Opening statements in the Michael Jackson child molestation case began on February 28. Jackson's attorney, Tom Mesereau, painted Michael as the victim of a scheme concocted by the child's family for financial gain. Mesereau pointed out that there was no DNA evidence to prove the prosecutor's claim of child abuse and he added that Jackson wasn't at his Neverland Ranch on many of the dates prosecutors say the abuse took place. During his statements, Mesereau insinuated that Jackson might take the stand in his own defense, although a final decision hasn't been made.
Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon accused Jackson of showing the boy pornographic magazines and Internet sites, and plying the child with alcohol before sexually abusing him. British journalist Martin Bashir, who made the documentary Living With Michael Jackson, was the first witness to testify at the trial. Jurors watched the documentary after Bashir was questioned. He avoided answering many of Mesereau's questions due to a California law that protects journalists.
In other Michael Jackson news, the family of Manuela Gomez Ruiz, who suffered a massive heart attack and later died, is suing Jackson and the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, California. The 74-year-old woman's relatives say she was moved from the primary care trauma room at the hospital when Jackson arrived complaining of flu-like symptoms. They also claim the hospital staff was distracted by Michael's arrival. Ruiz's daughter, Maria Elena Ortiz, reportedly asked staff members, "Why does she have to be moved if he's coming in for a stomach flu? My mother just had a heart attack and I think it's more critical than a stomach flu." Ortiz says the staff gave her no response.
Blues legend B.B. King is working on a new album that will include pairings with some of the world's top artists. They include Elton John, U2, Sting and Van Morrison. The collection will be released later this year on Universal Records. And, King, who turns 80 in September, will be immortalized in a museum that's set to be built in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. Groundbreaking will take place in June.
Pop star Lindsay Lohan is speaking publicly about her father Michael's request for a share of her money. Lindsay gives her mother 15 percent of her earnings and, now that the couple is getting divorced, he feels he's entitled to half of it. Lindsay told W magazine, "He didn't do anything for my career except go out and not come home at night and make my mom and me stay up and wonder where he was, then show up three days later. So, I don't think he deserves anything. He doesn't even deserve my respect." Michael Lohan's attorney says the amount his client is seeking is a figure that could be six to ten million dollars a year. Lindsay also commented to the magazine about her father's idea of the family doing a reality show to document his divorce. Lindsay said, "As sick as it sounds, a reality show might help, actually. At least then people could get the truth."
Nominations for the 40th annual Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards have been announced. Leading this year's nominees is Tim McGraw, whose six nominations include Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. Tim's longtime friend Kenny Chesney, Gretchen Wilson and Alison Krauss each earned five mentions. Following close behind with four nods are Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. More than 3800 voting members of the Academy of Country Music select the nominees and winners. The ACM Awards will be handed out on May 17 in Las Vegas. A full list of nominees available at www.acmcountry.com.
Usher and Alicia Keys were both multiple winners at the 2005 Soul Train Awards, which were presented in Los Angeles on February 28. Usher's Confessions album won for Best Male R&B/Soul Album and its track "Confessions Part II" brought him the Best Male R&B/Soul Single honor. Keys wins included Best Female R&B/Soul Single for "If I Ain't Got You" and Best Female R&B/Soul Album for The Diary of Alicia Keys. Usher and Alicia shared the Best R&B/Soul Single by a Duo or Group for their collaboration "My Boo." In addition, Usher won the Best R&B/Soul or Rap Dance Cut category for "Yeah," a long-running Number One hit that also featured Ludicris and Lil Jon. Other winners at this year's Soul Train Awards included Destiny's Child, Ciara, Jay-Z and Israel & New Breed. Three special awards were handed out during the ceremony. Ice Cube received the 2005 Quincy Jones Award for Outstanding Career Achievements, Usher took home the 2005 Sammy Davis, Jr. Award for Male Entertainer of the Year, and Ciara was presented with the Sammy Davis, Jr. Award for Female Entertainer of the Year. The Soul Train Awards will air on March 12.
Winners in the music categories at the 77th annual Academy Awards were Jan A.P. Kaczmarek for Finding Neverland, which won for Best Original Score and Jorge Drexler, who earned the Best Original Song Oscar for "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from The Motorcycle Diaries.
TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION:
On March 7, legendary rocker Bob Dylan and Country icon Merle Haggard and his band The Strangers will kick off a North American tour in Seattle, Washington. Folk-soul singer-songwriter Amos Lee will open the shows. The outing will wrap up with a five-night engagement at New York's Beacon Theater April 25-30.
Country star Kenny Chesney will begin his "Somewhere In The Sun" tour in Green Bay, Wisconsin on March 10. He'll get tour support from multi-million-selling newcomer Gretchen Wilson and Uncle Kracker, who recorded the hit duet "When The Sun Goes Down" with Chesney for his 2004 album of the same name. Kenny's latest CD, Be As You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release in late January.
On May 11, Maroon 5 will kick off a 33-city tour in Los Angeles. The band will be promoting its debut album, Songs About Jane, which includes the hits "She Will Be Loved" and "This Love." Dates are scheduled to end on May 11 in Phoenix, Arizona.