Melissa McCracken, a painter with synesthesia, explains what it’s like to see your favorite songs.
By Zachary Swickey
The Jackson family is accusing the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate, John Branca and John McClain, of forging his will and have fired off an irate five-page letter demanding their immediate resignation.
A copy of the letter was obtained by Celebuzz and outlines the complaints of MJ’s siblings, stating, ”At the time we couldn’t possibly fathom what is so obvious to us now: that the Will, without question, it’s Fake, Flawed and Fraudulent.”
The letter continues and is rather blunt with the accusations: ”Since the passing of Michael, our beloved brother, you have failed to perform your duties as executors of his estate, but what you have not failed at is taking advantage of a grieving mother, father and a grieving family.”
The Jackson write that they have proof that Michael never signed the alleged will. ”The Will that you presented did not have our brother’s signature on it, nor did it have a signature page attached to it.” When the family questioned Branca about the missing signature page, he supposedly replied, “It was on its way, and you were having just a little problem finding it.”
The Jacksons also state they have verifiable proof that Michael was not even in Los Angeles on July 7, 2002, the date the will was allegedly signed by Jackson.
”Our brother told us, in no uncertain terms and without hesitation in the months prior to his death, that he despised both of you and that he did not want either of you to have anything to do with his life or estate for that matter,” the Jackson family boldly claims.
Branca and McClain have since responded to the letter, and seem to suggest the Jacksons are merely upset that they were excluded from the will, saying, “We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale Internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael’s family whom he chose to leave out of his will.”
Interestingly, Branca and McClain’s attorney Howard Weitzman even suggests that the accusations have already failed in court. “Any doubts about the validity of Michael’s will and his selection of executors were thoroughly and completely debunked two years ago when a challenge was rejected by the Los Angeles Superior Court, the California Court of Appeals, and finally, the California Supreme Court,” he told RadarOnline.
By Meredith Goldberg-Morse
Given his penchant for extravagant spending, it should come as no surprise that Kanye West has recently been showering those closest to him with $34,000 gold skull statues. If nothing else, at least we now know that he’s a practical gift-giver!
For Father’s Day, Kanye got pal Jay-Z a yellow gold skull statue with 1,680 star-cut red topaz gemstones set around the head. Good luck topping that one, Blue Ivy.
Kanye, who didn’t trust ordinary shipping services with such an extraordinary gift, chartered a private jet (he must be really into those) in order to hand deliver the statue to the new father.
Lest girlfriend Kim Kardashian become jealous, he gave her one as well — though Kim’s is adorned with white sapphires and reportedly engraved with the letters “KKW” for “Kim Kardashian West.” Awww. Slightly less pricey than the tricked-out Lamborghini Kim bought Kanye for his birthday, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
West apparently found inspiration for the gift after discovering that Michael Jackson gave the same one to Elizabeth Taylor, which is simultaneously sweet and ominous.
Our only question: If red roses mean “I love you,” what does a gold skull statue set with white sapphires mean?
Singer tells MTV News that the clip put her right back into ‘excruciating, awful moment when you run into an ex for the first time.’
By Jocelyn Vena, with reporting by Sway Calloway
After the premiere of her “The Story of Us,” video, Taylor Swift opened up to MTV News about how it felt to watch the clip and relive the emotions behind the Speak Now song, which was inspired by a seriously awkward awards-show encounter with an ex.
“Anytime I’m onstage or watching the music video, the first thing that comes into my mind is the person I wrote the song about,” she told MTV News’ Sway Calloway during “MTV First: Taylor Swift.” “It’s like the first thing that you think of is the moment that inspired the song, which is that excruciating, awful moment when you run into an ex for the first time.”
Just because Swift’s awkward ex encounter was at a Hollywood event doesn’t mean her fans can’t relate. The singer said life as a celebrity is “just like in high school, except at an awards show. You go on living a normal life, except on a different scale. I tend to focus on love, feelings, emotions, what it was like feeling that particular relationship.”
While the song doesn’t directly address that awards-show encounter, it does touch on the themes of knowing when it’s time to move on from a relationship.
“Noble Jones, the director, had sent in this treatment. He had it set in a library, and I called him and I asked him if he’d be willing to change it to an Ivy League feel,” she explained of her input.
Sway asked if the “Story of Us” heroine was at all connected to her “You Belong With Me” character. “Well, I think the biggest difference between the new video and all the other ones is that I love to make a happy ending happen, and with this video, it doesn’t happen,” she said.
What did you think of Taylor’s new video? Share your reviews in the comments!
Born This Way producer Fernando Garibay says song was inspired by Proposition 8 ruling.
By Jocelyn Vena, with reporting by Kara Warner
Lady Gaga dabbled in Latin-sounding music on Fame Monster with “Alejandro,” but for Born This Way, Gaga took that sound to a whole new level on “Americano,” a charging, no-holds-barred statement about love of all kinds, played up against the chugging backdrop of Spanish guitar, horns and a disco-ready beat.
“The song was directly inspired by events that happened that day. It was in August, in the middle of summer, last year, and it was when Prop 8 was overturned in California,” producer Fernando Garibay told MTV News. “And there was a lot happening with immigration and the border issues and she pushed, she said she wanted to make this song really Mexican, with the struggle the Mexican people have gone through for freedom, for a better life, and so those ideas are directly implemented in the song.”
Gaga, a Proposition 8 activist, tweeted shortly after the ruling that she was inspired to write music. The lyrics directly address that momentous occasion. On the song, Gaga sings, “If you love me, we can marry on the West Coast/ On a Wednesday, en el verano, en agosto.”
Garibay explained that while she might shed light on gay rights lyrically, she’s hoping to bring attention to immigration laws in the United States sonically.
“I remember her saying, ‘Yes, I want mariachi, I want Latin percussions. I want to go big.’ I’m so used to people in the industry saying, ‘Latin: It’s a little bit cheesy,’ ” he said. “But she was like, ‘F that! Let’s go full Mexicano.’ We started with me on guitar and her on piano, kind of wrote the lyric on the spot, and she sang it all the way through, and that’s how the song was born.”
Share your thoughts on “Americano” in the comments below!
Modine will play character named Nixon, but Conti and King’s roles are not yet known.
By Eric Ditzian
Production on “The Dark Knight Rises” is already under way, and on Friday Warner Bros. released the first photo from director Christopher Nolan’s film. Now three new actors have officially joined the cast.
Variety reported that Matthew Modine will play a character named Nixon. Tom Conti and Joey King have also signed on, but the exact nature of their roles is being kept under wraps.
While Modine is new to the world of blockbuster comic-book adaptations, Variety noted that the actor has in fact played a Joker before, albeit Private Joker in 1987′s “Full Metal Jacket,” the Oscar-nominated Vietnam War film directed by Stanley Kubrick.
The Scottish-born Conti himself nabbed an Oscar nod for his turn as a troubled poet in 1983′s “Reuben, Reuben.” The 11-year-old King played Ramona last year in “Ramona and Beezus” and will appear in this summer’s ensemble comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
These three actors join a production expected to jump from locales in India, England and Scotland to domestic stops in Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles. They join Christian Bale, who returns as Bruce Wayne (and his alter ego Batman), and newcomers Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (who becomes Catwoman in comic-book lore) and Tom Hardy as the villain Bane, among many others.
On Friday, we got our first look at Hardy as Bane, thanks to a viral marketing campaign that sent fans on an investigative hunt from the film’s website to Twitter and back again. The reaction was immediately positive. “Chris Nolan will do it big again,” wrote one MTV News commenter. “One image has never made me so excited for one film. Looks to me like Nolan and company are gonna go out with a huge bang and leave people talking.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Show also featured a Rihanna/Britney lip-lock and a tribute to Beyonc
Kirstie Alley falls behind in last performance show before Tuesday’s finale.
By Kelley L. Carter
It was a tie for the top on the final “Dancing With the Stars” performance episode. The reality dance competition goes into Tuesday’s finale with a dead heat between Disney star Chelsea Kane and football superstar Hines Ward.
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: The first couple to take the stage on Monday night’s (May 23) “Dancing With the Stars” set the bar high. The junior members of the show impressed judges with their sexy round-one samba.
“I liked what I was watching,” head judge Len Goodman told the pair. “I wasn’t over-keen on the flailing-arm section, but overall, it was a great number. Well done.”
Bruno Tonioli jumped up and down in his spirited, animated fashion, saying, “You were like an ultra-sexy bombshell! Way to go!”
Carrie Ann Inaba, who aided Kane in rehearsals, agreed: “Hot! Hot! Hot! Chelsea, you’re on fire. That was so what I was wanting from you. You got down, you got dirty, you got sensual.”
Judges gave them a 29/30 for their samba and went wild during their freestyle routine, giving them a perfect 30/30. Score: 59/60.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: The elder stateswoman in the competition held her own. Judges found her samba to be elegant and full of womanhood but said she needed to play to her audience better.
“I love what you did. I love your movement quality. That was a really great samba,” Inaba said.
Goodman agreed. “It was less aggressive, less full-on. But it had a lovely naturalness about it. It could have been a little bit crisper. But lovely job,” Goodman said. Alley ended up with a 27/30 for the first round.
When the couple performed again, judges applauded their risk-taking. “Honest truth: 10 weeks ago, I would never have thought of you even attempting to do lifts and things you’ve done tonight. You have to really appreciate what you’ve achieved,” Tonioli said. “Respect, girl, respect.”
Inaba said her freestyle routine embodied what Alley has become: “the new poster child for life as it should be lived at 60 years old.” Score: 54/60.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: By the time Ward and his partner were done with their round-one routine, the audience leapt to its feet.
“You are able to make it be like you’re running for a touchdown! The whole audience follows you. It makes me forget that I’m supposed to be judging. I love that,” Inaba said.
Goodman critiqued the routine, saying, “as good as that was … for me, it’s not quite there yet. This competition is still anyone’s to win or lose. Come back in that freestyle and really show me the wow factor. I know you’ve got it.”
Tonioli disagreed: “It was like watching a mega-production on Broadway. Full of excitement. You connect with the audience like no one. You’re just an entertainer. It’s brilliant.”
For their freestyle, they created what Hines called a halftime show. Tonioli cheered it, saying it was a crowd-pleasing event.
“That wasn’t really a halftime show. That was the whole damn Super Bowl!” Inaba cheered.
Goodman said, “This competition is about give-and-take. The more you give, the more points you take. You’ve just given your all!” They earned 29/30 for round one, and their freestyle earned a perfect 30/30. Score: 59/60.
Who do you think will come out on top in Tuesday’s finale? Let us know in the comments!
Rick Ross, Wale, Meek Mill and Pill will join Sway on ‘RapFix Live’ Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
By Rob Markman
Last week, “RapFix Live” brought fans intro the world of Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ when MTV News’ Sway Calloway sat down with Bad Meets Evil, chatting about the duo’s upcoming EP Hell: The Sequel. This week, we have the biggest Boss of them all: Rick Ross.
Ricky Rozay has been making some serious moves, and on Wednesday, he will bring his Maybach Music Group to the “RapFix” couch. After taking his label over to Warner Music Group and signing next-gen rap standouts Wale, Meek Mill and Pill, Ross is in full promo mode for his MMG compilation, Self Made, which hit stores Monday (May 23). Fueled by street bangers like “Tupac Back,” “Pandemonium” and the Jadakiss-assisted “600 Benz,” Rozay is ready for his rap takeover.
Be sure to tune in Wednesday when Sway will talk to the Teflon Don about his rise from behind-the-scenes ghostwriter to label CEO. Sway will even ask Ross about Drake’s verse on DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One” and whether the Boss thinks Drizzy took a shot at Jay-Z on their collaborative track. You don’t want to miss this one.
D.C.’s Wale will also show up and talk about going from the tutelage of Mark Ronson to his new deal with MMG. Meek will be in tow to talk about how he transformed his street grind into his rap dream and speak on his relationship with incarcerated rap star T.I. Last but not least, Pill will describe to Sway the inner workings of the trap.
You can also expect MMG to spit their hottest 16′s. There is no telling what is going to go down on this week’s episode of “RapFix Live”!
Visit MTV.com on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET to watch Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group on “RapFix Live”!
In MTV’s upcoming ‘Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside’ special, Gaga reveals that the band’s Dookie was the first album she ever bought.
By Jocelyn Vena
Lady Gaga‘s songs certainly sound like they take inspiration from all forms of music, including disco, pop, industrial, metal and even punk. In an hour-long exclusive interview, “Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside,” set to air Thursday, May 26, at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET/PT on MTV, the pop superstar opens up about the music she listened to in her youth, and how it helped shape her and make her the artist she is today.
“It was Green Day, Dookie, with my own money,” she recalls in the special when asked about the first album she ever bought. “But my parents got me Stevie Wonder, Signed, Sealed Delivered, and the Beatles when I was younger — A Hard Day’s Night. Yeah, they were two CDs and they were given to me with little boom box for Christmas when I was young.”
She continues, “Just good choices, Mom and Dad. They could have chose anything, but Stevie Wonder and the Beatles? I mean, it’s totally their fault. Don’t spoon feed me the Beatles and Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and Elton John and expect for me not to turn out this way. Nobody made you do that.”
During the intimate chat, Mother Monster opens up about her rise to fame — from being bullied by classmates during her school days to the moment she decided to pursue her dream of pop stardom. She speaks in depth about the moments that shaped her as an artist, including working on her highly anticipated just-released album, Born This Way.
“Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside” also focuses on the pop superstar at home, spotlighting her close relationship with her family and her life growing up in Manhattan before she made the decision to move out on her own to New York City’s Lower East Side. Fans will get to intimately know the girl that became Lady Gaga.
Don’t miss MTV News’ hour-long exclusive interview, “Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside,” airing Thursday, May 26, at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
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