Today's News: Our Take


USHERING HIMSELF OUT

Coming one step closer to being given a chart all his own, Usher replaced himself at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart again this week. In May, the baby-faced vocalist's "Burn" displaced its predecessor, "Yeah!" Now, "Confessions, Part II," the third release from his Confessions album, has taken over the top spot from its predecessor, "Burn." We haven't seen this kind of domination since the nominees were announced for the HBO Awards. Er, the Emmys. read more

THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED

Arthur Kane, bassist for the 1970s glam-rock band the New York Dolls passed away on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Complications from leukemia killed the 55-year-old musician, the group's manager told Billboard.com. read more

SHE'S COOKED!

Earlier this morning in federal court, Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison for insider trading. After doing her time, she'll serve another five months under house arrest and two years of "supervised release," which, I think, is legalese for probation. "I'll be back," Stewart vowed in a press conference afterwards. "I'm not afraid. Not afraid whatsoever. I'm very sorry it had to come to this." The domestic goddess, who could have gotten up to 16 months in the clink, won't be sporting stripes just yet though. Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum stayed her sentence pending appeal. Stewart will sit down for an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters on tonight's 20/20 to discuss her future. read more

GOD HELP US

Val Kilmer has signed on to play Moses in a stage production of The 10 Commandments, which is scheduled to begin previews at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on September 18. Sounds like a kooky career move to us — and we bet even Courtney Love would agree — but at least the erstwhile Batman has the experience to do justice to the part: He already brought to life the tablet-toting religious icon once, in the animated flick The Prince of Egypt. read more

IF HE HAD A HAMMER...

How much of a do-it-yourselfer is Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor? He's such a do-it-yourselfer that he not only is producing his new album — cheerfully titled Bleed Through — but he also announced that fact on his own website. In addition, alt-rock's king of pain is playing all the music on the CD, due out in early '05, except for the drum bits, which are being handled by Dave Grohl. On second thought, sheesh — what a slacker this Reznor cat is! read more

Big Brother 5 Just when I thought...

Big Brother 5
Just when I thought that this show couldn't get more appalling, I'm rendered speechless again when we are presented with footage of Michael's birth father watching the son he never knew he had realize that Jennifer/Nakomis is his half-sister. CBS, how low can you go? That's a rhetorical question, not a dare.

Anyway... Mike the commercial painter from Michigan got the boot by a unanimous vote apparently orchestrated by the Four Horsemen (Jase, Scott, Drew and Michael). Was there ever any doubt he'd get picked over Jennifer/Nakomis? Sure, she's a little weird-looking but she's Michael's long-lost sister. As long as the other three FHs deign to keep the cowboy around, I predict she'll be safe — no matter what color her hair happens to be that week. (So far, I'm partial to the green; it brings out her eyes.)

But back to Mike for a second, who aptly summed up his experience in the BB read more

Metallica Shares Inner Turmoil


For more than 20 years, Metallica's rocked hard and lived hard, while remaining at the forefront of heavy-metal music. Their current documentary, Some Kind of Monster, chronicles the band's recent near-demise following the not-so-amicable departure of bassist Jason Newsted. It also shows a softer side of the rock giants. Fans peek in on their group-therapy sessions and see lead singer James Hetfield's life post-rehab. This doesn't mean they'll be all nicey nice now, though, does it?

"We've been emotional our whole career," says Hetfield. "I think we feel more creative than ever, and the anger is there. It is always going to be there.

"Music is a great therapy," the 40-year-old continues. "It has been a great communicator for me and I know that there has always been therapeutic value in writing lyrics since day one."

While it's simmering pleasantly below the surface, there's still a lingering power struggle between the fron read more

Press Tour Diary: Day Five


We're at the midway point of press tour and that can only mean three things: At least half of the journalists here have started recycling their underwear; the backlash against the host hotel has reached a fever pitch; and folks are starting to place bets on which shows are going to be axed first. (My pick? CBS's ghastly John Goodman sitcom Center of the Universe.) Helping TCA members celebrate Hump Day is WB, which previewed its fall schedule Wednesday for the increasingly cranky press corps. Here's a rundown of all the day's memorable moments.

WELCOMING REMARKS
9:10 Keith Marder, WB's joyfully antagonistic communications director, kicks off the day with his traditional press-tour comedy routine. First up is a joke about former WB chief Jordan Levin, who Marder says left the network to figure out who starred "in the reality version of Crossing Jordan." It bombs, but he assures us, "It will get better."

9:11 read more

WHAT THE $#@*!

According to a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health, the MPAA has spent the last decade loosening up — and not in good way. A PG- or PG-13-rated film today, the institute suggests, contains far more violence, sex and profanity than it would have 10 years ago. At this rate, Shrek 12 is going to be set in an enchanted bordello. read more

MUY CALIENTE

In still more music news, Brazilian singer Maria Rita, Spanish vocalist Alejandro Sanz and Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes earned four nominations apiece at the Latin Grammy nominations yesterday. read more

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