News, Dec. 9: Usher Tops Billboard Awards, Dick Clark Suffers Mild Stroke, Martha Stewart Back on TV, More…

Usher tops 2004 Billboard Awards

Crooner Usher, whose single “Yeah!” featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris was named the Hot 100 single of the year, picked up 11 awards at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards Wednesday night as the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, including artist of the year and best R&B/hip-hop album for Confessions. Alicia Keys nabbed seven awards, including female artist of the year, while rapper Kanye West picked up four prizes, including rap artist of the year. Ashlee Simpson, whose audio snafu on NBC’s Saturday Night Live in October made it clear she had been lip-synching, was met with boos and cheers as she accepted the female new artist of the year award, The Associated Press reports. Stevie Wonder, who presented Sting with the Century Award in 2003, was himself the recipient this year.

Clark suffers mild stroke

TV legend Dick Clark was hospitalized in Los Angeles this week after suffering a mild stroke, Clark’s publicist Paul Shefrin told AP, declining to give any details. Clark, who turned 75 Nov. 30, disclosed last year that he has diabetes. “The doctors tell me I should be back in the swing of things before too long so I’m hopeful to be able to make it to Times Square to help lead the country in ringing in the new year once again,” Clark said in a statement. The entertainer, who went from hosting American Bandstand to game shows and producing awards ceremonies, is scheduled to host ABC’s Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2005 and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2005 on Dec. 31. It will be his 33rd year welcoming in the New Year.

Stewart looks for new TV deal

Even though she’s still doing her time for stock fraud, Martha Stewart is being pursued to revive her daily homemaking show next September–this time before a live audience, with celebrity guests and the help of The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett, AP reports. Stewart, who is not allowed to conduct business in prison, was not involved in the deal with NBC Universal to syndicate the show but is “very pleased,” said Susan Lyne, president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. “Millions of people feel that Martha got a raw deal,” Burnett said. “America loves comeback stories.”

Hello! magazine appeals Zeta-Jones ruling

Celebrity magazine Hello! will appeal a court ruling ordering it to pay more than $1.9 million to rival OK! for printing secretly snapped wedding photos of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, AP reports. Douglas and Zeta-Jones had signed an exclusive deal with OK! for rights to the pictures of their November 2000 nuptials at New York’s Plaza Hotel. A lawyer for Hello! said the magazine had run its own wedding pictures as a “spoiler” to its rival’s coverage, which is a common practice in journalism. “This was a spoiler, no different to any other spoiler in the past or since,” he said. “Hello! has been subject to many spoilers, including ones from OK!.

Def Jam names Jay-Z president and CEO

Hip-hop entrepreneur Jay-Z, who announced his “retirement” as a rap artist after the release of The Black Album earlier this year, has been named president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, Reuters reports. Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, will officially take his new post on Jan. 3. He will continue to run his record company Roc-a-Fella, a brand that has spawned other ventures over the past decade, including a clothing line, films Fade to Black and State Property, as well as the 40/40 nightclub and a Reebok sneaker line. “I have inherited two of the most important brands in hip-hop, Def Jam and Roc-a-Fella,” Jay-Z said. “I feel this is a giant step for me and the entire artistic community.”

Pixar moves Cars‘ release date to summer 2006

Pixar Animation Studios has moved the release of its animated feature Cars from November 2005 to June 2006, switching the film from a holiday release to a summer blockbuster, when more children are at home, AP reports. “Cars longs to be a summer movie,” Pixar chief executive Steve Jobs said in a statement Tuesday. “We plan to finish Cars on its original schedule and look forward to Cars and our future films benefiting by summer theatrical releases and holiday DVD releases.” Cars is the last film in a five-picture deal between Pixar and The Walt Disney Co.

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