Billboard Bits: Ashlee Simpson, Alicia Keys, Van Zant

News on Ashlee Simpson, Alicia Keys, Van Zant

AshleeAhead of the Oct. 18 release of her sophomore Geffen album, "I Am Me," Ashlee Simpson has begun confirming North American tour dates. The trek will begin Sept. 21 in Portland and run through Oct. 9 in New Orleans. This week, Simpson will shoot a video for first single "Boyfriend" with director Marc Webb (Green Day, My Chemical Romance).

As first reported here, Simpson is in talks to return this fall to "Saturday Night Live," following her disastrous 2004 appearance during which she was caught lip-synching. She and her manager/father Joe later blamed her inability to sing live on acid reflux.

Here are Ashlee Simpson's tour dates:

Sept. 21: Portland, Ore. (Roseland Theatre)
Sept. 22: Seattle (Showbox)
Sept. 24: Los Angeles (House of Blues)
Sept. 25: San Diego (House of Blues)
Sept. 27: Stafford, Texas (Stafford Center)
Sept. 28: New York (Supper Club)
Sept. 30: Philadelphia (Electric Factory)
Oct. 1: Boston (Avalon)
Oct. 5: Chicago (Metro)
Oct. 7: Atlanta (Earthlink Live)
Oct. 9: New Orleans (House of Blues)

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

KeysAlicia Keys will make her feature film debut playing a female assassin in "Smokin' Aces." "I'm definitely going to be kicking ass," she said last night (Aug. 28) before the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami. "It's something very different for me."

As previously reported, Keys is gearing up for her stint on the revived "MTV Unplugged," which will premiere Sept. 15 on the music network. A CD/DVD of the July performance, which features guest turns from Common, Mos Def and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, will be released Oct. 11 via J.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

VanAfter months of vocal trouble, Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Columbia Records duo Van Zant has decided to have surgery to remove a polyp on his vocal cord.

According to a statement from his doctor at Vanderbilt Voice Center in Nashville, Van Zant "continues to suffer from acute and chronic inflammation of his vocal cord and development of a large vocal cord polyp." His condition will require surgery and a post-operative rehabilitation that will prevent him from performing for three months.

Cancellations include several upcoming television and radio show appearances for the duo as well as touring plans for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Johnny Van Zant has been lead vocalist for the group for 19 years. The duo previously cancelled appearances at the CMA Music festival in June due to his vocal problems.

-- Phyllis Stark, Nashville


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