Stop The Presses!

Nov. 17-24: Jacko & Paris & Axl & Madge

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

Well, readers, this has been a particularly horrific week in music. For years in this column we've reported on various musical calamities, but perhaps no past story has rattled us to our very cores as this week's whammy. If you're not comfortably seated already, please sit down before you scroll down read this sad, sad news...

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Okay, okay, so this isn't exactly the most tragic news we've ever reported. Nor is it the most shocking. Yes, we're bummed that a double-wedding season of The Simple Life starring Paris and Nicole Richie and their respective Madden-twin Good Charlotte grooms will now sadly never go into production. But we've ever-so-relieved to hear from Hilton publicist Alanna McCarthy that Paris and Benji "remain very good friends." And maybe, just maybe, this means Paris can launch a new reality show, My New BF. You think we're kidding? Ha! We bet it's already on MTV's 2009 programming schedule.

One show that definitely isn't on the MTV calendar anymore is Total Request Live. After many cry-wolf threats and attempts to cancel the long-running video countdown show, the network finally pulled the plug last Sunday, with one big final telecast featuring interviews and performances by Eminem, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and his former *NSYNC mate JC Chasez, Kid Rock, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Ludacris, and even former "I Wanna Be A VJ" contest winner Jesse Camp. Disappointingly, Mariah Carey didn't show up to strip/pass out ice cream/undergo an onscreen nervous breakdown (easily the most memorable blooper-reel moment in TRL history), but otherwise it was a fitting sendoff for a show that actually used to be a relevant part of teen culture. Sigh. Now MTV has more room on its programming grid for extra episodes of Parental Control and Next. OR that proposed new Paris Hilton show...

All right, back to the subject of celebrity splits. One MTV icon and past TRL guest whose breakup is moving right along is Madonna. The "Ciccone M L v Ritchie G S" divorce case headed to London's High Court this week, thus effectively cementing the dissolution of Madge's eight-year marriage to Brit film director Guy Ritchie (the divorce will be finalized after six weeks and a day). British papers reported that the Ritchies had reached a settlement which will allow the aptly nicknamed Material Girl to keep most of her $445 million fortune. As far as the Material Kids go, Lourdes--Madonna's daughter from a previous relationship--will reportedly live with Mama Madonna in the States, while Rocco--Madge's son with Guy--and adopted African orphan David Banda will split their time between Guy and Madonna. So, we're glad that's settled. With tabloid reports on this split getting pretty ugly (Guy supposedly described marital relations with his soon-to-be-ex-wife as being like "cuddling up to a piece of gristle), it's nice to see this mess is almost behind them.

Oh, and there were some other marriage-related matters making headlines this week.

First, Ozzy's daughter and Osbournes starlet Kelly Osbourne announced her engagement to 18-year-old model Luke Worrall, whom she's been dating for a whopping six months. Gee, we bet that'll last. We have a feeling this couple has as good a chance of making it to the altar as Paris and Benji did.

One newly married couple that's doing great so far are the Simpson-Wentzes. Ashlee Simpson and her Fall Out Boy rocker husband, Pete Wentz, welcomed their first child into the world on Thursday. That's the good news. The bad news is...they christened their little fall out boy Bronx Mowgli. Huh? Whatever. We just send our congratulations to Ash and Pete--NOT just for starting a family, but for beating out Chris Martin, Gwen Stefani, Angelina Jolie, et al in the celebrity-weird-baby-name competition.

And on the controversial subject of same-sex marriage, two prominent music celebrities spoke out, albeit with very different points of view. On the con side, an article in The New Yorker reported that Prince does not believe that gay marriage is "right." Prince allegedly told the magazine: "[In the USA] you've got the Republicans, basically they want to live according to [the Bible].

But there's the problem of interpretation, and you've got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn't. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you've got blue, you've got the Democrats, and they're, like, 'You can do whatever you want.' Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right."

And on the pro side there was ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, who released a viral video this week opposing the recently passed Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. In the clip, Slash plays "The Star-Spangled Banner" on guitar while his wife Perla declares: "I married my sweetheart; you should be able to marry yours, too. Say no to hate and yes to equal rights. Keep up the fight."

Speaking of Guns N' Roses, or whatever is left of them (i.e., Axl Rose and his hired Guns), the long-awaited, long-presumed-nonexistent new GNR album Chinese Democracy started streaming on the band's MySpace page Thursday (it becomes available for sale exclusively at Best Buy on November 23). Reaction throughout the blogosphere was not very kind. To put it politely, many old-school GNR fans don't think Chinese Democracy is a "best buy" at all. But the fact that this record was ever completed is still major news, and even people who don't buy the album can still collect their complimentary can of Dr Pepper starting at 12:01am Eastern Time on the 23rd (the soda company is making good on its perhaps ill-advised PR-stunt promise to give every American citizen a free soft drink if Chinese Democracy was released in 2008).

And finally, another music recluse beside Axl--namely Michael Jackson--made news this week. Michael's been working on his own comeback album, the follow-up to 2001's perhaps incorrectly titled Invincible, for ages now, but he's suffered another setback in its long-stalled completion: a $7 million lawsuit filed by Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the second son of the king of Bahrain. The Sheik, an amateur songwriter, claims he helped bankroll Jacko's new album recording, record label, and unreleased/aborted Hurricane Katrina benefit single; he even says he let the fallen King Of Pop move into his palace when the singer was trying to escape the U.S. spotlight after his child-molestation trial. Michael counters that the Sheik was merely being a generous friend, and that they had no business arrangement. Jacko also asked to testify in this case via a video link from the U.S. because of an supposed illness, but he's now been cleared by his doctors to travel and is scheduled to give evidence at London's High Court on Monday. Guess he'll just miss running into his old friend Madonna, then.

And thus concludes another weird week in music news. Make sure to take time out from your Thanksgiving weekend next week to read us talking turkey in this space. And until then, goodnight, and good music.


1) Democracy At Last - Guns N' Roses' 17-years-in-the-making album starts streaming online.

2) A Bronx Tale - Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz have their first child, a son inexplicably named Bronx Mowgli.

3) Mrs. Ritchie Stays Rich - Madonna will keep most of her fortune in her divorce settlement.

4) The Freak, The Sheik - Michael Jackson is sued by the son of Bahrain's king.

5) He Won't Always Have Paris - Good Charlotte's Benji Madden splits from his Hilton gal pal.

6) Crazy (Wedding) Train - Ozzy's daughter Kelly gets engaged to an 18-year-old male model.

7) TRL, RIP - MTV's long-running countdown show is down for the count.

8) Blink, And You Missed Them - Travis Barker's near-death experience may possibly inspire a Blink 182 reunion.

9) Sign O' The Times? - Prince is reportedly against same-sex marriage.

10) Slash Preaches Patience - The ex-GNR guitarist supports the gay-marriage movement in a viral video.

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