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Madonna, John Mellencamp Among New Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees; Janet Jackson Tops Billboard Album Chart


On March 10, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's annual induction ceremony will take place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Leonard Cohen will be inducted by Lou Reed, The Clark Five by actor Tom Hanks, Madonna by Justin Timberlake, John Mellencamp by Billy Joel, The Ventures by John Fogerty, Little Walter by Ben Harper and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff by Jerry Butler. Little Walter's induction is in the sideman category and Gamble and Huff will be honored with the newly-named Ahmet Ertegun Award, which was previously called the "non-performer category."

Janet Jackson sold more than 181,000 copies of her new album Discipline its first week of release. That was enough for the collection to debut at Number One on this week's Billboard 200 chart. This marks the sixth time Janet has topped that list.


The Top 12 American Idol contestants begin the final rounds this week. On March 12, Apple's iTunes Music Store will begin selling videos of their weekly performances for $1.99 each. If you have a favorite contestant, you can pre-order tracks for download the day after his or her performance. This year's Top 6 male finalists are 25-year-old David Cook from Blue Springs, Missouri; 20-year-old Jason Castro from Rockwall, Texas; 29-year-old Michael Johns from Buckhead, Georgia; 24-year-old David Hernandez from Glendale, Arizona; 17-year-old David Archuleta from Murray, Utah; and, 22-year-old Chikezie Eze from Inglewood, California. The Top 6 females heading into the finals are 23-year-old Amanda Overmyer from Mulberry, Indiana; 24-year-old Carly Smithson from San Diego, California; 24-year-old Kristy Lee Cook from Selma, Oregon; 20-year-old Ramiele Malubay from Miramar, Florida; 24-year-old Brooke White from Mesa, Arizona; and 21-year-old Syesha Mercado from Sarasota, Florida.

Speaking of American Idol, season two winner Ruben Studdard has recorded a cover of "Celebrate Me Home," which was the title track of Kenny Loggins' first solo album. Studdard's version will be used as the weekly farewell song for contestants voted off the show. It will be available as a digital download on iTunes beginning March 12.

Jessica Simpson, the Pussycat Dolls and rock act Disturbed are among the acts performing in Kuwait for U.S. military troops this week. The three-hour show will take place at an undisclosed military base on March 10. The concert will be broadcast live in high definition video on "Operation MySpace". MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe says, "We're incredibly proud to host this one of a kind concert. Unlike past variety shows or concerts of this nature, 'Operation MySpace' will connect people, content, and culture a world apart through the live webcast of the show and interaction on the 'Operation MySpace' profile."

Country star Toby Keith will star in his second feature film this summer. Keith wrote the script for Beer For My Horses with Country comedian Rodney Carrington, who appears in the film alongside Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent and actors Claire Forlani, Barry Corbin and Tom Skerritt. The movie follows the exploits of small town deputies and best friends who defy the local sheriff to embark on an outrageous road trip to save one of their girlfriends from drug lord kidnappers.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES

New albums scheduled for release on March 11 include: "Now That's What I Call Music! 27" by various artists, "Honeydew" by Shawn Mullins, "Ego Trippin" by Snoop Dogg, "Prayer Of A Common Man" by Phil Vassar, "The Elephant In The Room" by Fat Joe, "Enigma" by Ill Nino, "Twilight World" by Marian McPartland and "These Are Good Times People" by Presidents Of The United States Of America.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS

The 2008 South By Southwest Music Conference and Festival will take place March 12-16 in Austin, Texas. Lou Reed is the keynote speaker at the 22nd annual conference. According to the South By Southwest web site, last year, the conference and music festival drew 11,750 music industry professionals for compelling panels, industry discussions, demo listening sessions, trade show exhibits, and five nights of music by more than 1500 acts hailing from 33 different countries, performing in over 70 venues in downtown Austin, Texas.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

Kenny Chesney leads the nominees for the 43rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards. His 11 nominations include Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist and Album of the Year for Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. Other major contenders include Rodney Atkins with six nominations and Brad Paisley, Sugarland and Big & Rich with four mentions each. Newcomer Taylor Swift received three nominations, including Top New Female Vocalist and Album of the Year for her self-titled debut release. The 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards will be presented on May 18 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Country legend Reba McEntire will host the show for the tenth time.

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