Thursday, February 7, 2008

Barack Obama And Hillary Clinton's Duel Could Last For Months; John McCain's Lead Firms Up

With more than half the presidential-nomination contests decided, the scramble is on.

Super Tuesday is gone, and with more than half the primaries and caucuses now complete, neither party has settled on a candidate. Arizona Senator John McCain emerged as the clear Republican front-runner with his impressive wins Tuesday night, piling up more delegates than rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee combined. But on the Democratic side, most tabulations had Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama separated by fewer than 100 delegates, with neither anywhere near the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination.
Because both Democrats won impressive victories across the map, their respective camps spun the results as proof of their broad appeal and the narrowing gap between their bases of support. That could mean the fight for the Democratic nomination could drag on through the sporadic primaries and caucuses in early summer and spill over into the Democratic convention in Denver in August, which could be disastrous for the party, according to Roger Simon, chief political columnist for Politico.
"The problem for Democrats is that Barack Obama maintains a narrow lead in the number of pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses, but Hillary Clinton has the lead in superdelegates, who are the party's power structure: the members of Congress, ex-presidents, party big shots and the like," he said. "The difficulty is — and it could be a huge crisis, if this continues all the way to Denver and Obama comes in with more pledged delegates won in competitions, but Hillary has more based on superdelegates — can the party really deny Obama the nomination?"
If they did, Simon said, it could result in a "huge explosion" when the convention starts August 25, not only angering some party loyalists, but likely enraging the record millions of voters who participated in this year's primaries, only to see their votes effectively thrown out in favor of the 796 superdelegates, who make up less than 20 percent of the total delegates who will participate in the convention . Add in the still-unresolved question of what to do with the decertified delegates Clinton "won" in Michigan and Florida — which her camp has been pushing to have recertified before the convention — and you have what could be the first truly contested nominating convention in more than a half-century.
On the Republican side, the picture is a bit clearer. Romney and Huckabee are splitting the conservative vote, which is helping McCain keep Romney at a safe distance. But McCain still has his work cut out for him. Often at odds with the party's conservative base over his support of comprehensive immigration reform and campaign-finance reform — and lately under withering fire from conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh — the sometimes-quarrelsome McCain has been trying to mend fences over the past few months to smooth his path to the nomination. He'll extend the olive branch once again Thursday in his most overt effort yet, when he will speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C., an annual gathering of conservative activists.
"McCain really solidified his position as the front-runner," Simon said. "And the upcoming calendar doesn't look great for Huckabee's base of evangelical voters, but his wins give him enough money to stay in the race and keep taking votes from Romney, which is the nightmare scenario for Romney, because the longer Huckabee stays in, the more it helps McCain and hurts Romney."
Even if McCain can't totally win over the conservative wing of the party, he has a number of open and proportional primaries coming up that could play to his appeal to moderates, Independents and some Democrats, who could help put him over the top.
For the Republican candidates, attention now turns to Saturday's contests in Kansas, Louisiana and Washington, where 126 delegates are at stake, then to Tuesday (February 12) contests in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, with 119 delegates up for grabs. The last big delegate payday, though, is March 4, when Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont will go to the polls, with 265 delegates in the balance.
It's a similar story on the Democratic side, where Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington and the Virgin Islands will vote Saturday to decide 204 delegates, followed the next day by Maine's caucus for 34 delegates. On Tuesday, D.C., Maryland and Virginia will decide on 237 delegates, and then the last big prize — 444 delegates on March 4 — will be decided by Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont.
But, in keeping with this campaign season's unpredictability, it's been hard to call the upcoming races because the candidates expended so much energy on the Super Tuesday states that none of them have spent much time in the remaining states. So, stay tuned.
Get informed! Head to Choose or Lose for nonstop coverage of the 2008 presidential election, including everything from the latest news on the candidates to on-the-ground multimedia reports from our 51 citizen journalists, MTV and MySpace's Presidential Dialogues, and much more.

Zac Efron Sheds Teen Image, Plays It Cool For 'Seventeen Again'

The 'High School Musical' star adopts Matthew Perry's attitude to play 40-year-old transported to his teens.

If you're like millions of young fans of "Hairspray" or the "High School Musical" franchise, you probably think Zac Efron is just about the epitome of cool.
Wait'll you get a load of his dad, the 20-year-old megastar joked with MTV News from the set of his newest film, "Seventeen Again" (formerly called just "Seventeen"), in which he plays a middle-age man suddenly transported back to his teenage years.
"Everything you do, you have to kind of view it from your dad's perspective," Efron said, revealing how he got in the head of an adult for the role. "I tried to do a few things that I learned from my dad — things that he thinks are cool but are really dorky.
"That seems to be working pretty well," he laughed.
It's seemingly all laughs these days for Efron, now that he's beginning to shed his teenage image for more grown-up films.
Playing the young Mike O'Donnell — who gets his wish for a chance to go back to high school and redo his life — is the perfect way for Efron to transition from tween heartthrob to adult thesp in flicks like "Me and Orson Welles." This is especially true given that the character offers him a shot at growing up without the side-effects of actually, you know, growing up, Efron teased.
"I could have gone out and just played a kid somewhere and had a blast. But now I'm playing a 40-year-old guy," he said. "It's kind of fun playing an adult."
It's a mantle he wears comfortably. Indeed, the day we visited with Efron we found him in a house only an adult could think of as fun, where hundreds of "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings" toys stood behind glass, boxed for eternity to accumulate value. Think the collection in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Now think of the collection from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" times 10.
"This is my best friend's house," Efron explained, standing in front of a giant stormtrooper. "He was a nerd his whole life. His house is a big clue to that."
In one scene, wearing a V-neck T-shirt and a red plaid shirt, Efron's character haughtily navigates his way through a gathered crowd, dismissing an approaching girl, passing a beer to a friend and even proving that there's a way to act cynical while twirling a light saber.
But, then, this isn't surprising when you know that, before he was Zac Efron, Mike O'Donnell was Matthew Perry.
"Matthew has a very dry sense of humor," Efron understated. "I guess if there was anything I had to work on, it was probably [emulating] that."
Ironically, given that it's practically his trademark, Efron admitted that the other thing he had to work particularly hard at for the movie was a dance sequence. "High School Musical" or no, turns out the kids just don't move like they used to.
"It's all '80s dance moves, and it's completely random," Efron said, referring to a scene in which he dances with a bunch of cheerleaders. "The running man, a few moves from MC Hammer — what is it, 'Can't Touch This,' right? Yeah, it's pretty funny."
But don't be fooled by the dance number, the actor insisted. Zac Efron may star in the movie, but he has no desire ever to be "Seventeen Again."
"What would I do if I could go back to high school?" Efron asked, grinning. "I never want to go back."
Check out everything we've got on Zac Efron.
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.

Usher Gets Things Poppin' With Two New Songs; Album Is 'Coming,' Jermaine Dupri Swears

Lil Jon also weighs in, revealing he's 'trying to find a new sound' for the yet-untitled effort.

Usher hasn't officially announced an album title or release date for his years-in-the-making follow-up to 2004's Confessions, but it looks like the wait won't be too much longer.
"I was speaking to him the other day, asking him when he was gonna start putting singles out," Jermaine Dupri told MTV News late last week. "He said, 'Soon.' So it's coming."
Dupri, of course, is Usher's longtime collaborator and one of the producers who has contributed to the singer's next opus. His words are looking like a prophecy fulfilled because since last week, two new Usher records have surfaced.
The first, called "In This Club," was produced by Polow Da Don and is getting play on Atlanta radio now. The bass line is triumphantly brass, the tempo is mid and Young Jeezy brings his often-copied swag to the party. Meanwhile, Ush gets his calm, cool pimp game poppin'.
"I wanna make love in this club," Usher sings on the chorus. As the song ends, he confidently addresses the target of his seduction: "I know you scared, baby/ They don't know what we doing/ Let's go get undressed right here ... I don't care who's watching."
Jeezy's guest verse is doused with confidence: "I'll be like your medicine, you'll take every dose of me," he says to the ladies. "Have you ever made love on the bar or on the floor?/ You can meet me in the bathroom, I'm trained to go."
The second record, which has already hit the Internet, is called "Moving Mountains" and is said to be produced by Timbaland. It's a bouncy ballad in which Usher sings about trying to maintain a relationship rocked by the "great depression."
As for the rest of the album, Philadelphia producers Dre & Vidal have contributed several songs while Lil Jon is waiting for the right record to add to Usher's mix. After going three for three with "Yeah!," "Red Light" and "Lovers and Friends," the King of Crunk isn't trying to force anything.
"I want to," Jon said recently about working on the project. "I'm trying to find a new sound, though. I don't wanna come and have the same old same old. I'm trying to give Usher that stadium record again. I don't wanna give him no bullsh--. I think I'm gonna get on there, though. I've just had so much stuff going on, and I've gotta find that right new sound for him. I wanna give him another 'Yeah!,' another record that sets the tone for his entire album."
"I don't know how the whole album is coming," Dupri added. "I'm not there at Arista or [Jive] now. I can't see the album as a whole. I heard a lot of the other songs. As far as I'm concerned, it started feeling good. It's still growing. He's in the process of making more songs."
Usher's rep did not respond to requests for comment from MTV News. There is no word yet on whether "In This Club" and "Moving Mountains" are official singles or will even make the album.

Amy Winehouse Questioned About Pipe Video; Plus Avril Lavigne, Linkin Park, Alicia Keys, Bright Eyes & More, In For The Record

Lavigne says Hillary Clinton victory would be 'awesome'; LP planning another Projekt Revolution; Keys' As I Am reclaims Billboard #1.

According to The Associated Press, police in London have questioned Amy Winehouse about a video that surfaced online two weeks ago that purportedly shows the Grammy-nominated singer smoking crack cocaine. No charges have been filed against the singer, but an investigation into the video is said to be ongoing. The video shows Winehouse inhaling fumes from a small pipe during a party at her home. Winehouse checked into a rehabilitation center in late January. ...
Avril Lavigne fans can expect to see outfit changes, backup dancers and the singer covering Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" on her upcoming five-month world tour, which starts March 5 in British Columbia, RollingStone reports. She plans to hole up in L.A. with husband Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and work on some new material when the tour comes to a close in June. "I want to do more acoustic stuff," she said. "It doesn't mean that's what my next record is going to be, but I'm doing it to get it out." The Canadian singer also chimed in on the presidential election, saying, "I wish I could vote" in the U.S. "I think Hillary might [win]. It'd be f---ing awesome if a chick won!" ...
It took Linkin Park four years to follow up 2003's Meteora with last summer's Minutes to Midnight, but Chester Bennington says fans won't have to wait around as long for LP's next, er, LP. "We sparked a new kind of life into what we do during the writing of ['Midnight']," the frontman told Billboard. "We want to keep that going. I think we're in the mode, and I have a good feeling we're going to put another record out really quickly." The four-year break "seemed like a really, really long time to our fans, and it seemed like a really, really long time to us. I don't see that happening again," he added. Bennington also revealed that the band will assemble another edition of its Projekt Revolution tour, which also featured My Chemical Romance and others last year. Bands and dates will be announced in the coming months. Linkin Park head out on a tour with Coheed and Cambria starting Tuesday in Omaha, Nebraska. ...
The latest album-sales figures are in, and Alicia Keys' As I Am will reclaim Billboard's #1 spot, after selling another 61,300 copies. The " Juno" soundtrack — last week's #1 — follows at #2, while the Mars Volta's The Bedlam in Goliath debuts at #3, having sold 54,000 copies in its first week. According to SoundScan, 18 new releases will enter next week's chart, including Bullet for My Valentine's Scream Aim Fire, which opens at #4 with 53,200 sold, and the 2008 Grammy Nominees compilation — which features Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and the Foo Fighters, among others — debuting at #5 with 50,000 in sales. Hannah Montana 2: Non-Stop Dance Party bows at #7 with 40,000 scans, and Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut enters at #17 with 27,500 sold. Opening at #95 with 7,500 copies snatched up is Protest the Hero's latest, Fortress. ...
Eddie Vedder, Tom Morello, Serj Tankian and Bright Eyes have ponied up songs for "Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran," a two-CD collection due March 18 that is a companion piece to the documentary "Body of War." The first single is a version of Vedder's "No More" performed with Ben Harper at Pearl Jam's Lollapalooza set last year. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Iraq Veterans Against the War. ... Bright Eyes mainman Conor Oberst sure is getting his fill of politics. Beyond his appearance on the aforementioned comp, he'll also perform at a free rally for Senator Barack Obama on Thursday to help raise awareness about the Democratic presidential candidate. The event — which will also feature M. Ward, Sparta frontman Jim Ward and Secret Life of Sparrows — will go down at Omaha, Nebraska's Slowdown, a venue owned by Saddle Creek Records, Bright Eyes' label. Oberst played a gig in Iowa for the Illinois senator prior to his victory in that state's caucus in early January. ...
Jennifer Lopez is indeed expecting twins — news that was first reported back in October — her father recently confirmed during an appearance on a Spanish-language television show, according to People en Espa├▒ol. "Yes, twins," the actress/singer's father, David Lopez, said on Esc├índalo TV when asked about the rumor, according to the report. "The thing is, in my family, my sister also had twins, so it's a hereditary thing." He reportedly added that he was thrilled about the news, saying, "Jennifer has yearned to be a mother for many years." Lopez confirmed her pregnancy during a Miami concert in November. ... Striking members of the Writers Guild of America will meet with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Los Angeles and New York on Saturday in an effort to end the three-month strike. The WGA presidents said they wouldn't ink a contract with the movie and TV producers until they have met with WGA members and reviewed the terms. ...
Beastie Boys are planning to headline a Music Has Power concert to give a funding boost to New York's Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, which specializes in music-therapy treatments and research. Moby will host the March 4 event. ... R.E.M. premiered their new song "Supernatural Superserious" on New York radio station 101.9 RXP on Tuesday. The track is the first single from the veteran rockers' new album, Accelerate, which is due April 1. ... According to the Toronto Star, a Canadian radio host has filed a lawsuit against the White Stripes, seeking $70,000 for a sample the group used eight years ago. The sample appears on the track "Jumble, Jumble" from the Stripes' second album, 2000's De Stijl. Quebec radio host Dominique Payette claims the Stripes did not have permission to use the 10-second clip of her teen call-in show, in which she talks to an unidentified young girl, and the host believes her privacy has been violated. The suit seeks an injunction that could force the band and its label to remove copies of the album from stores. ... In more upbeat Stripes news, the group will release a Spanish-language version of its third Icky Thump single, "Conquest," on CD and 7-inch on February 19. "Conquista" — credited to "Las Rayas Blancas," amusingly enough — features the duo's first non-English vocal, sung by Jack White of course, and the single features an acoustic mariachi version of "Conquest" on the flipside. ...
American Hi-Fi are plugging away at their fourth studio album, which doesn't have a title or release date yet, in a Los Angeles studio. Singer Stacy Jones is taking on production duties for the effort, which will feature the rockers' reunited original lineup. If you're in Southern California, swing by West Hollywood's Troubadour on April 11, when the band performs at the venue, to get a taste of the new material. ... Swedish progressive-metallers Opeth have christened their next LP Watershed. The record has been slated for a June 3 release and will include the tracks "Heir Apparent," "The Lotus Eater" and "Porcelain Heart." ... Little Rock, Arkansas, Christian metal outfit Living Sacrifice have reunited. Singer Bruce Fitzhugh and drummer Lance Garvin have rejoined guitarist Rocky Gray and bassist Arthur Green and are currently writing material for a new album, due to land in stores later this year.
A few more performers and presenters have been added to Sunday's Grammy Awards, including a duet between Fergie and John Legend and a salute to the pioneers of rock and roll featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and John Fogerty. Pop-classical heartthrob Josh Groban will team up with opera superstar Andrea Bocelli in their first-ever duet, and Grammy-nominated jazz legend Herbie Hancock will perform a special jazz/classical segment. Among the new list of presenters are Chris Brown, Miley Cyrus, Solange Knowles, George Lopez, Lyle Lovett and Ludacris. ...
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — the Beatles guru who brought transcendental meditation to the Western world — has died, The Associated Press reports. His death was apparently due to "natural causes, his age," Transcendental Meditation movement spokesman Bob Roth reportedly said. Maharishi's age was thought to be 91. ...
Lindsay Lohan has spoken out publicly for the first time since leaving a recovery center six months ago. In a cover story for the U.K. edition of Glamour, the actress/singer said she's ready to work again and is getting rid of the bad influences in her life. "There are friends that have been hard to hang out with because they've gone done a different path," Lohan, 21, said. "But it's hard because I'm the kind of person who wants to trust everyone." According to an excerpt on People, Lohan, who expressed sympathy for fellow struggling young stars Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse, said she's learned how to be comfortable being alone if necessary. "I'm fine being alone during the day, but I hate being alone at night. I like having friends around me, but now I'd much rather be at home." With her career momentum slowed by her rehab stint, Lohan said she mostly fills her days writing in her journal and watching TV, but "that's not to say I'll never go to a club again ... because I'd be lying." Asked what the biggest misconception is about her, Lohan said, "That I don't have my head in the right place. That, and probably that I'm not a good person ... because actually I am." ...
After an astronomical $29 million on just 683 screens, the "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" flick will remain in theaters "indefinitely," a Disney representative told MTV News. Originally slated to end its run Friday, the flick — which follows pop sensation Miley Cyrus on her sold-out trek — now has "no end date," according to the rep, and will stay in theaters contingent on audience demand. The flick set several box-office records over the weekend, including the largest-ever haul for a concert film and a 3-D movie. It also bested "Titanic" for the biggest gross over a Super Bowl weekend. ...
Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch has announced the launch of his own independent film-distribution company called Oscilloscope Pictures. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Yauch plans to buy narrative and documentary features from movie festivals and provide funds to complete and release unfinished films. The company will be run by former ThinkFilm VP David Fenkel, who worked with Yauch on the Beasties' concert doc "Awesome! I F---in' Shot That!" The company's first release will be announced within the next month and will hit theaters by summer, with current plans calling for two to 10 films released per year. ...
If you've ever seen the Deftones live, then you already know that frontman Chino Moreno's a big fan of "skater socks." Now the singer has formed his own clothing company called ChinoSox. "Every time I'm on tour, people come up to me and ask me about the socks I wear onstage. No one can ever seem to find dope-looking skater socks," he said. "So I thought it would be cool to make my own signature line of skate socks, so that fans could pick them up. They're pretty sick." You can pick up a pair online, exclusively through the ChinoSox Web site. ...
Remember the Darkness? Well, they've been quiet since the 2006 departure of frontman Justin Hawkins, but have returned with a new name. The band still includes former Darkness singer Richie Edwards, drummer Ed Graham and guitarist Dan Hawkins, but with henceforth be known as Stone Gods. The band will release an EP sometime this year.

More Britney, Less Kanye -- And A Lot Of Bon Jovi: 10 Ways To Fix The Grammys, In Bigger Than The Sound

Show could use more Vince Gill too, our columnist opines.

On The Record: Ten Steps To A Better You (Especially If "You" Happen To Be The Grammys.)
Nobody really cares about the Grammys anymore — well, actually, that's not true. The music industry and fans of Adult Contemporary Radio and jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock are probably really fired up about this year's awards. But for a lot of us, particularly those who actually know how to use the Internet, the Grammys are sort of a joke. They are viewed as archaic and out-of-touch, a rather pointless waste of time and awards given out by Luddites for Luddites.
And this is not exactly incorrect. The Grammys are sort of all those things, and the Recording Academy — the organization behind the awards — is pretty much to blame for it. And things aren't getting any better. In fact, they're probably worse than they've ever been before. And if this downward trend continues, it won't be long until a Grammy is just as obsolete as a CableACE Award.
I, for one, don't want that. I'm a Grammy apologist of sorts (I'm a sucker for overblown production numbers) and, quite frankly, I'm tired of seeing the award's good name sullied — even though the last two paragraphs do just that. So I've come up with a list of 10 sure-fire ways to fix the Grammys.
It's a fairly drastic bunch of ideas — a complete overhaul of the way the awards are voted on and presented, the creation of new categories, etc. — but such is the situation we're dealing with. And I think the Academy would do well to listen to me. After all, I've seen nearly every Grammy telecast since around 1996, and I write a weekly column read by thousands! So clearly, I'm an expert. Away we go ...
1. Be honest with the audience. Rather than attempting to hide the fact that the industry is in the toilet, why not address the issue head-on through a series of flashy show-pieces? Kick off this year's telecast by showering the audience with unsold copies of Will.I.Am's flop Songs About Girls album. Follow that up with an onstage performance from the Pilobus troupe in which dancers mimic an airplane crashing into a train, colliding with a tanker truck and smashing into a munitions depot. Later in the broadcast, have Recording Academy president Neil Portnow stagger to the podium, unshaven and wild-eyed, and launch into a tirade against illegal downloading that ends with him either, a) screaming "ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!?!?! YOU FILTHY PIRATES ARE KILLING US ALL!!!," or b) pulling a Howard Beale.
That'll show 'em.
2. Establish your credibility. This is the 50th Grammy Awards, so hit viewers with a cavalcade of fun facts throughout the telecast. Possible suggestions include "Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, the Beach Boys and Diana Ross have never won a Grammy Award. Sheryl Crow, on the other hand, has won nine," "David Bowie has exactly as many Grammys as Men at Work (one — and Bowie's was for a video), "or "Soulja Boy: Grammy nominee!" Actually, wait. Do not do this. It's a terrible idea.
3. Just a suggestion: Britney Spears + margaritas + Spandex pushed to its maximum tensile strength = ratings! (Hey, it worked at the Video Music Awards!)
4. Establish a special "Tony Bennett Recorded a Duet With Someone This Year" Grammy, just to keep the annual tradition of honoring him at every telecast alive and well. While you're at it, go ahead and create the "U2 touched their instruments" award, to be bestowed only upon U2 every year, regardless of musical output (or lack thereof).
5. Have Kanye West lose an award. It doesn't matter which one — the important thing is the meltdown/tantrum that will undoubtedly follow. And given that this year, West enters the Grammys as the most-nominated artist, well, let's just say the chances of him setting fire to the Staples Center or taking Taylor Swift hostage if he doesn't win are pretty good. And who wouldn't tune in to see that?
6. Three words: More Vince Gill.
7. Film Amy Winehouse at a rehab facility. Fill it with cast of D-Level celebrities and the guy who used to be in Crazytown. Have facility run by "addiction medicine" specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky. Pitch the idea for a television show. Make a million dollars. Feel somewhat dirty inside. Wake up late at night, covered in sweat. Sit up in bed. Sob uncontrollably. Develop substance-abuse problem to ease the pain. Enter rehab facility. Relapse ...
8. Take every opportunity to honor Bon Jovi's Lost Highway, even if it doesn't rip like the old stuff. Because no matter what some people might say, they've never made a bad album, and Jon's still got it and Richie's out of rehab. (Note: This logic only works if you are broadcasting the Grammys from Northern New Jersey.)
9. Realize that you are the Grammys. You are an institution. Making fun of you is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel or cracking jokes about the Catholic Church. It is easy, sort of mean and ultimately pointless. Because you are never going to change. And as such, you probably shouldn't take the advice of snarky, know-nothing music journalists who have never recorded a note of music, since you will be here long after they have disappeared from the face of the earth.
10. Just cancel the Grammys.
B-Sides: Other Stories I'm Following This Week.
Kanye's "Thank You And You're Welcome" book sounds like an updated version of "How to Win Friends & Influence People," except written by an egomaniac wearing slotted shades.
Hey, something crazy happened while Britney Spears was in court on Monday! (Kill me.)
50 Cent: Still talking sh--, about no one in particular.
Questions? Concerns? Grammy Suggestions? Send 'em to me at BTTS@mtvstaff.
Don't sleep until February 10 — geek out on the Grammys with MTV News' complete coverage right here!

Super Tuesday Youth Voter Turnout Triples, Quadruples In Some States

Voters under 30 were largely responsible for Barack Obama's victory in Missouri and Connecticut, as well as for Mike Huckabee's MO win.

The stakes are high for 2008's presidential election, and the outcome of November's vote could very well shape America's future for decades to come — something that hasn't been lost on the nation's youth, who proved the naysayers wrong on Super Tuesday, bucking the last decade's voting trends by enthusiastically flooding the polls to have their voices heard.
"The entire world watched as one of the most electrifying moments in U.S. election history unfolded on Tuesday," proclaimed Heather Smith, the executive director of Rock the Vote. "Young people are tired of being characterized as apathetic and uninterested in politics."
According to the results of CNN's exit polls and tabulations from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young voters turned out in record numbers in more than 20 states. In practically every state holding a primary or caucus Tuesday, youth turnout increased astronomically, doubling, tripling and even quadrupling the turnout in the 2000 and 2004 electoral seasons.
"Young Americans have been turning out to vote at remarkable rates in these primaries," CIRCLE Director Peter Levine said. "This reflects their deep concern about the critical issues at stake and the impact of this election on our country's future. Since 2000, young people have been volunteering at high rates and are becoming more interested in news and public affairs. Now, they are ready to consider voting as a way of addressing major problems."
CBS News reports that Illinois Senator Barack Obama owes much of his victories Tuesday to America's young voters. Nationwide, Obama netted 59 percent of voters under 30 years old, while New York Senator Hillary Clinton was supported by 38 percent. Young men supported Obama by a margin of 64 to 33 percent over Clinton, and young women supported Obama by 53 to 45 percent.
While state-by-state voting demographics are still being sorted out, young voters in Tennessee quadrupled their turnout from 35,000 in 2000's primary to nearly 140,000 in Tuesday's primary. In Nashville, one of MTV News' Street Team '08 citizen journalists, Dustin Ogdin, visited the campus of Tennessee State University, where he met Gloria, a student who said she was planning to vote in a few hours but still couldn't decide between Clinton — the eventual Democratic victor in that state — and Obama. "It is a big issue with black women, whether we want to [vote for] a woman or an African-American," Gloria said. "I would love to see a joint ticket."
Clinton took 44 percent of the under-30 vote in Tennessee, while Obama claimed 53 percent. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee captured 38 percent of the youth vote and won the state, while Arizona Senator John McCain claimed 25 percent. (See all of Ogdin's Super Tuesday videos and blogs here.)
In Georgia, where Obama and Huckabee took home wins, young voters tripled their turnout this year, with more than 280,000 individuals casting a ballot Tuesday, compared to approximately 92,000 ballots cast in 2000. Obama secured 75 percent of the youth vote, over Clinton's 23 percent, while Huckabee's 43 percent overpowered former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's 24 percent. (Check out the reports from Georgia Street Team member Shelby Highsmith.)
When it came to California, where Clinton and McCain prevailed, more than 850,000 voters under 30 cast ballots, far surpassing 2000 and 2004 levels. Polls showed that 51 percent of Democratic voters ages 18-29 voted for Clinton, compared to 47 percent for Obama. (Carl Brown, the California Street Team journalist, talked to voters of all kind in his state.)
Youth turnout was the difference between a win and a loss in several states on Tuesday. In Missouri, where youth voter turnout tripled, Obama won by just 10,000 votes; 75,000 young people threw their support behind his candidacy. In the same state, 45,000 young people pulled the lever for Huckabee, far surpassing his 23,000 vote margin of victory. (Street Team member Steven Smith found Missourians who were too young to vote but still had opinions on the election.)
In Massachusetts, youth turnout doubled from 2000, with 231,000-plus hitting the polls this year. Clinton and Romney claimed victory in the Bay State, pulling in 49 and 52 percent of the youth vote, respectively; 48 percent of young voters supported Obama, while 36 percent voted for McCain. (See what Street Team member Kyle de Beausset found out about Massachusetts voters.)
More than 187,000 voters under 30 participated in New Jersey's primary, and while 59 percent of them voted for Obama, Clinton still grabbed a win in the Garden State. McCain, the Republican winner, garnered 46 percent of the youth vote, with Romney pulling 19 percent. Just next door in New York, where Clinton and McCain were the night's big winners, the youth voter turnout went relatively unchanged compared to 2000's results. And though he didn't win, New York's youngest voters loved Obama, giving him 56 percent of their votes over Clinton's 43 percent. McCain also captured 43 percent of the youth vote, while Romney claimed 21 percent. (Check out what New Jersey Street Teamer Sia Nyorkor and New York's Sara Benincasa reported Tuesday.)
Young people proved to be particularly crucial to Obama's victory in Connecticut, where youth voter turnout nearly doubled from 2000's primary — and Street Teamer Megan Budnick had trouble finding students who weren't apathetic or ill-informed about the election. Obama won voters younger than 30 by 19 points, receiving the support of 58 percent of this age group, compared to 39 percent who supported Clinton. McCain, who beat out the rest of the Republican pack in the Constitution State, took 51 percent of the youth vote, compared to Texas Congressman Ron Paul's 18 percent.
Meanwhile, 66,300 youth voters hit the polls in Utah — Obama and Romney country — with 70 percent supporting Barack's run and 88 percent getting behind Mitt. Oklahoma saw its number of voters under 30 triple, but exit polls didn't show for whom they voted. (Last but not least, here are the reports from Utah Street Team member Charles Geraci and Oklahoma's Jill Penuel.)
Get informed! Head to Choose or Lose for nonstop coverage of the 2008 presidential election, including everything from the latest news on the candidates to on-the-ground multimedia reports from our 51 citizen journalists, MTV and MySpace's Presidential Dialogues, and much more.

Barack Obama Claims Delegate Lead ... And So Does Hillary Clinton

Varying numbers have both campaigns saying they're in the driver's seat. So who's right?

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is so tight, and the logic behind the apportioning of delegates so complicated, that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama claimed Wednesday (February 6) to be in the lead. And, to make it even more confusing, they might both be right.
Both campaigns held conference calls with reporters before the sun came up in California on Wednesday to give their take on where the numbers are more than halfway through the primary season, according to CBS News. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, said Clinton's strategy of trying to wrap up the nomination on Super Tuesday "failed miserably" and that his client proved it by winning more states (13 to Clinton's 8) and more delegates.
"Through the first 26 states, we have won more states, won more delegates, won more total votes than Senator Clinton," Plouffe said. "It's clear [Clinton's] strategy was predicated on trying to secure the Democratic nomination last night, and on that score they failed miserably." Obama's campaign released a spreadsheet breakdown of the Super Tuesday vote that had their candidate with an 845-836 victory in the national contest and an overall 908-884 lead for pledged delegates. (Obama's campaign is not counting the yet-unpledged, party-insider "superdelegates".)
Clinton strategist Mark Penn countered by pointing out that Obama's strategy of spending big money and getting big endorsements failed in California and Massachusetts, and in an e-mail to journalists Wednesday morning claimed, "Hillary continues to lead Senator Obama in the race for thousands of delegates and superdelegates nationwide."
CBS News crunched the numbers and declared Super Tuesday a draw, with both senators winning 715 delegates. Factor in the superdelegates and Clinton leads 974-906, but take those superdelegates out of the equation and Obama leads 778-763.
As if that's not confusing enough, NBC has yet another set of numbers, projecting Obama to top Clinton in Super Tuesday delegates 840 to 830, while The Associated Press called the fight 1,000 to 902 in favor of Clinton, with Obama beating Clinton on Tuesday 546 to 542. AP reported that several hundred delegates are still not yet allocated, so the numbers could change several more times in the coming days. Either way, neither candidate is anywhere near the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination, so the fight will continue to the next slate of contests this weekend.
Get informed! Head to Choose or Lose for nonstop coverage of the 2008 presidential election, including everything from the latest news on the candidates to on-the-ground multimedia reports from our 51 citizen journalists, MTV and MySpace's Presidential Dialogues, and much more.

Heath Ledger Died Of Accidental Overdose: Medical Examiner's Report; Family Issues Statement

Actor's death was caused by acute intoxication from the combined effects of several prescription drugs.

On Wednesday (February 6), the New York medical examiner's office released the official cause of actor Heath Ledger's death: acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.
The office concluded that the manner of death was accidental, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications. The drugs, according to the medical examiner, are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom.
A representative for New York's Drug Enforcement Administration said the agency is working to determine how Ledger was able to obtain so many prescription drugs. "We are working with the NYPD to identify any illegally prescribed drugs that may have been prescribed to [Ledger]," spokesperson Erin Mulvey told People on Wednesday.
Heath Ledger's father, Kim, released the below statement following the announcement of Heath's cause of death, according to People:
"We remain humble as parents and a family, among millions of people worldwide who may have suffered the tragic loss of a child. Few can understand the hollow, wrenching and enduring agony parents silently suffer when a child predeceases them. Today's results put an end to speculation, but our son's beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts.
"While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution [of] the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.
"Our family enjoyed an extremely happy two-week visit with Heath just prior to the New Year. Those recent precious days will stay with us forever. We as a family feel privileged to have some of his amazing magic moments captured in film. To most of the world, Heath was an actor of immeasurable talent and promise. To those who knew him personally, Heath was a consummate artist whose passions also included photography, music, chess and directing. We knew Heath as a loving father, as our devoted son, and as a loyal and generous brother and friend.
"We treasure our beautiful granddaughter Matilda (to our dear Michelle), as well as an unbelievably wonderful network of close friends, forever, around the world. Families rarely experience the uplifting, warm and massive outpouring of grief and support as have we, from every corner of the planet. This has deeply and profoundly touched our hearts and lives. We are eternally grateful.
"At this moment we respectfully request the worldwide media allow us time to grieve privately, without the intrusions associated with press and photography."
The 28-year-old actor's body was discovered inside a New York apartment on January 22. The initial autopsy report was inconclusive, and it took approximately two weeks for the medical examiner's office to conduct additional tests and to complete its investigation into the nature of Ledger's death. The results of toxicology screenings helped the office determine the specific cause of death.
Soon after Ledger's death, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters during a press conference the actor was found face down in a normal sleeping position, not at the end of a bed as had been rumored. Kelly also confirmed reports that crime-scene technicians had found a rolled-up $20 bill inside the apartment, which they collected for testing. The bill was rolled in a manner common among cocaine users, but police said no visible drug residue was found on it.
Police told reporters that there were no illegal drugs recovered from the apartment, but they said six different prescription drugs were found in the apartment, including ones to treat insomnia and anxiety, along with an antihistamine. The actor had struggled with addiction to prescription medications.
Ledger's housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, arrived at his apartment around 12:30 p.m., and police say that about a half-hour later, Solomon entered the bedroom, where she found the actor lying in bed, face down, with a sheet pulled up to his shoulders. Solomon claims she could hear Ledger snoring and left the room.
Masseuse Diana Wolozin arrived just before 3 p.m. and called her client's cell phone. When Ledger failed to answer the call, both women entered the bedroom and attempted to stir the actor from his sleep. Ledger did not respond, prompting Solomon to call Mary-Kate Olsen, a friend of Ledger's, using his phone. The housekeeper called, seeking guidance, police said. She eventually called 911 just before 3:30 p.m.
Memorial services for the actor have been held in New York and Los Angeles, and family and friends have arrived in Ledger's hometown of Perth, Australia, for his private funeral, which is expected to take place on Saturday.
For more on Heath Ledger's tragic passing, read reactions from his peers and other admirers, as well as casting directors he worked with. Also, watch Ledger talk about his evolution as an actor in a 2005 interview with MTV News.
[This story was originally published on 2.6.08 at 11:09 a.m. ET]

Britney Spears Released From Hospital Psychiatric Ward

Singer left hospital Wednesday.

Britney Spears was released from a psychiatric ward on Wednesday (February 6) after almost a week of treatment at Los Angeles' UCLA Medical Center. The troubled singer had been hospitalized there last week, and she was released Wednesday despite her hold having been extended to 14 days on Sunday, as People reported over the weekend. According to California law, the only way someone on an involuntary hold can be released is if they've been assessed by their psychiatrist as no longer a danger to themselves or others, and according to TMZ, doctors determined that Spears did not pose such a threat.
"[Spears' release] occurred without any law enforcement intervention, and for the public that's a good thing," Captain Sharyn Buck, commander of the North Hollywood police station, which covers the area of Spears' home, told CNN.
Unlike other recent situations involving Spears, she was not mobbed by paparazzi upon her exit from the hospital — she left without much notice, according to the Times. She was escorted by a private-security detail. Spears was photographed and videotaped driving around Los Angeles later Wednesday afternoon, and according to UsMagazine, she reunited with paparazzo friend Adnan Ghalib at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California, shortly after her release. Sources told the Times that she would be getting additional treatment.
While the singer was placed under a 14-day hold on Sunday, People reported that only her psychiatrist would have had the authority to request the involuntary stay, noting that she could have been released earlier if she legally demanded it or her doctor deemed her well enough for outpatient treatment. According to TMZ, a law-enforcement official said the hospital released her because she was no longer required to stay there after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The conservatorship — which Britney's parents wanted to establish while she was in the hospital so that she would return home in a controlled environment — is still in place.
Early Thursday morning, Spears was rushed to the hospital by ambulance for the second time in a month. According to reports in the Los Angeles Times, Spears was physically removed from her home by police and put into an ambulance at around 1 a.m. PT, then escorted to the UCLA Medical Center by a phalanx of more than a dozen motorcycle officers, two police cruisers and two police helicopters.
Spears was taken to the hospital to "get help," a Los Angeles police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press.
On January 3, Spears was placed on a 72-hour mental-health evaluation hold when police were called to her house after she would not give up custody of her two children to a representative for ex-husband Kevin Federline, who had come to pick them up. She was released two days later.
[This story was originally published at 4:58 p.m. ET on 2.6.2008]

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy lunar new year


Happy lunar new year, to everyone whom it corncern ;)

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Wan Shi Ru Yi! Xin Xiang Shi Cheng! Ying Chun Jie Fu!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Spears to stay in hospital 14 more days

In a file photo   courtesy of KCBS-TV  Britney Spears is carried on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance from her home in Los Angeles Ca. late Thursday night Jan. 3, 2008. Britney Spears was taken from her house by ambulance early Thursday,Jan. 31, 2008,Los Angeles  police said. (AP Photo/KCBS-TV/FILE)

LOS ANGELES - Britney Spears got her stay in a psychiatric ward extended Sunday, as doctors decided to keep her hospitalized an additional 14 days, someone close to the pop star told the Associated Press.

Spears was to be released from UCLA Medical Center's psychiatric hospital Sunday, but doctors and a medical officer at the ward determined that she should remain, said the person, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Spears was committed Thursday for a 72-hour hold for evaluation. Paramedics, flanked by a police escort of about a dozen officers on motorcycles, in cars and a helicopter, took Spears from her home to the psychiatric hospital before dawn.

To extend her stay, hospital staff members cited a section in the state law that allows patients to be retained for medical treatment if they are found to be gravely disabled or a danger to themselves or others, the person said.

A UCLA Medical Center spokesman did not immediately return a phone message Sunday seeking comment. Calls to attorneys Sorrell Trope, Spears' personal lawyer, and Andrew Wallet, also were not returned.

Court Commissioner Reva Goetz ruled the day after Spears was hospitalized — and following a year of increasingly bizarre public behavior — that she needed to have someone else take over her personal and financial affairs.

Goetz named Spears' father, James Spears, as her conservator. Goetz also named Spears father and Wallet as conservators of the pop star's estate. A court creates a conservatorship when it concludes a person no longer can care for themselves or their personal and financial affairs.

In placing Spears in one, Goetz also issued a restraining order, keeping Sam Lutfi, the pop star's friend and sometime manager, away from her.

Goetz also granted the conservator access to Spears' medical records, as well as the right to restrict her visitors and to provide her with around-the-clock security. She ordered a hearing Monday to review the matter.

Spears' current hospitalization is the second this year for the 26-year-old singer, who has been in spiral of bizarre behavior since November 2006, when she filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, the father of her sons, 1-year-old Jayden James and 2-year-old Sean Preston.

Since her breakup with Federline, Spears has been seen at public events in short skirts and without underwear, has shaved her head bald, run over a photographer's foot with her car, left the scene of a fender bender, flogged another car with an umbrella and abandoned a car in traffic when it had a flat tire.

Recently, she was seen sitting on a sidewalk, holding her pet dog and crying.

Spears was hospitalized on Jan. 3 after police were called to her home when she refused to return her children to Federline following a visit. That episode resulted in her losing custody of her sons.

The new deal

The new deal
The glut of reality TV isn't being driven solely by the writers strike, but by a desire by networks to overhaul the cost structure of programming.
REMEMBER when they used to gobble horse innards and other delicacies on "Fear Factor"?

Ah, 'twas prime time's golden age.

Blame it on the writers strike, but network TV is rushing to embrace cheap and sponsor-friendly unscripted programming that makes gross-out contests look like "St. Elsewhere." And leading the way is NBC, the network that for two decades staked its reputation on upscale, high-quality shows such as "ER" and "Law & Order."