Rather than fading away quietly, Ashlee Simpson's lip-synching debacle on Saturday Night Live is gaining momentum, thanks in part to the plethora of excuses the pop sibling's given about her not-so-live performance. First she claimed it was the band's blunder. Then it was NBC's mix-up. Now, Simpson's manager father is blaming the 19-year-old singer's SNL snafu on ... gas? According to Joe Simpson, it was his decision to use the tapes after acid reflux disease had swollen Ashlee's vocal chords and made her voice hoarse. "Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don't have to hear her croak through a song on national television. No one wants to hear that," Joe Simpson told Ryan Seacrest Monday on Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM. He also insisted she's never used the extra help onstage before. "Every artist that I know in this business has had vocal problems at some time--from Celine on down," he added. Simpson had performed her hit single "Pieces of Me" without incident earlier on SNL, but when she came back for her second performance, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again. The band plowed ahead with the song while a visibly confused Simpson made some clownish dance moves before walking off the stage. SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels told The Associated Press the incident wasn't a big deal. "She was mortified and in her dressing room, but (producer) Marci (Klein) got her to come out for goodnights and explained that it wasn't the end of the world. It wasn't her fault," he said. "If she were a more seasoned performer then I think that she would've taken charge and said, 'No, let's start this over again.'"
SNL creator Lorne Michaels honored
Lip-synching debacles aside, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels was awarded the 2004 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Reuters reports. Guests included Not Ready for Prime Time stars Steve Martin, Tim Meadows, Darrell Hammond, Chevy Chase, Molly Shannon, Dan Aykroyd and Tina Fey. Also present were singer Paul Simon, actress Candice Bergen, talk show host Conan O'Brien and U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Guests praised and occasionally embarrassed the 59-year-old Canadian-born Michaels, who described SNL as "always being stuck in adolescence." The ceremony will air on PBS early next year.
Feverish Lohan hospitalized
Lindsay Lohan has been hospitalized in Los Angeles for treatment of a high fever, a spokeswoman for the teen actress told Reuters Monday. "She's undergoing some tests," her publicist Leslie Sloane Zelnik said, adding the actress may be suffering from the flu. "She's doing well and resting." The Mean Girls star was admitted to the hospital over the weekend after being ill for several days and running a temperature as high as 103 degrees, Zelnik said. The illness has forced Lohan, 18, to miss several days of filming on her upcoming movie, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and a guest spot opposite real-life boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama on the Fox sitcom That '70s Show.
Usher, Linkin Park dominate Radio Music Awards
Usher and Linkin Park dominated the Radio Music Awards Monday night at the Aladdin hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Usher took home Hip-Hop Artist of the Year and Hip-Hop Song of the Year for "Yeah!" while Linkin Park won the Rock Artist of the Year and Alternative Rock Song of the Year for "Numb." The Legend Award was given to Janet Jackson. Performers included Elton John, Chingy, Tim McGraw, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Train and Alanis Morissette. The two-hour event was telecast on NBC. Nominees in each category are based on radio's top-playing songs and are voted on by radio program and music directors nationwide.
Dave Matthews Band donates money
The Dave Matthews Band has donated $50,000 to the Friends of the Chicago River and the Chicago Park District amid an investigation into the dumping of human waste from the group's tour bus into the Chicago River that also doused a tour boat, Rolling Stone.com reports. In August, the city filed suit against the band and its driver, charging them with violating water pollution and public nuisance laws. But the band maintains the driver, whom the group has since suspended, was the only person on the bus. "What happened to the people on the boat is awful and it goes against so many principles we hold dear: environmentalism, accountability, and, mostly, principles of humanity," the band said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for these principles, and seek to live up to the values they represent…we simply want to begin the healing process."
Ovitz set to take stand
Former Mouse House prexy Michael Ovitz will take the stand today in a Georgetown, Del. Court, facing charges by angry Walt Disney Co. shareholders that he cheated them when he left the company with a $140 million severance package, Reuters reports. The suit, filed by Disney shareholders seven years ago against the company's board of directors, claims Disney chief Michael Eisner engineered the deal in 1995 to hire his friend Ovitz, one of Hollywood's most powerful talent agents and co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, as president. But when things didn't work out, Disney's board awarded Ovitz a $140 million severance package rather than firing him--a major faux pas in the eyes of the shareholders. Ovitz is expected to argue that he was entitled to the hefty pay package.
Hamptons honors Most High
The 12th annual Hamptons Film Festival gave its highest honor, the Golden Starfish award, to Marty Sader's drama Most High, about a young man's descent into crystal meth addiction, Variety reports. The audience favorite award went to Vincent Rubino's romantic comedy The Breakup Artist and Leslie Sullivan's A Touch of Greatness was awarded best documentary.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.