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Simon Cowell Signs New Deal with <i>American Idol</i>; Lachey Developing New Comedy Series for WB


Exactly one year ago, Mary Travers, of the legendary folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, announced that she was battling leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy treatments. She had a bone marrow transplant in April of this year, and, according to her doctors, recent tests show no signs of the disease. This week, the trio is scheduled to make its first appearance in more than a year. Peter, Paul & Mary will perform a holiday concert with the New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall on December 9.

American Idol judge Simon Cowell has signed a new five-year contract with the popular talent show. The series' fifth season will kick off on January 17, 2006 with a two-hour special introducing us to the next round of American Idol hopefuls. Weekly competitions will take place through May, when the American Idol 5 winner is announced.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will present its annual Kennedy Center Honors on December 4. This year's gala will honor singers Tony Bennett and Tina Turner, dancer Suzanne Farrell, and actors Robert Redford and Julie Harris for their lifetime contribution to the arts and American culture. President and Mrs. Bush will attend the event, which CBS-TV will tape for broadcast as a two-hour special later this month.

Just one week after separating from pop star Jessica Simpson, singer and actor Nick Lachey announced that he's developing a comedy series for the WB Network. He'll play a newly married baseball player who has to find a balance between his personal life and career. Shooting is expected to begin in April and the network will then consider its inclusion in the fall 2006 lineup.

Following up on the recent announcement that Dick Clark will return to host ABC-TV's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" in New York with Ryan Secrest, it's also being reported that singer and actress Hilary Duff will handle festivities for the show on the West Coast. She'll perform three songs during the program and introduce other musical guests.

On December 6, Nonesuch Records will release "Our New Orleans" to raise money for American Red Cross hurricane recovery efforts. The collection features New Orleans legends Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Randy Newman, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Beausoleil, Buckwheat Zydeco, and many others.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS

The "Country Cares" concert to benefit Habitat for Humanity will take place on December 8 in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan. Headliners include Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood, who will perform holiday songs at the event. Habitat for Humanity will use proceeds from the concert to rebuild communities along the Gulf Coast that were damaged by hurricanes.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

The 2005 Billboard Music Awards will be presented on December 6 in Las Vegas. This year's most-nominated finalist is 50 Cent, who received eight mentions, followed by Mariah Carey with seven and Green Day with six nominations. Two special award recipients have already been announced. Kanye West will be given an Artist Achievement Award "in recognition of his artistic excellence and Billboard chart accomplishments." And, Tom Petty will receive the Century Award, Billboard's highest honor for creative achievement. Rapper LL Cool J will host the two-hour Billboard Music Awards ceremony, which will feature performances by Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, R. Kelly and Green Day, among others. The Billboard Music Award winners are determined by performance on the trade magazine's weekly popularity charts.

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