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News 12/29/2006

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business, and so much more, died Monday at an Atlanta hospital of heart failure. He was 73. Brown was hospitalized Sunday due to pneumonia but said then he was still determined to perform in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Thousands of people danced and sang outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem Thursday, while inside fans filed past Brown's open casket to pay their final respects to the Godfather of Soul, who lay dressed in a blue suit, white gloves and silver shoes. His body arrived at the theater via horse-drawn carriage, trailed in the streets by fans singing the chorus to "Say It Loud...I'm Black and I'm Proud." The tribute was arranged by the late musician's family and the Reverend Al Sharpton, who said it was what Brown wanted. "He told his children if anything happened to him, he wanted one more time to fill the Apollo," Sharpton told the New York Daily News. A private service was held for Brown's friends and family Friday afternoon at a Baptist church in North Augusta, South Carolina, while a public service has been set for Saturday at an 8,500-seat arena bearing his name in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Brown will be buried later on Saturday in Augusta, his agent said. Meanwhile, Brown's partner, Tomi Rae Hynie, is denying his lawyer's claim that she was never legally married to the late musician and is insisting that though she was married to another man at the time of her 2001 marriage to Brown, she had that union annulled. At that time, she claims, a judge told her she was still legally wed to Brown and she has documentation to prove it. Hynie has been locked out of the South Carolina home she shared with Brown in accordance with legal estate issues. Also, Spike Lee has signed on to direct a Brown biopic for Paramount and Imagine Entertainment, with Brian Grazer producing, Daily Variety reports. Brown was active in helping to develop the project and access to his life rights and to all of his music rights was previously granted. Production could begin as early as next year, but more likely in 2008.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban reunited in Sydney, Australia Tuesday, for their first joint visit Down Under since their wedding in June. Urban's rep is denying that the country star has completed rehab, stating that he will reenter his treatment program at the conclusion of his travels.

A copy of Meet the Beatles signed by all four band mates in 1964 as a present to George Harrison's sister fetched $115,228.82 at auction, a record price for a signed Beatles album purchased at a public sale.

After 18 months of self-imposed exile, Michael Jackson arrived in Las Vegas with his three children over the weekend, where he will reportedly begin attempting to make a comeback. Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the reclusive entertainer may be developing a live show on the Strip.

Kid Rock spent Christmas visiting with U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq in an attempt to "set an unselfish example for [his] son and send a strong message to the world to be thankful and think of others at Christmas time." The musician was due to return to the States on Dec. 29.

Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson have wrapped up the division of their assets, according to legal docs obtained by People magazine. The ex-"Newlyweds" duo's split was finalized in June, leaving them free to wed others. So far, neither has exercised that option.

Ruben Garay, the Webmaster of leading Britney Spears fansite worldofbritney.com, has announced that he is shuttering his online tribute to the pop princess, due to his belief that "Britney is unfortunately done (for me, at least.)" However, Garay has emphatically denied that Spears' recent spate of crotch shots had anything to do with his decision.

Heather Mills called the police Thursday night to report the theft of paintings worth $19.5 million...including a Renoir and a Picasso...from the lodge she once shared with Paul McCartney. According to Britain's Sun, McCartney had actually removed the paintings himself and reprogrammed the building's alarm codes, and had notified Mills of the changes via text message. Which she apparently didn't get.

The Rolling Stones grossed $138.5 million for 39 shows across North America in 2006, giving the band the top-selling tour for the second consecutive year in a row, according to Pollstar. Barbra Streisand came in second, with $92.5 million for just 20 shows, thanks to her average ticket price of $298 and the fact that it was her first major tour in 12 years.

Rome's La Scala opera house have canceled a production of Bernstein's Candide that includes a scene with actors dancing in underwear while wearing masks of world leaders including President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The opera, which had been scheduled to open in June, was deemed to be "not in line with La Scala's artistic program."

All news gathered from E! Online and other sources

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