CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 19th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Universal plan to digitise 100,000 archive tracks
- Copy protection vs consumer frustration
- Apple rejig ministore after piracy concerns
- Shares down in UK retailer despite good Christmas trading
- Napster pass half million subscriber landmark
- Monsters Of Rock festival returns
- Otway to speak at Midem
- Axl says Chinese Democracy is really really due this year
- Grammy compilation album out soon
- Vines announced delayed album release
- New Placebo album on its way
- Subways do Rimmel ads, OC, Letterman
- Babyshambles tour
- Secret Machines tour. It's quite long
- Three Editors gigs
- Rape case against Hallyday dropped
- Houston Brown divorce on the cards?
- Michael's menagerie not being mistreated
- Lennon lyrics expected to fetch a lot
- Preston Ordinary Boys' sleeping pill habit
- Flowers scared that it's all just gone too well
- Fiddy defends his movie over violence
- White Stripes role in Simpsons revealed
- X-factor reject lands West End role
- Will Young not to Take That

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TOP BIT>>
Well, quite a heated debate at the MusicTank Think Tank event on the rights and wrongs of DRM last night - much much more on that in a minute. Interestingly, one matter unresolved at this event is "the need for information". Well, I say unresolved, pretty much everyone agreed that whatever DRM policies the music industry adopts, it is important that consumers are kept informed. In fact that was possibly the only thing everyone agreed on. The need to better inform consumers, and for that matter artists, on issues like DRM, copyright and all that stuff is something that comes up at these events an awful lot. But who should do the informing? The major record companies and their industry bodies are arguably not the right people to do it - given that the more cynical music fan now views them (actually wrongly, generally) as the litigator-in-chief out to screw them out of every penny they have. But then again consumer groups like the National Consumer Council clearly have their own agendas too and don't really come across as a suitably independent voice to inform consumers and artists about what's going on. So who is to do the informing? Well, I could suggest you tell every artist you know to subscribe to the CMU Daily, and then tell music fans to check out our new insiders music website CMU Beats (http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk), but that would be to turn an important point into a blatant bit of self promotion. But it is an interesting topic that in itself possibly needs to be discussed. AIM, the BPI and others do already do work in this area, of course. But with so many industry associations in this fragmented industry, each focused (as they probably should be) primarily on the commercial interests of their own members, who should be representing the music business's common interests to the wider public, who increasingly view this industry of ours through suspicious eyes? Answers on a postcard.

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UNIVERSAL PLAN TO DIGITISE 100,000 ARCHIVE TRACKS
Universal Music Group International has announced that it plans to digitise 10,000 European albums which are currently out-of-print, many of which only ever appeared on vinyl. The project, which will take several years to complete, will mean in the region of 100,000 tracks from artists as diverse as Marianne Faithfull, Fairport Convention, Brian Auger & Julie Driscoll, Brigitte Bardot, Chris DeBurgh, Big Country and Nirvana will be made available via the major label's online music partners such as Apple's iTunes.

Confirming the project, which follows the completion of the digitisation of all of the major's active catalogue, Barney Wragg of Universal's eLabs division told CMU: "Over the next three to four years, we aim to reissue perhaps as many as 10,000 albums for downloading, which amounts to more than 100,000 tracks. This program will offer material that, in some cases, goes back to the early days of recorded music."

He continued: "This 'digital archaeology' programme represents a serious commitment to go further into the past, and to begin to take advantage of the benefits for artists and for music fans of digital download technology. Hopefully, the first round of recordings selected for this initiative will start to satisfy consumer demand, as more and more people buy their music online."

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COPY PROTECTION VS CONSUMER FRUSTRATION
"I'm not sure the major and independent record labels are really in the same business anymore. We both put out recorded music that people consume, but sometimes it seems that that's where the similarities end".

And in one quote Simon Wheeler from the Beggars Group provided the one conclusion to be drawn from last night's MusicTank Think Tank debate on digital rights management - when it comes to DRM and copy protection, the music industry is a long way from consensus.

Richard Gooch, Deputy Director Of Technology of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry was charged with the task of defending the major record companies' position in this space, in light of a statement from the National Consumer Council that accused them of "using the enforcement of intellectual property rights to curtail legitimate consumer freedoms".

"There are three ingredients to make digital music work," Gooch began, "content, promotion and paying customers. We have the former, especially here in the UK where a lot of hard work and risk taking by artists and labels has created a fantastic and large catalogue of music. The internet itself provides incredible new promotional tools - albeit many as yet untested. The tricky bit, is how to connect with the paying customers."

"If an artist or a label wants to give away or sell MP3s and they believe it is the right thing to do, then that's great. But in the mainstream that doesn't work - you need a different model. It's tricky, and it's taken time to find those models. But in iTunes and Napster and the other 200 legitimate download platforms you have models which are working. iTunes have sold some 850 million tracks, 600 million in the last year. People criticise digital rights management, and they say consumers dislike DRM, yet iTunes is a working and hugely popular music service that exists on the back of DRM."

"There is good DRM and bad DRM," Gooch continued, "to work, the technology has to be in the background, so it doesn't interfere, though at the same time we have to be completely transparent about what restrictions are in place. But services like iTunes, and Napster, are achieving just that".

Simon Wheeler, though, is not convinced. While not rejecting the concept of DRM, he, and others in the independent sector, reckon that the major labels are wrongly obsessed with "locking down" content, and "controlling" how consumers connect with their music - an obsession that is both unachievable and unnecessary.

Wheeler, "To say that the selling of unprotected MP3s cannot work in the mainstream is garbage. I know this because we're currently doing it. Our whole catalogue is available to buy as MP3. Has it hit our physical sales? No, if anything they are up. Of course it means some people can get our music for free off friends or P2P networks. But people will do that anyway - all DRMs can be hacked - the industry needs to stop worrying about the people who are chasing free music, and concentrate on the audience who are willing to pay, and want to pay for good content. But you aren't going to reach that audience while you're "locking things down".

Of course the major labels would probably argue, possibly rightly, that the independent sector enjoys a much more loyal albeit niche consumer base. Genuine music fans feel a real affinity with labels like those in the Beggars Group, and will continue to buy music from them, even when they could access it for free if they so wished. The average Britney or Westlife fan, the custom of which the majors rely on, may not be so loyal. Why shouldn't the majors use technology to protect their interests, especially when companies like Napster and Apple have created technologies that do just that but at the same time are seemingly popular with music fans.

"If people don't like a DRM, they'll vote with their feet," stressed Ted Shapiro of the Motion Picture Association, representing an industry facing its own DRM dilemmas. Backing up sentiments expressed by Gooch, he continued: "The major record companies, like the major film studios, have no interest in alienating their customers. Yes they'll make stupid decision along the way. SonyBMG, deliberately or not, made a stupid decision when they put the 'rootkit' DRM on their CDs. But they've learned their lesson, consumers have spoken, and they'll learn from that and move on. It's the same with other DRM".

That said, for me, consumers aren't so much the issue. While the National Consumer Council and other lobbying groups may, rightly or wrongly, protest about consumers' ethical rights in this domain, the major record companies probably won't lose too much custom, even when, as they sometimes do, they opt for the more foolish kinds of DRM or copy-protection. Consumers, while sometimes critical of the entertainment industry, have been very forgiving over the years when content owners have used technical developments to re-sell everyone the same stuff (many people have, after all, built at their own expense four identical record collections - one on vinyl, one on cassette, one on CD, one on MP3). For me the issue for the music business is the motives of the technology firms, an issue also raised at the Think Tank.

"When the big entertainment companies get into bed with big technology companies, it can be dangerous," Shapiro admitted. "It is tempting for big content companies to look to Microsoft or others for the complete solution. But in doing so they may turn those companies into gatekeepers, which is possibly risky. After all, Apple don't really care about music or film, they care about selling computers".

While Shapiro didn't develop that observation, concerns about the control the IT, and possibly telecommunications, sector may soon hold over the music industry were clearly held by many at the Think Tank, especially in the independent sector. Which for me is the strongest argument against DRM. If the major labels were to find a way of making a Beggars style model work for them tomorrow, so that all music could be sold in the platform-independent MP3 format, then issues around inter-operability and the controlling influences of technology firms would be drastically cut overnight. And the majors could divert the huge sums of money being spent on DRM solutions, and the legal lobbying and litigation required to protect those solutions, into making that Beggars style business model work.

Though, given the differences of opinion on show last night, I don't see that happening any time soon.

To read our feature on copy protection, including an interview with !K7's Horst Weidenmuller on his anti-DRM Respect The Music campaign, check http://www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk/interviews

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APPLE REJIG MINISTORE AFTER PIRACY CONCERNS
Apple have responded to those previously reported concerns being raised in blog land regarding its MiniStore service. As previously reported, this is a new function in iTunes which recommends music you might like based on the music you have bought from the download platform and tracks you have transferred into the player from other sources. Bloggers expressed concerns as to what Apple was doing with the data it compiled in order to provide this service. The computer firm stressed that they did nothing with the data other than use it for the purposes of the recommendation service, adding that users could, if they wish, disable the function. However bloggers continued to criticise Apple for its lack of transparency. Recognising those criticisms, the latest version of iTunes will not start running the MiniStore service without the user's permission. When people open the new version of iTunes for the first time they will be asked whether or not they would like the MiniStore service to operate. It remains to be seen if that now satisfies critics' concerns.

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SHARES DOWN IN UK RETAILER DESPITE GOOD CHRISTMAS TRADING
Shares in Woolworths fell by 8% yesterday after it warned that a contract to supply Tesco with its CD and DVD stock may not be renewed when it comes up for renewal next year.

The news overshadowed another announcement regarding the retailer's pre-Christmas trading, which was better than expected, meaning end of year profits should be at the higher end of past estimates. Commenting on sales in the festive period the company, a bigger force in music retail than lots of people realise, told investors: "Despite a competitive environment, Christmas trading across the group proved satisfactory. Our approach going into the key Christmas trading period was to maximise full-price sales, to drive margin and to manage our product mix carefully."

However, Woolworths boss Trevor Bish-Jones also had to announce that his group's Entertainment UK division, which supplies many supermarkets with their music stock, is unlikely to keep its profitable client Tesco when their current contract comes to an end. Bish-Jones: "We'll continue to supply them until February 2007, but we haven't yet agreed to supply them post that date. At the moment our view is that we probably won't continue to trade with Tesco after that."

The potential loss of the Tesco contract follows news that recent changes in accounting rules will hit Woolworths hard because they cause increased leasing charges. As a result of the rule change the retailer expects end of year profits to fall some £17 million from the originally expected figure of £50-60 million.

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NAPSTER PASS HALF MILLION SUBSCRIBER LANDMARK
Napster has announced it has reached the half-a-million subscriber landmark, which represents a 100% jump on its subscriber base from twelve months ago. Confirming the achievement, the download platform's CEO Chris Gorog told reporters: "Doubling our subscribers over the last twelve months demonstrates the mass market potential of our music subscription model and the powerful appeal of Napster to music fans who want it all".

The news possibly overturns rumour in the US that the download company was struggling in face of Apple's continued domination in the digital music space. Those rumours suggested lay-offs were likely at Napster, and even that some senior executives had started to discuss 'exit strategy'. All those rumours have been dismissed by Napster themselves, although people will be watching Gorog's next financial report, expected on 8 Feb, with heightened interest.

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MONSTERS OF ROCK FESTIVAL RETURNS
The legendary Monsters Of Rock festival, last staged in the UK back in 1996, will return this June with Deep Purple and Alice Cooper among the acts set to appear. Staged by Clear Channel spin off Live Nation, organisers hope to restore the former glory of the Heavy Metal bash that hosted sets from the likes of AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Metallica, Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow, Status Quo, Van Halen, Whitesnake and ZZ Top between 1980 and 1996.

Commenting on their involvement, Deep Purple's Ian Gillan told CMU: "For Deep Purple to headline the return of the mighty Monsters Of Rock Festival in 2006 is somewhat appropriate, as this brings two venerable giants of hard rock together for the first time. I have great memories of playing the Monsters Of Rock as a solo artist back in 1982, and am very much looking forward to Deep Purple's debut appearance."

More info at http://www.monstersofrock.co.uk - press info from WorkHard PR.

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OTWAY TO SPEAK AT MIDEM
Well, if you're heading to Cannes for Midem next week and the networking / drinking / tedious copyright chatter gets too much, here's an event that should provide some light relief. John Otway, the two hit wonder behind 2002's 'Bunsen Burner', whose autobiography was subtitled "Rock and Roll's greatest failure", will be retelling his somewhat unique experiences of the music business ever since his disastrous five album deal with Polydor Records back in the late seventies. The press release says "refreshments will be served (you will need a drink)", which possibly says it all. It takes place at the Palais Des Festivals in Cannes at 6pm on 24 Jan. Press info from chris@musicoflife.com.

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AXL SAYS CHINESE DEMOCRACY IS REALLY REALLY DUE THIS YEAR
Following those comments by Slash regarding the long long long awaited new Guns N Roses album 'Chinese Democracy', Axl Rose himself has said the long player should be with us later this year.

Rose told Rolling Stone over the weekend that "people will hear music this year," and continued "It's a very complex record. I'm trying to do something different. Some of the arrangements are kind of like Queen. Some people are going to say, 'It doesn't sound like Axl Rose, it doesn't sound like Guns N' Roses.' But you'll like at least a few songs on there."

He also had some nice words to say about former bandmate Slash, despite not having been in touch with the Velvet Revolver man for a decade: "I haven't spoken to Slash in ten years." He said. "I love the guy, I always wanted everyone to know how great he was."

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GRAMMY COMPILATION ALBUM OUT SOON
A whole host of big artists (such a host that I can't decide which to pick out as examples) are set to appear on a new compilation out on 23 Jan to coincide with the Grammy Awards. The full tracklisting is as follows:

Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc
Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Mariah Carey - It's Like That
Paul McCartney - Fine Line
U2 - City of Blinding Lights
Rascal Flatts - Bless the Broken Road
Bruce Springsteen - Devils and Dust
John Legend - Ordinary People
Jack Johnson - Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
Seal - Walk On By
Rob Thomas - Lonely No More
Stevie Wonder - From The Bottom of My Heart
Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone

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VINES ANNOUNCED DELAYED ALBUM RELEASE
The Vines have announced that the release date of their yet-to-be-titled third album has been delayed slightly. Band manager Andy Kelly told fan website Dreamin The Insane: "The release date was originally set for 21 Mar but now looks more likely to be 4 Apr."

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NEW PLACEBO ALBUM ON ITS WAY
A new Placebo album is on its way. Yes indeed. The album doesn't have a title yet, but it's to be released on 13 Mar, with a new single - 'Because I Want You' - preceding it on 6 Mar.

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SUBWAYS DO RIMMEL ADS, OC, LETTERMAN
The Subways, it would appear, are on the up and up. The band have confirmed that they are to soundtrack two Rimmel adverts starring Kate Moss, one featuring 'Rock 'n' Roll Queen' and another featuring 'She Sun'. Meanwhile, the group are making a bit of a splash in the US. Their guest appearance on one of CMU's favourite TV programmes, 'The OC' has already been broadcast in the states, and the trio will be appearing on the Letterman show on 27 Feb, following the American release of their debut album 'Young For Eternity' on 14 Feb.

That episode of 'The OC' airs in the UK next month, screened on E4 on the 21 Feb and on Channel 4 on the 26 Feb.

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BABYSHAMBLES TOUR
Well, in addition to that new Liverpool date we reported on yesterday, it would seem that Babyshambles have organised a whole lot of new tour dates for Pete Doherty to fail to turn up to. The first gig is a rescheduled show in Stoke, which, as you'll remember, Doherty didn't manage to get to following his court appearance in London last week. The last one is two days before my birthday, so it's probably timed to coincide with that, although I'm not sure I can make it. It's presumed that the band will play as a trio, as guitarist Patrick Walden shows no signs of returning. The tour dates are as follows:

20 Jan: Stoke Underground
21 Jan: Liverpool Carling Academy
22 Jan: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
23 Jan: Cambridge Junction
24 Jan: Colchester University of Essex
25 Jan: Leeds Cockpit
26 Jan: Newcastle Academy
27 Jan: Glasgow Barrowlands
28 Jan: Bristol Academy
29 Jan: London Shepherds Bush Empire

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SECRET MACHINES TOUR. IT'S QUITE LONG
Not as long as the Morrissey Tour though. Secret Machines are heading out on tour later in the year to coincide with the release of new album 'Ten Silver Drops'. Dates as follows:

18 Mar: Exeter Lemon Grove
19 Mar: Cardiff Solus
20 Mar: Brighton Concorde
22 Mar: Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
23 Mar: Oxford Zodiac
24 Mar: Bristol Bierkeller
25 Mar: Sheffield Leadmill
27 Mar: Liverpool Academy 2
28 Mar: Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
29 Mar: Glasgow Garage
30 Mar: Aberdeen Moshulu
31 Mar: Newcastle Northumbria University
1 Apr: Leeds Metropolitan University
2 Apr: Manchester Academy 2
4 Apr: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
5 Apr: Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
6 Apr: London Shepherds Bush Empire

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THREE EDITORS GIGS
Editors have confirmed three live dates to take place in May, and they are amongst the group's biggest gigs so far. Tickets go on sale Friday at 9am and dates are as follows:

28 May: Glasgow Academy
2 May: Manchester Apollo
30 May: London Brixton Academy

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RAPE CASE AGAINST HALLYDAY DROPPED
Rape allegations against Gallic rock icon Johnny Hallyday have been dropped by French magistrates following nearly two years of investigation. Hallyday, 62, denied from the outset that he had raped hostess Marie-Christian Vo aboard his private yacht in Cannes back in 2001. Ms Vo made an official complaint in March of 2004, but was placed under investigation after she admitted that she had asked doctors to backdate medical certificates to support her allegations. No charges will now be brought against the singer due to a lack of evidence.

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HOUSTON BROWN DIVORCE ON THE CARDS?
According to US reports, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown are headed for the divorce courts after a turbulent fourteen year marriage. The source of the story is the New York Daily News, which claims that Brown was seen with a group of women at a concert in Connecticut, and made comments which sparked the rumours.

A backstage source told the paper: "While flirting with a bunch of women, they asked, 'What's up with your wife?' Bobby said, 'We ain't together no more. We're getting a divorce.'"

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MICHAEL'S MENAGERIE NOT BEING MISTREATED
Following a complaint by animal rights group PETA that exotic animals being kept at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch were being mistreated, officials from the US Department Of Agriculture have concluded that the animals were not, as was widely reported, being kept in substandard conditions.

The federal body sent an inspector to the ranch in response to PETA's complaint, and an USDA spokesman, Darby Holloway, has confirmed that the animals, which include elephants, orangutans and tigers, are not in any danger, saying: "I'm unaware of any violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Neverland." One of Jackson's lawyers, Brian Oxman, said: "That's very nice and we appreciate it."

Meanwhile, PETA plan to file a new complaint with the US Fish And Wildlife Service, because the aforementioned elephants and orangutans are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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LENNON LYRICS EXPECTED TO FETCH A LOT
Those previously reported handwritten John Lennon lyrics for the song 'A Day In The Life' have gone on sale in New York in a sealed bid auction set to end on 7 Mar, and auction house Bonhams say they expect it to fetch around two million dollars.

The item was last sold in 1992 at Sotheby's in London and went for £56,600, but Bonhams spokesman Martin Gammon said the lyrics could raise a lot more this time around "based on market history". One presumes that he's going on the fact that Lennon's handwritten lyrics to 'All You Need Is Love' raised £600,000 back in August last year, and ignoring the fact that his handwritten lyrics to 'I'm Only Sleeping' failed to sell at all in November of 2005.

If it does make $2million, he continued, it would make it "the most valuable musical manuscript composed in the 20th century to be offered at auction," or, to put it another way, the most stupid amount of money ever paid for a piece of paper with some words on it.

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PRESTON ORDINARY BOYS' SLEEPING PILL HABIT
A report in the Daily Star has alleged that Preston from The Ordinary Boys is addicted to sleeping pills. He's apparently being supplied with the drugs whilst in the Big Brother house to help him sleep at night, and the tabloid quotes an interview with the singer from last year in which he admitted to taking valium whilst on tour to help him relax. Which sounds less like an addiction and more like a dependency. What's the difference? Some might say none, I say a fine line.

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FLOWERS SCARED THAT IT'S ALL JUST GONE TOO WELL
You know, it's a sentiment that hasn't been far from my mind on their behalf, I have to tell you. Killers frontman Brandon Flowers has said that his band's appearance at Live 8 was the highlight of their 2005, and that they are left wondering where they are going to go from here. On that song, 'All These Things That I've Done', and that performance, Flowers told Spin: "That was a high point for us. We're kind of scared because we've had so many on this album, what are we going to do for the second record? We have to play on Mars or something to beat Live 8."

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FIDDY DEFENDS HIS MOVIE OVER VIOLENCE
50 Cent has responded to accusations that the film loosely based on his own life, 'Get Rich Or Die Trying' condone violence and gun crime whilst speaking to the BBC's Six O'Clock News. "No way was it in my head to capture a film that glorifies violence," he told the programme, adding that recent Sam Mendes release 'Jarhead', which depicts the Gulf War, is "far more violent than the 50 Cent experience".

The film, which premiered in Leicester Square on Tuesday and opens on 20 Jan, caused controversy in the US towards the end of last year, when posters for the movie inspired a series of complaints. Fiddy continued: "Because of my music and lyrics I've been under different standards to begin with because the content is aggressive. Creatively I'm put in a box because of perceptions of me. Creatively I haven't done anything that wasn't acceptable. Eighteen films that came out before mine utilised weapons on their artwork. But when mine comes out they start protesting. If it glamorises it when I do it, then it's glamorised period. So we should protest every time".

He added: "I show more vulnerability in this film than I do in my music. People forget that I'm human and forget how much time it took to create it. People are attracted to me because of my experience. My story in itself is inspiring and shows that they can be successful. I'm drawn to capturing what I've experienced."

Elsewhere in Fiddy-news, The Sun reports that 50 Cent thought twice about his involvement in the film after Eminem pretended to him that he thought it a bad idea. The Hip-hopper said: "Two weeks before filming [Eminem] calls me and says: 'They told me you're going to do a movie?' and I said: 'Yeah they told me you said it was a good idea'. And he says: 'And you went for that?' He told me: 'You'll be there for three months, on set for hours, maybe 16 hours a day sometimes and they'll say: 'Oh 50 can you make us an incredible record while you do that too?' so you'll be writing all the time... I don't know why you did that.' So after that I was wondering what I'd signed up to."

Alls well that ends well, however: "Eminem called me on set and asked how it was and I told him it was alright. He admitted he was just fucking with me. Em is a good friend and a lot of things but, he's an asshole too. He didn't give me any acting tips though, he just wanted to make me uncomfortable for those two weeks before we started."

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WHITE STRIPES ROLE IN SIMPSONS REVEALED
Details have been confirmed of that White Stripes guest appearance in 'The Simpsons'. The rock duo will appear in an episode of the animated TV series later this year, in an installment entitled 'Jazzy And The Pussycats'. In the show, Jack and Meg's characters get caught in the middle of a feud between Bart and Lisa over Bart's new hobby - drumming. A spokesperson for the Fox Network has confirmed the appearance, and says that the pair recorded their respective vocal parts for the episode in New York on 30 Nov last year.

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X-FACTOR REJECT LANDS WEST END ROLE
X-Factor reject James Bellamy has landed a starring role in a West End musical. The seventeen year old singer is to take the part of Stevie Wonder in 'Dancing In The Streets', a revue of Tamla Motown classics that has already toured the UK.

Bellamy was considered very talented by the X-Factor judges, but he failed to make it into Louis Walsh's final four, largely, one suspects, on account of his youthfulness. He will continue to attend college whilst appearing onstage in the evening. Which is pretty dedicated. He'll be knackered.

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WILL YOUNG NOT TO TAKE THAT
Will Young has said that he'd love to take Robbie Williams' place on the Take That reunion tour, according to IOL.com, who quote the singer as saying "I'd happily join Take That onstage and look after Robbie's place. That would be so much fun, we could all sing together. My favourite Take That song is Relight My Fire, so we could perform that one."

It sounds like he was joking but clearly someone took it seriously, because a spokesperson for Take That was moved to comment: "The band did their last big tour as a four-piece, so they don't think Robbie will really be missed this time round. They are really flattered by Will's comments though, and hope they can work together in the future."

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