Billboard Bits: Grammys, VH1, Estefan

Stories on the latest performers added to the 45th annual Grammy Awards, VH1 countersuing Liza Minnelli and David Gest, Emilio Estefan creating television programming for the Hispanic market.

No DoubtPop/rock outfit No Doubt and veteran singer/songwriter James Taylor have been added to the performance lineup for the 45th annual Grammy Awards. Taylor will be joined by noted classical cellist Yo Yo Ma during the Feb. 23 show, which will be broadcast live on CBS from New York's Madison Square Garden.

No Doubt, who recently performed during halftime at this year's Super Bowl, is up for three Grammy Awards: best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal for "Hey Baby, best pop vocal album for the Interscope set "Rock Steady," and best dance recording for "Hella Good" featuring Nellee Hooper. Already a four-time winner, Taylor is nominated for best male pop vocal performance for "October Road," the title cut of his latest Columbia album.

Organizers have also confirmed the first celebrity presenters for the Grammy ceremony. Mary J. Blige, Michelle Branch, and Martina McBride, who are all nominated for awards, will be on hand to dole out trophies, as will Beyonce Knowles, whose "Work It Out" earned a best remix recording, non classical nod for Maurice Joshua.

Visit's 2003 Grammy Preview for an inside look at nominees in some of the top categories and background on the event.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Liza MinnelliVH1 has filed a breach-of-contract counter lawsuit against Liza Minnelli and her husband, David Gest, over the cable network's aborted reality series "Liza & David." VH1 canceled the show before it went on the air, and last December the couple filed a $23 million lawsuit against VH1 for breach of contract and defamation.

VH1's counterclaim, filed Feb. 6 in New York State Supreme Court, seeks at least $1.5 million in damages and alleges Gest made unreasonable demands that hindered production of the show. VH1 and the couple's representatives had no comment.

-- Carla Hay, N.Y.

Emilio EstefanEmilio Estefan's Estefan Television Productions has signed an agreement with Plural Entertainment, the audiovisual production arm of Spain's Grupo Prisa, to create original TV programming for the Hispanic market, Billboard Bulletin reports. The programming will be released under the name Plural Luna. Two TV series and a talk show are already in production under the deal.

Estefan has been involved in many TV projects, most recently a Christmas special that aired on Univision in 2002. Since opening in the U.S., Plural Entertainment has co-produced two Mexican films, "La Habitacion Azul" and "El Tigre de Santa Julia," and is currently preparing a film adaptation of Arturo Perez-Reverte's novel "La Reina del Sur."

-- Leila Cobo, Miami


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