Nicole Richie, Rihanna, Hawthorne Heights & More, In For The Record

Montag wants to be Madonna with solo LP; Madden blogs about his and Richie's baby; Rih Rih teams with Marc Jacobs for purse.

Zac Efron is doing fine after having his appendix removed Tuesday (January 15), according to The star — who recently signed on for "High School Musical 3" — was rushed to Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering from appendicitis, reports. "Zac had his appendix removed and is recuperating," the actor's representative, who was not named, reportedly said in a statement. ...

A very revealing photo of Heidi Montag graces the new cover of Maxim, and for the accompanying interview, she also revealed to the mag that she wants to be the next Madonna. "But it's not like with most pop artists, where they have a song sent to them that has nothing to do with their emotions or lives," she insisted about her yet-untitled, in-the-works LP. "It's all about me and my life. I'm taking my time to make sure it's a classic. I don't want to be the next pop person who's in or out. I want to be like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Stevie Wonder — all the greats." Montag also dished on new parents Nicole Richie and Joel Madden recalling that one time they "came up to [Montag's fiance,] Spencer [Pratt,] and me at the Beverly Hills Hotel [in California] and started yelling something Spencer said about Nicole in an interview, like, two years ago. ... Joel was yelling, 'You've been talking sh-- about my girl!' " ...

Madden has blogged on the Web site for his clothing company, DCMA, about arriving home with his and Richie's daughter, who was born on Friday. "Well I am finally home with my beautiful girlfriend and our brand new little daughter," the Good Charlotte frontman wrote. "Harlow Winter Kate Madden was born on January 11th 2008 at 3:13 p.m. She weighed in at 6 pounds and 7 ounces. She is 19 inches long and growing everyday already! She really is a wonderful addition to the GC/DCMA/DEADEXEC family. We are so blessed to have this beautiful little baby in our lives. I want to thank everyone for all the love and kind words they've sent our way. We apologize we weren't accepting gifts/cards/calls at the hospital, but if you'd like to send something, we'd rather you make a donation to the Richie-Madden Foundation, which we started in Harlow Winter's honor. She looks so much like her mom it's crazy! She eats like a little maniac and she's really sweet. She barely ever cries, even when daddy is changing her diaper, and believe me I suck when it comes to diapers, but I'm learning! I can't wait to show off some pictures, until then, THANKS!! and GOD BLESS... Joel." ...

From an "Umbrella" to a handbag: Rihanna has made a match with Marc Jacobs as she and the fashion designer have partnered to produce a new pair of purses named after the leggy singer. The two models are available as a part of Jacobs' spring line. ... Missy Elliott has stepped up with two new tunes for the February 5 soundtrack to "Step Up 2 the Streets." The MC's "Ching-A-Ling" — which is already sizzling in the streets — and "Shake Your Pom Pom" will appear on the soundtrack, and might resurface on her yet-untitled new LP, due in May. The soundtrack also features Cassie, who stars in "Step Up 2 the Streets," as well as T-Pain, Flo Rida, Trey Songz, Plies and Scarface. ...

Twista has inked a deal with Koch to release a project with his longtime group, the Speedknot Mobstaz. The Mobstaz's forthcoming sophomore album, Mobstability II: Nation Bizness, is set to feature Jim Jones and production by Cuzzo and China White Productions. ... The Grammys will not be getting a free pass from the Writers Guild of America. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Grammys have not asked for a special waiver to allow striking Guild employees to work on the show, but even if they did request one, it would not likely be granted. In addition, a number of top musicians who also have Screen Actors Guild cards, including Justin Timberlake and Queen Latifah, are being lobbied by the WGA not to attend the February 10 show, according to ...

In a $35 million lawsuit filed on Monday, Victory Records claimed that Virgin/EMI "improperly induced" Hawthorne Heights to disregard their contract with the independent Chicago label. In a news release on the suit, Victory also claimed that Virgin/EMI paid $55,000 to the band, which used the money to fund the initial phase of a 2006 lawsuit against Victory, and helped the bandmembers search for a music-industry lawyer to help them with their legal action. "The facts alleged in this case demonstrate classic interference with contractual and business relations," Victory lawyer Robert Meloni said. "They did more than merely offer a carrot to the band, but also saddled the horse, paid for a rider to take the reins, and led it out of the barn." The suit seeks $10 million in compensation and $25 million in punitive damages for Virgin/EMI's "willful, wanton and deliberate conduct." Victory maintains that HH owe the label two more albums, but the band, which lost guitarist Casey Calvert in November after a fatal drug interaction, has vowed not to record for Victory again. ...

Rancid fans, time to grow those Mohawks back — the band started recording new material in a California studio on Monday. The punks' yet-unnamed follow-up to 2003's Indestructible is due later this year, on guitarist Brett Gurewitz's Epitaph/Hellcat label, of course. ... Tiger Army have welcomed an old comrade back into their ranks. Stand-up-bass player Geoff Kresge, who toured with the psychobilly band from 1999-2004 — and who also has a stint with AFI on his résumé — replaces Jeff Roffredo, who "left the band on good terms to pursue other interests," according to a press release from the band's publicist. Tiger Army hit the road earlier this week and have a heap of shows planned for throughout the year. ...

Now that Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez have reconciled, what better way to celebrate than with some concerts? Manson has tacked on a few more to his upcoming trek, which starts Saturday in Orlando, Florida. The newly added gigs will be staged in Phoenix (February 27); Dallas (February 29); Austin, Texas (March 1); and Houston (March 2). Veteran rock act Ours will be the opening act on the tour, according to ... Here's a novel idea: Yellowcard are giving fans who buy the rockers' Live From Las Vegas at the Palms release an early chance at getting tix to one of their upcoming shows. The iTunes exclusive will be available starting January 22, and fans who snatch it up before January 29 will get a Ticketmaster code allowing them to nab up to four tickets for the band's trek, which starts March 7 in Salt Lake City and ends April 12 in Los Angeles. From Las Vegas at the Palms immortalizes Yellowcard's show at the Palms Casino Resort's Pearl venue in October. ...

EMI — home to Coldplay, the Rolling Stones and other acts — will slash a third of its work force, or 1,500-2,000 jobs, over the course of the next months, multiple outlets reported Tuesday. According to the Web site for England's Telegraph, the reunited Verve could be the next major group to withhold its upcoming album in light of the major-label shake-up. The paper reports that the Verve may join Robbie Williams and Coldplay in threatening to hold onto their next albums unless they receive assurances about the company's financial health and how their albums will be marketed. The company's new boss, Guy Hands, was reportedly to be grilled by the managers of some of the label's top acts on Tuesday as he revealed plans for streamlining the company. ...

"American Idol" judge Randy Jackson is known for name-dropping, but his new album, Music Club Vol. 1, might finally back up some of his boasting. Jackson's upcoming solo album, due March 11, will feature pals ranging from Mariah Carey and Joss Stone to Jason Mraz, former "Idol" contestants Elliott Yamin and Katharine McPhee and country star Travis Tritt. Fellow judge Paula Abdul will be featured on "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow," her first new recording in more than a decade. Last week, reported that Jackson and Abdul had been rehearsing a video for the single, and that she was in talks to perform it at the Super Bowl on February 3. Also included on the album are Van Hunt, Three 6 Mafia, Angie Stone, Richie Sambora and Keb' Mo'. ...

My Morning Jacket are going big time: The longhaired Kentucky rockers will headline a show at New York's Radio City Music Hall on June 20. The band's yet-untitled album will drop 10 days earlier. ... Noise Pop just got a bit noisier. The Walkmen, the Dodos, MSTRKRFT, Stellastarr and the Helio Sequence have climbed onto the roster for the San Francisco fest, which is happening February 26-March 2. Jamie Kennedy's comedic documentary "Heckler" — which features George Lucas, Rob Zombie, David Cross and others — will open the Film Festival portion of the event. ... Carla Bruni has been making headlines lately amid her high-profile romance with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Now the chanteuse can parlay that attention into promotion for the wide release of No Promises, an album that is currently only available Stateside on iTunes and at Barnes & Noble stores. The disc — which is being issued through Downtown Records, home to Gnarls Barkley and Spank Rock, and pays tribute to English-language literary legends — will hit retail stores nationwide February 19.


Nearly six years after the alleged sex tape first surfaced, the court proceedings in the R. Kelly case continue to move at a snail's pace. The prosecutors originally sought to have testimony from one expert witness, Dr. Sharon Cooper, cover several different areas — the age of the girl on the tape based on forensic pediatrics, the identification of the man on the tape based on the vein pattern on his hands, and the behavior profile of the girl based on the psychology of child sex-abuse victims. Judge Vincent Gaughan had previously ruled that Dr. Cooper could testify about the victim's age, but not the behavior profile, so prosecutors had asked him to reconsider. At a hearing on Monday (January 14), Gaughan ruled once again that Dr. Cooper would not be able to testify about why the girl in the case would deny that she was a victim, or how common denial is in sex-abuse cases. Kelly is due back in court March 12 for another pre-trial hearing, while the trial itself is slated to start on May 9. ...

And the Wu-Tang Clan infighting goes on. U-God — who complained about RZA being callous toward him in the studio nearly four years ago — is now suing Wu's label, alleging that he is owed $170,000, according to U-God (born Lamont Hawkins) reportedly filed papers in a New York district court, alleging that Wu Music owes him money for services rendered dating back to March of last year. Wu Music is licensed to Universal Music. ...

Paula Abdul doesn't just have the seventh season of "American Idol" on her mind these days. "I want kids!" the singer recently told Ladies' Home Journal for its February issue. "If it doesn't happen naturally, I can always adopt." The 45-year-old Abdul opened up even more about her personal life, saying of 32-year-old boyfriend J.T. Torregiani, "I've experienced real loneliness, so I love knowing there's someone I can share the good and the not-so-good with." ... Everyone's wondering how the seventh season of "Idol" is going to fare in light of some retooling and the writers' strike, but if you ask Chris Daughtry, the show is "in a state of decline." The Daughtry frontman recently spoke with about the show, adding that if it doesn't right itself, "it's probably not gonna last too much longer. I'm sure that'll be used against me, but that's the truth, you know?" He also said the show is "definitely lacking some credibility at this point." ...

White Stripes, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Mark Ronson, Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Cheifs and recent MTV Artist of the Week Kate Nash have all landed Brit Award nominations, although Leona Lewis, Mika and Take That have scored the most, with four apiece. Rihanna, Ronson, Kaiser Chiefs, Kylie Minogue and Paul McCartney are slated to perform at the February 20 ceremony. ... R.E.M. have pulled the curtains back on a new Web site surrounding the April 1 release of their 14th studio album, Accelerate. Their Web site has daily high-definition-video snippets shot by Arcade Fire collaborator Vincent Moon ...

Björk attacked a newspaper photographer who was attempting to take her picture at the Auckland International Airport on Sunday, according to reports in the New Zealand press. The singer, who was flying in to perform at the Big Day Out concert on Friday, reportedly ripped New Zealand Herald photographer Glenn Jeffrey's shirt after he snapped a photo of her. Jeffrey told the New Zealand Press Association that he was warned by a man traveling with Björk not to take her picture, and once he did, the singer came up behind him, grabbed the back of his shirt and tore it before tumbling to the ground. In 1996, Björk attacked a reporter in an airport in Bangkok, Thailand, after she objected to being photographed. ... The Walkmen and White Rabbits will hop along the U.S. this month for nine shows. On the itinerary are Pittsburgh (Wednesday); Detroit (Thursday); Milwaukee (Friday); Madison, Wisconsin (Saturday); Chicago (Sunday); St. Louis (January 21); Columbus, Ohio (January 22); Philadelphia (January 23); and Baltimore (January 24). ...

For the first time in 25 years, former Clash members Mick Jones and Topper Headon reportedly shared the same stage at a gig by Jones' new band, Carbon/Silicon. The duo performed "Train in Vain" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" during the set. ... Megadeth have recruited Chris Broderick (Nevermore, Jag Panzer) to be their newest guitarist, following the recent departure of Glen Drover. Broderick will make his live debut with the band on February 4, at a gig in Finland. ...

Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali said the band will not be revived following the late November death of frontman Kevin DuBrow. In an online statement, Banali claims he had been "approached to see if I would be interested in contacting Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Cavazo and to audition singers for Quiet Riot." He said that he's even fielded an offer to re-form "the version of Quiet Riot that included Paul Shortino, Carlos Cavazo and Sean McNabb." But Banali rejected any suggestions of the band performing live. "My friendship, love and respect for Kevin DuBrow, as well as my personal love and affection for Kevin's mother and his family, makes it inconceivable for me to ever entertain any ovation to re-form or to continue Quiet Riot," he wrote. "It would also be a disrespect to the fans who have supported [the band] for nearly 25 years." ...

Roger Avary, the Oscar-winning co-writer of "Pulp Fiction," was arrested on Sunday after a fatal single-car crash in Ojai, California. According to a Reuters report, Avary, 42, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, and was released from jail after posting $50,000 bail. Andreas Zedini, a 34-year-old passenger in the car, died of his injuries at a local hospital. Avary's wife, Gretchen, 40, was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries after being thrown from the car.

Dr. Drew: Britney Is Dying Before Our Eyes

TV Addiction Guru Says Pop Star Is Following "Anna Nicole" Blueprint

Dr. Drew Pinsky speaks to Ellen DeGeneres about Britney Spears on "Ellen" Jan. 15, 2008. (KCAL) (CBS) Celebrity addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky is weighing in on Britney Spears' problems, saying that the pop star could die if she doesn't get the help she needs.

Although the doctor has never treated Spears personally, he told Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show Tuesday, "We are watching somebody who is following the Anna Nicole Smith blueprint to the letter. She's keeping people around her that allow her to keep using and that supports her denial.

"She leaves the country, like Anna Nicole, she keeps using; she doesn't follow directions of people."

Spears was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by paramedics Jan. 10, after police were called to her home because of a custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline over their two young sons. She checked herself out of the hospital two days later.

According to Pinsky, California law does not force drug and alcohol users to remain in treatment long enough to get the help they need.

"You can also only be held against your will for a very short period of time and if you refuse to follow up and take treatment, you're within your right to do that - even if it's killing you. This is a serious medical problem," he said. "This young lady - she is dying in front of our eyes. She needs physician care regularly for a sustained period of time."

Pinsky, who's head of the Department of Chemical Dependency Services at Pasadena's Las Encinas Hospital and star of the VH1 reality show "Celebrity Rehab," says he would use a treatment plan similar to one that may be helping another troubled star.

"If I were to treat her, I'd put her in 4-6 weeks of an intensive program in a psychiatric hospital and a year of a residential program very much like what Lindsay Lohan did," he said.

EnlargeDr. Drew Pinsky speaks to Ellen DeGeneres about Britney Spears on "Ellen" Jan. 15, 2008. (Michael Rozman/Warner Bros )

On Monday, a Superior Court commissioner decided to uphold an earlier order suspending Spears' visitation rights to her two sons. Spears was at the courthouse for the hearing, but left before even entering the building. Another hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19.

Spears was "trembling," according to the head of a paparazzi agency who says he spoke with the pop star's new boyfriend.

Sheeraz Hasan, founder and CEO of Hollywood.TV, told Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen Tuesday that he'd spoken with Spears' new beau, photographer Adnan Ghalib, as the media crush was unfolding Monday.

Hasan says Ghalib told him Spears was "really nervous" and "really panicking" when she was being mobbed by the media at the courthouse, and opted to skip the hearing and go to church, feeling she had, at that instant, "no one to turn to, except God."

By Judy Faber

CBS Interactive Inc.

Mitt Romney Recovers With Big Win In Michigan Primary

Former Massachusetts governor beats out Republican rival John McCain; Hillary Clinton takes opponent-less Democratic race.

Another race, another winner. The scramble at the top of the Republican heap in the race to lock down the presidential nomination welcomed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on Tuesday night (January 15), as he cruised to a projected victory over Senator John McCain. On the Democratic side, the results weren't significant, as the party had stripped Michigan of its delegates.

Romney — who grew up in the state, where his father, George, was a General Motors chairman and three-term governor — is projected to have won with roughly 39 percent of the vote, while McCain is expected to have pulled in 30 percent. Romney, who campaigned hard in Michigan and banked on a win there to help revitalize his campaign, squared off against McCain, who won in Michigan in 2000 during his last presidential run. In the days leading up to the pivotal contest, Romney's apparent lead had diminished in most polls to the point where he was nearly in a dead heat with the Arizona senator.

The primary was seen as a last-ditch hope for Romney — who had only scored a win in the party's less-crucial Wyoming caucus — or a chance for McCain to solidify his lead. The results further muddied the Republican race that is still without a dominant front-runner. The GOP contest has been more fluid than the Democratic battle, which has already settled into essentially a two-person contest between New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who won the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus, respectively.

And though nothing comes easy these days for Clinton, on Tuesday — with the rest of her major Democratic opponents sitting out of the Michigan primary due to a squabble with the Democratic National Committee over the state's decision to move its primary up on the calendar — she cruised to an easy victory.

Looking bright-eyed and pumped-up, and having discarded his suit jacket, Romney — who would be the country's first Mormon president if elected — took to a packed stage less than 20 minutes after the last polls closed in Michigan to give a rousing speech.

"Tonight marks the beginning of a comeback, a comeback for America," he said to wild applause. "Only a week ago, a win looked like it was impossible, but then you got out and told America what they needed to hear. ... Tonight proves that you can't tell an American that there's something they just can't do, because Americans can do anything they set their heart to.

"Tonight is a victory of optimism over Washington-style pessimism," he added, a line that was perhaps intended as a slap at the many commentators who suggested Romney was done for in the race for the White House. "Tonight we are celebrating here in Michigan, [and] guess what they're doing in Washington? They're worrying. The lobbyists and politicians realize that Washington is broken and we're going to do something about it!"

Unlike New Hampshire, which benefited from balmy weather and record turnout, voters appear to have mostly stayed home in Michigan. Just hours before polls closed, the Detroit Free Press reported that due to combination of snowstorms and the non-race on the Democratic side, turnout was so low across Detroit and the rest of the state that some clerks predicted the majority of votes would come from absentee ballots. One city-elections leader said turnout could be as low as 15-20 percent. The low turnout, especially among Democrats and independents — who many predicted could mostly go McCain's way — helped Romney beat the Arizona senator by a projected 10 percentage points. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was projected at a distant third with 16 percent of the vote.

Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, where candidates focused on issues ranging from immigration to Iraq, the main topic of discussion in Michigan, which has the nation's highest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, was jobs and the economy. Romney, who placed second in Iowa and New Hampshire to, respectively, Huckabee and McCain, vowed before voters went to the polls to continue his campaign even if he failed to win Tuesday night.

Even so, the contest was positioned as do-or-die for the Romney campaign, which used the memory of the candidate's father as an emotional pull to get voters to give the candidate his first major win. The former Massachusetts governor had been running ads in Michigan since January 2006, spending more than $2 million on more than 2,555 spots, according to CNN, versus the $359,000 for less than 360 spots by McCain. This week, Romney's campaign announced that it was pulling ads in upcoming primary states Florida and South Carolina to devote more resources to the all-important Michigan contest.

Romney, who won the little-noticed Wyoming caucus January 5, promised in speeches this week that as president he would ease recently raised fuel-efficiency standards and spend billions to help struggling Detroit automakers, while McCain delivered more of his patented "straight talk," telling the state's citizens about such unpopular-with-most-Republicans stands as not drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and vowing never to allow torture. McCain also reiterated his belief that traditional auto-manufacturing jobs were not coming back to Michigan and that business leaders should focus on green technologies and the future.

Romney spent the past few days taking swipes at McCain for his comments that more than 300,000 jobs in Michigan are permanently lost and must be replaced by exploring new technologies, promising that if he won he would not rest until the state's beleaguered economic fortunes were turned around.

The superstitious McCain, who The New York Times reported wore on Tuesday the same green sweater he said brought him luck in New Hampshire last week, was hoping to prove his electability by getting a significant number of votes from Independents and Democrats. He had already moved on to South Carolina before the polls closed and good-naturedly quipped in his concession speech that, "for a minute there, I thought this campaign was going to get easier. We don't mind a fight, and we're in it."

The focus for most of the Democrats was elsewhere this week, as no convention delegates were at stake because of the national party's decision to strip the state of its 156 delegates to the national convention. The move was due to the Michigan Democratic Party's insistence on pushing up its primary before February 5 to get more attention in the wake of the Iowa-New Hampshire one-two punch.

Both Obama and former Senator John Edwards took their names off the ballot, leaving Clinton to battle such long shots as former Senator Mike Gravel and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. In what pollsters said was a sign of voter discontent with the Democratic National Committee's decision to strip the state of its delegates, CNN reported that Clinton won Tuesday night despite a majority of young voters choosing "uncommitted," according to exit polls. Among voters ages 18-29, 48 percent chose uncommitted, while Clinton tallied just 39 percent of the vote among that age group, which her campaign has begun to heavily court since her win in New Hampshire.

The exit polling also showed that 46 percent of those ages 30-44 also went with uncommitted. Overall, Clinton carried 55 percent of the vote, while 40 percent were uncommitted. In what could be a troubling sign, CNN also reported that nearly 70 percent of Michigan's black voters did not choose Clinton, instead going for uncommitted, though they would have overwhelmingly voted for Obama had he been on the ballot.

While the top three Republicans slugged it out at the polls, Democrats moved on to Las Vegas for a debate in advance of Saturday's Nevada caucuses, which, for Republicans, will coincide with their primary in South Carolina.

'American Idol' Premiere: Philly Fans Audition, Stalk Paula, Impersonate Borat

Season Seven kicks off with good Grace Slick impressions, bad Borat impressions and one sure-fire winner.

Practice your seal clap and warm up your dialing fingers because "American Idol" is back! As the seemingly never-ending audition episodes continue to roll out, we'll help you make sense of all the Coca-Cola-sponsored insanity, breaking down all the noteworthy wannabes (both good and bad) into handy categories.

The first stop of Season Seven was the city of brotherly love. (Did Seacrest make that call?) Let's take a look at how the Philadelphia folks fared.

The Biggest Loser Challenge: Joey Catalano

With "Idol" going to head to head (or belly to belly?) with "The Biggest Loser" this year, was it irony or coincidence (or both!) that the first audition of the seventh season featured a feel-good story of a dude who had recently shed 200 pounds? This kind of random rival-reality-show-steals-another-show's-thunder incident hasn't been seen since "America's Next Top Model" had a "Project Runway"-esque challenge the same night Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn premiered their fourth season. Tonight "Idol" drank "The Biggest Loser" 's milkshake. "Idol" drank it up. Plus, the guy's last name is Catalano. If he ends up singing a 30 Seconds to Mars song during Hollywood week, my head might explode.

Best Eli Sunday Lookalike: Jonathan Baines

OK, OK. That's two "There Will Be Blood" references in one "Idol" recap. But admit it. Seventeen-year-old giant Baines had an uncanny resemblance to young actor Paul Dano. Judging from his audition, he had a nice enough voice too. Let's hope he doesn't end up a false prophet. Fun fact: A quick glance at Baines' MySpace page indicates that he, like Dano's "Blood"-y character, Eli Sunday, is really into Jesus.

The Haley Scarnato Trophy for Most Unexpected Yiddish: Alexis Cohen

Veterinary student Cohen could have picked up several awards tonight with her memorable audition. First, I was ready to bestow upon her the honor of Saddest "Cribs" Episode Ever, after seeing her "I live in a studio apartment with a menagerie and my mother" taped intro. Once she began singing, it was totally going to be Best Grace Slick Impression Ever. Then, when she flipped the eff out, it was going to be Best Grace Slick 1978 Meltdown in Germany Impression Ever. But as soon as I heard her utter the word chutzpah (even if it came out more like "chusspa"), I knew she'd end up with the Haley Scarnato trophy, which incidentally is made of cheese and sculpted to look like a pair of legs. I can't wait to see Cohen's Jefferson Starship collaboration during the finale. You just know that's coming.

Most Welcome Cameo from an "Office" Star: Benjamin Franklin

You totally saw him in one of the montages too, right? Sigh, when will the strike end?

Worst Borat Impression: Alaa "Yuka" Youakeem

This might have been funny if it was on last year's show. Nope, even last year, this guy's shtick would have felt old (but not as old as that lame "wax your chest and you can audition again" 24-year-old virgin). If "Idol" wants to continue making movie references, they need to cancel their Netflix account and start seeing flicks in the theater. I don't think I'll be able to stomach a "Juno" joke in Season 10.

The Jackpot: Angela Martin

Martin is literally everything I look for in an "Idol" contestant. First, she's an African-American female with a sick voice. Second, she has a rough backstory that makes her impossible to dislike (unless you heartless bastards hate handicapped children). Plus, she has a really supportive family, so supportive that during the celebratory commotion, they all toppled over like dominos. And last, one of said family members has an endlessly mockable name: Latrina. But seriously, unless she has a personality transplant during Hollywood week, I can't imagine Martin not making it to the final weeks of this season's competition.

The "No Wonder Taylor Got Dropped from His Record Label" Ribbon: Melanie Nyema

I was shocked that this shriek-y mess made it to Hollywood. Finding out that she used to sing backup for Taylor Hicks (you know, back in that two-minute window when he had a career) was the least surprising thing all night.

Most Likely to End Up Like Rudy Cardenas: Chris Watson

He's charming, he's handsome and he has a "great recording voice." But he also has the potential to be a lame-o with a target on his shirt. Exhibit A: the Uncle Kracker audition song.

The Nakia Claiborne "Please, God, Let Them Be a Good Singer" Plaque for Participation: Temptress Browne

Remember the heartbreaking Nakia, who last year, after being denied a golden ticket, broke down and uttered, "I'm tired of hearing 'no' "? Well, tonight we had an even more gut-wrenching "Idol" tryout, thanks to Temptress. The 16-year-old football player auditioned to help her morbidly obese mom, and producers milked the "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" storyline for all it was worth. Unfortunately, her desperate and tragic audition ended with some heavy-duty holy-crap-even-Simon's-consoling-her weeping. (On a side note, was anyone else totally shocked when Cowell admitted to being a sucker for animals? I just didn't expect the guy to be a pet owner.)

The Martik "Eccentric" Manoukian Original Composition Honorary Grammy: Paul Marturano and Milo Turk (tie)

Sure, we've all whipped up a celebrity-stalker tune at some point in our life. I wrote one for Uma Thurman in eighth grade. (Sample verse: "I loved you in 'Pulp Fiction' / I loved you in 'Jennifer Eight' / I love you very early / I love you very late!") But Paul's ode to all things Paula was just funny and clever enough to overshadow the fact that the guy was creepy as all hell. Meanwhile, Milo Turk's "No Sex Allowed" song was catchier than gonorrhea!

The Carmen Rasmussen Certificate (Written in Invisible Ink): Kristy Lee Cook

With an OK voice and a shocking lack of personality (not to mention a previous major-label deal with Arista Nashville), I worry that Kristy will quickly become the forgettable cutie of the season. Expect her to be back in her log cabin faster than you can say "Stephanie Edwards."

Most Likely to Have a Secret Porn Past: Brooke White

Come on. Did you buy that "I've never seen an R-rated movie in my life" crap for a second?

The Bo Bice "Where's the Orchestra?" Commemorative Plate: "American Idol"

With all the hubbub surrounding the news that "Idol" is now allowing contestants to audition with instruments, based on what we saw tonight, it looks like only one girl took them up on that offer. Did producers decide not to feature those auditions after some fans cried foul over the "unfair advantage"?

And more importantly, what do we think of Randy's facial hair?!