News on 'N Sync, Goo Goo Dolls, Blackground

N Sync'N Sync has teamed up with a Swiss watchmaker to raise money for children orphaned by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the group announced. Audemars Piguet has created 200 limited-edition watches that also will benefit needy children through Challenge for the Children, 'N Sync's foundation. The 50 men's watches and 150 women's watches have been engraved with the signatures of 'N Sync's five members and will be priced at $8,500 and $5,900, respectively.

"We want to help kids affected by the tragedy as much as we can," 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake said yesterday (Dec. 2). Those who purchase one of the watches also will receive tickets and sound-check passes to an 'N Sync concert.

The fund-raiser is expected to bring in $500,000, of which about half will go to start a children's scholarship fund that will be administered by the foundation, according to Barry Klarberg, the band's manager.

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Goo Goo DollsModern rock veterans the Goo Goo Dolls are hard at work on their latest Warner Bros. studio album, "Gutterflower," which is due in the first quarter 2002. So far, 12 tracks have been put to tape in Los Angeles with producer Rob Cavallo, who produced the group's 1998 triple-platinum set "Dizzy Up the Girl." Sessions will likely wrap at the end of the month; an as-yet-undecided single may see the light of day in February.

In the meantime, the group can be heard on Columbia's "The Concert for New York City" and Interscope's "America: A Tribute to Heroes" releases of those respective events. A North American tour in support of "Gutterflower" is planned, but for now the group has a lone Jan. 24 date at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas confirmed.

In other Goo news, frontman John Rzeznik has put his 1967 Pontiac GTO up for auction on eBay.com, with proceeds earmarked for VH1's Save the Music Foundation. Rzeznik has appeared in the latest TV ads for clothing retailer the Gap.


-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.







AaliyahBlackground Records has joined the Universal Records family. Under the terms of the agreement, Universal will press and distribute Blackground's product and provide some marketing, promotion, and sales support, with Blackground retaining its own staff. No financial details were revealed.

The move comes just weeks after Blackground ended its joint venture pact with Virgin Records, which was estimated to be worth $15 million when it was announced in August 2000. "I am very happy to be working in the presence of Doug Morris and Universal," Blackground founder and CEO Barry Hankerson says. "This is a truly great transition for my label and artists."

Besides the late Aaliyah, Blackground's R&B and hip-hop roster includes Tank and Timbaland & Magoo. Among the first releases expected under the Blackground/Universal banner are an Aaliyah project and a sophomore Tank album.


-- Gail Mitchell, L.A.




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