Friday, February 22, 2008

Lawrence King -- Student Who Was Murdered For Being Gay -- To Be Honored With National Day Of Silence

Candlelight vigils also being organized to raise awareness about California hate crime.

Two days before a shotgun-wielding Steven Kazmierczak shot 21 students inside a lecture hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University, taking the lives of five people as well as his own, 15-year-old Lawrence "Larry" King was shot in the head at the E.O. Green School in Oxnard, California, reportedly for being gay. He was in the eighth grade.

Three days after the shooting, on February 15, King was taken off life support and pronounced dead.

King's killer, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, apparently targeted the student because he was openly gay and sometimes dressed in women's clothes. King also wore makeup and jewelry to class on occasion. It's possible that McInerney, who has been charged with murder and the commission of a hate crime, will be tried as an adult, which means he could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

King's death came 10 years after the brutal murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was also killed because of his sexual orientation. But for some reason, King's murder generated just a fraction of the media coverage that follows most school-shooting incidents. In fact, most of the initial reports about the killing were turned out by local news agencies, and the national media didn't catch up until several days later.

A series of candlelight vigils have been held throughout the U.S. in the wake of the student's death (an estimated 1,000 people marched in Oxnard the weekend following the murder), in an effort to raise awareness of what many feel was a largely underreported case. MTV News attended one such vigil on Friday night, just outside of Los Angeles, where dozens gathered — not with candles but glowsticks — to remember King.

Now the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a leading gay-rights student organization, has decided to make King's murder one of the central themes of this year's annual Day of Silence on April 25.

"This year, we're going to incorporate, within the Day of Silence, a way for students to remember Lawrence King and sort of use it as a day to honor him and to bring attention to what happened," said GLSEN spokesperson Daryl Presgraves. "The overall themes will include King and the immediate need to address anti-LGBT harassment. If ever there were a sign that schools need to realize how far such harassment can go, and why it's important to address it now, it's Lawrence King."

Since King's murder, there have been 30 candlelight vigils throughout the country, with one planned for Washington, D.C., early next week (a complete list of these events can be found at Presgraves wasn't sure exactly how the national Day of Silence would commemorate King's passing, but said the theme of the day will be remembering the slain student.

"It's a prevalent and pervasive problem in all of our schools," he said of anti-LGBT violence and bullying, adding that he's not quite sure why King's death was all but ignored by the national media. "For whatever reason, there's still a lack of willingness to address the anti-LGBT bullying that goes on in schools. We don't know why, but there's still sort of this sense of having our heads buried in the sand. What happened to Lawrence King is a much more isolated incident, but what happened leading up to his death happens to youth every day, all the time. He was just expressing himself, and we're seeing more of this — youth are being open at an earlier age, and they are proud of their identities, but that doesn't mean someone won't bully them for it. In this case, King was bullied to such an extreme ... you can't get worse than that."

In addition to organizing the national Day of Silence, GLSEN pushes for anti-LGBT-bullying legislation, and works with schools to tackle the problem. Currently, there are only 10 states that protect students from bullying based on sexual orientation: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Five of those states protect students based on gender expression and identity (California, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and New Jersey).

"We encourage all states that it's something they can start addressing," Presgraves said. "In almost every state, there is something that can be done right away."

Go to think.mtv to find out how to get involved and four things you can do to help stop anti-LGBT bullying.

Microsoft Exec Says Xbox Is Bigger Than YouTube, Reveals 'Gears Of War 2' At GDC 2008

Company claims Xbox 360 generates 30 percent more user-captured content than YouTube any given day.

SAN FRANCISCO — Games became bigger than music last year, Microsoft exec John Schappert proclaimed as part of his keynote address Wednesday to kick off the Game Developers Conference 2008, adding that every monetary measure attests to that fact.

And with that bold statement out of the way, Schappert (the corporate vice president of Xbox Live) and a variety of developers argued that the Xbox 360 could make a good run at YouTube, not just with the likes of "Gears of War 2" — which was not quite properly announced during the keynote — but with a suite of new Xbox 360 functions that are designed to enable the (almost) average person to upload games to the 360 for friends to rate and play.

The YouTube target was made clear throughout the presentation. Shappert claimed that in any given day there are 30 percent more pieces of user-captured content uploaded from "Halo 3" to that game's official site than there are new videos on YouTube. And the flow works the other way too: In an Xbox 360 developer's reel, MTV's Harmonix revealed that consumers had already purchased more than 3 million downloadable songs for "Rock Band."

Microsoft's more interesting — and most YouTube-esque — reveal of the keynote came at the start. Chris Satchell, the company's head of XNA game-development tools, said Microsoft was ready to embrace indie games. XNA is a free toolset for garage developers that has been available for more than a year but hasn't supported an easy way to get playable games to the public. Enter Community Games, a new feature for their Xbox Live online service that makes games produced with the indie-focused toolset available for download to the more than 10 million Xbox 360 owners.

Naturally, one would wonder how Microsoft intends to open the floodgates without the 15-year-old boys of the world immediately taking advantage of the newfound openness. Satchell claimed the company would not even be involved in that process, instead relying on democracy and self-management. When a game is uploaded, an unspecified number of users need to "approve" the content before it's released. If the content is deemed inappropriate, Microsoft has the option of preventing its release. If it passes muster, anyone with an Internet-connected 360 can get the games.

Community Games hasn't yet been activated — expect that in a dashboard update soon — but Microsoft has uploaded a number of XNA-developed indie titles to Xbox Live that can be downloaded right now, including Ska Studios' "The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai," a violent side-scroller designed and coded entirely by one guy. Other Community Games shown include the Jello-meets-driving game "JellyCar" and a game that involves an inebriated cartoon hero shooting zombies with shotguns.

The Microsoft executives also announced that XNA-made games can now be ported to the company's answer to the iPod, the Zune. With the MP3 player, Microsoft is also invested in the music business: Can games and music work together? Definitely, said Microsoft. The company is taking aim at Apple's expanding iPod-games business by introducing games for Zune, but these aren't just ports of "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater." Rather, Microsoft wants to cultivate wholly original creations, designed using XNA, from one or two minds in a garage (or dorm room).

Despite the company's big announcements, some of the thunder had been stolen from the keynote. By the time Shappert, whose first foray into games was working on the Electronic Arts classic "Desert Strike," took the stage Wednesday morning, his biggest secret had already been spoiled, thanks to a leak in Europe: "Gears of War 2" is coming from Epic Games, and it's coming this year exclusively for Xbox 360.

Unfortunately, that's everything that was said about "Gears of War 2" at the keynote. The all-too-brief teaser trailer was extremely stylized but featured no gameplay. That was apparently deliberate, as lead designer Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski quickly blazed onto the stage, a prop version of the "Gears of War" trademark chainsaw gun in hand, and assured the audience it wouldn't be long before they'd see more of Marcus Fenix: The game will be released in November.

A few minutes before the trailer, Epic Games revealed a variety of new technologies — basically, ways to make games look better — for their Unreal Engine 3 middleware (software applications that work on different operating systems), shown within the "Gears of War" universe. The segments included a scene of 100 enemies rushing down a street, realistic-looking water and a big block of meat that wobbled and came apart as Fenix shot at it. Looking back, maybe Epic tricked everyone in attendance and gave them more sneak peeks of "Gears of War 2" than they realized.

That wasn't the only game in the spotlight; Tecmo's Tomonobu Itagaki and Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux appeared onstage separately to show the latest versions of "Ninja Gaiden II" (coming in early June) and "Fable 2" (coming sometime in the fall), respectively.

MTV News spoke with both Itagaki and Molyneux in San Francisco; check in at Multiplayer.MTV for continuing coverage of GDC 2008.

'American Idol' Recap: Alaina, Asia'h, Amanda, Ramiele Show The Boys How It's Done

Some of the top 12 girls suffered from flu and nerves, but some early faves emerged from the pack.

"This evening it's all about girl power."

No, Posh Spice wasn't a guest judge. Ryan Seacrest was merely suggesting that the top 12 girls were about to show the boys how properly to entertain home viewers. (Luke Menard thought to himself, "Wait. Trembling like a wet cat and singing like a eunuch isn't good TV?")

Seacrest immediately went on to say that even "Idol" contestants get the flu, so the chances of squawky notes and vomiting shot up to 85 percent. (Normally, Paula's presence puts the number at around 33.) So, basically Seacrest said the women would knock our socks off, except the ones that wouldn't be able to sing. "Idol" was schizo Wednesday night.

Once Randy finished raving about the boys' performances (I guess you had to be there), the ladies were ready to take the stage, with tissues tucked in their sleeves just in case.

One more note before we dive in: In honor of "Idol" finally recognizing Carly Smithson's professional past, all my "verdicts" below will be song titles from her 2001 album, Ultimate High. (Twelve tracks for 12 singers. Some recaps just write themselves, folks.)

Kristy Lee Cook

: Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me"
Verdict: "Beautiful You"

In her pre-performance package, Kristy Lee Cook talked emotionally about how she had to sell her favorite horse to get to the "Idol" audition. Did she not get the memo about Asia'h's monopoly on upsetting audition stories? Nobody's going to be moved by this sad tale, except maybe Bobcat Goldthwait.

Kristy performed the extended cut of "Rescue Me." (Am I the only one who noticed that she sang the refrain about 19 times?) David Cook defiantly sat in the audience with his arms folded, looking bored out of his mind. (He must be pissed about having to share his last name.) Kristy's vocals were OK for the first verse, but pretty soon the Horse Whisperer became the Hoarse Whisperer, and things were in shambles by the end. Poor Kristy claimed to have the flu and a bad case of bronchitis, but judging from her awkward stage dancing, she has Underwooditis, as well. Her feet remained planted on the ground while she bent her knees and shook her hips back and forth. Simon noticed too, calling her performance "robotic" before knocking her song choice.

When Seacrest read her voting numbers, I prayed that he'd ad-lib, "And if you're a horse, you can vote for Kristy by tapping your hoof on the ground one time."

Joanne Borgella

: Dionne Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer"
Verdict: "You'll Never Meet God (If You Break My Heart)"

Plus-size model Joanne comes with a Mo'Nique endorsement of sorts, so I was excited to see her strut her stuff on the "Idol" stage. Unfortunately, the first half of her song was weak because of a problematic lower register, and the second half was unpleasant because of shaky high notes. I'm disappointed that Joanne let nerves get the best of her. If it weren't for Danny Noriega bopping along in the audience like the fierce little diva he is, I would have had nothing positive to say about her tentative performance.

Alaina Whitaker

: The Spiral Starecase's "More Today Than Yesterday"
Verdict: "Young Love"

The night's first Coca-Cola Real moment showed off two amazing things. First, we saw a coffee table made from Ford tires. (The ad-within-an-ad-within-a-TV-show is almost courageous in its shillness.) But even more exciting, we saw the emergence of a new favorite: Alaina Whitaker.

Before Wednesday night, I always just thought of Alaina as a Carrie Underwood clone. But after her deadpan "Vote for me, it's my birthday, I want shoes" interview and her playful performance, I'm convinced that Alaina is a Carrie Underwood clone, but better. Alaina actually has a personality!

The judges all seemed to be just as surprised by the youngster's stellar debut. Randy gave her a "What?!" while Simon slyly raved, "I think you're very good! If you could make a song as awful as that sound OK, then when you've got a decent song you're gonna be great!" I guess Il Divo won't be covering Spiral Starecase anytime soon.

Amanda Overmyer

: Van Morrison and Them's "Baby, Please Don't Go"
Verdict: "All Kinds of People"

I wonder if "Idol" used Amanda's nursing experience during the flu epidemic. In between applying copious amounts of eyeliner and taking divas' temperatures, she somehow had time to rehearse a killer showstopper. Like Bo Bice before her, when Amanda sang, it felt like she was channeling a ghost of rock past. Somehow, her lack of eye contact actually drew me into her performance, so much so that when she finally did look into the camera I totally turned into a Beatles fan at the Ed Sullivan Theater. "Ahhhh! Amanda just totally looked at me! Go steady with me, Ringo!"

The judges praised her authenticity (and Randy coveted her trousers), and I finally saw the appeal of the Rocker Nurse. Her hilarious post-performance interview helped too. Aside from an awesome mea culpa to the truck driver who totaled her car, she told Seacrest that the one time she was nervous was when she had to dance in front of the camera for the lame top 24 dancing montage.

So let me get this straight. Doing the Watusi on TV? Embarrassing. Wearing an Elvira wig in public? Perfectly acceptable. To each her own.

Amy Davis

: Connie Francis' "Where the Boys Are"
Verdict: "Get You Off"

Amy "Ann B." Davis compared her "Idol" experience to "100 Christmases as a 6-year-old girl all packed into one" before calling her self "one lucky dog." Once she started singing, though, I realized that Santa left us coal in our stockings and the dog has only one leg.

Since there are no words to explain how bad she was, I'll instead focus on how nasty the song "Where the Boys Are" is. The basic gist is that the singer is "in a crowd of a million" men, trying to find Mr. Right, who essentially is the guy who smiles at her and hugs her. Connie Francis was easy!

Brooke White

: The Turtles' "Happy Together"
Verdict: "I Need a Little Love"

I predicted that the teary Brooke White would give us some "wildly nervous" performances, and she has proven me half-right. Yes, Brooke acted like a drug smuggler at the U.S. Customs counter, yet she used that twitchy energy to help, not hinder, her performance. I liked her "Happy Together" much better than the one grumpy audience member David Cook delivered on Tuesday night. If he, like Brooke, had touched his hair seductively, it would have been harder to pick a winner.

Randy said it took Brooke awhile to get "her slaying on," but Paula and Simon applauded her perfect song choice, even though the latter compared her upbeat presence to that of a dish soap commercial. She certainly was bubbly.

Alexandrea Lushington

: Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel"
Verdict: "What I've Found" (Meh, I know this one doesn't make sense.)

Why did Alexandrea Lushington dress like she was going to a '60s-themed bar mitzvah? Is she going to keep this up for the rest of the season? (If so, I seriously hope "Idol" considers a Gwar night.)

Young Alexandrea started "Spinning Wheel" by enthusiastically squatting on the staircase. Her energy was through the roof, even if her voice sounded better near the ground. The Lush has the opposite problem as Chikezie and Joanne: Her lower register is solid as a rock. It's when she tries to hit high notes that her vocals become thin. The lyric "What goes up must come down" is actually really appropriate advice. Speaking of lyrics, do you think the "Ride a painted pony" line made Kristy sad?

Although Simon "didn't get it," I say we should mark Alexandrea (say it so it flows, Seacrest) as another victory for Team High Schoolers.

Kady Malloy

: The Mindbenders' "A Groovy Kind of Love"
Verdict: "No One's Safe From Goodbye"

Kady benefited from an awesome pre-performance package. Producers cut from an interview where she talked about being obsessed with music to her brilliant Britney Spears impression. But as soon as Kady took the stage, all her personality flew out the window. Her far-from-groovy number was painful to watch, from the dead, sleepy eyes to the stiff, tense vocals. It didn't help that the song's arrangement was more Phil Collins ear-torture than the original rollicking version. When I wasn't screaming, "Open your mouth!" to my television, I noticed that she resembles my favorite cat on cyberspace, Winston.

Kady won the prize for "Most Awesome Judging," however, thanks to Simon comparing her to a pencil, prompting Kady's boyfriend in the audience to look as though he was ready to take the Brit out back for a beat-down. (Speaking of pencils, was Simon comparing Kady to Skinny Minnie Brooke White or a classic number 2? Discuss.)

Asia'h Epperson

: Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart"
Verdict: "Rip in Heaven"

Asia'h took the silent H in her name really seriously and turned the Joplin hit into "Take Another Little Piece of My Art." Pronunciation aside, she owned the "Idol" stage with a neat R&B twist to a rock classic. Plus, she won points in my book by doing an adorable victory dance after Simon proclaimed her his favorite of the night. Hell, yeah! (Or shall I say, " 'Ell, yeah"?)

Ramiele Malubay

: Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"
Verdict: "Let Me Blow Your Mind"

In Ramiele's taped piece, we learned that she's a waitress (and expert soy-sauce pourer) at a sushi restaurant. But producers left out the part about her sharing a hairstylist with Christian from "Project Runway." There's always next week.

In the meantime, let's discuss the brilliance that was her performance Wednesday night. She dusted off a Dusty Springfield ballad and built it up beautifully until it exploded into a powerhouse showstopper worthy of a thousand standing ovations. Even seat-warmer David Cook was up on his feet! (Noticeably not clapping: David Hernandez. Drama!)

Appropriately, the judges showered Ramiele with praise. Simon's critique indicated that this wasn't the first time she made them flip their ish. "Again tonight, you out-sung every single person."

Finally, young Filipina girls have an "Idol" who isn't the tone-deaf Jasmine Trias. Rejoice!

Syesha Mercado

: The Nashville Teens' "Tobacco Road"
Verdict: "Just Missed the Train"

Syesha was a big ball of energy. Before a commercial break she did a side jump-kick. During an interview with Seacrest, she kneeled on the couch and looked compulsively at the wrong camera. And when she sang, she shouted! Syesha definitely has the loudest pipes of the top 24. I'm still not sold on the "big voice" description — her voice isn't full enough to be considered "big" — but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that her amp goes all the way up to 11.

As far as her "Tobacco Road" goes, I never thought in a million years that I'd type this, but I liked Phil Stacey's version better.

The judges disagreed with me and praised her all around, prompting Ryan to ask cryptically, "Simon, does she have the package? I mean, the total package? Total package! She doesn't have a package. That would make her a man. Nice shoes!" (I'm paraphrasing — and by "paraphrasing" I mean making most of that up.)

Carly Smithson

: Tony Bennett's "The Shadow of Your Smile"
Verdict: "Surface Wound"

"Idol" finally acknowledged Carly Smithson's prior major-label deal in her intro, although they left out the part about her album selling less than 400 copies. She says "imploded," others say "absorbed by Geffen Records." Tomato, tomahto.

The singer said something else that felt defensive for no reason: "I'm just here to sing. I'm not here to be the diva or the prima donna or anything like that. I'm just here to be Carly." Had anyone accused her of being a diva or a prima donna? That's sort of like when you were a kid and tried to hide a broken lamp in a closet but then said to your parents, "Whatever you do, don't look in the closet!" What a diva!

Carly was another sicky on Wednesday. (Although it was never addressed, I imagine her bronchitis was what kept her from cheering the boys on yesterday.) Her old-fashioned performance left me a little cold, but my blood began to boil once the judging started. "The best vocal of the past two days!" Randy exclaimed. Paula compared her to a reliable lucky coin in a pocket. I worried aloud, "Are they really going to continue to pimp her?"

But Simon put the kibosh on the lovefest by implying that Carly might be overhyped. Bold words coming from a guy who initially started the hype back when she first auditioned a few seasons ago. Regardless, I was glad to see at least one judge call Carly out for a cabaret performance.

I haven't written off Carly completely. It's obvious the girl can sing (I'd call her voice "big," Syesha), but the lass needs to figure out who she is as a performer before I'm ready to hop on the Randy/Paula Carly Smithson Express.

Hasty Predictions

Despite a rough opening, the ladies did slightly better than the boys, overall. It's much easier to point to which two girls should pack their belongings. Kady Malloy and Amy Davis were far and away the weakest links. Kady had no charisma live in the studio, and Amy showed no signs that she could carry a tune. If Amy survives tomorrow's elimination, either the deaf have started to dial in a major way, or Vote for the Worst has struck again.

I want to hear what you think! Whom did you vote for? Should viewers give the sick singers a second chance? And between Ramiele and Danny Noriega, could this season get any fiercer? Leave your comments below.

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions. And relive six seasons of "Idol" hot messes and high notes in six minutes with our video timeline.

Brain Drill Raise The Death-Metal Bar; Plus Iron Maiden, Walls Of Jericho & More News That Rules, In Metal File

Band wants 'to crush people with our music,' guitarist Dylan Ruskin says.

You've got to admire a band like California death-metal deviants Brain Drill: Not only has Cannibal Corpse's Alex Webster given them his stamp of approval (he called Brain Drill "one of the most musically over-the-top bands I have ever heard" and praised them for "truly raising the bar for technicality, velocity and overall extremity in death metal"), but they have a name that's nothing if not utterly fitting — it accurately describes their punishing sound, to a friggin' T.

What's more, the band's appropriately titled, critically lauded, blastbeat-heavy debut LP, Apocalyptic Feasting, is basically a technical death-metal lover's wet nightmare.

Drawing influence from Cannibal as well as Spawn of Possession, Origin, Disgorge, Decrepit Birth and Necrophagia, guitarist Dylan Ruskin told Metal File that Brain Drill's origins date back to 2005, and a group of twentysomethings bent on pushing the genre's limits to the absolute brink.

"We were definitely inspired by all of those bands, and I always wanted to play technical death metal — but I wanted to take those influences and make sort of a musical collage, with elements from them all," said Ruskin, about Apocalyptic Feasting, which is in stores now. "We did not want this record to fit with any of the current trends. There's deathcore, and there's a metalcore scene out there, and it's a complete trend. I don't want anything to do with that. We just wanted to write the most crushing and technical death metal we could come up with, and make little metalcore kids sh-- their pants."

A lofty goal, to be sure — one Ruskin hopes the band will have no problem achieving, both with their record and with their wildly unpredictable live sets.

"With this record, we wanted to show everybody that there's an underground genre of death metal that needs to be heard more," he continued. "It requires 20 million times more talent [than most subgenres of metal]. It's harder playing arpeggios and gnarly riffs than it is to just play two open notes on the E string. Our biggest intention with this record was to crush people with our music and expand their minds beyond the limits of metalcore."

While Brain Drill have only been around for a few years, chances are you've heard their music before — only, you may not have known it. Ruskin said that soon after Brain Drill were born, they recorded a six-song demo, which they'd hoped to release on their own. They even met a dude who promised them he'd press 1,000 copies of the effort.

"But he kept 900 for himself, and only gave us 100 copies," the guitarist explained. "He ended up selling all 900 copies on the Internet, and everybody leaked the songs online. This dude was calling it an EP, but it was never even an official release. So, that was circulating for a while before the actual full-length came out."

While Brain Drill are still a relatively new band on the scene, Apocalyptic Feasting has been generating some serious acclaim among metal critics. There are, of course, many naysayers out there too, but Ruskin said he tries not to let the criticism get to him.

"All you have to do is go to Google us, and you'll see we've been getting a lot of cool reviews," he said. "Then you go to some of these metal forums, and people are nonstop hating on the album. For the most part, we've gotten a lot of good feedback on the record, but on occasion, you'll see there's a bunch of nerds sitting around, bitching about bands they claim to despise but can't stop discussing, like us. I guess any feedback at all's good, because it means people are paying attention."

Ruskin is the first to admit that what his band does isn't for the weak-willed, but thinks fans of grindcore will quickly latch on to them.

"It's not officially grindcore, but it's like death metal at grindcore speeds," he said. "That requires a certain kind of audience ... but I do think it's possible for people to get into it."

In March, fans will be able to catch Brain Drill in the flesh, as the band hits the road with the Black Dahlia Murder and Animosity for an East Coast run that gets under way March 6 in Millvale, Pennsylvania, and runs through March 16 in Buffalo, New York. The guys' summer remains wide open, unless they're asked to hop on this year's Ozzfest — an invite they'd accept in a heartbeat ("I'd kill to be on that bill," Ruskin said, " ... not literally"). In early fall, the band will be back on the road, but with whom is the question. According to Brain Drill's label, those details are still being worked out.

Live, Brain Drill are at their bludgeoning best. Ruskin said sometimes the material they've recorded is difficult to recreate onstage — but not in the way you'd think. "We end up playing the songs twice as fast," he said. "Sometimes, we get so anxious to play heavier and faster live that we accidentally end up playing it all much faster than it is on the album."

And while Apocalyptic Feasting has been in stores just a few weeks now, Ruskin said Brain Drill are already thinking about their sophomore release. "We've been writing for it already," he said. "We have three songs done, and we want to get six or seven more together, so we can put out our next record by next year. We will keep putting records out, because we want to show as many people as we can that death metal still exists, and bands like us can still get signed — that there's a scene out there that has nothing to do with trends, that it's still going to be around for a while."

The rest of the week's metal news:

Walls of Jericho have been forced to pull out of the upcoming Bound by the Road Tour with DevilDriver, which was launched February 27 in Modesto, California, and also features Napalm Death, 36 Crazyfists and Invitro. DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara told Metal File that Walls of Jericho are unable to make the journey because they lost support from their label, Trustkill Records; DevilDriver are currently looking for a replacement. According to Trustkill, though, "Walls of Jericho have decided to push up their recording session dates for their new album and are taking the time now to finish the writing process." ... Horse the Band drummer Chris Prophet has quit to "pursue other interests," the group confirmed in a statement. The Number Twelve Looks Like You drummer Jon Karel will fill in on Horse's upcoming Earth Tour, which launches March 5 in Sydney, Australia. "Mr. Karel is probably, like, one of the top 10 drummers who has ever lived," the band said in a statement. "It is thus fitting that he should now choose to play with Horse the Band. We are very grateful to him for agreeing to go on the hellish nightmare experience of seeing the world for free with us. We wish Mr. Prophet future endeavors, in general." ...

In addition to their shows in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Toronto next month, Iron Maiden have announced that their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour 2008 will return to the U.S. in May for eight additional dates, starting May 21 in San Antonio and wrapping up June 2 in Seattle. "We are all greatly looking forward to getting back to see our fans in places like Texas, the Southwest and Seattle, where we haven't played for quite some time," singer Bruce Dickinson said in a statement. "And for this leg, we will be able to bring along all Eddie's toys, which we couldn't get on our plane during the first leg." ... Cryptopsy drummer Flo Mounier has broken a kneecap, forcing the Montreal extreme metal band to cancel their tour of South America next month. The dates will be rescheduled for later in the year. Mounier's injury will not delay the release of the band's sixth full-length album, The Unspoken King, since he had finished all his drum tracks before sustaining the injury. The album is tentatively scheduled for release this summer. ...

As I Lay Dying will launch a new tour April 22 in Santa Cruz, California. Dates run through May 23 in Sayreville, New Jersey. August Burns Red, Misery Signals and Evergreen Terrace will open. "It seems like we've played with every heavy band under the sun except Misery Signals, who are a pretty sick band," guitarist Nick Hipa said in a statement. "So, we figured it was about time. As for August Burns Red and Evergreen Terrace, we're all pretty much joined at the hip." ... Tampa, Florida, thrash/death-metal band the Absence have hired drummer Justin Reynolds to replace Jeramie Kling, who left the group late last year. "The kid is wicked good and keeps time very well without a click track," the band on said on its MySpace page. "That is a quality you don't find often in a drummer. So now that the drummer search is over, get ready for the Absence to start touring again and bringing head banging metal to your town." ...

Modern Life Is War have apparently decided modern life is too tough for their band. The Iowa hardcore group, which formed in 2002, has announced that its last-ever show will be on April 26. "There is no disaster or dramatic situation behind the breakup," the group said in a statement. "All past and current members of the band are still good friends and there is no bad blood. We just feel like it's the right time and would rather end things on our own terms than let our band become a ghost of what it was in the beginning, or to be ripped apart by outside forces." ... A thrash-metal documentary, "Aural Amphetamine: Metallica and the Dawn of Thrash," will come out on DVD April 15. The movie features interviews with members of Metallica, Megadeth, Machine Head, Diamond Head, Neurosis, Laaz Rockit, Sacrilege BC and many others. There is also plenty of performance footage, backstage clips and interviews with metal scribes Malcolm Dome, Lonn Friend and Joel McIver. ...

John Joseph, ex-frontman for metallic hardcore band Cro-Mags, has written the powerful autobiography "The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon," which is available exclusively on, a publishing company he formed with ex-Murphy's Law drummer Todd Irwin. The book covers Joseph's upbringing from the '60s through the '80s, during which time he survived an abusive foster home, juvenile detention centers, homelessness and a stint in the armed forces, from which he went AWOL. The story culminates on the Lower East Side of New York during the dawn of the American hardcore scene. Joseph is currently in the new band Bloodclot, which also features members of Biohazard and Pro-Pain. The group self-released its debut album, Burn Babylon Burn, last week.

Britney Spears' Onetime Manager Served With Restraining Order; Plus Amy Winehouse, 50 Cent, Lindsay Lohan & More, In For The Record

Winehouse sends shout-out to husband at Brit Awards; 50 Cent ordered to pay undisclosed sum in assault suit; traffic from nude Lohan pictures crashes magazine's site.

Britney Spears' friend and onetime manager Sam Lutfi was finally served with a restraining order Thursday (February 21), on the eve of his hearing regarding the issue. Lutfi had allegedly intentionally avoided being served with the court papers, as lawyers for the singer's conservatorship claimed in court, to invalidate the restraining order, which requires notification. However, since news of the order was widely reported in the three weeks since it was first granted, Lutfi will have a hard time making an argument that he was unaware of it, if he appears at his hearing Friday (his spokesperson told MTV News he didn't know whether Lutfi would show or not). The order was requested by the singer's parents, Jamie and Lynne Spears, on behalf of their daughter. ...

The New York Post reports that a judge ruled this week that 50 Cent has to pay the paper's deputy photo-assignment editor, Jim Alcorn, an undisclosed amount following a 2003 lawsuit Alcorn filed against the rapper for assault. Alcorn, who was a Post photographer at the time, was allegedly knocked down by 50's security detail outside a jewelry shop, after trying to snap a few photos of the rapper. The photographer was treated for neck and jaw injuries at a nearby hospital, according to the suit. ...

Lindsay Lohan's nude homage to Marilyn Monroe crashed New York magazine's Web site, with more than 20 million page views since the shots went up Monday, according to DART and Omniture, a magazine spokesperson said. That's a 2,000 percent increase in web traffic, which benefited non-Lindsay pages as well, with almost four times the site's usual page views (jumping from 1.2 million per day to just under 4 million). Before the Lindsay extravaganza, the largest spike NYMag has is during New York fashion weeks, which average 3 million total page views a day. So what does this mean for the magazine? New York says they haven't increased the print run, but they've reallocated an extra 5,000 copies to be used for back-order sales, since more than 1,000 have already been requested. The magazine also grabbed 500 extra subscriptions out of the hubbub, but New York won't know total impact until the issue hits newsstands. ... Meanwhile, Lohan is hoping for a similar success story for her third album, which she'd like to release later this year (no word from Universal Motown on a release date just yet). She's been working with R&B songwriter Jeremy Greene, who played Life & Style a few tracks, include songs called "I Miss You" and "Faith," which were recorded in Los Angeles on February 9. "She's been working hard on her new songs," Greene told the magazine. "Lindsay's going for a pop sound with a house-music feel to it." "I Miss You," Greene said, was written specifically for Lindsay "and what she's going through right now," including her relationship with her father. "Faith" is also about complicated relationships. "With everyone around her, she's definitely dealt with these kinds of relationships," he said. ...

Ashlee Simpson fans in New York and beyond will have two chances to catch up with the singer next week. Simpson will be giving out copies of her new single, "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)," at Wal-Mart in Farmingdale, New York, on Monday at 7 p.m. ET. If you can't make it there, you can catch Simpson on a live chat in MTV's Virtual Worlds on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. ... When "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner isn't busy with big-screen projects, he takes a trip to the small screen — at least when Mariah Carey comes calling. The filmmaker called in to Ryan Seacrest's Los Angeles radio show to talk about his upcoming video for Carey's latest single, "Touch My Body." Instead of going the serious route (as he did on Mimi's "We Belong Together" clip, starring Wentworth Miller from "Prison Break"), Ratner opted for a funny video. "Mariah is hysterical, and this record is kind of funny," Ratner said. "There's no way we could do a video with a cute guy and [Mariah], so ... we got one of the funniest guys in the world: Jack McBrayer from '30 Rock.' " The video shows McBrayer imagining what it would be like to be with Mariah, who, according to Ratner, "looks better than she's ever looked." ...

Justin Timberlake is a singer and actor, and now the "SexyBack" star can add cologne pitchman to his résumé. JT will partner with Parfums Givenchy to head a new men's fragrance that will hit shelves sometime in 2008. ... Jay-Z's Rocawear clothing company has tapped Nicole Paultre-Bell (who married Sean Bell in a posthumous ceremony), along with the couple's two daughters, as a pitchwoman for the hip-hop clothing line. The ad features the widow — whose husband was fatally shot by NYPD in a controversial incident that has drawn protest from rappers Nas and Papoose — and her children with the tagline: "We are going to be here to the end, 'til justice is served." ...

Gwen Stefani is auctioning off memorabilia from her recent Sweet Escape tour to benefit two Orange County charities: Orangewood Children's Foundation and the Children's Hospital of Orange County. Head to eBay to check out what's on the block, including the ska look Gwen wore while performing "Now That You Got It" and the Swarovski crystal-covered romper she sported for "The Sweet Escape" and "Rich Girl." ... Trent Reznor is smiling this week. The Nine Inch Nails frontman is overjoyed that his former label, TVT Records, is folding, and wrote a blog post about it on NIN's Web site, titled "You're gonna get yours." The post simply reads, "Not ALL news in the music industry is bad these days," with a link to a story about the collapse of the record label. Earlier this week, TVT officially announced that it will be filing for bankruptcy after 23 years in the business. ...

The AP is reporting that News Corp., the company that owns MySpace, has met with the four major record labels to discuss launching an online music service through the popular social-networking site. According to the report, News Corp. is developing a one-stop music service that offers content in a variety of ways, including MP3 downloads, a subscription plan and free digital streams. The labels would receive an equity stake in the new company. ... According to the Los Angeles Times, at least four paparazzi were booked on charges arising from blocking sidewalks in West Hollywood, California, Tuesday night and early Wednesday, as part of continued law-enforcement efforts to crack down on aggressive paparazzi. Police arrested David Tonnessen, 31, and Christian Shostele, 37, outside B2V Salon just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The photographers were waiting for Britney Spears to finish inside the salon. Several hours later, Christopher Gonzalez, 21, and Vagn Rauch, 23, were collared outside the nightclub Villa for blocking the sidewalk while awaiting the arrival of Lindsay Lohan. ...

According to a posting on his MySpace page, Korn guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer — who left the band's European tour last month for "personal and family reasons" — will be back with his bandmates for their February 23 concert in Milan, Italy. ... Comedian Pauly Shore has fired back at neighbor Wes Craven, according to The Associated Press. Shore was sued by the horror-film director back in June, when Craven alleged that Shore upgraded his home with a pool, spa, landscaping and other improvements that caused water to seep down a slope and damage his property. Shore's newly filed countersuit claims a landslide on his Hollywood Hills property in December 2006 was caused by Craven's failure to properly maintain vegetation and landscaping on a hillside on his property. Both suits seek unspecified damages and a judgment determining who should be held responsible. ...

According to WSPA-TV, a teacher at Excelsior Middle School in Union, South Carolina, resigned after parents claimed she had been playing songs about suicide and death for their children. Sixth-grade science teacher Karen Hipp played the music, included H.I.M.'s "Join Me in Death," during class. ...


Since Britney Spears isn't in control of her own affairs at the moment, she can't make a plea bargain in her driving-without-a-license case, a Van Nuys, California, judge decided Wednesday (February 20). Spears' attorney for the criminal case told the court that the singer's conservatorship attorneys don't feel she's capable of making an agreement, giving a deposition or signing a declaration at the moment, so Judge T.K. Herman continued the case until March 20. The misdemeanor charge stems from an incident in August in which Spears was videotaped hitting a parked car and leaving the scene without notifying the other driver (the hit-and-run charge was later dropped). Spears was denied visitation rights with her two sons in an unrelated hearing Tuesday. ...

Hayden Panettiere must have absorbed someone's musical powers, because the "Heroes" star is putting out a debut album later this year on Hollywood Records. Panettiere, who spent some of her downtime during the writers' strike shooting a Candies campaign for spring 2008 at New York's Serendipity 3, also resumed recording on her debut, which she started working on when she was 15 years old. "I've grown up a lot since I started," she said. Panettiere is also expanding her acting résumé, playing a younger version of Emily Watson's character in the upcoming film "Fireflies in the Garden," which co-stars Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds. "My mom always says you don't know you've done a film until you're sitting in the movie theater watching it, so I get a little nervous saying anything!" ...

Ellen DeGeneres skipped right to the tough questions during Christina Aguilera's appearance on her show, which is set to air Wednesday. "You look great," DeGeneres told the new mother, who sported a low-cut shirt. "One question: Are you nursing?" A blushing Aguilera responded: "I guess it's a little obvious." DeGeneres quipped back, "It's going to be a healthy baby boy." ... When Comedy Central's animated series "Lil' Bush" returns for another season, the young version of Republican political mastermind Karl Rove will get to show off his rap skills as MC Rove. So which hip-hop luminary will lend his or her rhymes? Kevin Federline! The aspiring rapper will be a guest voice on the season-two premiere, which airs March 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET. ...

Lindsay Lohan's recent re-creation of a nude Marilyn Monroe photo shoot was given the OK by mom/manager Dina Lohan. "It was very tastefully done," Dina told People magazine. "I respect the photographer as an artist, so I look at them artistically." Dina said her actress daughter felt that the New York magazine pictorial was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. "Lindsay was very excited when she first got the phone call," Dina said. "Of course we talked about how they would be done. Lindsay said, 'Mommy, I'm never going to get this opportunity to do it again.' She was very thankful she was asked." Dad Michael Lohan also approved of the shots, but that doesn't mean he'll pick up the issue. "I'm not going to look at the photos — that's my daughter!" he told UsMagazine. ... In other Lindsay news, despite her appearance at a taping for "Monday Night RAW" on Monday (duh), she isn't planning any more stops at wrestling events, as some fan sites have surmised. When asked by MTV News, the actress' rep shot down rumors that Lohan would appear at "WrestleMania XXIV" with a simple "not true." ...

Aretha Franklin is not getting any R-E-S-P-E-C-T from PETA. After her Grammys appearance, the animal-rights organization named Franklin queen — of its worst-dressed celebrities list, which targets famous fur and leather wearers. Also on the list, released Wednesday, are Marilyn Manson ("his wardrobe is a real-life tale of blood and guts"); Eva Longoria ("in her trashy furs, she looks like the streetwalker of Wisteria Lane"); Lohan (" 'I Know Who Killed Me' ... the cry of the animals snuffed out so that this 'mean girl' can pose in their pelts"); Kate Moss ("nothing completes the transition from supermodel to super-tramp like a fur coat"); and Kylie Minogue (called "cold-blooded" for carrying a snakeskin purse). ...

Perhaps Longoria and her cohorts can take style cues from Pharrell Williams, who was given the much-less-dubious honor of being named InStyle's "Man of Style." Since Pharrell has two clothing lines in the bag and a jewelry line forthcoming, the mag asked him to spill his style secrets for the latest issue. Pharrell described his clothing lines, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, as "basically everything I ever wanted as a kid but couldn't afford — and if I could have afforded it, no one was making it." He started out wearing Vans and Vision Streetwear, but an admiration of Rakim led him to Dapper Dan threads and gold chains. Though Pharrell had his own gold-chains phase, he insists he's "more subtle" now, and counts George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Robert Redford among those he admires. "I don't like ice, and I don't like bling," Pharrell told the mag. "I just like jewelry — beautiful stones and incredible settings. I'm not a loud or look-at-me individual. And even when it seemed like I was, it was more a sense of artistic expression." So for his own jewelry line, designed for Louis Vuitton's spring collection, Pharrell drew upon ethnic, art-deco and aristocratic influences — "It's pretty sick," he said. Next up for Pharrell is a furniture line, set to debut in Switzerland in June. "I have no social life [anymore]," he said, "but it's worth it. There's no creativity in partying — not for me." Britney, are you listening? Watch Pharrell talk about his fashion preferences at InStyle. ...

Working at MTV has its perks — and former "TRL" VJ Vanessa Minnillo hopes that one of hers is a blossoming movie career. After a small role in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," Minnillo wants more, as she told Vegas magazine. "When I was on the set of 'Fantastic Four,' I loved it," she said. "I respected everyone's work ethic. It was like a mini-family, and I want to continue doing it, whether it's action or comedy or action/comedy. I can pull off physical comedy; I'm athletic enough not to get hurt easily." Despite her lack of acting experience, Minnillo feels that her hosting résumé ("TRL" and "Entertainment Tonight") gives her a good start. "Acting is a different way to entertain people," she tells the mag. (Click here for photos from the issue.) "Most people know how to be themselves in front of the camera, but interpreting a character takes a lot. Once I get the right role, I'll just feel it." She's turned down a few offers already, she said, including one where she would have been a "bikini terrorist" and another where she would have been "some crazy girl at Mardi Gras doing anything for beads!" Meanwhile, In Touch Weekly reports that Minnillo has picked a part in a film called "Redefining Love". Minnillo's contract with both MTV and ET ended in April. ...

Jesse McCartney is looking for love online — and you can find him on JDate, a Jewish singles network (even though he is not Jewish). The 20-year-old singer/songwriter writes in his profile (under the screen name jbagel07) that he has a "pretty simple outlook": "I love life, love what I do, love my fam, friends, and want to meet someone who is willing to share all of that with me." So for interested parties, he would like to have children someday, smokes occasionally, drinks socially, has only completed high school but would prefer a mate with a college education, and considers himself a left-wing moderate. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, dining out, traveling, golf, skiing and wine tasting. For a first date, he's up for "whatever you wanna do — crazy or low key. I'm down." McCartney notes that he's "fortunate enough" to have made music his profession, and adds in his profile that he's working on his third album (Departure, out May 20).

Barack Obama And The 'Creative Class': Has He Tapped Into A New Voting Bloc?

The Illinois senator has reached 'a critical mass of creative-class-type people,' one expert says.

Barack Obama's hot streak in recent primaries has caught many people by surprise, and has led many to wonder just how he's managed to mobilize such a large percentage of the population so quickly and so thoroughly. Two strong factors include his popularity on the Internet, and his ability to motivate not only young people, but also a voting bloc that other candidates thus far have not: the so-called "creative class."

Matt Yglesias, a 26-year-old political blogger for the Atlantic Monthly, has dubbed the Illinois senator "The Cool Candidate."

"The people who support him want to talk about supporting him [and] want to link up with people who are also into Obama — that's why you're seeing such large rallies," Yglesias told MTV News. "And some of his user-generated viral content ... Hillary Clinton supporters are older and less inclined to make a Web site about something they're into, whereas Obama has a critical mass of creative-class-type people."

Richard Florida, a professor of business economics at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Business and author of the book, "The Rise of the Creative Class," agreed. "I think this is the first creative-class election in American history," he said. "The creative class is an online class; it's YouTube, it's MySpace, it's music." Based on his research, Florida estimates that 40 million Americans are members of this group. "They're inventors, they're entrepreneurs, they're people who work in arts and culture fields. They design, [they're] musicians, artists. Certainly you might think that more young people have these values, but all age groups are members of this class of people."

Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, who wrote a song and made a video (with guest appearances from John Legend, Common, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Cannon and others) inspired by Obama's New Hampshire primary speech, said he feels the presence of this class too.

"When people come up to me on the street, they say, 'Yes We Can,' " he told MTV News. "It's consumed people and inspired people so much that nothing else seems to matter as far as any other songs I've written."

Indeed, many experts that MTV News spoke with in recent days believe that Obama's campaign has tapped into a new category of voters.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the creative class is a new voting bloc," Florida said. "The Republicans appeal to them on individualism, economic opportunity and keeping the finances in order. Democrats appeal to them with social liberalism, treating women with respect, treating the environment well and valuing the gay-and-lesbian community."

This collective has made its voice heard — loud if not always clear — on the Internet. In addition to Florida, they include activists like Mat Honan, Shepard Fairey, Billy Wimsatt and the people behind Barelypolitical.

They're also mobilizing in the real world at events like Drinking Liberally, a series of nationwide bar parties devoted to progressive political conversation.

While Obama has plenty of famous supporters, this group is mostly not made up of celebrities — but many of them are definitely Internet-famous.

Chicago native Billy Wimsatt is the executive director of the League of Young Voters (which he'd originally called The League of Pissed-Off Voters), a Brooklyn, New York-based get-out-the-vote group. He used to be a graffiti artist, plastering city walls with his tag, "Upski." Wimsatt met Obama in New York during the late '90s.

"I ran into him outside of a restaurant and he was just kind of doing errands," Wimsatt recalled. "I had seen him speak about juvenile-justice issues in Illinois. I asked him how that was going and he said, 'Good.' He gave me his phone number and said, 'Call me anytime' or whatever. I was like some nobody kid."

"Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle" is the name of a Web site created by Mat Honan, 35, a freelance writer who lives in San Francisco. It has since spawned a flurry of "bicycle" parody sites (which have skewered John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Steve Jobs), including "I Am My New Bicycle."

While Honan shies away from the tag "hipster," he does feel a common thread running through the creative class.

"I think something about being a hipster or about people who they call hipsters is this endless quest for authenticity," he said. "That's what drove punk rock and indie rock and a lot of the hipster values."

There are ambiguous Web sites, too. Barelypolitical has poked fun at candidates on both sides of the aisle, and their "Obama Girl" video was a big hit. And sites like Senatorobamas — which generally adorns images of the senator's face with goofy mustaches and the like — feed the buzz.

"I certainly think if you are trying to sink Obama's campaign, this is not the way to do it," said Sara Smith, associate editor of Wonkette, referring to Senatorobamas. "It's raising awareness for the Obama brand."

Of course, using the Web as a word-of-mouth tool is nothing new. In the pre-YouTube era of 2004, Howard Dean famously harnessed the power of the Internet with his "Deaniac" fanbase (only to see it backfire with his infamous "I have a scream" speech), and on the Republican side, Ron Paul has had similar success raising money on the Internet and mobilizing young voters. All 2008 presidential candidates have worked to build their followings on the Internet — but many people say there's something more authentic about Obama's campaign.

"I used to think voting was irrelevant," Wimsatt said, adding that he didn't vote until 2004. "Last time around it was about stopping Bush. People weren't excited about Kerry. Now they're actually excited about Obama. The idea that turnout [is] doubling, tripling, quadrupling among young voters is out of this world."

And while the Obama campaign has not revealed a detailed outline of its strategy thus far, there's no question that it's working.

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.

Paramore Cancel European Tour, Say They Need Time Off To Deal With 'A Lot Of Internal Issues'

Break will give band 'a chance to get away and work out our personal issues,' singer Hayley Williams wrote on band's Web site.

Are Paramore calling it quits?

That's the question fans of the breakout pop-punk stars are asking in the wake of a rather cryptic blog post written Thursday afternoon (February 21) by singer Hayley Williams, in which she announced that Paramore were canceling the remainder of their European tour due to "a lot of internal issues that have been going on in this band for quite a while now.

"A lot of it started right around the time we were gearing up for the Riot! tour in the U.S.," she continued. We were able to fight through all of it for this long, but unfortunately we weren't able to keep it together long enough to make it through the end of the tour. We really feel that taking this time is going to give us a chance to get away and work out our personal issues at home and on our own terms. We just aren't willing to risk the life of our band over one tour. ... Maybe one day we will tell the whole story, but for now, just know that all five of us are going to work so hard to get it right."

The post is signed by all four members of the group and touring guitarist Taylor York, and though it was perhaps intended as a way of presenting a united front and explaining the reason for the tour cancellation, the mere mention of "internal issues" was enough to get Paramore's fanbase into a veritable frenzy (sample post on "Please don't split up you guys are like the Best Band ever !!! My Life wouldn't be worth Living if i couldn't listen to your Music !!").

After all, rumors of strife within the band have been brewing since earlier this month, when guitarist Josh Farro expressed his anger with the media's focus on Williams, saying, "We are a team. We are a band. It's not just Hayley— it's not her band. Just because she's the lead singer doesn't mean she's the only one involved."

Farro later clarified that statement to MTV News, saying that the rest of the members of Paramore "are totally fine" with Williams receiving the lion's share of attention.

So is the band just taking a much-needed break? When asked about the breakup rumors by MTV News, a spokesperson for their label, Atlantic Records, responded by detailing Paramore's forthcoming schedule.

"The band will be shooting a video for 'That's What You Get' in Nashville on March 2 and 3 with director Marcos Siega," the e-mail read, "then will embark on a co-headlining tour with their heroes, Jimmy Eat World, beginning on April 1 in San Antonio."

'American Gangster' Only Got One Nomination, So Why Should You See It?: Oscar Honor Roll

We investigate what it says about a flick when just one aspect is recognized by the Academy.

LOS ANGELES — One of the most intriguing aspects of the Oscars is their instant coronation of a film as an all-time classic. Decade after decade, people continue to discover "Gone With the Wind," "From Here to Eternity," "Gandhi" and other flicks that were filmed years before they were born. And it's all for one simple reason: Those movies took home a ton of Oscars.

Unquestionably, such interest will continue for decades to come, as your kids and grandkids rent flicks like "Titanic," "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" and "Shakespeare in Love," eager to see if these big Oscar winners are as good as Grandma and Grandpa's generation believed. But what will you say when they ask you about "Monster," "The Last King of Scotland" or "American Gangster"?

Don't miss a minute of Oscar glamour and gossip! Watch live coverage from the red carpet, Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on MTV.

"I think that 'Last King of Scotland' is a pretty mediocre movie, with one good performance," insisted Todd Gilchrist, a film reporter for movies site IGN. "But [Forest Whitaker's] performance was so strong that it overcame any of the shortcomings of the other parts of the movie."

Over the past few years, Hollywood has witnessed the rise of a potentially troubling trend: Movies nominated for only one of the big six awards (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Picture). This year, twelve different films, ranging from "Gangster" to "Into the Wild," received only one major nomination.

In the eyes of some, the implication is clear: Feel free to fast-forward through the scenes that don't feature Cate Blanchett.

Halle Berry became an awards-season juggernaut with 2001's "Monster's Ball." Still, there was no serious discussion of director Marc Forster, co-stars Heath Ledger and Billy Bob Thornton, or even the film itself being worthy of a little gold guy.

"Remember 'Monster's Ball,' when Halle Berry got all the attention?" asked Staci Wilson, a reporter for several movie sites, including SciFi. "It was great, because she raised the bar for the Academy to look outside the box a bit. But personally, I thought Billy Bob Thornton's performance had such an emotional impact, and I was surprised when he wasn't nominated — and neither was Heath Ledger."

History repeated itself again last year with "Scotland," as Whitaker took home award after award while the film's star (James McAvoy), female lead (Kerry Washington) and director (Kevin McDonald) watched the ceremonies at home in their jammies.

"Surprisingly, [Whitaker] was in the film for very little, when I actually saw it; it was much more about James McAvoy's character," Wilson remembered. "And I think that was a misconception of the public at large, when they were paying to see the movie. They thought it was starring Forest Whitaker, because of all the attention generated on his award nominations."

"It is a very average film," Gilchrist agreed. "But it had one great performance."

On Sunday, Oscar viewers might be wondering the same as they hear the nominated names of Viggo Mortensen, Ruby Dee, Casey Affleck, Julie Christie, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, Tommy Lee Jones, Marion Cotillard, Johnny Depp, Hal Holbrook and Cate Blanchett (twice!), each attending for a film that received no other major nods. But if it takes a great director to orchestrate a performance, and it takes great actors to help create a star's performance, then what gives?

" 'Monster' was sort of a mediocre film," Wilson recalled. "It was stunt casting, casting this gorgeous woman as a serial killer. And that's what got [Oscar's] attention."

Name one time you've ever heard someone say that Christina Ricci's performance deserved a statuette. Even better: Name the director of "Monster."

"It's a popularity contest," Gilchrist insisted, claiming that the Academy has far more to gain with a triumphant veteran (Christie, Holbrook) or household name (Depp) than they do with the likes of "Monster" director Patty Jenkins or forgotten "Queen" co-star Michael Sheen. "They want to give the most popular kid the award. They're worried enough about being considered credible; they also want to be considered popular, cool and worthwhile. When 'Monster's Ball' came out, Heath Ledger hadn't broken into the level of credibility he'd later achieve with 'Brokeback Mountain.' "

In some cases, maybe you would be better off watching an Oscar clip than sitting through the entire movie. After all, if Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon, Paul Haggis and the film itself didn't earn any serious Oscar talk, how good can "In the Valley of Elah" really be?

"I think Tommy Lee Jones, in 'In the Valley of Elah,' was incredible, and he absolutely deserves that nomination," Wilson said. "However, I thought the film was extremely heavy-handed; Paul Haggis directed that, and I found it a very tedious story that was nothing new. It was a very bland movie."

"But Josh Brolin was excellent in 'American Gangster,' " Gilchrist added, saying that the Denzel Washington/ Russell Crowe movie should be remembered by future generations for a lot more than just Ruby Dee. "You talk about a movie that was overlooked in a lot of ways!"

"Julie Christie got nominated, and that's the only nomination for the film," Wilson said of the Alzheimers-theme drama "Away From Her."

"That's because there wasn't a huge budget to gain it some visibility," Gilchrist said of the flick, insisting that mediocrity would be the wrong assumption in this case. "Like we said before, there is that popularity-contest aspect of the Oscars, and familiarity is essential for them to nominate something."

"Other actors, like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, are becoming like Wonder Bread," Wilson said of the reasons why "Charlie Wilson's War" is indeed mired in mediocrity, saved only by its sole Oscar-nominated performer. "[Their work] is opposed to real, gritty, true substance like Philip Seymour Hoffman. ... Maybe they're just too complacent because they're 'names.' "

" 'Assassination of Jesse James' is a really interesting, highly contested case," Gilchrist said of the flick, which only received a nomination for Affleck. "I would say as many people love it as hate it, and I'm somehow in the middle. It's too long, and it has a lot of problems — but his performance is undeniably brilliant."

And then there's the odd case of "Eastern Promises," which only received one nomination — after months of being hyped as an Oscar heavyweight along the lines of those old-school classics.

"Naomi Watts is always excellent ... but Viggo Mortensen was recognized over her, probably because he has so many more things to do in the film," Wilson said. "But maybe if she'd had that naked knife fight, she would have been nominated."

"Yeah," Gilchrist grinned. "I would've definitely nominated her for that."

If you don't agree with Todd and Staci's opinions on mediocrity vs. timelessness, perhaps you'll find a new Hollywood conspiracy theory more to your liking: Rather than pouring all the love on four or five Oscar nominees that everyone will then run out to see, the Academy would rather give single nominations to three times that many films.

These days, if you want to be an educated Oscar viewer, it isn't enough to see "No Country for Old Men" and "Juno"; you need to also pay for "Away From Her," "The Savages," "Sweeney Todd" and a dozen others. And that means a lot more money for Hollywood.

"Yeah, Harvey Weinstein is on the grassy knoll," Wilson joked. "It's all a conspiracy. ... But I think it's actually a good thing, that more movies are being nominated for little things."

"Look, in the last few years, the case has been, 'What can we get Will Smith to be in?' 'What can we get George Clooney to be in?' 'We have an idea for a movie, let's figure out how to make it after we get the person,' " Gilchrist said. "That's probably why we're getting more nominations for films that aren't getting nominated in other categories."

"But great movies will continue to be great movies," Wilson insisted, "whether or not they have a golden statuette to go with them."

The Academy Awards are this weekend, and MTV News will be on the red carpet with a live preshow on Movies.MTV — we'll also have tons of photos, video and, of course, a full report on the show, the fashion, the stars and much more! Be sure to check it out on Sunday, February 24, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Movies.MTV!

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.

Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony Welcome Twins: Report

People magazine says pop star gave birth to girl and boy early Friday.

According to People magazine, Jennifer Lopez gave birth early Friday (February 22) to twins, making the pop star and actress a first-time mom.

The babies — a girl and a boy, delivered in that order — were born on Long Island, New York, and weighed in at 5 pounds and 7 ounces, and 6 pounds, respectively. The newborns are husband Marc Anthony's third and fourth children.

Lopez's pregnancy was once a closely guarded, yet poorly kept, secret that provided ample ammunition for rampant online media speculation — that is, until Lopez confirmed her pregnancy back in November, during a concert in Miami. It was the last stop on the couple's joint U.S. tour, and the last of a sold-out three-night stand.

"Marc and I are expecting a baby," she told the crowd at the packed American Airlines Arena. "We didn't want to say anything before because we didn't want to take away from the tour. This is a special time in our lives. And we waited until the last show to tell you." She then added that the couple would now "go away for a while."

According to reports, Lopez's public pregnancy announcement caught her husband off-guard. When the pop star broke the news, she turned to her husband and said, "I hope you don't mind." Anthony reportedly shrugged his shoulders, caressed Lopez's belly and leaned over to kiss it, saying, "No, I don't mind at all. ... I didn't know she was going to talk."

Earlier this month, her father, David Lopez, spilled the beans about the singer expecting twins during an appearance on Spanish-language station TeleFutura's "Escandalo TV."

"Jennifer and Marc are delighted, thrilled and over the moon," Lopez's manager Simon Fields told People. Lopez, 39, and Anthony, 38, were married in 2004.

'American Idol' Bids Adieu To Four Contestants

Garrett Haley, Amy Davis, Joanne Borgella, Colton Berry say goodbye following first viewer-voted cut of the season.

America voted, and now it's back to real life for "American Idol" contestants Garrett Haley, Amy Davis, Joanne Borgella and Colton Berry, who were all eliminated during Thursday night's episode — the first time during the seventh season of the top-rated series that the viewers have had their say.

The tension was palpable Thursday, which marked the first cut for the show's much-lauded top 24 since Hollywood Week. But before the credits began to roll — and after the self-serving world premiere of "Idol" judge Paula Abdul's new video, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" — the contestants, all sporting fashions from the '60s, were down to 20.

The pale, shaggy-haired Haley, 17, from Elida, Ohio, was the first to go. He sang "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" during Tuesday's episode, and was a favorite target of judge Simon Cowell, who claimed the aspiring singer looked as though he'd been locked in his bedroom for a month and needed some fresh air. "I haven't gone tanning, so I'm being myself," he said, just before exiting the stage.

Next to go was the comely Davis, 25, from Lowell, Indiana, who fought back tears and trembled nervously through her final "Idol" performance, tackling Connie Francis' "Where the Boys Are." Abdul told Davis she needed more experience before she could progress in such a competition.

Then Borgella, 25, a plus-size model from Hoboken, New Jersey, who sang Dionne Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer" on Wednesday, was sent home (Cowell called her song choice "horrible"), as was Colton Berry, 18, from Staunton, Virginia. Like Borgella, Berry was one of the last contestants to enter the top 24, but Cowell was perhaps more critical of his time on "Idol."

"I would say get a good job and enjoy singing [as a hobby]," Cowell offered, as his parting words of wisdom. "Because I don't think you'll make a successful career out of it."

"American Idol," which is currently airing three times a week, will return to a twice-weekly schedule starting March 11, when the countdown begins on the show's final dozen. The "Idol" champ will be crowned in May.

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.

Lil Wayne Visits Students At His Old New Orleans School -- And Gets Asked To Prom!

Rapper pegs April for oft-delayed Carter III: 'Every [song] I do be better than the last, like, 'Oh, this gotta make the album!' '

NEW ORLEANS — Lil Wayne knows it's time for his Tha Carter III LP. First he said February, then we heard March, now Weezy has pegged April as his new due date.

Blame it on creativity.

"I make it worse for Universal [Records]," Wayne said Tuesday, sitting on his tour bus. "I keep doing new songs every other day. I don't stop working, so I don't know when they gonna get that. Everything I do be better than the last, like, 'Oh, this gotta make the album!' "

With all the shuffling and recording going on, Wayne said he has material to take him all the way up to Carter 10. For his third installment, though, he's worked with Hurricane Chris, Jay-Z, Corey Gunz, his artist Tiger (younger cousin of Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy), Lil Mama, Busta Rhymes, Juelz Santana, Fabolous, Baby, Brisco, Dre from Cool & Dre, and Ludacris on a duet called "Eat You Alive." Alchemist, Swizz Beatz, Cool & Dre, Kanye West, Jim Johnson and his own in-house producer Diesel supplied the beats.

The first single, at least for now, is called "A Millie," a hard splatter of relentless wordplay, unnerved style and a down-bottom bass beat. His second single, aimed at the ladies, is called "Lollipop" and features acclaimed songwriter Static (Aaliyah, Timbaland, Missy Elliott).

"That's me. I love music," he said about the new tattoo on his face that reads "I Am Music" in red letters. "I found a love for music. I owe it all to a lot of people in the game. They don't even know." T-Pain and Prince are among those he names.

While Weezy has been inspired by many, he took time on Tuesday to inspire the youth at his old school, Eleanor McMain Secondary School. He sat down and answered questions from an art class filled with juniors and seniors.

He started at the school in seventh grade and was in the band. That's where he met his manager, Cortez Bryant, who was right by his side on Tuesday. Discussion topics ranged from his mother being a pivotal part of his life to how he's hoping one day he and his daughter can be like Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus. He even got a potential date out of the meeting: A young girl named Julie asked him to the school's prom on April 19.

"I'll be out the country then. Sorry," he said with a smile.

"Coming back to speak to them is super-important," he said later that afternoon. "It was my school. I went to that school. I attended that school. It shows them somebody from there made it. It makes them feel like you can do it. That right there was so important. I see it in their eyes, like, 'We can do something.' Not just doing what I'm doing, but, 'We can be successful.' "

The students made Wayne an elaborate fleur-di-lis, which he plans to use as a backdrop for his shows.

Wayne is also involved in a restoration project in Harrell Park, where he played football as a kid. He remembers it as a meeting place where the two 'hoods of Pigeon Town and Hollygrove would meet up, socialize and sometimes rumble. After Hurricane Katrina, FEMA gutted the park to make room for trailers. Weezy's plans include putting up the funds for indoor basketball courts and indoor pools.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lil Wayne-Hot Boys Reunion In New Orleans Canceled After Shooting Outside Venue

Police have no suspects or motive; victims' injuries are reportedly not life-theatening.

NEW ORLEANS — The Hot Boys reunion at the club Dream here on Sunday night — featuring Lil Wayne, B.G., Juvenile and Mannie Fresh — was over before it could even get started: Two 24-year-old women and a 26-year-old man were shot outside the venue by an unknown gunman at around 12:57 a.m. on Monday (February 18).

According to police, the victims were standing on the sidewalk and began running when they heard gunshots. The three were quickly taken to a local hospital, where their injuries were said to be not life-threatening; the venue was closed and the event canceled.

Contacted on Tuesday (February 19), a representative for local police said they still have no suspects or motive in the shooting.

None of the MCs had arrived at the venue by the time of the shooting. MTV News caught up with Wayne not long after the incident. He seemed optimistic that the Hot Boys reunion could be rescheduled, saying that it's "only a phone call away."

The reunion was planned to be a cap on this year's NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans; it would have been the first time in several years that the group had performed. Mannie Fresh was scheduled to take the place of original member Turk, who is currently incarcerated, and a number of MCs — including Rick Ross, Baby and DJ Khaled, along with a host of NBA players — were expected to attend.

"It was going to be a big, historic moment," B.G. told MTV News. "I was just saying that everybody was cool during the All-Star weekend, then they start shooting. Why'd they have to shoot up on our night? Guess that's Chopper City for ya."

[This story was originally published at 2:40 p.m. ET on 02.18.2007]

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Britney Spears Still Denied Visitation Rights With Her Sons

Singer represented by new law firm; gag-order request for attorneys involved in the case denied.

Britney Spears appears to be making her life more stable, but that didn't win her any visitation rights to see her two young sons during a custody hearing held on Tuesday (February 19).

The singer, who swapped law firms, is now represented by divorce attorney Stacy Phillips, who has handled several high-profile clients, including Bobby Brown in his divorce with Whitney Houston, Erin Everly in her divorce with Axl Rose, and Charlie Shahnaian in his divorce with Tori Spelling. (Phillips' petition for substitution of counsel will be signed by the judge Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles Superior Court director of public information Allan Parachini told MTV News.)

Before the firm Trope and Trope stepped down from the Spears case, however, attorney Anne Kiley had one last piece of business to attend to, which was a request for a gag order (originally made late last year) for the lawyers involved in the custody case. Kiley called the request an emotional and safety issue for the singer and her children, accusing Kevin Federline's counsel of leaking information to the press.

Federline's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan opposed, calling a gag order a violation of free speech and saying that no clear and present danger existed to warrant such an order, which is more common in criminal cases. Kaplan also noted that even with a gag order, the paparazzi would continue to follow Spears, as they have done before the custody battle existed. Ultimately, Commissioner Scott Gordon denied the request, Parachini confirmed, as the judge decided conduct of paparazzi and public access to the courthouse would be treated as a law-enforcement issue and that the public has a right to know information about the case.

Yet despite this ruling, the main order of business — Spears' request to allow visitation rights in a therapeutic setting — was argued in a closed session. Kaplan went into the hearing willing to give some visitation rights to Spears, who hasn't seen her sons Sean Preston and Jayden James since January 3, when she was hospitalized following a custody standoff. Kaplan told "Extra" on Monday: "It has always been and it is now and will continue to be [Federline's] desire for the children to have their mother in their life under whatever conditions are reasonable, based on progress."

But after the closed morning session, "all custody orders, current and previous, remain in effect," Parachini said. "So in other words, no change."

The next hearing in the custody case is scheduled for March 10.

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'American Idol' Castoff Josiah Leming Speaks: 'I Don't Have Any Regrets'

Singer talks about his car, his goals and the song that would have gone much better than 'Stand by Me.'

MORRISTOWN, Tennessee — Josiah Leming wants you to know a few things. He's not just the kid who sleeps in his car and cries at the drop of a hat. He doesn't consider himself to be particularly emo, nor does he think he sings with a British accent, as he has been accused of doing. He has no regrets about any of the choices he made on "American Idol," not even his rather, uh, unique take on Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" that got him booted from the show.

And he's incredibly aware that the fame all of the above has brought him might not last too much longer.

"There's a small window of opportunity, and I don't want to do it too quick or too slow," he said. "I've always been aware of the fact that one day you can be everything, and the next day you can be nothing. Stuff like that has always weighed heavy on my mind. Things are given and taken away so quickly, it's always sitting in the back of my mind that I could just be another flash in the pan. Everyone wants to be optimistic, but you also want to be realistic."

So here's the reality right now: In the driveway of his parents' home in Morristown, Leming, 18, is sitting on the trunk of his now-famous 1989 Mercury Topaz, the vehicle he drove to "Idol" auditions, and the one the show's producers decided to build a storyline around ("They wanted to film me in a Ford Sync too, but I was like, 'I haven't been living in one of those,' " he laughed). On Monday morning, he flew to Los Angeles to tape an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," where he performed roughly two minutes of a song he's recently written, a stunning and somber tune called "One Last Song." He currently has more than 19,000 friends on MySpace and has sold something in the neighborhood of $15,000 worth of his own music through the site. And he is probably the most famous "Idol" contestant to never make the show's top 24, a feat that, in and of itself, is something, given the program's seven years and hundreds of also-rans.

Then again, none of that is particularly uncommon, given the way he's led his life. Pretty much everything — from the way he stumbled into music to the fact that he ended up on "Idol" at all — has been a feat in and of itself.

"I discovered music at a young age. Well, my parents got a keyboard for Christmas. ... They left it out in the living room, and we all saw it the night before, and I was so unbelievable intrigued by it. So early the next morning I got up because I thought everyone was going to be running to the keyboard to play it, but it was just me," he said. "I pressed this button to play a song, and I just started playing 'Joy to the World,' and it just was completely natural. ... It was just the beginning of a love affair with the piano. My family isn't very musical, and I've never really been around it. But after I started playing, my life changed forever. I don't remember my life before the piano. I don't know what I did with my days. It was like a kick in the face.

"I tried doing other things. I played football for a while. I tried to follow for a while. And it just didn't work out for me. I knew from a young age that I wasn't going to be like everyone else. I was made fun of a lot as a kid. I was kind of overweight, teeth all messed up, I had glasses. I had a very small, high, weak voice," he continued. "And I never had too many friends, so it forced me into doing music. The thing I love about the piano is that it'll never let you down, you can always rely on it. It's not going to make fun of the way you talk or the fact that you can't catch a ball, and whenever you need it, it's always going to be there. It was my best friend in the world, really. It's been more of a friend to me than anything else."

At 13, he started writing his own songs ("Real melancholy stuff ... I was a pretty serious kid," he said) and slowly began to realize that there was nothing else he'd rather be doing in the world. That raised a bit of a problem, because despite the fact that it's just a few hours away from Nashville (a quick hop west on I-40), Morrisown is hardly music city. So Leming realized that he had to get out of town if he wanted to pursue his dreams.

"I knew from a young age that I was going to have to get out of here eventually," he said. "There's not much musical opportunity. Growing up in a town like this, I was always so bitter about it. I was always like, 'I hate Morristown. I hate being here. I don't want to be in this town anymore. It's the reason I haven't made it yet.' But honestly, I have this town to thank for the sense of ambition and pride that I have. If I had grown up around music, I might not have been so driven toward going out and working for it. As much as I want to blame this town, it's definitely put pride and ambition in me, to get out and see things and do things."

So he did. Piling into his Topaz, he crisscrossed the U.S., hitting cities like St. Louis and Jacksonville, Florida. He worked odd jobs at restaurants and temp agencies to buy gas and food, and finally, late last year, he decided to head down to Atlanta to audition for "American Idol," which is where things started to get interesting ... and a little annoying.

"I honestly went there on a whim, and I didn't know what they'd think of me. They did an interview, and I told them about the car thing and about my mother," he said (Josiah's mother, Sharon, was diagnosed with ovarian leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2000). "I definitely didn't want to be one of the sob stories on 'American Idol.' I wanted to stand on my voice, and my own two feet, but they wanted to know about the story and they wanted to use it. I definitely wasn't going for the sympathy vote. A lot of people think I got through on the basis of that, but who knows? They tell me I'm a 'human-interest piece.' "

It'll probably never be known whether it was his talent or his story that got Leming through to the show's Hollywood Week, but regardless, he made it and was quickly becoming one of the most popular contestants, thanks largely to the jaw-dropping version of Mika's "Grace Kelly" he performed during auditions. Then came the now-infamous dismissing of the band, his solo take on "Stand by Me" and, ultimately, his dismissal from the show.

Leming claimed that he was just as surprised by his failure to make the top 24 as most of his fanbase was, though he's eager to let people know that even he knew his take on "Stand" was disastrous. But he still insisted that he had no regrets.

"I actually wanted to do 'Take Me Out' by Franz Ferdinand, something a bit cooler and more my style. But for whatever reason, that didn't work out — they couldn't get the clearance or whatever — so I was kind of stuck with 'Stand by Me,' " he said. "I didn't know the song, so I was trying to make it my own, and I focused more on the words than the melody. And that's why it was kind of all messed up. As it was happening, I definitely knew it was going downhill, but if it's going to go bad, let it go bad. I'd definitely rather be the person who had a train wreck and crashed but at least tried something different, rather than be the girl who sang 'Amazing Grace' three times and made it into the top 24. I want to take chances."

After his dismissal, he boarded a plane back to Tennessee heartbroken, unsure if any of his performances would even make the show, and battling the creeping suspicion that he'd just wasted a large chunk of his time. There was the very real chance, it seemed, that he'd be packing up the Topaz once again.

"For five months, I couldn't work, I couldn't do anything. ... Everything is so completely absorbed by this 'American Idol' monster, and now it spit me out and I didn't know if anything was going to come of it," he explained. "So sitting on that plane, all of that is going through my head, and I'm stuffed in between people and tired and can't sleep. It's the worst feeling ever."

Yet, by the time he moved back in with his parents, he started noticing that his auditions (and interviews) were becoming a staple of season seven's early episodes, more than the footage of some of the contestants who actually made it to the top 24. Almost overnight, he started amassing an army of MySpace followers, and just two weeks after he was dismissed from the show, producers from "Ellen" — and quite a few label reps — began calling him on his cell. You could probably argue that by being eliminated from the show, Leming has actually benefited more than if he had won it.

And though he'll begrudgingly admit that he would've liked to come out on top, he said he has fond memories of his time on the show — he'll miss fellow contestants like Michael Johns, Jason Yeager and Luke Menard the most — but he doesn't really see how being crowned "American Idol" would've helped further his career anyway. After all, he's got much loftier ambitions.

"I can think of nothing better than to be known as a respectable recording artist. Someone who really has a passion and an ambition for music. I'd love to have a couple hits, maybe a great-selling album, but really the ultimate goal with me and music is that I just want to help people," he said. "I've gone through so many things as a person and an artist, and I really feel like if people are feeling the same emotions I am, they can release those emotions through the song. I really feel like [my songs] can help people. And whether I help one person or a billion people, I don't care. And if I have to get into my car and get back on the road again and try to reach as many people as I can, that's the goal. I don't care about the fame, I don't care about the fortune. I don't need the money. I can stay alive, I've already proven that. ... I don't have any regrets, not with any of this. You've got to do things wrong before you can do them right."

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.

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Barack Obama, John McCain Continue Winning Streaks In Primaries

Obama, Hillary Clinton now have their sights set on crucial primaries in Ohio, Texas.

For months, Democratic hopeful Barack Obama has addressed adoring audiences while speaking of hopes and dreams. But even he couldn't have dreamt of anything quite like this.

The candidate-turned-juggernaut extended his winning streak to 10 states Tuesday, besting Senator Hillary Clinton to take both the Wisconsin primary and the Hawaii caucus. With 99 percent of Wisconsin's precincts reporting, Senator Obama won 58 percent of the vote to Clinton's 41 percent. In Hawaii, with all precincts reporting, Obama won 76 percent to 24 percent for Clinton. The wins not only pad the Illinois senator's delegate lead (1,301 to 1,239), but also maintain his momentum as the last two Democrats standing look to the critical states of Ohio and Texas on March 4.

"Houston, I think we've achieved lift-off," Obama said to a cheering Texas crowd, simultaneously addressing his Wisconsin victory and the voters who've already begun filling out preliminary ballots in the Lone Star State. "We just heard we've won in Wisconsin, and I am grateful to the people of Wisconsin for their friendship, support and extraordinary civic pride. When you go to vote in Wisconsin, it's 5 degrees outside!"

In the meantime, all-but-certain Republican nominee John McCain continued to swat away the horsefly that is Mike Huckabee, overtaking him in Wisconsin, as well as Washington State. The Arizona senator came away with 55 percent of the vote in the Badger State. The former Arkansas governor, however, did keep things interesting, as he has in recent weeks, in what is largely believed to be a protest vote of McCain's imminent coronation.

"Thank you, Wisconsin," McCain said onstage in Columbus, Ohio, during his victory speech. Then, getting in a preliminary swipe at a Democratic opponent nearly 30 years his junior, he added: "Will the next president have the judgment, experience in forums and the strength of purpose to respond to [threats] in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals? Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate?"

McCain's comments toward what he deemed Obama's "eloquent but empty" campaign were seen by many as a Republican acknowledgment that the GOP was already targeting him as the eventual opponent. The cable news networks seemed to agree: Many cut away from Clinton's rally in Youngstown, Ohio, to broadcast Obama's remarks in Texas.

The big story of the evening, naturally, continued to be the toe-to-toe Democratic slugfest, which remains close at a time of year when past campaigns have typically turned out the lights and put down the signs. Obama had been expected to win Wisconsin, largely because of significant liberal numbers in Madison. Clinton had recently beefed up her efforts there in hopes to break her opponent's streak, braving wintry weather yesterday in De Pere, Wausau and Madison.

"It is about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on hard work," Clinton said during her concession speech in Youngstown. "We can't just have speeches; we have to have solutions."

Obama has now won 10 straight contests since he and Clinton essentially split February 5's contested states at 11 apiece. In recent weeks, the former first lady has suggested that Ohio and Texas are mandatory wins for her campaign, as the two states have nearly 400 delegates up for grabs. If she were to win one of the two states, then April 22's Pennsylvania contest could decide the eventual Democratic nominee.

Ohio and Pennsylvania are largely blue-collar states and were believed to be firm Clinton ground. But in recent weeks Obama has begun to close the gap in areas that were once the New York senator's stronghold. In Wisconsin, for instance, Obama split the support of white women and, according to exit polls Tuesday night, the Illinois senator fared better than before with working-class voters.
This all but sets up yet another showdown for Obama and Clinton on March 4 as neither candidate as been able to put the other away. Vermont and Rhode Island also hold primaries on the same day as Ohio and Texas.

Washington state also held a presidential primary Tuesday, but because of a non-sanctioned date change, both parties will likely dole out delegates based solely on the state's February 9 caucuses, which were won by McCain and Obama.

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.

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