Usher dominates at Billboard Awards
Las Vegas (ap) -- Usher may not want to ring in the new year. This one's been too good to him.
The R&B impresario dominated the 2004 Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday night, picking up 11 awards in the latest in a string of accolades he has earned this year.
His awards included artist of the year, R&B/hip-hop album of the year for "Confessions" and Hot 100 single of the year for "Yeah!" featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.
The 26-year-old singer opened the show with a blast, dropping from the ceiling on a cord and performing "Bad Girl" while a bevy of beautiful women clad in white parkas and snow boots gyrated around him.
Usher, whose album sold more than 1 million copies in its debut week, also had a big night at last month's American Music Awards and is nominated for eight Grammys.
R&B crooner Alicia Keys picked up seven awards during Wednesday's show, which was held at the MGM Grand hotel-casino. Keys took home wins for female artist of the year, R&B/hip-hop single of the year for "If I Ain't Got You" and Hot 100 songwriter of the year.
Kanye West, who has a leading 10 Grammy nominations, picked up four Billboard awards, including rap artist of the year. 50 Cent won a new award, ringtone of the year, for "In Da Club."
The show was hosted by Ryan Seacrest of "American Idol" fame and broadcast by Fox.
The high-energy affair mixed R&B and rock with performances by Nelly, Green Day and Gwen Stefani. The show also included the first public appearance by Britney Spears since she married Kevin Federline in September; she presented West his rap artist of the year award.
Ashlee Simpson was met with boos and cheers as she accepted the female new artist of the year award. Simpson, the younger sister of Jessica Simpson, ended her speech saying that if people ever feel nervous they can do a "Texas jig," referring to her impromptu dance during an October appearance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," when an audio mistake made it clear she had been lip-synching.
Stevie Wonder, who presented Sting with the Century Award last year, was himself the recipient. Destiny's Child received the artist achievement award.
The Billboard Awards honor the year's chart-topping artists. Winners are determined by the magazine's year-end chart listings, which are based on record sales and airplay.
Dick Clark has mild stroke
Burbank, Calif. -- "American Bandstand" icon Dick Clark was hospitalized this week after suffering a mild stroke. Clark, who turned 75 on Nov. 30, suffered the stroke this week, publicist Paul Shefrin said Wednesday, declining to give any details. He would only say Clark had been hospitalized in the Los Angeles area.
The entertainer is scheduled to host ABC's "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve 2005" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2005" on Dec. 31. It will be his 33rd year welcoming in the new year.
"The doctors tell me I should be back in the swing of things before too long, so I'm hopeful to be able to make it to Times Square to help lead the country in ringing in the new year once again," Clark said in a statement Wednesday.
Riverses return to red carpet
Los Angeles -- There's just no keeping Joan and Melissa Rivers off Hollywood's red carpets.
The mother-daughter tandem, shut out of this year's Emmy Awards because of a contractual tangle, will return starting with next month's Golden Globe Awards.
Star Jones Reynolds, a co-host of ABC's "The View," replaced the Rivers team on E! Entertainment Television after they took their acerbic fashion commentary to the TV Guide Channel earlier this year. The duo had been at E! since 1996.
They'll all be on the red carpet on Jan. 16, chatting with Golden Globe nominees and guests as they arrive at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Will Hollywood's stars be more carefully dressed knowing they'll again be facing the sharp-tongued Rivers women?
"They better be," Melissa Rivers said.
Actresses' earnings assessed
New York -- Julia Roberts is a mommy with big money.
The 37-year-old actress, who recently gave birth to twins, tops The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of the highest-paid actresses. Her paycheck per film? $20 million.
"Charlie's Angels" star Cameron Diaz, also with a $20 million price tag, is ranked second because her face was missing from the big screen this year (though her voice was featured in the animated "Shrek 2").
Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore, worth $15 million each, rounded out the top five, followed by Halle Berry ($14 million), Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie (both earning $12 million to $15 million per film), and Renee Zellweger and Jennifer Lopez ($12 million each).
Casualties of 'War'
Windsor, Conn. -- A crew that was filming scenes for Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," based on H.G. Wells' novel about an invasion from outer space, lost a few extras in the Connecticut River last weekend.
Two adult-size mannequins got free and drifted south down the river during filming on the riverbank in Windsor, said Windsor police Lt. Shannon Haynes.
Despite a search by the movie production's water safety crew, the mannequins weren't recovered, and other police departments along the riverfront were alerted.
"We just wanted them to know that if they got any calls about bodies floating in the river," Haynes said Monday. "But we never heard anything about them being found."
Spielberg and star Tom Cruise shot sequences across the state last week.