Billboard Bits: Perez Hilton, Ron Asheton, Arcade Fire, 'Glee' And More
Billboard Bits serves up the best bite-sized nuggets of music news and gossip every afternoon.
The first 'Glee' cast member to sign a solo record deal is officially Matthew Morrison, who plays the glee club director Will Schuester on the hit Fox show. Morrison has inked an exclusive worldwide deal with Mercury Records, the label announced today, and his debut album is slated for a fall 2010 release. Billboard first reported that "Glee" cast members including Leah Michele (who plays Rachel Berry) and Amber Riley (who plays Mercedes Sanchez) were being considered for solo deals in October, but Morrison's signing is the first to be formally announced. The Broadway veteran is enjoying a nice start to 2010, as he's also nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV series (musical or comedy) for "Glee." He'll compete against Steve Carrell of the "Office" and Alec Baldwin of "30 Rock," among others, at Sunday night's ceremony.
Season nine of "American Idol" is off to a high-flying start in the ratings, up slightly from last year's season opener and halting its slide in recent years. Tuesday night's two hour audition episode with guest judge Victoria Beckham was seen by 30 million viewers and drew an 11.8 preliminary rating among adults 18-49, according to special time-zone adjusted fast nationals from Fox. And while Wednesday's 90-minute follow-up with Mary J. Blige slipped slightly, dropping 14% from the night before, "Idol" seems to have regained its hold on the nation's televisions.
Celebrity gossip hound and Warner Music-sponsored label honcho Perez Hilton is teaming up with "American Idol" founder Simon Fuller and Madonna tour director Jamie King in a nationwide search for talented teenage boys. The three music moguls are out to create "The Boy Band For the Next Generation," and are soliciting online auditions for singers and dancers between the ages of 13 and 21 years old. "I am beyond thrilled and honored to be working with Jamie King and Simon Fuller, both legends," Hilton said in a posting on his website. "We are looking for the best, brightest and boldest! This is a boy band unlike any other before. ALL of the members will sing. ALL of the members will dance. Finding our talented group won't be easy, but the end result is going to be soooooooo worth it. I can hear the screaming girls already!"
Legendary Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton passed away a year ago, but famous friends and disciples of the future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame axeman gethered at L.A. Roxy last night for a tribute jam session. According to Spinner, sometimes Stooges bassist Mike Watt, Jane's Addiction's Stephen Perkins and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith were among the all-star performers at the event organized by his 18-year-old niece, Leanna Asheton.
Canadian indie rock superstars Arcade Fire took a break from putting the finishing touches on the band's fothcoming third album to make appeal to its fans for donations to help with the Haitian earthquake relief efforts. According to Pitchfork, the tragedy has hit particularly close to home for the group, as co-leader Régine Chassagne has family roots in the country, and the song "Haiti" was a centerpiece on the band's breakthrough album "Funeral." The band has asked its fans to donate money to the charity Partners in Health to help with the health care crisis in Haiti.
Beyonce's people may be keeping tight-lipped about the singer's "alleged" $2 million New Year's Eve gig at Nikki's Beach in St. Bart's, where she performed for host Muatsim Gaddafi, the playboy son of Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi. But the proof is in the pictures -- the ones that the U.K. paper Daily Mail managed to uncover. "The sparkly leotard slashed to reveal sections of her tummy and cleavage is so very Beyoncé," the paper sassily noted. "But it's hard to envisage Hollywood's highest-earner plying her trade in a tawdry setting resembling a cheap lapdancing club."
(Contributions from Monica Herrera and David J. Prince)