On January 17, the fifth season of  American Idol will begin on the FOX network. The first seven episodes will show footage from the summer auditions in San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver and Greensboro, North Carolina. The "Hollywood rounds" begin February 8, and one week later, the twelve finalists will be chosen. Final competition rounds begin on March 14 and this year's American Idol winner will be announced in May. The hugely popular American Idol won for Favorite Reality Series at the 2006 People's Choice Awards.

Alicia Keys will be the executive producer of an upcoming UPN television drama series that tells the story of a girl from a biracial family. Keys is the daughter of a white mother and black father, who split up when she was only two-years-old.


Beyonce Knowles is now focusing on her role in the upcoming film version of Dreamgirls, but as soon as filming wraps up, she's expected to return to the recording studio. Billboard reports that Beyonce could begin work on her next solo album as early as May.


Country star Toby Keith will appear opposite Kelly Preston in the upcoming film, Angel From Montgomery. Toby says of his first acting role, "It was the most creative thing I've done in a decade." He'll record some new songs for the movie's soundtrack, which will be released on his new label Show Dog Records. Angel From Montgomery will hit theaters later this year.


Garth Brooks and his new wife Trisha Yearwood have recorded a duet that will appear on the February 7 (Garth's birthday) re-releases of their latest albums. The single, titled "Love Will Always Win," will be shipped to radio on January 17.



Nominees for the 2006 NAACP Image Awards have been announced. Leading this year's contenders are Mariah Carey, Kanye West and Alicia Keys, who each received four nominations. Following close behind with three mentions is Mary J. Blige. The 37th Image Awards will be handed out on February 25 in Los Angeles. FOX-TV will air the show on March 3. (Complete list of nominees available at www.imageawards.net 



Jessica Simpson's remake of Nancy Sinatra's 1966 Number One hit, "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," won in the category of Favorite Song from a Movie at the 32nd annual People Choice Awards. The awards were presented in Los Angeles on January 10. Other winners in the music categories included Kelly Clarkson, named Favorite Female Performer; Green Day, Favorite Group; U2, Favorite Tour; and Tim McGraw, who was named Favorite Male Performer. Tim's wife, Country star Faith Hill, was also a winner, but not for her music. Faith won the Nice 'N Easy Fans Favorite Hair award.


On January 15, Latin pop star Ricky Martin will begin a 19-city tour in support of his latest album Life. The outing starts off in El Paso, Texas and wraps up on February 19 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On February 25, he'll be in Agra, India to perform at the first in a series of ten "8th Wonder of the World" concerts. The shows will raise awareness for the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Billy Joel will kick off a 26-date North American concert tour on January 15 in Sunrise, Florida. Also planned are four shows in Philadelphia, three in Boston and Hartford, and ten concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. Other stops include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Syracuse and Washington, D.C. Many of the shows are already sold out.

On January 18, multi-million-selling Country star Gretchen Wilson will begin her first headlining tour in Grand Prairie, Texas. Joining her on the trek are Country/rock duo Van Zant and 19-year-old Country newcomer Blaine Larsen. Concerts are currently scheduled through the end of April.

INXS (in-excess) kicks off its first tour with new lead singer J.D. Fortune on January 18 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian-born Fortune won a spot in the band last year on the televised reality show "Rock Star: INXS." He replaces Michael Hutchence, who died in 1997. INXS will be promoting its new album Switch.

On January 20, Country star Toby Keith will begin his 2006 "Big Throwdown II" tour in support of his upcoming album "White Trash With Money." His first stop is Portland, Oregon. Joe Nichols, Danielle Peck and Toby's longtime songwriter partner Scotty Emerick will open the concerts.