PARIS (AP) – From Paris to Beijing, Hong Kong to London and beyond, musicians are beating the drum – literally – for victims of the Asian tsunami with special concerts and songs.

In Britain, longtime DJ Mike Read said he lined up Band Aid veteran Boy George and pop musician Cliff Richard to record a benefit version of Read’s “Grief Never Grows Old.”

Avril Lavigne, Sum 41 and Sarah McLachlan are among Canadian artists lined up for charity concerts in Calgary and Vancouver at the end of the month.

Proceeds from an annual benefit concert hosted by German President Horst Koehler at the Berlin Philharmonic will go for victims of the tsunami, his office said Thursday.

In Paris, tickets went on sale for an additional day of concerts at a popular music festival this month, with funds destined for the Red Cross.

Over the weekend, rising pop star Tue West and trendy rappers Jokeren and Nik & Jay were to hit airwaves for a daylong telethon in Denmark.

In Norway, dozens of benefit concerts are planned. In Stavanger, groups scheduled a free show Thursday, with cash to be raised through the sale of a single titled, “The Time Is Now.”

“It’s about solidarity with people,” Norwegian bluesman Reidar Larsen told reporters Thursday. “If you have the chance to help people in need, most will turn out, whether auto mechanics or artists.”

Halle Berry single again

It’s official: The marriage of Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry to singer Eric Benet is over – and the superstar got everything she wanted, Celebrity Justice reports.

The divorce decree was officially entered last Monday, after Berry and Benet reached a settlement. Multiple sources tell CJ that Berry will keep all the assets she brought into the marriage and her Beverly Hills mansion.

Benet, sources say, is now living in a distinctly more modest residence in the Studio City area of Los Angeles.

According to the sources, Benet had indicated during the divorce he would challenge the prenuptial agreement they signed. In the end, however, he did not contest it.

Furthermore, Benet won’t receive a penny in spousal support from Berry.

Berry had forged a tight relationship with Benet’s daughter India, and has vowed to stay close. Rumors swirled that Berry had adopted India, but that’s not the case. Berry has no legal rights or responsibilities in connection with the child, and there was no mention of her in the divorce settlement.

Brown sued for $106M

Former James Brown employee Jacque Hollander has sued the oft-legally challenged Godfather of Soul for $106 million in Chicago federal court, claiming he raped her at gunpoint in South Carolina in 1988, reports E!Online – an attack she said later caused her to develop Graves’ disease.

Hollander was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder in 2000. According to her lawsuit, her doctor told her in 2003 that the alleged rape was the “actual and proximate cause” of her illness.

While the disease can be brought on by stress, many times the exact cause is unknown, according to the National Graves’ Disease Foundation.

Brown’s attorney quickly moved to discredit Hollander’s claims, calling the suit “rag sheet fodder.”

“This is what you call a shakedown in its most stupid form,” attorney Debra Opri told The Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s too little, too late and baseless.”

Brown, who is in South Carolina recovering from recent prostate cancer surgery, had no comment.

According to her suit, Hollander was an aspiring songwriter in 1988, working as a publicist for Brown in exchange for help launching her musical career. One day, while she rode with him in a van en route to a car dealership, Brown suddenly began acting strangely, driving recklessly and muttering incoherently, the suit said.

He allegedly drove the van to a secluded spot and threatened Hollander with a shotgun while he “raped, beat and mentally tortured” her over the course of several hours, the suit said.

Usher in the New Year

After a very good 2004 for Usher, the R&B singer will perform a live concert on Showtime March 5, The Associated Press reports. The show, “One Night, One Star: Usher Live,” will be a 90-minute, live broadcast from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Usher is, without question, the biggest thing in the music business right now, and we’re thrilled he wanted to do his live concert with us,” said Robert Greenblatt, the cable network’s president of entertainment, in a statement released Friday.

Usher’s “Confessions” featuring hits “Yeah!” and “Burn,” was the best-selling album of 2004, moving 7.9 million copies.

The concert will air at 9 p.m. March 5 live on the East Coast, tape delayed on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, fear not, Usher and Lil Jon fans. Relations between the two are OK, Newsday reports.

Rumors have been flying that there was tension between the R&B “it” guy and the King of Crunk over how much credit each should get for the success of Usher’s smash “Yeah!”

With Usher landing eight Grammy nominations and Lil Jon receiving three for his work on Yeah!, the London tabloids reported the beginnings of a beef.

To calm the waters, Lil Jon put out this statement: “Usher and I are good friends. It’s just haters trying to stir up some negative expletive because we’ve had such a big year. … We’re looking forward to more hit records, and we’re definitely gonna keep it crunk in the new year.”


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