Friday, June 26, 2009

Jonas Brothers top U.S. charts, but sales slide

The Jonas Brothers scored their second No. 1 album in less than a year on the U.S. pop album chart Wednesday, but first-week sales were less than half of those for their previous studio effort.

"Lines, Vines and Trying Times" sold 247,000 copies during the week ended June 21, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The trio's last studio effort, "A Little Bit Longer," bulldozed its way to a No. 1 debut last August, when it started with 525,000 at the height of Jonas Mania.

Thus far, the family act has released four studio albums in less than three years. The group's debut "It's About Time" debuted and peaked at No. 91 on the Billboard 200 in August 2006. A self-titled effort arrived exactly a year later, peaking at No. 5. Then, another year later, "A Little Bit Longer" entered at No. 1. (For good measure, the JoBros also issued the soundtrack to its "3D Concert Experience" film earlier this year. It reached No. 3.)

Last week's No. 1, the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D.," slipped to No. 2 with 148,000 copies. The Dave Matthews Band's "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King" followed at No. 3 with 88,000, while Eminem's "Relapse" was at No. 4 with 72,000.

Incubus' greatest hits collection "Monuments and Melodies" arrived at No. 5 with 70,000. The album was released in its deluxe form first, before the standard version comes out on July 21. The deluxe edition contains 11 bonus tracks on top of the album's standard 15 tracks. The sales of both versions of the album will ultimately be merged on the charts.

Lady GaGa's "The Fame" held at No. 6 with 47,000, while Chickenfoot's self-titled album fell three to No. 7 with 43,000. The "Hannah Montana" movie soundtrack slipped one rung to No. 8 with 42,000, and Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" was also down one, to No. 9, with 40,000. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" rose one to No. 10 with 38,000.

Overall album sales totaled 6.76 million units, up 6.5 percent from the previous week, but down 18.5% from the same sales week of 2008. Year-to-date album sales stand at 168.3 million, down 14.6 percent compared to the same total at this point last year.

"Transformers" $60.6 million debut topples record

Action movie "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" pummeled U.S. box offices on its Wednesday debut, raking in $60.6 million in the second biggest single-day gross ever, box office watchers said on Thursday.

The effects rich, alien versus robot war movie, came close to eclipsing last year's single-day debut of Batman movie "The Dark Knight," which posthumously starred actor Heath Ledger and took in $67.2 million in domestic markets on its Friday debut.

Opening day ticket sales for "Transformers," released by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures and produced with privately held DreamWorks, includes $16 million from midnight screenings and gives the movie the biggest single-day box office on a Wednesday, according to Box office.

The previous Wednesday record was held by "Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix," which had $44.2 million on its Wednesday debut in July 2007, including $12 million from midnight screenings.

The new film is a sequel to 2007's "Transformers" that took in a total of more than $700 million worldwide, and Hollywood has been hoping that the sequel would help the industry rebound from recent weeks of relatively lackluster ticket sales.

"Transformers" is based on the popular toys and cartoons about shape-shifting cars which morph into "autobots" that fight alien "decepticons" who want to control Earth.

King of Pop Michael Jackson is dead: official

Michael Jackson, the child star turned King of Pop who set the world dancing but whose musical genius was overshadowed by a bizarre lifestyle and sex scandals, died on Thursday. He was 50.

Jackson was pronounced dead at about 2:26 p.m. PDT (5:26 EDT) after arriving at a Los Angeles hospital in full cardiac arrest, said Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner's office. The cause of death was not known and an autopsy would likely take place on Friday, he said.

Jackson's sudden death had been reported earlier by U.S. media, which said he was taken ill at his home and rushed to the hospital by paramedics who found him not breathing when they arrived.

Known as the "King of Pop," for hits that included "Thriller" and "Billie Jean," Jackson's dramatic, one-gloved stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world.

He transformed music videos and his lifetime record sales tally is believed to be around 750 million, which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he received, made him one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

But Jackson's belief that "I am Peter Pan in my heart", his preference for the company of children, his friendship with a chimp, his high-pitched voice and numerous plastic surgeries also earned him critics and the nickname "Wacko Jacko."

Jackson, who had lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation, had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London next month.

Quincy Jones, who helped arrange the music on the album "Thriller" and produced the "Off the Wall" album, told MSNBC: "I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news."

"For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."


Jackson had been due to start a series of concerts in London on July 13 running until March 2010. The singer had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for the past two months. The shows for the 50 London concerts sold out within minutes of going on sale in March.

"Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude of artistry, talent, and vision as Michael Jackson," said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy in a statement.

"He was a true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and sheer star power carried him from childhood to worldwide acclaim."

There were concerns about Jackson's health in recent years but the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March that Jackson had passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors.

Outside the hospital in Los Angeles about 200 fans and reporters gathered on Thursday, waiting for confirmation of Jackson's death or condition.

Some fans were crying and hugging each other, and others were climbing atop fences to get a better look at a microphone stand where a news conference was supposed to take place.

"I hope he's gone to God, and I hope that he's free of all the troubles he's been plagued with," Tonya Blazer, 50, who said she had been a fan going back more than four decades to his days as a child star.

"I just feel like I'm paying tribute to him," said Dawn Burgess, 42, a fan who said she had posters of Michael pinned to her bedroom wall when she was a child.


Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children. Five Jackson boys -- Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael -- first performed together at a talent show when Michael was 6. They walked off with first prize and went on to become a best-selling band, The Jackson Five, and then The Jackson 5.

Jackson made his first solo album in 1972, and released "Thriller" in 1982, which became a smash hit that yielded seven top-10 singles. The album sold 21 million copies in the United States and at least 27 million worldwide.

The next year, he unveiled his signature "moonwalk" dance move while performing "Billie Jean" during an NBC special.

In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and had two children, before splitting in 1999. The couple never lived together.

Jackson has three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, known for his brief public appearance when his father held him over the railing of a hotel balcony, causing widespread criticism.

New Yorkers and tourists in the city's Times Square were shocked at the news of Jackson's death.

"I don't know what to say. It's sad, it's really, really sad," said Nicole Smith, an 18-year-old student from Brooklyn, New York, in Times Square. "My mother was a fan. I listened to his music."

"I'm shocked. I thought someone was lying to me when I first heard it. I was a fan from when he was a little boy and then he got weird," said Sue Sheider, 51, a teacher from Long Island.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Miley Cyrus breaks up with boyfriend Justin Gaston

Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus has broken up with her boyfriend of almost nine months and is tweeting about it.

According to E! News, the 16-year-old ended her relationship last week with underwear model and aspiring singer Justin Gaston, 20, as she prepared to leave L.A. for her two-month shoot for "The Last Song" in Savannah, Ga.

Though her rep had no comment, the teen star and her ex-boyfriend's Twitter posts over the weekend reflected the breakup. (Her June 8 tweets included: "trying to smile through a gloomy day in savannah," and "life will go on. you will smile again.") Gaston quoted lyrics from John Mayer's "Dreaming With a Broken Heart" in a June 4 tweet.

The couple went through a rocky path because of Cyrus' resurrected friendship with ex-boyfriend Nick Jonas, of the Jonas Brothers, E! News reported.

"She obviously has been hanging out with Nick again a lot, and Justin was cool with it at first -- as long as it was just a cool friendly thing," a source close to Gaston told E! News. "She didn't cheat, but I guess Nick was trying to get her back the whole time.",0,5846536.story

Denzel Washington Calls Bond With 'Pelham' Director 'A Good Marriage'

Publish Post

Over the past 15 years, Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have formed an impressive, adrenaline-pumping creative partnership, collaborating on thrillers like "Crimson Tide" and "Man on Fire." With Scott in the director's chair and Washington variously scrambling around a nuclear submarine and exacting bloody revenge on a Mexican gang, their films have been exercises in amped-up tension, whip-fast editing and straight-up badassery.

Their latest project, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" (out Friday), is different only in one respect: Denzel spends most of the film sitting in a chair.

"Overweight, shirt too tight, spilling coffee on myself, and tripping and falling," Washington explained to MTV News of his character, a subway dispatcher named Walter Garber, who's thrust into the role of hostage negotiator when Bernard Ryder (John Travolta) hijacks a New York subway filled with civilians.

But it was just that combination of commonplace character and life-or-death situation that attracted Washington to the role. "I like the fact that he's just a regular Joe," he said. "There's nothing special about him. He's not heroic. He's got a fake diamond earring — Zircon. He's an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances."

Part of Garber's ordinariness is a substantial paunch protruding beneath his brown sweater vest. Did Denzel pack on the pounds for the role? "Yes," he said with a smile. "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. But it's gone now!"

Of course, Denzel was also eager to reunite with Scott — for the first time since 2006's time travel mindbender, "Déjà Vu." "It's like a good marriage," Washington said of their partnership. "We work well together. We trust each other. He knows how to put 'em together. He knows how to make hits. And he called me!"

The reason Scott called was because he believed Denzel was the perfect fit for a film in which the protagonist remains largely sedentary behind a desk, trying to talk Travolta's character out of committing mass murder. "[Denzel is] one of the few actors who does nothing and communicates everything," Scott explained. "He can sit still and have the confidence, because he's done his homework to let it breathe, let it sit, and he gives everything."

But acting talent can only do so much in a film, and it was Scott's main task to keep the suspense ramped up over the course of one hour and 45 minutes. "This movie was a challenge, because it's about two guys on the phone for 90 percent of the movie," he said.

Clearly, though, both actor and director were pleased with the results, because they'll be reteaming for a fifth film, "Unstoppable," another thriller set on another train in peril.

Adam Lambert ‘proud’ to be gay

And heeeeeee’s out!

“American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert dished to Rolling Stone that yup, he’s gay.

“I don’t think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I’m gay,” the guy-liner-sporting singer told the mag. “I’m proud of my sexuality. I embrace it. It’s just another part of me.”

Lambert, 27, who recently signed a record deal with 19 Records and RCA, said he was tempted to spill the beans right after the popular FOX TV show’s finale but figured he’d wait.

“I thought ‘I’m going to wait for Rolling Stone, that will be cooler,’ ” the San Diegan said. “I didn’t want the Clay Aiken thing and the celebrity magazine (bleep). I need to be able to explain myself in context,” Adam told the mag.

In context?

Although the “AI” contestant is hot for guys, he admitted he rather enjoyed all the gushing gals.

“I loved it this season when girls went crazy for me,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s all hot.”

As for sharing a room with “Idol” winner, the married Kris Allen, Lambert was happy to do so. Can you say, “bromance?”

“I was like, ‘Oh (bleep) they put me with the cute guy.’ Distracting! He’s the one guy that I found attractive in the whole group on the show: nice, nonchalant, pretty and totally my type - except that he has a wife. I mean, he’s open-minded and liberal but he’s definitely 100 percent straight.”

So just because Lambert is coming out as gay and supports gay marriage doesn’t mean he wants to go all Perez Hilton and be a poster boy for same sex marriage.

“I’m trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader,” he told Rolling Stone.

You can catch Adam, in person, when the “American Idol 2009 Summer Tour” hits the TD Banknorth Garden Aug. 18.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

John Travolta thanks colleagues for promoting film

John Travolta is thanking his colleagues from "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" for promoting the film while he continues to mourn the death of his 16-year-old son, Jett, who died after a seizure in January.

Travolta posted a note on his personal Web site Monday thanking "Pelham" director Tony Scott and co-stars Denzel Washington, John Turturro, Luis Guzman and James Gandolfini for "their unselfish efforts" publicizing the picture, which allowed his family the additional time to reconcile their loss.

The 55-year-old actor also thanked Scott for "the freedom to define, and then to become, the ultimate evil mastermind."

"American Idol" winner Kris Allen signs record deal

Kris Allen, winner of U.S. TV's top-rated singing contest "American Idol," has signed a record deal with producer 19 Recordings, and his debut album is expected to be released this coming fall through Jive Records.

"Everyone's been asking me what it's going to sound like. It will be very similar to what you heard from me on the show -- definitely in the pop/rock genre," Allen said in a statement announcing the deal on Monday.

Simon Fuller, executive producer of "American Idol" and chief executive of 19 Entertainment, said Allen won fans with his soulful voice, good looks and gracious demeanor, but his passion for music performing will make him a star.

Before his debut album is released in the fall, Allen, 23, will perform in the 50-city "American Idol" 2009 Summer Tour, which kicks off in July.

Allen, the surprise winner of the reality TV show's eighth season, is already enjoying success. The Arkansas native's song "No Boundaries" currently ranks No. 23 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart.

Jive Records is a unit of Sony Music Entertainment, a division of Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp.

`Hangover' takes down `Up' for top box-office spot

Hollywood had a bigger hangover this weekend than expected.

The Warner Bros. comedy "The Hangover" drew larger audiences than earlier projected to raise its weekend ticket sales to $45 million, about $1.8 million more than the studio estimated Sunday.

That made it the No. 1 draw for the weekend instead of Disney and Pixar Animation's "Up," which came in second with $44.1 million. Sunday studio estimates had "Up" edging "The Hangover" by about $1 million.

It's rare that the first- and second-place movies on Sunday flip-flop when final numbers come out Monday. But strong attendance Sunday allowed "The Hangover" to pull ahead.

With heavy matinee traffic, family films such as "Up" usually hold on better through Sunday than adult movies like "The Hangover."

Warner Bros. had expected Sunday's National Basketball Association playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic to cut into business for the R-rated "The Hangover," the tale of four friends at an out-of-control bachelor party weekend in Las Vegas.

Yet more people turned up for the movie than anticipated, said Dan Fellman, Warner head of distribution.

"The Lakers weren't the only winners," Fellman said. "We had an unbelievable day."

Disney spokeswoman Heidi Trotta said the studio was happy to finish at No. 2 with "Up," whose final weekend total came in about $100,000 lower than the studio estimated Sunday.

"Up" has topped $137 million in just 10 days and is on track to become the latest $200 million blockbuster from Disney and Pixar, whose hits include "WALL-E," "The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo" and the "Toy Story" movies.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by are:

1. "The Hangover," Warner Bros., $44,979,319, 3,269 locations, $13,759 average, $44,979,319, one week.

2. "Up," Disney, $44,138,266, 3,818 locations, $11,561 average, $137,210,701, two weeks.

3. "Land of the Lost," Universal, $18,837,350, 3,521 locations, $5,350 average, $18,837,350, one week.

4. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," Fox, $14,634,988, 3,807 locations, $3,844 average, $127,326,188, three weeks.

5. "Star Trek," Paramount, $8,310,480, 3,202 locations, $2,595 average, $222,712,175, five weeks.

6. "Terminator Salvation," Warner Bros., $8,248,387, 3,304 locations, $2,496 average, $105,568,008, three weeks.

7. "Drag Me to Hell," Universal, $7,040,550, 2,510 locations, $2,805 average, $28,233,230, two weeks.

8. "Angels & Demons," Sony, $6,550,282, 2,925 locations, $2,239 average, $116,174,931, four weeks.

9. "My Life in Ruins," Fox Searchlight, $3,223,161, 1,164 locations, $2,769 average, $3,223,161, one week.

10. "Dance Flick," Paramount, $1,958,725, 1,707 locations, $1,147 average, $22,625,733, three weeks.

11. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Fox, $1,927,096, 1,389 locations, $1,387 average, $174,347,386, six weeks.

12. "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," Warner Bros., $932,181, 879 locations, $1,061 average, $51,919,132, six weeks.

13. "The Brothers Bloom," Summit, $412,771, 173 locations, $2,386 average, $2,025,712, four weeks.

14. "Fast & Furious," Universal, $286,795, 284 locations, $1,010 average, $154,356,665, 10 weeks.

15. "Monsters vs. Aliens," Paramount, $270,873, 313 locations, $865 average, $194,854,481, 11 weeks.

16. "The Soloist," Paramount, $264,531, 306 locations, $864 average, $30,726,123, seven weeks.

17. "Race to Witch Mountain," Disney, $259,716, 250 locations, $1,039 average, $66,200,577, 13 weeks.

18. "Obsessed," Sony Screen Gems, $258,092, 318 locations, $812 average, $68,032,027, seven weeks.

19. "17 Again," Warner Bros., $212,805, 222 locations, $959 average, $61,605,717, eight weeks.

20. "Hannah Montana: The Movie," Disney, $210,014, 207 locations, $1,015 average, $77,893,713, nine weeks.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Actor James Franco pulls out of UCLA grad speech

Actor James Franco says he has dropped a plan to give a commencement speech at the University of California, Los Angeles, a move that may have been prompted by pressure from students.

Franco issued a statement saying he canceled his June 12 appearance because of conflicts with preproduction demands for his next film.

However, the "Pineapple Express" star had been the object of opposition from students who said he was not the right fit for the commencement speech.

"The problem with him as a speaker comes down to the fact he was a peer for so many of us," UCLA senior Erin Moore said. "He was in our class. He's not a role model. And he hasn't had time to accomplish anything with his degree."

Franco, 31, enrolled at UCLA in 1996 and graduated last year with a degree in creative writing. He would have been the youngest person and most recent graduate to deliver a commencement speech at UCLA.

Soon after the commencement announcement in March, Moore set up a Facebook page called "UCLA Students Against James Franco as Commencement Speaker." Hundreds joined, and Moore estimated about 80 percent of them are UCLA students.

A call to Franco's manager early Saturday was not immediately returned. A UCLA spokesman referred The Associated Press to Franco's statement, in which he expressed regret at not being able to give the speech.

UCLA announced on its Web site that Franco would be replaced by Linkin Park lead guitarist and UCLA alumnus Brad Delson, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication studies in 1999.

Franco is perhaps best known for his supporting role in the "Spider-Man" films.

He is preparing for the comedy "Your Highness," which is set to begin filming next month. Amanda Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the producer of the film, said Franco would be on the set in Ireland on June 12.

Ashton & Demi Tweet Against Hunger

Twitter power couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are using their popularity on their micro-blogging Web site for a good cause.

The pair has been calling for their Twitter followers to make personal videos to fight against U.S. hunger and send them to the stars to create a viral video for a new campaign for Feeding America.

“End hunger vid looks gr8. need 1 thing; webcam vids of U all say’n things like “No one should go hungry!” send 2,” Demi Tweeted on Friday. “Together we can change the world-we R creating a message, a movement by the people 4 the people!”

On his Twitter page, Ashton wrote that they wanted to raise awareness — and then expand.

“if ppl arnt aware of a problem they cnt fix it. we’ve also procured 10million dollars worth of food 2 distribute through ths effort,” he wrote, adding, “we are starting at home US then we will branch out.”

Ashton, Twitter’s most popular user, reached a second milestone on the social networking site recently — its first user to cross 1 million followers, he is now the only Twitterer with 2 million.

ABC Dominates With N.B.A. Finals

ABC’s broadcast of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rout of the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the N.B.A. Finals easily delivered Thursday night’s largest viewing audience and helped bring the network an overall ratings victory. Although final figures will not be available until Monday, Nielsen’s preliminary estimates show that the broadcast drew higher ratings than any other program on the night by a wide margin. The overnight estimates were also slightly higher than last year’s preliminary numbers for Game 1. Nielsen’s final audience figures for that game were 13.4 million viewers. Fox and CBS finished in a virtual tie for second place; Fox fared best with “So You Think You Can Dance” (8.2 million), while CBS had its strongest showing with a rerun of “The Mentalist” (8.6 million). NBC finished in fourth place with the mediocre debut of its new series “The Listener” (5.3 million), which followed the conclusion of the first week of “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!” (5.2 million).

Angelina Jolie Pens Article About Impending U.N. Decision On Darfur President

Angelina Jolie is using her celebrity status to once again draw light to the situation in Darfur.

In an article the 34-year-old actress penned for Time magazine, Angelina reminded citizens of the world that the United Nations would hear the results of an investigation they called for into the situation in Darfur.

Angelina expressed her outrage over Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, kicking out 16 international aid groups after he was indicted on seven war crime counts and five crimes against humanity counts. And the actress wrote to remind the public about the struggle those in Darfur continue to face.

“Darfur has almost disappeared from the news, and experts now call it a ‘low-intensity’ conflict. But the intensity of the crisis has not lessened for those who are struggling to survive. More than 250,000 people from Darfur have lived destitute lives in refugee camps in Chad for six years now,” Angelina wrote. “Camps with more than 2 million internally displaced persons inside Darfur are even worse. Thirty percent of those displaced are school-age children. Girls leaving the camps are raped; boys leaving the camps are killed. They want an education; they want to go back to their villages, to their land; they want peace. But they also want justice.”

Angelina claims she learned about how disturbing the situation was in Darfur, during a visit to Chad she took in 2004.

“On that trip — more than five years ago — the refugees I met told me that the government was organizing the violence. About a year later, the international community came to the same conclusion. Some began to call the violence ‘mass atrocities.’ Others ramped up the rhetoric and called it ‘crimes against humanity.’ Nothing changed.”

The actress said the Security Council member states now have to decide what to do about the situation.

“As they are considering Bashir’s fate they are also considering their own,” she wrote.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mandy Moore gets backs to basics on new CD

Mandy Moore doesn't mind being perpetually seen as the "good girl" - even if she thinks that image is a bit skewed.

"You know what? It's fair to say that I am proud and honored that the perception out there is that I'm a good person. That's, to me, the highest compliment. I try to be a good person," the 25-year-old entertainer said in a recent interview. "But I don't think it's completely accurate to say that I'm just good. There is balance in life. You can't have good without a little bad."

Her latest album, "Amanda Leigh," may underscore her point. At first listen, the perfectly perky first single, "I Could Break Your Heart Every Day of the Week," sounds like something tailor-made for today's tweens. But listen again and you'll hear a lyric, co-written by Moore, which sounds as if it was coming from a dominatrix: "Squeeze the life out of you/Wrap you in sheets/I could break your heart any day of the week."

"It's very tongue in cheek, not to be taken to heart by any means," Moore said. "It's sassy, if you will, and a little edgier and no-nonsense - a side of myself that doesn't really come out too often. But it was sort of fun to go there for the sake of the music."

With a folk-rock-pop fusion, "Amanda Leigh" - which takes its title from her given name - tips its hat to mid-1970s era Joni Mitchell and also pays homage to Paul and Linda McCartney's crunchy-granola classic "Ram" (1971). The CD also marks Moore's first release with indie Storefront Recordings after a decade with major recording labels.

"Starting out when you're 14 and signing to a major record label sort of in the heyday of pop music and overspending and sort of all that gluttony, it's really nice to sort of really come back to what's important," said Moore, who first rose to fame as a 15-year-old with the bubblegum song "Candy," then matured in her sound and style over various recordings and became known as an actress for films including "A Walk to Remember."

When she was in the early stages of putting together the album, Moore's ex-boyfriend, DJ AM (Adam Goldstein), and musician Travis Barker were seriously injured in a September plane crash that killed two crew members and two other passengers. Moore sprinted to be at his side in an Augusta, Ga. burn unit - which, Moore said, some media outlets took the wrong way.

"It kind of saddened me," she recalled. "When everything went down it was like, 'Oh, they're dating again.' I was like, 'In this day and age with everything that's going on in the world, it made me sad that there was not a value to friendship,' which, to me is often more important than the other stuff, anyway."

Earlier this year, Moore married famously tortured singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. Moore says the indie artist couldn't help but influence her new album just by his presence - but he didn't contribute in any direct way.

Though some of considered the union an odd pairing, Moore bristles when it's suggested that the "good girl" and her new alt-country husband are a case of opposites attracting.

"To be perfectly honest, I can understand the interest and fascination with our relationship, but there's definitely more than what meets the eye," she said. "I don't think it's a very yin-and-yang relationship. In fact, I feel like we're probably a lot more like most people would imagine and that's wonderful. ... Life is good. I lucked out."

Thai coroner seeks cause of "Kung Fu" actor's death

Thai coroners completed an autopsy on the body of actor David Carradine Friday, a day after the star of 1970s-era U.S. television show "Kung Fu" was found naked and hanging dead in his luxury hotel room.

Coroners at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn hospital said they had not yet determined how the 72-year-old actor died and were waiting for the results of a toxicology screen. Police said it could take several weeks before the reason was known.

"We are now running tests and then we will decide the cause of death," the hospital's chief coroner, Nantana Sirisap, told Reuters. "This certainly was not a natural cause of death."

A maid found Carradine hanging naked by a rope in the closet of his hotel suite at the plush Swissotel Nai Lert Park hotel Thursday, police said.

Initial reports indicated a possible suicide, but his family representatives in Los Angeles have repeatedly said the actor was not suicidal.

Representatives for Carradine also declined to comment on media reports that the death was related to autoerotic asphyxiation, which involves intentionally cutting off oxygen supply for strong sexual arousal. And a former lawyer for Carradine said she suspected foul play.

But investigators in Bangkok said there was no indication other people had been in the room where Carradine was staying while shooting the movie "Stretch." Police and forensics teams were still gathering evidence as of Friday.

"We are currently interviewing witnesses, film crew, hotel staff and the last person who saw David alive," Lumpini police chief Colonel Somprasong Yentuam told Reuters.

"So far, no one saw anyone enter David's room around the estimated time of death."


A hotel employee, who gave her name as Oi, said Carradine was in good spirits in the final few hours he was seen alive.

"He was in the hotel lobby, relaxing and playing the piano -- he looked very happy," she told Reuters television.

Tiffany Smith of Carradine's Los Angeles-based talent manager Binder & Assoc. repeated assertions that the actor's family believes Carradine could not have committed suicide.

"It's not where he is in his life right now, he was completely full of life, extremely happy to be going to Bangkok and doing this film," she said.

Smith declined comment on media reports about the possibility of an accidental death by autoerotic asphyxiation, pending the police report. Autoerotic asphyxiation involves intentionally cutting off oxygen supply for strong sexual arousal.

Carradine was married five times and had two daughters from previous marriages.

Susan Boyle leaves clinic, eyes U.S. success

Susan Boyle, who became a global star after appearing on a British television talent contest, has left the London clinic where she was being treated for exhaustion, her brother said on Friday.

The 48-year-old amateur singer from Scotland, whose performance on "Britain's Got Talent" in April was downloaded nearly 200 million times on the Internet, was admitted to the Priory clinic on Sunday amid concerns for her mental health.

"She's much happier," her brother Gerry told GMTV.

"She seems a lot more like herself. I think things are becoming clearer now and she's much more content. I believe she's in the middle of London, in a flat in London."

Dowdy and unglamorous, the unemployed church volunteer challenged viewers' notion of what a star should be.

Boyle was thrust into the media limelight with camera crews camping outside her home and Larry King and Oprah Winfrey inviting her to appear on their U.S. chat shows.

But as Saturday's final of the popular talent show approached, Boyle, who was starved of oxygen at birth leading to minor brain damage, began to show signs of strain, bursting into tears regularly and threatening to leave the show.

When she failed to win the final, despite overwhelming odds in her favor, she was admitted to the private clinic suffering from emotional exhaustion.

Boyle's financial future is seen as secure despite coming second to dance troupe Diversity, as Britain's Got Talent creator Simon Cowell and his Syco music label are expected to sign her up for an album.

There has also been talk of a Hollywood movie.

"The way forward now is to talk about where her career goes from here," Boyle's brother said.

"She's absorbing the fact that America has a huge appetite for her and she's now beginning to believe that yes, indeed, I will be a singer and there will be a recording career beyond it. It's all she ever wanted to do."

He backed Cowell to manage Boyle's recording career.

"Simon Cowell -- he's been around the dance floor a few times hasn't he? I'm sure that he knows that he's got someone who has broken down the barriers in America before she even gets there and I'm sure Simon will do a good job for her."

Boyle's brother also confirmed reports that Boyle was expecting to perform in front of U.S. President Barack Obama.

"Idol" winner Kris Allen to sing at NBA finals

"American Idol" champion Kris Allen will sing the U.S. national anthem on Sunday before the second game of the NBA finals, pairing the winner of TV's top-rated talent show with U.S. professional basketball's biggest series.

The 23-year-old Allen, a student from Arkansas, won the 2009 season of the popular singing contest, defeating presumed front-runner Adam Lambert who was known for his outlandish style.

Allen will serenade basketball fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, when the Los Angeles Lakers play the Orlando Magic. The Lakers routed the Magic in the first game Thursday night, winning 100-75. Allen's version of the anthem will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. EDT.

Allen is the latest "Idol" winner to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the league's championship series. Since 2004, the NBA has worked with past "Idols" including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

Elton John, Dolly Parton to perform at Tonys

The Tony Awards will include a few bona fide music stars among the usual song-and-dance numbers. Elton John, Dolly Parton and Poison will help toast Broadway's finest at Sunday's ceremony, performing with the casts of top-nominated shows "Billy Elliot The Musical," "9 to 5 The Musical" and "Rock of Ages."

"A bunch of the shows are getting together and doing a mash-up," said Constantine Maroulis of "Rock of Ages," the tongue-in-cheek hair metal tribute that features original music by Journey, Pat Benatar and Bon Jovi and is vying for five awards including best musical.

"It'll be really cool -- one of those TV-magic moments." The New Jersey-bred rock singer and "American Idol" alumnus couldn't reveal which song he'd be performing with Brett Michaels and company, but he hinted at "Nothin' But a Good Time" by saying that it was "something more up-tempo" than the other Poison song performed in the musical, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

Parton will perform with the cast of "9 to 5 The Musical," which earned four nominations including best original score. Parton wrote the score for the musical as well as the original song "Backwoods Barbie," also the title track of her latest album. "I've been working on this for four years," the country veteran said at the time, adding that it "was fun for me. It's a different process. I had much more freedom writing for the stage than I do for records."

John will appear at Sunday's ceremony to perform with the cast of "Billy Elliot The Musical," which goes into the night with 15 nominations, tying the record set by "The Producers" in 2001.

"I don't expect to win at all, actually," said Maroulis, who's competing for best actor in a musical against the three children who play Billy Elliot. "I haven't even thought about it 'cause I know that I'm not going to; those Billy Elliot kids are extraordinary."

The Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS from Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Whitney Houston to release comeback album this fall

Pop diva Whitney Houston will release a new album in September, her first in seven years, Arista Records said on Thursday, announcing the long-awaited comeback for the talented but troubled star.

Since her career kicked off in 1985 with her self-titled debut, Houston has sold more than 170 million records, singles and videos around the world. Houston, 45, is one of music's most decorated female artists, with more than 400 awards.

Trained as a gospel singer, some of Houston's best-known hits include "How Will I Know," "Greatest Love of All," and "I Will Always Love You" from the 1992 movie "The Bodyguard," in which she also starred.

In recent years, she made headlines for her troubled personal life, including stints in rehab and a 2007 divorce from husband Bobby Brown.

Houston's most recent public performance was in February at a pre-Grammy party hosted by record producer Clive Davis, where Davis said she was ready for her comeback. She was also a presenter at the Grammy Awards.

"Billy Elliot" set to win big at Tony Awards

"Billy Elliot The Musical" is likely to dance away with a haul of Tony Awards, critics say, when the top U.S. theater honors are announced on Sunday for a Broadway season that defied recession with record sales.

In the running for 15 Tony Awards, "Billy Elliot" is based on Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry's 2000 film about a ballet dancing schoolboy in a mining town in northern England. The show has already won 10 Drama Desk Awards and seven Outer Critics Circle Awards.

Critics from the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News agree the production will win best new musical, Daldry will be named best director of a musical and the three teenage actors who share the role of "Billy Elliot" will together win for best lead actor in a musical.

"Billy Elliot is going to do quite well," New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel told Reuters. "It's a very emotionally moving and absorbing story, extremely well directed by Stephen Daldry."

The Los Angeles Times entertainment awards website, The Envelope, which has so far polled 10 critics for its Tony picks, predicts "Billy Elliot" will win at least 11, including best original score by Sir Elton John and Lee Hall, who also wrote the film and the musical production.

The show is competing against "Shrek the Musical," "Next to Normal" and "Rock of Ages" for best new musical. "Next to Normal" star Alice Ripley is tipped to win best lead actress in a musical for her role as a bipolar suburban housewife.

"God of Carnage" is the front-runner for best new play. Its all-star cast -- former "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels -- have all been nominated in the best actor and actress in a play categories.


Harden is tipped to win best actress in a play, while best actor is widely expected to go to Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush, who had rave reviews for his Broadway debut in "Exit the King," which also starred Susan Sarandon.

"The Norman Conquests," a trilogy of comedies that came to Broadway from a sold-out run in London, is the favorite to win best revival of a play, while groundbreaking 1960s rock musical "Hair" appears the one to beat for best revival of a musical.

"It's nice to see Broadway is hospitable to serious dramas and well-made, intelligently written comedies," said Riedel. "The danger was that Broadway was going to be swamped by these god awful things like 'Shrek' and '9 to 5' and all this cheesy tourist crap, but the straight play has held its own."

The Broadway League says the 39 theaters in the famous district contribute $5.1 billion per year to the economy of New York, on top of ticket sales, and support 44,000 jobs.

During the 12-month Broadway season ending May 24, 43 shows opened -- the most in more than 25 years, said the Broadway League. There were 10 new musicals, eight new plays, four musical revivals, 16 play revivals and five special shows.

"We had so many great new shows that were so well reviewed that the competition was tough," said Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin.

"There is definitely a growing trend toward having more limited runs and due to the writers strike last year we had a lot of big box office stars from both movies and television that had some time available."
Broadway's paid attendance was 12.15 million tickets, down from 12.27 million the previous season, but gross takings rose $6 million, or 0.6 percent, to $943.3 million, beating the previous record set in the 2006/07 season of $938.5 million.

Eminem Fans Divided Over His Comments On Brüno Incident

Hard as it may be for some to believe that Eminem was in on his incident with Brüno at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night, the MC's comments on the stunt have certainly gotten fans talking.

After Eminem said he was "thrilled that we pulled this off better than we rehearsed it," the response was sharply divided over whether the bit was a hilarious display of good humor by Slim Shady or a bad look for a rapper.

Many of the comments applauded Eminem and Brüno for pulling off the stunt so well. MTViewer89 labeled it "one of the best pranks of all time had so many people fooled including me. People were getting so emotional about it. Hell yeah, Shady, best prank ever."

Shorty333 chalked it all up to Marshall Mathers' marketing genius. "He can take a joke better than most entertainers ... and laugh all the way to the bank! Shock value sells. Not only is he a truly talented artist ... but he is a stable cultural icon and I give him an immense amount of credit for all he has accomplished!!! Congrats!" And asid12345678 wrote, "lol ... this guy shud get an MTV award ... classic acting!"

Hislady4lyfe said haters were focusing on all the wrong things. "Props to MTV, Eminem and Sacha Baron Cohen for this absolutely hilarious display of pure acting talent!" Lyfe wrote. "This was fantastic. Whether it's 'gay' or not for Eminem to have agreed to this stunt really isn't the issue here ... Honestly, there were nominees in the Best Kiss category for male/male saliva swapping ... who cares that Em let Borat do this? It's pretty f----n funny if ya ask me."

However, others were more skeptical. "I'm not buying it," wrote HotMilk. "Eminem is trying to save his 'tough guy' image." Jlupi agreed, writing that "the incident was worse if it was staged."

Itaintme simply didn't believe the whole story. "Watch the clip again. I'm sorry I really don't think EM knew about this," Aintme wrote. "He looks pissed off. And I don't think he would have gone back to the hotel and laugh about it, why didn't he laugh then and stay at the show?"

"Kung Fu" actor Carradine found hanged in Thai hotel

Actor David Carradine, star of the 1970s U.S. television show "Kung Fu," was found naked and hanging dead from a rope in the closet of his luxury Bangkok hotel room Thursday, Thai police said.

No signs were found of other people in the room and the body of the 72-year-old actor was sent to a hospital for an autopsy, police said. Results are expected on Friday.

"He was found hanging by a rope in the room's closet," Lieutenant Colonel Pirom Jantrapirom of the Lumpini police station in Bangkok told Reuters.

Carradine, from a family of performers and the eldest son of character actor John Carradine, enjoyed a long career on Broadway, television and in movies such as director Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" and "Kill Bill: Vol. 2."

Representatives for his Los Angeles-based talent manager said the actor was in Thailand to shoot a film called "Stretch," and while several media reports speculated his death may have been a suicide, a spokeswoman said neither they nor his family believed Carradine was capable of killing himself.

"His family is in shock," said Tiffany Smith of Carradine's management firm, Binder & Associates. "They have the same belief we have. There was no way David did this to himself."

Smith declined further comment pending the police report.

In his 1995 autobiography "Endless Highway," Carradine wrote that he tried to kill himself when he was 5 years-old.

The book also described his extensive drug use, ranging from LSD to cocaine, and ended with a chronicle of his efforts in the mid-1990s to get sober by attending a support group for alcoholics.


Condolences came pouring in from Hollywood celebrities and fans posting comments on his website,

Martin Scorsese, who directed Carradine in 1972's "Boxcar Bertha," called Carradine "a great collaborator, a uniquely talented actor, and a wonderful spirit."

One poster on Carradine's website wrote, "What a sad day it is for all who grew up watching David Carradine." Another said "RIP Grasshopper" -- the nickname of his "Kung Fu" character Kwai Chang Caine, a wandering monk in America's Old West who became an iconic figure of U.S. TV in the 1970s.

The actor was born John Arthur Carradine on December 8, 1936, in Los Angeles and was educated at San Francisco State University, where he studied music theory and composition.

While writing music for the drama department's annual revues, he discovered his own passion for the stage, joining a Shakespearean repertory company.

After working on Broadway in "The Deputy" and "The Royal Hunt of the Sun" opposite Christopher Plummer, Carradine earned a spot on Hollywood's map in the 1960s in TV westerns such as "Wagon Train" and "The Virginian" as well as his starring role in a TV version of the hit western movie "Shane."

But it was his role in "Kung Fu" that earned the actor his greatest fame. The series aired on U.S. television starting in 1972 and immediately won a large fan base for Carradine as Caine, a half-Asian martial arts expert and student of life.

The show spawned a movie and numerous other offshoots. Overall, Carradine's credits include more than 200 roles in movies, TV, video and DVD spanning nearly five decades.

His role as Caine earned him a nomination for an Emmy, U.S. TV's highest honor, and his turn as the villainous Bill in "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" led to his fourth Golden Globe nomination. He also won critical acclaim for portraying folk singer Woody Guthrie in the Oscar-nominated 1976 film "Bound for Glory."

Carradine was married five times and had two daughters from previous marriages. His latest wife was Annie Bierman, whom he married in 2004. His brothers include actor Keith Carradine.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Paul McCartney still enjoys the thrill of performing

Playing the Beatles card trumps everything: trendiness, chart position, even senior citizenship. That's why Paul McCartney jumped at invitations to open the new Citi Field stadium next month and headline April's indie-rock mecca at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

He overcame any jitters about facing down cutting-edge bands and jaded audiences after his appearance at England's Glastonbury Festival in 2004.

"What had held me up from doing Glastonbury before was that idea that it was so young and so hip," he says, lounging backstage with his girlfriend, Nancy Shevell, before his sold-out concert in April at another youth-centric venue, the Hard Rock Hotel's newly opened The Joint. "But somebody told me about being at Glastonbury one year, wandering around at night and hearing everyone singing Beatles songs around the campfires.

"I said, well, I can do that. If it isn't everyone sitting around campfires singing massively obscure indie songs, then I get it. It's just another show."

For fans, a McCartney performance is never just another show, says Billboard touring editor Ray Waddell.

"Any time Paul McCartney hits the stage, it's an event, and the world takes notice," Waddell says. "Very few artists command the kind of global respect as does McCartney. He continues to push his own creative boundaries. It also helps more than a little that he comes off as a genuine person. This combination of music and charisma translates into serious box office."

McCartney's hit-packed set was hailed as the highlight of Coachella's smorgasbord of brand names and rising stars. "I like festivals. I like the vibe. I like the idea of people coming together as a culture."

Though fans can expect a parade of Fab Four hits at his summer shows, there will be no coming together of McCartney and ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, despite rumors of a reunion sparked by their matchup April 4 at the benefit for the David Lynch Foundation.

"I played and sang on (Ringo's) album, new stuff he's putting together, because he asked me," McCartney says. "It was fun. David Lynch asked me to do (the benefit), then somehow asked Ringo, and immediately: Beatles reunion concert! Ay-yi-yi."

His Beatles status has been both a career boost and burden.

"You get fed up being him," he says. "You're always that guy. If I was Bruce Springsteen, I might get fed up being Bruce Springsteen. I might want to be the kid I was growing up, when I didn't have that image to live up to."

His set list indulges fans with Beatles classic Let It Be, Wings hit Band on the Run and solo standout Flaming Pie, but it also has selections from his Electric Arguments album last year with electronica producer Youth under the pseudonym The Fireman.

"If I buy a ticket to a show, I know what I want to hear the band play," he says. "So I start with that: What would I want to hear me play if I was in the audience? Then we start rehearsing stuff I'd like to play or that we haven't done for a while, or never done. That creeps in. We just learned a couple Fireman songs. That's interesting, because they're improvisational and you've almost got to rewrite them into a shape we can all understand. I fancy playing electric guitar, so I work in a couple of excuses for that."

The Fireman allowed McCartney to abandon conventional songwriting structures and "throw it all open." Anonymity freed him from expectations.

"I would shout about, pretend to be a DJ," he says. "It's different, energizing and freeing."

And yet McCartney takes great pride that, at 66, he sold out The Joint in seven seconds, a world record.

"When my name is on the marquee, I'm very happy about it," he says, adding that a quirky sideline "recharges your battery. If you do this all the time, you'd get bored and jaded. I'm not jaded. I still love what I do."

He's scouting for producers, but not a label, as he prepares to record a solo album. His last solo effort, 2007's Memory Almost Full, was released on Starbucks' Hear Music label.

"People like me are just looking for a distributor, and there are so many options," he says. "I've written a bunch of new songs over the last couple of months. I've got a guitar concerto that's cooking in the background, some classical pieces I'm writing."

And he'll make his debut Sept. 9 as "an android" in The Beatles: Rock Band video game. "It's another way to present The Beatles' music," McCartney says. "People don't want to let it go. For me, it's good fun."

McCartney has had some hard times in recent years, starting with first wife Linda's death in 1998. He was shattered when ex-Beatle George Harrison died in 2001, and he weathered a fractious split from Heather Mills. They divorced in 2008.

Such ups and downs are hardly unusual, he insists.

"I'm in the public eye, so you notice my trials and tribulations," he says. "Most people my age have been through similar things. They've lost loved ones. Lots of people have been divorced. You have to try to understand it and move on. It's never easy.

"How do I do it? I remember the good times."

Angelina Jolie tops Celebrity 100

Angelina Jolie is now the most powerful celebrity in the world, taking the No. 1 spot on Forbes' 2009 Celebrity 100 list, which ranks stars from the film, TV, music and sports worlds based on entertainment-related earnings as well as exposure in the media.

This pushes Oprah Winfrey, who held the top spot for two consecutive years, down to No. 2 on a list dominated by females.

Being in the spotlight throughout the past 12 months brought Jolie to the top of the list. However, Winfrey remains the highest-paid, earning $275 million over the past year, compared with Jolie's $27 million.

Madonna's "Hard Candy" tour helped her rise 18 spots on the list to No. 3. She earned $110 million. Beyonce Knowles, who earned $87 million this past year, remains in the same spot as last year at No. 4.

Tiger Woods, who remains the highest-paid athlete in the world, was bumped down three spots to No. 5, making him the highest-ranking male celebrity.

Thanks to his latest tour, Bruce Springsteen returns as No. 6 on the list this year, while Steven Spielberg takes the No. 7 spot, up from No. 13 last year. He pulled in $150 million last year with the release of the latest "Indiana Jones" movie, amongst others.

Jennifer Aniston took spot No. 8 (up from No. 17) with Brad Pitt, her ex, close behind at No. 9, up one spot. The No. 10 spot was taken by Kobe Bryant, who makes his first appearance in the top 10.

Many wondered whether or not Barack Obama would make the list this year, becoming the first president to appear in Forbes' Celebrity 100. Indeed, he sits at No. 49 after a historic election brought his fame to a new level and helped him sell over 1 million books.

Other newcomers to the list include Alec Baldwin (No. 91) and Meryl Streep (No. 64), as well as country musicians Toby Keith (No. 59) and Rascal Flatts (No. 42). Rising music star Taylor Swift also made the list at No. 69.

Other notable celebrities include Miley Cyrus at No. 29 and Ryan Seacrest, who sits at No. 44. 50 Cent, coincidentally, sits at No. 50.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

'New Moon' co-stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart get cozy following MTV Movie Awards

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart may not have been just acting when they accepted their MTV Movie Award for "Best Kiss" on Sunday night.

Spies caught the "Twilight Saga: New Moon" co-stars getting cozy on an intimate date at hip L.A. eatery Cecconi's following the awards show. The pair - who so far have claimed to be just friends - looked anything but as they held hands throughout the meal.

While Stewart has been dating fellow actor Michael Arangano for the past four years, her real-life boyfriend was nowhere to be seen as she chatted quietly with Pattinson. After the dinner, which ended around 11 p.m., a police escort brought the pair back to their West Hollywood hotel. Stewart, who at 19 is underage, stayed in, but man-of-the-hour Pattinson left his crush and headed to a late-night fete at Guy's.

Says an insider of the stars' budding relationship: "Robert is obsessed with Kristen and has been for a while. He likes that she's a cool, down-to-earth girl. Kristen never saw Rob as anything but a friend, but that seems to be changing."

One reason for Stewart's new interest in her co-star? He's been bulking up his already enviable bod.

"Taylor [Lautner] been training Rob a lot, and that's why he's got such ripped abs," "New Moon" co-star Kellan Lutz told The News' Nancy Dillon. "Rob's been working hard. He's trying to be the best Edward [Pattinson's character in the films] he can be."

Stewart and Pattinson also share a love of music. They both play the guitar, with Pattinson even contributing a song to the "Twilight" soundtrack.

Peter Facinelli, who plays Pattinson's vampire dad in the "Twilight" series, told us: "I love to hear Rob sing. He's got an insanely good voice. Sometimes we all get together and he gets on the guitar and starts playing and singing. He writes his own material."

He added, "Kristen has taken up the guitar for the movie she's doing [on Joan Jett]. Everyone's been carrying a guitar around."

What better way for Rob to profess his adoration for Kristen than a love song?

Read more:

Disney embraces Pooh for animated feature

Walt Disney Studios has a new Winnie the Pooh hand-drawn animated theatrical release in the works, and it's also creating two primetime TV specials starring the main character of the animated series "Handy Manny."

The announcements are planned for Tuesday at the Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas, where executives also will discuss plans to pump more enthusiasm into the world's largest licensed character franchise: Mickey Mouse.

That effort, said consumer products chairman Andy Mooney, could include classic footage of an animated Mickey mashed up with contemporary Disney properties, with the resulting creations running on the Disney Channel.

"Through extensive research with kids, we found they actually love the original Mickey Mouse property," Mooney said.

As for Pooh, the movie's planned release for spring 2011 will follow by six years "Pooh's Heffalump Movie," which was panned by critics and earned just $18 million at the domestic box office.

On the "Handy Manny" front, one TV special is set for this year and another for next, and a new 20-episode short-form series called "Handy Manny's School for Tools" will debut next year as well.

Based on revenue, Disney's consumer products unit is its second smallest, after interactive media, but in the latest quarter it was the fastest growing, mostly because of the company's decision to take back ownership of Disney Stores North America.

Disney's licensing-show event also will feature chief creative officer John Lasseter discussing plans for the re-release of "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" in 3-D in October followed by "Toy Story 3" in summer 2010.

"Toy Story" merchandise in the works includes a Buzz Lightyear robot that responds to 25 voice commands and a line of LEGO products based on the film franchise.

Alyssa Milano commits to "Boyfriend"

Former "Charmed" star Alyssa Milano is about to weave a spell on the big screen.

The actress has signed on to star in and produce "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend," a romantic comedy in which she plays a woman with a relationship dilemma.

Beau Bridges, Michael Landes, Christopher Gorham and Carol Kane round out the cast.

Milano will play an outgoing woman who meets two seemingly ideal men in quick succession -- a struggling novelist (Gorham) and successful ad executive (Landes) -- and must decide between them. Daryn Tufts will direct from his own script.

Milano, who produced her hit television show "Charmed," recently had a recurring role on NBC's "My Name Is Earl."

Gorham stars in CBS' limited series "Harper's Island," and Landes next stars in the Sarah Michelle Gellar-toplined supernatural tale "Possession.

Jennifer Hudson's baby shower confirms the news

A weekend baby shower in downtown Chicago confirmed what has long been rumored: Jennifer Hudson is pregnant.

Hudson preg “It was a baby shower, a quiet gathering of friends and mostly family,” singer/actress Felicia Fields, a longtime Hudson friend, said of Saturday’s get-together in a relative’s home. “They’re really trying to keep it kind of quiet.”

South Side native Hudson, the 27-year-old singing star who won the 2006 best supporting actress Oscar for “Dreamgirls,” is engaged to former reality TV star David Otunga, who’s currently pursuing a pro wrestling career. Hudson has said she no longer would live in Chicago after her mother, Darnell Donerson, brother Jason and nephew Julian King were found murdered in October, with William Balfour, the estranged husband of Jennifer’s sister Julia, charged with the crimes.

Hudson recently finished a co-headlining concert tour with singer Robin Thicke, with an April 25 show at the Arie Crown Theatre. Her manager and publicist previously denied that she is pregnant.

"It was a nice time that we had," Fields said of the shower. She didn’t want to get into when the baby is due, but speculation is that Hudson is many months along—an impression bolstered by her appearance of late.

As for whether Hudson received blue or pink gifts, Fields said, “They don’t know [the gender]. More yellow.”

Miley Cyrus signs on for more "Hannah"

"Hannah Montana" will shine on. Disney Channel has closed a deal for a fourth season of the blockbuster series starring Miley Cyrus.

The cable channel also has ordered a second season of its breakout new comedy series "Sonny With a Chance," starring Demi Lovato, and has tapped Jeffrey Hornaday, choreographer of such movies as "Flashdance" and "A Chorus Line," to direct and choreograph the fourth "High School Musical" movie.

There had been questions about whether Cyrus would return to the series that made her a global star, with the teen actress-singer recently expressing her intention to continue her small-screen duties as Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana for one more year.

As part of the deal, Cyrus will get a long hiatus to work on the feature "The Last Song," with production on the fourth season of "Hannah Montana" slated to begin next year. (Filming of the show's third season wraps this week.)

The series will change settings next season, during which the Stewarts will grapple with saying goodbye to their beachfront Malibu home.

"That will provide the catalyst for wonderful new characters and further expand the storytelling opportunities," said Disney Channel Worldwide president Gary Marsh.

"Hannah Montana" -- which also stars Cyrus' dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment and Jason Earles -- draws an average of 4.4 million viewers per episode.

A 2007 episode of the show still ranks as the highest-rated basic cable series telecast ever with 10.7 million total viewers.

"Hannah Montana" has generated two double-platinum soundtracks, a No. 1 box-office movie, DVDs, a junior novel series, apparel, accessories, videogames and a Miley Cyrus concert tour, which spawned a 3-D film version that became the No. 1 concert film of all time.

"Hannah Montana" was created by Michael Poryes, Rich Correll and Barry O'Brien.

Since its premiere in February, "Sonny," toplined by rising star Lovato, has become TV's top program for kids 6-11.

Written by Peter Barsocchini, "High School Musical East Meets West," about the cross-town school rivalry between the East High Wildcats and West High Knights, is scheduled to premiere in 2010.

Eminem and Bruno’s MTV Awards Stunt Was Staged, Writer Says

After the now-epic collision of Brüno and Eminem at the MTV Movie Awards, a debate raged in the comments of Rock Daily and across the Net: Was the failed stunt — which featured Borat mastermind Sacha Baron Cohen dressed in feathers and a thong flying through the air and landing extremely uncomfortably on the seemingly shocked Slim Shady — staged, or was it scripted? Sources tell EW it was no surprise, and according to the head writer of the awards show, the incident was planned and rehearsed.

As the Los Angeles Times’ Pop & Hiss blog first spotted, a Tumblr post by the show’s head writer Scott Aukerman, who was hired by host Andy Samberg and his cohort Akiva Shaffer, stated, “Yes, the Bruno/Eminem incident was staged. That’s all anyone wants to talk about, so let’s get it out of the way. They rehearsed it at dress and yes, it went as far as it did on the live show then.” So not only did Eminem get a face full of Brüno in front of all of America, he had to stomach a similar dose during rehearsals. Eminem, such a good sport.

Aukerman, likely being forced to adhere with MTV’s post-show “It wasn’t staged!” claim, has since took down that Tumblr post. Still, what are the odds Eminem would be miked for sound while sitting in the audience if he wasn’t in on it, what are the chances MTV would allow for a high wire stunt to take place over hundreds — OK, dozens — of celebrities if they didn’t control every facet of the landing, and how convenient was it that every camera in the house was ready to focus in on Em?

Still, many Rock Daily readers are convinced the stunt was a prank on an unwitting and P.O.’ed Eminem. Reader kett posted, “That definitely was NOT staged. Em was furious, and I for one do not blame him. Joke or not, no grown man wants another mans balls and junk in his face.” Other commenters helped spread a false rumor that Cohen was beat up by Eminem’s bodyguards post-show. Even though the incident was staged, it won’t prevent the Eminem and Cohen sandwich from becoming one of the greatest, most hilarious moments in MTV awards show history.

Talent winners to star in 3D film

Dance troupe Diversity, winners of TV's Britain's Got Talent, are to appear in a new British film to be shot in 3D.

Fellow competitors Flawless will also appear in the film, as will last year's winner George Sampson.

The film, Street Dance, follows a dance crew in training for the Street Dance Championships who are forced to work alongside ballet dancers.

Distributed by Vertigo Films, it has been described as "the first British movie to be shot in 3D".

Producer James Richardson signed both Diversity and Flawless to the film after seeing them perform last July at the UK Street Dance Championships.


"I immediately started talking to them about being in the film since I felt they represented the very best of British street dance," he said in a statement.

Casting is still in progress for the film, which will begin shooting in the UK in August under the direction of award-winning video makers Max and Darnia.

Diversity were the surprise victors of Saturday's Britain's Got Talent final, beating hotly-tipped singer Susan Boyle into second place.

The 11-strong Essex-based troupe includes three sets of brothers and has members aged from 13 to 25.

London-based Flawless also competed in Saturday's final but did not make it into the final three.